Archaeological Studies

Director of undergraduate studies: Oswaldo Chinchilla, 51 Hillhouse Ave., Rm. 301, 436-5923,

This interdisciplinary major is supervised by the University's Council on Archaeological Studies. Inquiries about the major may be addressed to the chair of the council, Richard Burger, Department of Anthropology, 10 Sachem St., or to the director of undergraduate studies (DUS).

The major in Archaeological Studies provides a program of interdepartmental offerings covering prehistoric, early historic, medieval, and other cultures and cultural developments in the Old and New Worlds, and introduces students to the analytic tools that facilitate archaeological studies. The major is designed to expose students to a variety of archaeological research perspectives: anthropological, historical, art historical, and scientific. Also emphasized are substantive studies including (1) study of such prehistoric–early historic transformations as the origins of agriculture, cities and states, and early empires, and (2) study of the material culture, art, and architecture of prehistoric, early historic, and medieval cultures, including the iconography of ancient cultures, the relationship between art and society, ancient writing systems, and American historical archaeology.

Requirements of the Major

Council on Archaeological StudiesThe major consists of twelve term courses, including the senior project. In addition, students must participate in a Yale-affiliated summer research project, or that of another archaeological field school approved in advance by the DUS. The following five courses are required: an introductory survey; the introductory laboratory course ARCG 316L; an advanced laboratory course; a theory course; and the senior research project ARCG 491. The remaining seven courses required for the major must be distributed among the subject areas represented by the departments and programs offering courses multiple-titled with Archaeological Studies, with three of those seven courses falling in different departments and programs. The relevant departments and programs are Anthropology, Classics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Environmental Studies, History, History of Art, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and Religious Studies. With the permission of the DUS, a course may be counted toward a subject area other than the one(s) under which it is listed. For three of the seven archaeology electives students may, with permission of the DUS, substitute courses from other departments in areas related to their research.

Students majoring in Archaeological Studies are strongly encouraged, but are not required, to devote a second summer to archaeological research, either in the field or in a laboratory. Members of the Council faculty currently direct archaeological field projects in China, Egypt, Guatemala, Peru, Mongolia, Senegal, Armenia, and Italy. Qualified majors are encouraged to apply for research positions with these projects.

Field research In addition to being the base for several faculty field projects around the globe, the Council on Archaeological Studies takes as its principal mission the encouragement of multiple field experiences. Our undergraduate majors are required to participate in at least one intensive summer field school. Approval is required, and costs are often subsidized by the Council. Students are encouraged to participate in each other’s field projects, thereby learning about the greatest number of cultures and areas possible, while experiencing a diverse array of field situations. 

Senior Requirement

The final requirement for the major is a senior research project (ARCG 491) in some field of archaeology, preferably one involving more than one area or discipline.


Students majoring in Archaeological Studies should consult with the DUS at the beginning of each term.


Prerequisites None

Number of courses 12 term courses (incl senior project)

Specific course required ARCG 316L

Distribution of courses 1 intro survey; 1 advanced lab; 1 theory course; 7 electives, at least 1 in each of 3 areas, as specified

Field requirement 1 summer field techniques course or research project, as specified and approved by the DUS

Substitution permitted For 3 electives, 3 courses related to research, with DUS permission

Senior requirement Research project (ARCG 491)

Archaeology is the study of the human past through examination and interpretation of artifacts and other material remains. The discipline covers the entire record of human cultural development, from the beginning of toolmaking to advanced civilizations. Courses in archaeology are taught by instructors in Anthropology, Classics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Environmental Studies, History, History of Art, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and Religious Studies.

Students who wish to major in Archaeological Studies are encouraged to take one of the 100-level courses and several of the 200-level courses listed below during their first and sophomore years. These core courses should be selected in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) or any member of the Archaeological Studies program. The design of students’ early course core should provide a background in the theoretical and technical aspects of archaeology and an introduction to the archaeological remains of the world.


Anthropology Richard Burger (Chair), Oswaldo Chinchilla, Ellery Frahm, William Honeychurch, Roderick McIntosh, Eric Sargis, Anne Underhill, David Watts

Classics Andrew Johnston, Diana Kleiner

Earth and Planetary Sciences Ronald Smith

History Joseph Manning

History of Art Edward Cooke, Jr., Milette Gaifman, Mary Miller

Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations John Darnell, Karen Foster, Eckart Frahm, Harvey Weiss

Religious Studies Stephen Davis