Archaeological Studies

Director of undergraduate studiesOswaldo Chinchilla, 51 Hillhouse Ave., 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

The major consists of twelve courses, including the senior project. In addition, students must participate in a Yale-affiliated summer research project, or 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, Environmental Studies, Geology and Geophysics, History, History of Art, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and Religious Studies. Some courses may be applied to categories other than the ones in which they are listed in this bulletin upon approval by the DUS. 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, Syria, and Rome. 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, Environmental Studies, Geology and Geophysics, 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.

  • ARCG 001, Egypt and Northeast Africa:  A Multidisciplinary Approach
  • ARCG 030, Inca Culture and Society
  • ARCG 031, Rivers and Civilizations
  • ARCG 110, Introduction to the History of Art:  Global Decorative Arts
  • ARCG 120, Art and Architecture of Mesoamerica
  • ARCG 128, Magic and Ritual in Ancient Egypt
  • ARCG 161, Art and Myth in Greek Antiquity
  • ARCG 170, Roman Art: Empire, Identity, and Society
  • ARCG 171, Great Civilizations of the Ancient World
  • ARCG 172, Great Hoaxes and Fantasies in Archaeology
  • ARCG 207, The Sustainable Preservation of Cultural Heritage
  • ARCG 218, Ancient Ships and Maritime Archaeology
  • ARCG 221, Egyptomania
  • ARCG 222, Egyptian Religion through the Ages
  • ARCG 223, Lives in Ancient Egypt
  • ARCG 226, Global Environmental History
  • ARCG 232, Ancient Civilizations of the Andes
  • ARCG 233, Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica
  • ARCG 237, Ancient Painting and Mosaics
  • ARCG 239, Art of the Ancient Near East and Aegean
  • ARCG 241, The Greek Nude and Ideals in Art
  • ARCG 243, Greek Art and Architecture
  • ARCG 244, The Age of Akhenaton
  • ARCG 252, Roman Architecture
  • ARCG 264, Aztec Archaeology and Ethnohistory
  • ARCG 267, Human Evolution
  • ARCG 271, Human Ecology
  • ARCG 272, African Prehistory 
  • ARCG 294, The Ancient Maya


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

Classics Andrew Johnston, Diana Kleiner

Geology & Geophysics 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


* ARCG 031b / CLCV 059b / EVST 030b / HIST 020b / NELC 026b, Rivers and CivilizationHarvey Weiss

The appearance of the earliest cities along the Nile and Euphrates in the fourth millennium B.C. Settlements along the rivers, the origins of agriculture, the production and extraction of agricultural surpluses, and the generation of class structures and political hierarchies. How and why these processes occurred along the banks of these rivers; consequent societal collapses and their relation to abrupt climate changes. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.  HU, SO
TTh 9am-10:15am

ARCG 171a / ANTH 171a, Great Civilizations of the Ancient WorldJargalan Burentogtokh

A survey of selected prehistoric and historical cultures through examination of archaeological sites and materials. Emphasis on the methodological and theoretical approaches by which archaeologists recover, analyze, and interpret the material remains of the past.  SO
MW 9am-10:15am

ARCG 172b / ANTH 172b, Great Hoaxes and Fantasies in ArchaeologyWilliam Honeychurch

Examination of selected archaeological hoaxes, cult theories, and fantasies; demonstration of how archaeology can be manipulated to authenticate nationalistic ideologies, religious causes, and modern stereotypes. Examples of hoaxes and fantasies include the lost continent of Atlantis, Piltdown man, ancient giants roaming the earth, and alien encounters. Evaluation of how, as a social science, archaeology is capable of rejecting such interpretations about the past.  SO
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

ARCG 215b / ANTH 215b, Archaeology of ChinaAnne Underhill

Archaeology of China, one of the world's oldest and most enduring civilizations, from the era of early humans to early empires. Methods of interpreting remains from prehistoric and historic period sites.  SO
MW 1pm-2:15pm

* ARCG 253b / ANTH 253b, Introduction to Experimental ArchaeologyRoderick McIntosh and Ellery Frahm

Experimental archaeology is one of the most important tools to develop and test models which link human behaviors and natural forces to the archaeological record.  This class explores the elements of good experimental design and procedures. ANTH 316L, ARCG 316L recommended.  SO
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

ARCG 264b / ANTH 264b / SPAN 404b, Aztec Archaeology and EthnohistoryOswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

An anthropological and ethnohistorical examination of the Aztec civilization that dominated much of Mexico from the fourteenth century until the Spanish Conquest of 1521.  SO
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

ARCG 316La / ANTH 316La, Introduction to Archaeological Laboratory SciencesEllery Frahm and Roderick McIntosh

Introduction to techniques of archaeological laboratory analysis, with quantitative data styles and statistics appropriate to each. Topics include dating of artifacts, sourcing of ancient materials, remote sensing, and microscopic and biochemical analysis. Specific techniques covered vary from year to year.
W 2:30pm-5:30pm

* ARCG 385b / ANTH 385b, Archaeological CeramicsAnne Underhill

Archaeological methods for analyzing and interpreting ceramics, arguably the most common type of object found in ancient sites. Focus on what different aspects of ceramic vessels reveal about the people who made them and used them.  SO
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* ARCG 417a / ANTH 417a, Maya Hieroglyphic WritingOswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

Introduction to the ancient Maya writing system. Contents of the extant corpus, including nametags, royal and ritual commemorations, dynastic and political subjects, and religious and augural subjects; principles and methods of decipherment; overview of the Maya calendar; comparison with related writing systems in Mesoamerica and elsewhere in the ancient world.  SO
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* ARCG 450a / ANTH 450a, Analysis of Lithic TechnologyOswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

Introduction to the analysis of chipped and ground stone tools, including instruction in manufacturing chipped stone tools from obsidian. Review of the development of stone tool technology from earliest tools to those of historical periods; relevance of this technology to subsistence, craft specialization, and trade. Discussion of the recording, analysis, and drawing of artifacts, and of related studies such as sourcing and use-wear analysis.  SO
Th 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 464b / ANTH 464b / E&EB 464b, Human OsteologyEric Sargis

A lecture and laboratory course focusing on the characteristics of the human skeleton and its use in studies of functional morphology, paleodemography, and paleopathology. Laboratories familiarize students with skeletal parts; lectures focus on the nature of bone tissue, its biomechanical modification, sexing, aging, and interpretation of lesions.  SC, SO
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

* ARCG 482b / ANTH 482b, Advanced Archaeological TheoryRoderick McIntosh

Review of the intellectual history of archaeology, with readings from the Enlightenment to the present. Emphasis on the tension between science, mysticism, and nationalism in the interpretation of prehistoric processes.  SORP


ARCG 170a / CLCV 170a / HSAR 250a, Roman Art: Empire, Identity, and SocietyDiana Kleiner

Masterpieces of Roman art from the Republic to Constantine studied in their historical and social contexts. The great Romans and the monuments they commissioned—portraits, triumphal arches, columns, and historical reliefs. The concept of empire and imperial identity, politics and portraiture, the making and unmaking of history through art, and the art of women, children, freedmen, and slaves.  HU
TTh 9am-10:15am

ARCG 243b / CLCV 160b / HSAR 243b, Greek Art and ArchitectureMilette Gaifman

Monuments of Greek art and architecture from the late Geometric period (c. 760 B.C.) to Alexander the Great (c. 323 B.C.). Emphasis on social and historical contexts.  HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

ARCG 252b / CLCV 175b / HSAR 252b, Roman ArchitectureDiana Kleiner

The great buildings and engineering marvels of Rome and its empire. Study of city planning and individual monuments and their decoration, including mural painting. Emphasis on developments in Rome, Pompeii, and central Italy; survey of architecture in the provinces.  HU
TTh 9am-10:15am

* ARCG 424b / CLCV 230b / HSAR 424b, eClavdia: Women in Ancient RomeDiana Kleiner

The contributions of Roman women to one of the greatest cities—and one of the greatest empires—in world history. Lost stories of real-life Roman women recovered from public and residential buildings, portraits, paintings, and other works of Roman art and architecture.  HURP
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

Environmental Studies

* ARCG 473b / ANTH 473b / EVST 473b / NELC 473b, Climate Change, Societal Collapse, and ResilienceHarvey Weiss

The coincidence of societal collapses throughout history with decadal and century-scale abrupt climate change events. Challenges to anthropological and historical paradigms of cultural adaptation and resilience. Examination of archaeological and historical records and high-resolution sets of paleoclimate proxies.  HU, SO
Th 4pm-5:50pm

Geology and Geophysics

* ARCG 362b / EVST 362b / G&G 362b, Observing Earth from SpaceRonald Smith

A practical introduction to satellite image analysis of Earth's surface. Topics include the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, satellite-borne radiometers, data transmission and storage, computer image analysis, the merging of satellite imagery with GIS and applications to weather and climate, oceanography, surficial geology, ecology and epidemiology, forestry, agriculture, archaeology, and watershed management. Prerequisites: college-level physics or chemistry, two courses in geology and natural science of the environment or equivalents, and computer literacy.  QR, SC
MW 9am-10:15am

History of Art

ARCG 110b / HSAR 110b, Introduction to the History of Art: Global Decorative ArtsEdward Cooke

Global history of the decorative arts from antiquity to the present. The materials and techniques of ceramics, textiles, metals, furniture, and glass. Consideration of forms, imagery, decoration, and workmanship. Themes linking geography and time, such as trade and exchange, simulation, identity, and symbolic value.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

* NELC 001b / AFST 001b / ARCG 001b, Egypt and Northeast Africa: A Multidisciplinary ApproachJohn Darnell

An introduction to Egyptology, examining approximately 10,000 years of Nile Valley cultural records and 3,000 years of Egyptian history. The course presents an overview of the historical and archaeological study of Egypt and her southern neighbor Nubia. Various original written and visual sources are used, including the collections of the Peabody Museum and the Yale Art Gallery, with some material accessible in the classroom. Students gain a basic understanding of the hieroglyphic script and the Ancient Egyptian language, and are able to read some inscriptions in museum visits at the end of the course. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.  WR, HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* ARCG 128a / AFST 128a / EGYP 128a / NELC 129a / RLST 251a, Magic and Ritual in Ancient Egypt and the Near EastJohn Darnell

Introduction to ancient Egyptian magic and rituals with an overview on the use of magic and discussion of the different rituals and festivals attested in Ancient Egypt and the Near East.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 244a / NELC 109a / RLST 245a, The Age of AkhenatonJohn Darnell

Study of the period of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton (reigned 1353–1336 B.C.E.), often termed the Amarna Revolution, from historical, literary, religious, artistic, and archaeological perspectives. Consideration of the wider Egyptian, ancient Near Eastern, African, and Mediterranean contexts. Examination of the international diplomacy, solar theology, and artistic developments of the period. Reading of primary source material in translation.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

Advanced Research

* ARCG 471a or b and ARCG 472a or b, Directed Reading and Research in ArchaeologyStaff

Qualified students may pursue special reading or research under the guidance of an instructor. A written statement of the proposed research must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies for approval.

* ARCG 491a or b, Senior Research Project in ArchaeologyStaff

Required of all students majoring in Archaeological Studies. Supervised investigation of some archaeological topic in depth. The course requirement is a long essay to be submitted as the student's senior essay. The student should present a prospectus and bibliography to the director of undergraduate studies no later than the third week of the term. Written approval from the faculty member who will direct the reading and writing for the course must accompany the prospectus.

* ARCG 492b / ANTH 492b / NELC 321b, Imaging Ancient WorldsJohn Darnell, Roderick McIntosh, Agnete Lassen, and Klaus Wagensonner

The interpretation of epigraphic and archaeological material within the broader context of landscape, by means of creating a virtual model to reconstruct the sensory experiences of the ancient peoples who created those sites. Use of new technologies in computer graphics, including 3D imaging, to support current research in archaeology and anthropology.
W 9:25am-11:15am