Archaeological Studies

Director of undergraduate studies: Oswaldo Chinchilla, Rm. 301, 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 Street, or to the 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 six 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 of Art, and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. 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, Mali, 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

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

Senior requirement Research project (ARCG 491)


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

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 001a / AFST 001a / NELC 001a, Egypt and Northeast Africa: A Multidisciplinary ApproachJohn Darnell

Examination of approximately 10,000 years of Nile Valley cultural history, with an introduction to the historical and archaeological study of Egypt and Nubia. Consideration of the Nile Valley as the meeting place of the cultures and societies of northeast Africa. Various written and visual sources are used, including the collections of the Peabody Museum and the Yale Art Gallery. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  WR, HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* ARCG 030a / ANTH 030a / LAST 030a, Inca Culture and SocietyRichard Burger

History of the Inca empire of the Central Andes, including the empire's impact on the nations and cultures it conquered. Overview of Inca religion, economy, political organization, technology, and society. Ways in which different schools of research have approached and interpreted the Incas over the last century, including the influence of nationalism and other sources of bias on contemporary scholarship. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  SO
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

* 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 freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  HU, SO
TTh 9am-10:15am

ARCG 172a / ANTH 172a, 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
WF 2:30pm-3:45pm

ARCG 228b / ANTH 223b, The Anthropology of WarDavid Watts, Louisa Lombard, and William Honeychurch

An integrated anthropological perspective on human conflict and organized violence. Questions include the definition of war, the inevitability of war, lessons to be learned from archaeological evidence, and the effects of war on individuals and groups. Source material includes the study of human evolution and nonhuman primates, the archeological record, and ethnography of the contemporary world.  SO
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

ARCG 264b / ANTH 264b, 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 11:35am-12:50pm

ARCG 267b / ANTH 267b, Human EvolutionDavid Watts

Examination of the fossil record of human evolution, including both paleontological and archaeological evidence for changes in hominid behavior during the Pleistocene. Prerequisite: Introductory course in biological anthropology or biology.  SO
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

ARCG 316Lb / ANTH 316Lb, Introduction to Archaeological Laboratory SciencesRoderick McIntosh and Eckart Frahm

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 326a / ANTH 326a, Ancient Civilizations of the Eurasian SteppesWilliam Honeychurch

Examination of peoples of the steppe zone that stretches from Eastern Europe to Mongolia. Overview of what archaeologists know about Eurasian steppe societies, with emphasis on the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron, and medieval ages. Attention both to material culture and to historical sources. Topics range from the domestication of the horse to Genghis Khan's world empire, including the impact these events had on neighboring civilizations in Europe and Asia.  SO
W 9:25am-11:15am

* ARCG 385a / ANTH 385a, 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 391a / ANTH 391a, Paleoclimate and Human ResponseRoderick McIntosh

The recursive interaction of climate change with human perception and manipulation of the landscape. Mechanisms and measures of climate change; three case studies of historical response to change at different scales. Prerequisite: an introductory course in archaeology.  SO
M 9:25am-11:15am

* ARCG 399a / ANTH 478a / EVST 399a / NELC 399a, Agriculture: Origins, Evolution, CrisesHarvey Weiss

Analysis of the societal and environmental drivers and effects of plant and animal domestication, the intensification of agroproduction, and the crises of agroproduction: land degradation, societal collapses, sociopolitical transformation, sustainablity, and biodiversity.  SO
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm

* ARCG 407a / ANTH 407a, Origins of Complex Societies in West AfricaRoderick McIntosh

The great diversity of complex societies that emerged in prehistoric West Africa. Readings from site reports and primary source articles.  SORP
T 2:30pm-4:20pm

* 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 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 243a / CLCV 160a / HSAR 243a, 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 11:35am-12:50pm

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 226a / EVST 226a / NELC 268a, Global Environmental HistoryHarvey Weiss

The dynamic relationship between environmental and social forces from the Pleistocene glaciations to the Anthropocene present. Pleistocene extinctions; transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture; origins of cities, states, and civilization; adaptations and collapses of Old and New World civilizations in the face of climate disasters; the destruction and reconstruction of the New World by the Old. Focus on issues of adaptation, resilience, and sustainability, including forces that caused long-term societal change.  SO
TTh 9am-10:15am

* ARCG 473b / ANTH 473b / EVST 473b / NELC 473, Abrupt Climate Change and Societal CollapseHarvey Weiss

The coincidence of societal collapses throughout history with decadal and century-scale drought 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 3:30pm-5:20pm

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
TTh 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

ARCG 120a / HSAR 200a, Art and Architecture of MesoamericaMary Miller and Andrew Turner

Art and architecture in Mexico and Central America from the beginnings of urban settlement to the Spanish invasion. Examination of the Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Aztec cultures, with particular attention to meaning and cultural identity as expressed in monumental sculpture, hand-held objects, and the built environment.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

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

Examination of approximately 10,000 years of Nile Valley cultural history, with an introduction to the historical and archaeological study of Egypt and Nubia. Consideration of the Nile Valley as the meeting place of the cultures and societies of northeast Africa. Various written and visual sources are used, including the collections of the Peabody Museum and the Yale Art Gallery. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  WR, HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

ARCG 218b / NELC 191b, Ancient Ships and Maritime ArchaeologyKaren Foster

Introduction to the world of the ancient mariners, with special attention to new discoveries and interpretations.  HU, SO
MF 2:30pm-3:45pm

Advanced Research

* ARCG 472b, 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.