Archaeological Studies

10 Sachem Street, 203.432.3670

Chair and Director of Graduate Studies
Richard Burger [F]

Acting Chair and Director of Graduate Studies
William Honeychurch [Sp]

Professors Richard Burger (Anthropology), Edward Cooke, Jr. (History of Art; American Studies), John Darnell (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), Stephen Davis (Religious Studies; History), Eckart Frahm (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), Milette Gaifman (History of Art; Classics), J.G. Manning (Classics; History), Roderick McIntosh (Anthropology), Nadine Moeller (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), Eric Sargis (Anthropology; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), Anne Underhill (Anthropology), David Watts (Anthropology), Harvey Weiss (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; School of the Environment)

Associate Professors Oswaldo Chinchilla (Anthropology), William Honeychurch (Anthropology), Andrew Johnston (Classics; History)

Lecturers, Research Associates, and Research Scientists Ellery Frahm (Anthropology), Gregory Marouard (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), Lucy Salazar (Anthropology), Catherine Skinner (Earth and Planetary Sciences)

The aim of the program is to give students the academic background needed for careers in museums, cultural resource management, and teaching in community colleges and secondary schools. It also provides the opportunity for teachers, curators, and administrators to refresh themselves on recent developments in archaeology. In addition, the program enables some of our students to strengthen their background in archaeology before applying to Ph.D. programs. The program is administered by Yale’s Council on Archaeological Studies, with faculty from the Departments of Anthropology, Classics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, History, History of Art, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and Religious Studies.

Special Requirements for the M.A. Degree

Courses are drawn from the graduate programs of the participating departments and from those undergraduate courses that are also open to graduate students. Eight courses are required. Unless previously taken for credit, these will include the archaeological laboratory overview; at least one additional laboratory course; a course related to archaeology in two of the following three groups: (1) anthropology; (2) classics, history, history of art, Near Eastern languages & civilizations, or religious studies; (3) earth and planetary sciences, ecology and evolutionary biology, or environment; and four electives. All students are required to participate in an approved summer field project. In addition, each student will write a master’s thesis. Degree candidates are required to pay a minimum of one year of full tuition. Full-time students can complete the course requirements in one academic year, and all students are expected to complete the program within a maximum period of three academic years.

For further information, visit the Archaeological Studies website, Inquiries may be directed to Director of Graduate Studies, c/o Registrar, Archaeological Studies, Department of Anthropology, Yale University, PO Box 208277, New Haven CT 06520-8277, or via email,


ARCG 642a / NELC 744a, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Techniques: Their Histories and Socioeconomic ImplicationsGregory Marouard

This seminar investigates in detail ancient Egyptian materials, techniques, and industries through the scope of archaeology, history, and socioeconomical, textual, and iconographic data. When possible, ethnoarchaeological and experimental approaches of the antique chaîne-opératoire are discussed in order to illustrate skills and professions that have now completely disappeared. This class is organized according to various themes within a diachronical approach, from the fourth millennium BCE to the Roman period. Copper and precious metals, construction stones, hard stones and gems, glass and faience production, imported wood or ivory—we explore multiple categories of materials; where and how they were collected or exchanged; the way these products were transported, transformed, refined, or assembled; and the complex organization of the work involved and administration that was required in order to satisfy the tastes of Egyptian elites or their desires to worship their gods. Some other vernacular savoir-faire linked to everyday life and death is explored, through food production and mummification practices. The aim is not only to give an overview of the history of techniques for this early civilization but also, beyond how things were made, to acquire a more critical view of ancient Egyptian culture through material culture and the strong economic and sociological implications linked to objects and constructions―rather than the usual focus on Egyptian temples and tombs.
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

ARCG 701a / ANTH 701a, Foundations of Modern ArchaeologyRichard Burger

How method, theory, and social policy have influenced the development of archaeology as a set of methods, an academic discipline, and a political tool. Prerequisite: a background in the basics of archaeology equivalent to one of the introductory courses.
F 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 716La / ANTH 716La, Introduction to Archaeological Laboratory SciencesEllery 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 1:30pm-4:30pm

ARCG 717a / ANTH 717a, Ancient Maya 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.
MW 9am-10:15am

ARCG 750a / ANTH 750a, Analysis of Lithic TechnologyOswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

This course provides an introduction to the analysis of the chipped and ground stone tools found on archaeological sites. As a laboratory course, it includes hands-on instruction: we learn how to manufacture chipped stone tools out of obsidian. We begin by reviewing the development of chipped and ground stone tool technology from the earliest simple pebble tools to historical period tools. We discuss the relevance of lithics research to issues of subsistence, craft specialization, and trade. We also discuss how these artifacts are recorded, analyzed, and drawn, and we review related studies such as sourcing and use-wear analysis.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 755a / ANTH 755a, Inca Culture and SocietyRichard Burger

The history and organization of the Inca empire and its impact on the nations and cultures conquered by it. The role of archaeology in understanding the transformation of Andean lifeways is explored, as is the interplay between ethnohistoric and archaeological approaches to the subject.
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

ARCG 759a / ANTH 759a, Social Complexity in Ancient ChinaAnne Underhill

This seminar explores the variety of archaeological methods and theoretical approaches that have been employed to investigate the development and nature of social complexity in ancient China. The session meetings focus on the later prehistoric and early historic periods, and several geographic regions are included. They also consider how developments in ancient China compare to other areas of the world. Most of the readings emphasize archaeological remains, although relevant information from early historical texts is considered.
T 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 769b / AMST 716b / ANTH 769b / HSAR 716b, Landscapes of Meaning: Museums and Their ObjectsAnne Underhill

This seminar explores how museums convey various meanings about ethnographic, art, and archaeological objects through the processes of collecting, preparing exhibitions, and conducting research. Participants also discuss broader theoretical and methodological issues such as the roles of museums in society, relationships with source communities, management of cultural heritage, and various specializations valuable for careers in art, natural history, anthropology, history, and other museums.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 771b / ANTH 771b, Early Complex SocietiesAnne Underhill and Richard Burger

A consideration of theories and methods developed by archaeologists to recognize and understand complex societies in prehistory. Topics include the nature of social differentiation and stratification as applied in archaeological interpretation; emergence of complex societies in human history; case studies of societies known ethnographically and archaeologically.
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

ARCG 772b / ANTH 772b, Cities in Antiquity: The Archaeology of UrbanismOswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

Archaeological studies of ancient cities and urbanism. Topics include the origin and growth of cities; the economic, social, and political implications of urban life; and archaeological methods and theories for the study of ancient urbanism. Case studies include ancient cities around the world.
M 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 780b / ANTH 780b, Archaeology of ReligionRichard Burger

The course explores archaeological approaches to the study of religion. While the term “religion” is hard to define, it is generally agreed that religious phenomena occur in almost all cultures and that this realm played a significant part in most prehistoric cultures. In order to provide a broad vision of this theme, the course begins by considering influential schools of thought on the definition, origins, and social significance of religious behavior. The course then reviews a variety of methods that scholars may use to reconstruct ancient beliefs and rituals. The course assesses the applicability and success of these methodologies across the broad spectrum of ancient cultures representing differing degrees of sociopolitical complexity. Finally, we explore case studies from a diverse range of ancient societies and consider the impact of religious behaviors within their broader cultural contexts.
WF 2:30pm-3:45pm

ARCG 785a / ANTH 785a, Archaeological Ceramics IAnne Underhill

Ceramics are a rich source of information about a range of topics including ancient technology, cooking practices, craft specialization, regional trade, and religious beliefs. This course provides a foundation for investigating such topics and gaining practical experience in archaeological analysis of ceramics. Students have opportunities to focus on ceramics of particular interest to them, whether these are low-fired earthen wares, or porcelains. We discuss ancient pottery production and use made in diverse contexts ranging from households in villages to workshops in cities. In addition we refer to the abundant ethnoarchaeological data about traditional pottery production.
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 788a / ANTH 788a / NELC 731a, Origins of Ancient Egypt: Archaeology of the Neolithic, Predynastic, and Early Dynastic PeriodsGregory Marouard

This seminar is a graduate-level course that examines, from an archaeological and material culture perspective, the origins of the Egyptian civilization from the late Neolithic period (ca. 5500 BC) to the beginning of the Early Dynastic period (ca. 2900-2800 BC). After a progressive change of the Northeastern Africa climate in the course of the sixth millennium BC, the late Neolithic populations regroup within the Nile valley and rapidly settle in several parts of this natural corridor and major axis of communication between the African continent and the Middle East. Strongly influenced by the Saharan or the Levantine Neolithic, two early Egyptian sedentary communities will arise in Lower and Upper Egypt with very distinctive material cultures and burial practices, marking the gradual development of a complex society from which emerge important societal markers such as social differentiation, craft specialization, long-distance exchange networks, emergence of writing, administration and centralization, that will slowly lead to the development of local elites and early forms of kingship controlling proto-kingdoms. From those societies and the consecutive assimilation of both into a single cultural identity, around 3200 BC, some of the main characteristics of the subsequent Egyptian civilization will emerge from this crucial phase of state formation. Most of the major archaeological sites of this period are investigated through the scope of material culture; art; funerary traditions; and the study of large settlement and cemetery complexes using, as much as possible, information from recent excavations and discoveries. This course includes in particular the study of the first Neolithic settlements (Fayum, Merimde, al-Omari, Badari), the Lower Egyptian cultures (Buto, Maadi, Helwan and the Eastern Delta), the various phases of the Naqada cultures (at Hierakonpolis, Naqada and Ballas, Abydos), and the rise of the state (specifically in Abydos and Memphis areas). This course is suitable for graduate students (M.A. and Ph.D. programs) in the fields of Egyptology, archaeology, anthropology, and ancient history. With instructor and residential college dean approval, undergraduate students with a specialty in Egyptology or archaeology can register. No background in Egyptology is required, and no Egyptian language is taught. This course is the first in a series of chronological survey courses in Egyptian Archaeology.
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 864a or b / ANTH 864a or b, 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.