Archaeology is the study of past human societies through their material remains. Archaeology is important because it is one of the only sources of information about the majority of societies that have existed on earth. Archaeologists write a human history that is richer, more representative and more complex than we would otherwise have. Archaeologists provide insights about human behavior that give us a better understanding of our nature and potential for the future. The strengths of the department's Archaeology Program are in the areas of archaeological method and theory, California prehistory, prehistoric maritime adaptations and the rise of cultural complexity, complex societies, Mesoamerican cave archaeology, Maya ideology, ceramics analysis, and cultural resource management.
Opportunities For Field Research
The Department currently offers unparalleled opportunities for student involvement in archaeological research with three active field programs: the California Coastal and Island Research Program, the China Lake Archaeological Research Program and the Mesoamerican Cave Archaeology Research Program. Students participate in excavations on the Channel Islands and mainland coast and China Lake by signing up for ANTH 424: Archaeological Research Techniques in the Summer and Fall, respectively.
California Coastal and Island Research Program
The California Coastal and Island Research Program provides numerous opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to obtain hands-on experience through the excavation and analysis of coastal and island sites. These data are used to address anthropological questions regarding California history and prehistory and to test models about island and coastal adaptations that are applicable throughout the Pacific. The materials collected during fieldwork are used by students for Masters and Honors theses, presentations at professional conferences, and peer-reviewed publications. analysis course.
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China Lake Archaeological Research Program
Since 2007 this program has provided opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to participate in archaeological field work in the Mojave Desert. Research questions address prehistoric hunter-gatherer adaptations in the arid regions of California and the Great Basin culture area as a whole. In the field, students learn skills and gain experience in excavation, survey, site recordation and mapping, and are introduced to the collection of data for use in Geographic Information Systems. In the laboratory, students analyze materials recovered in the field, including lithic artifacts, ceramics and faunal remains. Advanced students have opportunities to conduct in-depth research in both prehistoric and historic archaeology. Fieldwork is conducted at the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, Ridgecrest, California every other weekend (Friday – Sunday) throughout the fall quarter to accommodate working students.
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Mesoamerican Cave Archaeology Research Program
The Mesoamerican Cave Archaeology Research Program has provided opportunities for a limited number of serious undergraduate and graduate students to participate in cutting-edge archaeological research in Mexico and Central America since 2001. Students are given important responsibilities and encouraged to publish on the results of their work. Expeditions are carried out during the Spring or Summer Quarter and generally last four to six weeks. Students are invited to participate based on a number of criteria such as: performance in archaeology classes and previous archaeological experience. The ability to speak Spanish is always an asset. The program pays airfare and field expenses for participating students.
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The archaeology program encourages its students to get involved in research, present their results at professional meetings and publish articles in professional journals. With an abundance of faculty support, our students have been very successful. Click below to see what some have been doing.
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