Archaeology explains when, how and why things happened in the past. Archaeologists document patterns of change and variability through time and space and relate these changes to the world around us today. In broader terms, archaeological research involves the discovery, description and analysis of technological adaptation, social organization, artistic production, ideology and other forms of human expression through the study of material remains recovered from the excavation of sites that were used or settled by past peoples. Analyses may be peculiarly archaeological in nature - the classification of broken pieces of pottery is an example - or they may involve the use of methods, analytical techniques and information from fields as diverse as art history, astronomy, biological anthropology, botany, chemistry, genetics, history, linguistics, materials science, philology, physics, social anthropology, and zoology.

The formal study of archaeology prepares students to evaluate critically the record of human material production and to develop informed perspectives on the ways the past is presented, interpreted, and dealt with by a wide range of actors - from interested individuals to nation-states - in societies around the world today. Archaeologists carry out basic research in the field and in museum collections and increasingly deal with such topics as cultural resource management (including the recovery, documentation, conservation and restoration of ancient artifacts); cultural tourism; nationalistic uses and abuses of the past; the depiction of the past in the media (including film, television, and the internet); the illegal trade in antiquities; repatriation of cultural patrimony; and environmental and climatic change.

Requirements: 5 half-courses

  1. One introductory half-course selected from:

    • Anthropology 1010: Introduction to Archaeology

    • Social Analysis 50: Urban Revolutions: Archaeology and the Investigation of Early States

    • Anthropology 1130: Archaeology of Harvard Yard

    • Classical Archaeology 100: Introduction to Classical Archaeology

  2. Four additional half-courses selected from those listed in the Archaeology chapter of Courses of Instruction, and approved by the secondary field adviser. A list of sample course groupings is available here.

In addition to the required introductory course listed above, a student may count for the secondary field only one additional introductory course from the above list.

Other Information

Only one Core or General Education course may be counted towards the secondary field. All course work must be taken for a letter grade and must be passed with a grade of B- or better.

Students pursuing a secondary field in Archaeology are strongly encouraged to participate in an archaeological field school in the U.S. or abroad. There are currently two summer archaeological field schools in Latin America taught by Harvard faculty, as well as one field course in the Archaeology of Harvard Yard given every other academic year. Students who complete a Harvard-sponsored or a pre-approved off-campus archaeological field school may count one half-course credit from that field school experience toward completion of the secondary field. Students enrolling in a Harvard or Harvard-approved off-campus study program may seek pre-approval from the Chair of the Standing Committee on Archaeology to have one class on that study program counted.

Advising Resources and Expectations

For more information, please contact the secondary field adviser in Archaeology, Richard Meadow,