College of Arts and Sciences
General Information  |  Academic Information  |  Departments and Programs  |  Faculty
Course Descriptions

Program in Archaeology


Overview The interdisciplinary major in archaeology combines the faculty and resources of several departments to create a program of study in prehistoric, historic, and classical archaeology. The discipline is concerned with the recovery, analysis, and interpretation of the material remains of past cultures and societies. The topics of study pursued within the program can vary widely, ranging from issues of human origins and cultural evolution to the study of Classical Greece and Rome; from the structure of ancient Pueblo societies in the American Southwest to the study of colonial life in Virginia. The program provides majors with a knowledge of archaeological method and theory and a thorough grounding in specific cultural areas.

Faculty As an interdisciplinary program, the faculty is composed of seven archaeology faculty members from the anthropology and art departments. In addition, other faculty from architecture, history, religious studies, environmental science, and chemistry offer courses which complement the major. Faculty sponsored field research in archaeology is currently being conducted in the Southwestern United States, Virginia, the Near East, Africa, and Italy.

Students There are approximately twenty students currently majoring in archaeology. Students are required to complete a core program of three courses which include one course in anthropological archaeology (prehistoric), one course in classical archaeology (Greek or Roman), and one in archaeological field methods. Beyond those courses, students may either choose to focus on one area or seek a broad base of study in several time periods and geographical regions.

Upon graduation, many majors pursue a professional career in archaeology which typically requires an advanced degree. The University's archaeology majors are sought by the best graduate programs in the United States, and are often offered significant financial support. Many who wish to pursue field research opportunities following graduation (often prior to entering graduate school) have found professional employment in the area of archaeological resource management, a growing private industry in the environmental impact field. Others have found employment with government agencies and museums. Since archaeology is a liberal arts major that offers a unique merger of both humanistic and scientific thought, many majors draw upon this training in pursuing careers in medicine, law, and a range of other fields.

Requirements for Major All students enroll in a core curriculum of three courses which provide a broad overview of prehistoric and classical archaeology, and exposure to field methods both in theory and on an actual archaeological site. Five additional courses, selected in consultation with program advisors, explore specific areas and issues of archaeological research in various parts of the world. Other courses from the department of anthropology, history, and art may be substituted in consultation with program advisors. The final two courses are selected from such related areas as classics, religious studies, chemistry, and environmental sciences.

Requirements for Minor The minor consists of the core curriculum and an additional nine credits to be chosen in consultation with a program advisor.

Distinguished Majors Program in Archaeology Students with superior academic performance are encouraged to apply to the Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in which they write a thesis demonstrating independent study of high quality. The requirements for admission to the DMP are:

  1. satisfaction of all College requirements as stated in the Record with a GPA of at least 3.4 in all University courses;
  2. a GPA of at least 3.4 in all courses taken as part of the archaeology major;
  3. permission of an advisor, who may be any member of the program's faculty that is willing to take on the responsibility of supervising the thesis and is normally someone to whom the students have already demonstrated their ability in a specialized course at the 500 level.
Once the advisor has been secured, students should seek two additional faculty members who agree to read the thesis. The students register for three credits of AAS 451 (Directed Research) in the first semester of the fourth year. In this course, the students conduct research for, and write the first draft of their thesis. In the second semester, students register for AAS 452 (Thesis) and revise the draft based on the committee's recommendations, producing a finished thesis of about 8,000 words or 40 pages, which must be approved by the committee and deposited at the Woodson Institute. The thesis committee makes a recommendation AS Steering Committee for final approval of the thesis. Students who would like assistance in initiating this program should see their advisor.

Additional Information For more information, contact Rachel Most, Department of Anthropology, 101 Brooks Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (434) 924-7044; rm5f@virginia.edu.

Course Descriptions


Core Courses

ANTH 280 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Archaeology

Topics include alternative theories of prehistoric culture change, dating methods, excavation and survey techniques, and the reconstruction of the economy, social organization, and religion of prehistoric societies.

ARTH 215 - (3) (O)
Introduction to Classical Archaeology

Introduces the history, theory, and field techniques of classical archaeology.

ANTH 381 - (3-6) (SS)
Field Methods in Archaeology

Provides a comprehensive training in archaeological field techniques through participation in research projects currently in progress under the direction of the archaeology faculty. The emphasis is on learning, in an actual field situation, how the collection of archaeological data is carried out in both survey and excavation. Students become familiar with field recording systems, excavation techniques, survey methods, sampling theory in archaeology, and artifact processing and analysis. (Field methods courses outside anthropology or offered at other universities may be substituted for ANTH 381 with the prior approval of the student's advisor.)

Additional Courses

The following list includes additional courses which have been approved for the major program. Other courses can be added, depending on the student's area of concentration, with the approval of an advisor.

ANTH 220 - (3) (Y)
Dynamics of Social Organization

ANTH 253 - (3) (Y)
North American Indians

ANTH 281 - (3) (Y)
Human Origins

ANTH 282 - (3) (Y)
Aztec, Inca, and Maya: Civilization of the New World

ANTH 321 - (3) (O)
Kinship and Social Organization

ANTH 322- (3) (O)
Introduction to Economic Anthropology

ANTH 327 - (3) (Y)
Political Anthropology

ANTH 332 - (3) (O)
Shamanism, Healing, and Ritual

ANTH 333 - (3) (O)
Ethno-Poetics, Primitive Art and Aesthetics

ANTH 354 - (3) (O)
Indians of the American Southwest

ANTH 383 - (3) (Y)
North American Archaeology

ANTH 508 - (3) (Y)
Method and Theory in Archaeology

ANTH 580 - (Credits to be arranged) (SI)
Archaeology Laboratory

ANTH 581 - (3) (SI)
Archaeology of the Eastern United States

ANTH 589 - (3) (Y)
Selected Topics in Archaeology

ARTH 211 - (3) (IR)
Art of the Ancient Near East and Prehistoric Europe

ARTH 213 - (3) (Y)
Greek Art

ARTH 214 - (3) (Y)
Etruscan and Roman Art

ARTH 313 - (3) (IR)
Art and Poetry in Classical Greece

ARTH 315 - (3) (IR)
The Greek City

ARTH 316 - (3) (IR)
Roman Architecture

ARTH 491 - (3) (S)
Undergraduate Seminar in the History of Art Greek or Roman only.

ARTH 518 - (3) (IR)
Roman Imperial Art and Architecture I

ARTH 519 - (3) (IR)
Roman Imperial Art and Architecture II

CHEM 191 - (3) (IR)
Archaeological Chemistry

HIEU 203 - (3) (Y)
Ancient Greece

HIEU 204 - (3) (Y)
Roman Republic and Empire

HIEU 501 - (3) (IR)
The Rise of the Greek Polis

HIEU 502 - (3) (IR)
The Developed Greek Polis and the Spread of Hellenism

HIEU 503 - (3) (IR)
History of the Roman Republic

HIEU 504 - (3) (IR)
History of the Roman Empire

REL 214 - (3) (E)
Archaic Cult and Myth

AR H 515P - (3) (Y)
Historical Archaeology

Undergraduate Record Home  |  College of Arts & Sciences