May 26, 2024  
Course Catalog 2017-2018 
Course Catalog 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Archaeological Studies

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Drew Wilburn, Irvin E. Houck Associate Professor in the Humanities; Chair

Archaeology is the study of the past through material remains. Archaeological Studies at Oberlin is a program of interdepartmental offerings that covers a range of cultures-from prehistoric to early historic-in both the Old and New Worlds. This program of study also introduces students to the analytic tools that facilitate archaeological research.

Archeological Studies is an interdisciplinary major administered by the Curricular Committee on Archaeology.  First, it requires students, regardless of their specific interests, to become acquainted with a range of different archaeological research perspectives among those represented in the College curriculum. Second, it permits students to explore the interrelations between archaeology and science in a manner that is consistent with current trends in both study and research.

Majors design their own curriculum in close consultation with their advisor according to the specific area of concentration within the discipline.

The core curriculum consists of a selection of courses drawn from the regular offerings in Anthropology, Art, Classics, and Religion, and supplemented by appropriate courses in related disciplines such as Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Geology, Mathematics, and Physics.


An Archaeological Studies major consists of at least 10 full academic courses to be distributed as follows:

1. Introduction to Archaeology (Anthropology 203) is required of all majors

2. In addition, at least 4 full academic courses from the following departments: Anthropology, Art, Classics, Religion. There should be at least 2 courses in 2 of these departments. These courses may include: Anthropology (relevant courses), Art (ancient art courses in the 200 - 400 ranges); Classics (103, 104, and courses with a material culture emphasis); and Religion (courses with a material culture emphasis). Among these, students must take at least one seminar.

3. Three full academic courses in natural science, mathematics. Geology 120 and a course in statistics are strongly recommended and to be taken as early in the major as possible. Majors may also find GEOL 235 Applied GIS useful (this course has a prerequisite of GEOL 120). Other courses should be selected in close consultation with the major advisor and may include relevant courses in: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Studies (courses that have the NS designation), Geology, Mathematics, Statistics, and Physics.

Please consult indvidual departmental listings for full course descriptions and availability in a given semester and year.  Not all of these courses are offered every year.  Students who wish to apply courses from departments not on this list to the major may petition the Curricular Committee on Archaeology for approval to substitute.

4. One full academic course or equivalent of field or laboratory experience (Archaeological Studies 200 or equivalent). This experience can be gained through internships or participation in an archaeological field school.

5. Senior Project: The Senior Project is a one-semester, or one-semester and Winter Term independent study that investigates a body of archaeological data, undertaken during the senior year. The Senior Project offers an opportunity to draw together an individual student’s curricular components and to apply the techniques that they have learned to a discrete corpus of material. The Senior Project can be undertaken as an independent course under the direction of a faculty member or as a research project on material culture within a course with an archaeological focus. In either case, students must enroll in Archaeological Studies 300 in consultation with the project advisor.

Research projects may potentially encompass, but are not limited to, the following areas:

1.  Analysis and investigation of individual archaeological artifacts, multiple archaeological objects, or corpora of archaeological artifacts

2.  Testing and analysis of archaeological methods of techniques

3.  Investigation of archaeological data derived from fieldwork, including both excavation and survey

4.  A museum exhibition, either real or virtual, that incorporates archaeological material

5.  Application of digital technologies to archaeological data

6.  A project related to cultural heritage perservation

7.  A project related to an internship or museum study undertaken during Winter Term or the Summer

An invitation from the Curricular Committee on Archaeology to participate in the Honors Program would replace the Senior Project requirement. For further information, consult the Chair of the program or the Archeological Studies program web site.

Students may choose to concentrate in Classical Archaeology, in which case Latin or Greek 202 (or the equivalent) and Classics 103-History of Greece and Classics 104-History of Rome are required. This concentration will be registered on the student’s transcript.

Those students planning to study archaeology at the graduate level should plan to have a reading knowledge of appropriate foreign languages and a familiarity with all relevant computer applications. It is recommended that Statistics be taken as early in the major as possible.

For further information about the Archaeological Studies major, students should contact the chair.


There is no minor offered in Archaeological Studies.


Participation in the Honors program is by invitation of the Curricular Committee on Archaeology.

Winter Term

Winter Term projects, mini-courses, colloquia, and lectures are sponsored by the Curricular Committee. As in the College Individual Major Program, students may take reading courses as a means of integrating their interests.

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