About the Curriculum
Housed in the Research Laboratories of Archaeology (RLA), the Curriculum in Archaeology provides students broad interdisciplinary perspectives on the past, and integrates them into an interdepartmental archaeological community on campus. The curriculum focuses on the systematic study of the human past through its material remains, by means of the excavation, recovery, and interpretation of artifacts and other associated materials. Historical, environmental, and comparative components enable the examination of different cultures through time and space, as well as the reconstruction of past lifeways, and the interpretation of ancient social, political, and economic relations. For undergraduates, the Curriculum culminates in a liberal arts degree that prepares students for graduate training in archaeology, or for a career in any field that requires skills in analytical thinking, writing, and teamwork. For graduate students, it provides doctoral training that leads to jobs in universities, museums, and cultural resource management.
While at Carolina, our archaeology students learn about cultural diversity through space and time, as well as the importance of preserving world heritage, which is threatened in regions where there are violent conflicts or unrestricted development. Archaeology classes are designed to get students to think about the ancient world on its own terms, but also to understand the place of the past in understanding modern societies; to explore the present as the accumulation of genetic, intellectual, and material memories of the past, and as a physical and aggregate history of things, people, and ideas that survive and exist in the present. On the most basic level, the Curriculum encourages students to develop transferable skills in reading, writing, and research that enable them to participate in critical inquiry and informed debate about the ancient world, the history of the human condition, and its impact on the present.
The program of the Curriculum in Archaeology is fundamentally and intrinsically interdisciplinary, because of the essential interdepartmental structure of the program, and the very nature of the discipline of archaeology itself. It exposes students to a variety of scientific approaches that cross-cut disciplinary boundaries, and it applies a diversity of research methods to a variety of cultural and geographic contexts. Archaeology majors and minors are trained to think globally and unconventionally about complex research problems and to apply their knowledge in practice. They learn about the value of human and cultural diversity and about the outreach potential of helping local communities around the world understand, care for, and build upon their heritage. Furthermore, their training is enriched by the experiential component intrinsic in the practice of archaeology in the field and in the laboratory.
The geographic scope of the program reflects the diverse cultural and regional specialties of the contributing faculty, including the Americas, Europe, the prehistoric and classical Mediterranean, Egypt, the Near East, and Africa. Regularly, faculty offer fieldwork opportunities that expose students to the archaeology of the colonial period in the Carolinas, early Iron Age Crete, the Mississippian of the Deep South, the Moche period in Peru, the Maya and their descendants in Mesoamerica, and ancient Israel/Palestine.
At the same time, the varied methodological expertise and theoretical interests of the faculty expose students to a broad set of analytical skills, research topics, and public engagement activities. The Archaeology Major prepares students for graduate study in traditional areas of anthropological archaeology, Mediterranean archaeology, and museum studies or careers in cultural resource management and historic preservation. We also offer a Minor in Archaeology. They complement existing programs and degree tracks in Anthropology, Art History, Classics, History, Women’s & Gender Studies, American Indian Studies, African, African American and Diaspora Studies, and Religious Studies.