The Columbia Center for Archaeology: 965 Schermerhorn Extension

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Brian Boyd,

Archaeology is the study of the material conditions inhabited and acted upon by people in the past and present. Investigation of the past through the study of material remains is entangled with historiography, politics, and individual and collective memory, and is implicated in the production of present-day identities. Archaeology has come to mean many things to different generations of scholars, yet all approaches share in common a focus on the physical remains of the past and on the interpretive acts that enliven these remains and are challenged by them.

At Columbia, archaeology is a multidisciplinary field practiced by faculty and students in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. At present, there are faculty in the Departments of Anthropology; Art History and Archaeology; Classics; East Asian Languages and Cultures; Historic Preservation; History; Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies; as well as in the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, all of whom conduct research on prehistory, ancient society, or historical archaeology.

Among locations in which students and faculty are conducting or participating in field programs are Argentina, Peru, Central America, the North American Southwest, New York City, upstate New York, the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Israel, Palestine, and Madagascar. Archaeologists at Columbia also work with professionals at a wide range of institutions in New York. Among the institutions at which students in particular programs may conduct research, or work on internships, are the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the National Museum of the American Indian, the New York Botanical Garden, and the South Street Seaport Museum.

Departmental Honors

For the requirements for departmental honors, please check with the program advisers. Normally no more than 10% of graduating majors receive departmental honors in a given academic year.


  • Zainab Bahrani
  • Terence D’Altroy
  • Holger Klein
  • Feng Li
  • Kristina Milnor (Barnard)
  • Stephen Murray
  • Esther Pasztory (emerita)
  • Nan Rothschild (Barnard, emerita)
  • Marc Van De Mieroop

Associate Professors

  • Francesco Benelli
  • Zoë Crossland
  • Francesco de Angelis
  • Severin Fowles (Barnard)
  • Ioannis Mylonopoulos

Assistant Professors

  • Ellen Morris (Barnard)
  • Marco Maiuro

Adjunct/Visiting Professors

  • Brian Boyd
  • Megan O'Neil (Barnard)
  • Walter Pitman
  • Adam Watson
  • Norman Weiss
  • George Wheeler


  • Clarence Gifford
  • Jill Shapiro

On Leave

Guidelines for all Archaeology Majors and Concentrators


It is recommended that archaeology students consider introductory courses in Earth and environmental sciences, environmental biology, and/or chemistry for their Core Curriculum science requirement.

For information on upper-level graduate courses and courses in historic preservation, please see the program advisers. Decisions about upper-level, related, or seminar courses that are not on this list and their applicability to the major or concentration in archaeology should be made in consultation with the program advisers.

Graduate Study

Students intending to pursue graduate degrees in archaeology should be aware that a reading knowledge of two languages is often required as part of graduate study. Further, although language courses do not count toward the major or concentration, students are encouraged to acquire language training that is relevant to their particular interests in archaeology.

Major in Archaeology

Please read Guidelines for all Archaeology Majors and Concentrators above.

The program of study should be planned as early as possible with the program advisers, preferably before the end of the sophomore year and no later than the beginning of the junior year. The major in archaeology requires a total of 30 points within the major and 9 points of related courses as follows:

Two introductory courses:
ANTH UN2028Think Like an Archaeologist: Introduction to Method & Theory
ANTH UN1008The Rise of Civilization
or ANTH UN1007 The Origins of Human Society
Select two upper-level courses from different regions of the world, in addition to three other upper-level courses, planned in consultation with the program advisers.
Participation of four to six weeks in field projects with which Columbia University is affiliated, independent study in excavation or other field projects, or relevant museum internship and/or lab work. *
Select one laboratory course in archaeology or its equivalent in the field, as approved by the program advisers.
The capstone seminar in archaeology:
ANTH UN3993World Archaeologies/Global Perspectives
Select 9 points of related courses, planned with the program advisers in accordance with the student’s interests.
A senior thesis is recommended for students planning to pursue a graduate degree. ***

The field, school, project, or internship must be approved in advance by the program advisers, and arrangements should be made in advance with the director of undergraduate studies for credits to be accepted as part of the degree. For more information, see the Center for Archaeology website.


Taught alternate years, preferably taken in the junior or senior year, or a substitute seminar to be decided with the advance approval of the director of undergraduate studies. Students who are writing a thesis may substitute a thesis seminar for this requirement. 


Topics should be discussed with a faculty adviser during the junior year, allowing time for planning, research, and travel during the following summer. In the senior year, students may register for two semesters of senior thesis study with their adviser, e.g., ANTH UN3997 Supervised Individual Research Course In Anthropology or ANTH UN3999 The Senior Thesis Seminar in Anthropology, to cover the writing of the thesis. The final draft of the thesis must be submitted by March 25. (See the Center for Archaeology webpages for more information.)

Concentration in Archaeology

Please read Guidelines for all Archaeology Majors and Concentrators above.

The program of study should be planned with the program advisers. The concentration in archaeology requires a total of 21 points from within anthropology, art history and archaeology, and other approved departments, with no more than four courses being taken within any single department. Requirements for the concentration are as follows:

Select one of the following introductory courses:
ANTH UN1007The Origins of Human Society
ANTH UN1008The Rise of Civilization
ANTH UN2028Think Like an Archaeologist: Introduction to Method & Theory
Select one seminar or colloquium in the Departments of Anthropology, Art History and Archaeology, Classics, or History, as approved by the program advisers.
Select three upper-level courses, including at least one from two different regions of the world.
Select one related course, planned with the program advisers in accordance with the student's interests.

ANTH UN2028 Think Like an Archaeologist: Introduction to Method & Theory. 4 points.

$25 mandatory lab fee.

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to methods and theory in archaeology – by exploring how archaeologists work to create narratives about the past (and the present) on the basis on the material remains of the past. The course begins with a consideration of how archaeologists deal with the remains of the past in the present: What are archaeological sites and how do we ‘discover’ them? How do archaeologists ‘read’ or analyze sites and artifacts? From there, we will turn to the question of how archaeologists interpret these materials traces, in order to create narratives about life in the past. After a review of the historical development of theoretical approaches in archaeological interpretation, the course will consider contemporary approaches to interpreting the past.

Spring 2023: ANTH UN2028
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ANTH 2028 001/12320 T Th 7:40pm - 8:55pm
517 Hamilton Hall
Allison McGovern 4 47/45

Of Related Interest

Ancient Studies
ANCS UN3995The Major Seminar
ANCS V3135Ancient Novel
ANCS UN3998Directed Research In Ancient Studies
ANTH UN1007The Origins of Human Society
ANTH UN1008The Rise of Civilization
ANTH UN3300Pre-Columbian Histories of Native America
ANTH UN3823Archaeology Engaged: The Past in the Public Eye
ANTH UN3970Biological Basis of Human Variation
ANTH UN3993World Archaeologies/Global Perspectives
ANTH UN3997Supervised Individual Research Course In Anthropology
ANTH GU4147Human Skeletal Biology I
Art History and Archaeology
AHIS W3230Medieval Architecture
AHIS UN3248Greek Art and Architecture
AHIS UN3250Roman Art and Architecture
AHUM UN3342Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture
AHIS C3997Senior Thesis
AHIS W4155Art and Archaeology of Mesopotamia
CLCV GU4110Gender and Sexuality In Ancient Greece
Earth and Environmental Sciences
EESC UN3010Field Geology
East Asian Languages and Cultures
ASCE UN1359Introduction to East Asian Civilizations: China
HSEA GU4725Tibetan Visual & Material History
HSEA W4869History of Ancient China to the End of Han
HIST UN1004Ancient History of Egypt
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies