Introduction to Archaeology

I. Course description

Introduction to Archaeology is designed to introduce students to the basic methods used by archaeologists to study the past and address some of the issues facing archaeologists today using lectures, readings, and a wide variety of hands-on exercises.  The class will participate in field exercises in which they will perform tasks similar to those which would be encountered in routine archaeological investigations, identify artifacts, learn about the various laws concerning archaeological materials and how those laws are implemented, and methods used to gain insights on the past.  No experience or detailed knowledge of archaeology is required, and those will particular interest in physics, chemistry, geology, or biology can see how those fields contribute to the study of life in the past.  Student responsibilities include completion of assigned readings and participation in discussion of topics addressed by the class. Students are also encouraged to submit ideas for lecture topics and discussion.

II. Instructor’s educational preparation and current employment

I have just completed all coursework necessary to receive a Master of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and am working on finishing my thesis project.

Address: 107 Swallow Hall

University of Missouri-Columbia

Columbia, Missouri  65211


III. Rationale for inclusion in a program for gifted students.

Archaeology is a public resource that is often not well understood.  It is also a subject not often covered in high-school curriculum;  an archaeology class shows students how many different disciplines can be combined, such as biology, geology, physics, and history.

IV. Major Topics Covered
  • Peopling the New World
  • Dating techniques
  • Age and sex estimation of human skeletal material
  • Field methods
V. Pre-requisite Knowledge


VI. Learning Objectives
  • Understanding and knowledge of current issues facing archaeologists, i.e. NAGPRA, Kennewick Man, and professional ethics.
  • Basic understanding of how excavations are carried out and why
  • Understanding of current archaeological theories and the problems with each
VII. Primary Source Material

Ancient North America by Brian M. Fagan

VIII. Supplementary Source Material

Annual Editions: Archaeology 01/02, published by McGraw-Hill

IX. Computing and Internet (if applicable)

Web searches on a variety of archaeological topics