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Archaeology Courses

In the U.S., archaeology is considered a sub-discipline of Anthropology. At Washington College you can find archaeology courses listed in the catalog and course registration lists under Anthropology. Students with an interest in archaeology major in Anthropology. A number of courses also are cross-listed with Environmental Studies.

Introduction to Environmental Archaeology

An archaeological overview of how humans originated as a species and how culture developed. It looks at a variety of civilizations from around the world, including Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, the Maya, and the Aztecs, exploring in particular how these civilizations came about and why they failed-the course takes an explicitly environmental and scientific approach to these questions. An Honors section is also offered.

Doing Archaeology

This course explores the field and lab methods that are used by archaeologists to explore the past. In addition to the usual course meetings and readings, students participate in a “virtual dig” and have opportunities for actual field experience.

North American Indians

The course aims to understand the diversity of histories lived by peoples north of Mexico from the first footsteps on the continent to the impact of European contact to the relationship between archaeologists and Native Americans today. 

Contemporary Issues in Archaeology

Archaeology involves more than merely excavating sites and analyzing artifacts; it is about respectfully reconstructing past events and lifeways through the lens of material remains. This class explores important archaeological issues such as collaboration between archaeologists and indigenous groups, assessment of gender and gendered activities, the illicit antiquities trade, and the ethics of museum display.

Cultures and Environments of the Chesapeake

Explores the natural development of the Chesapeake Bay since the end of the last ice age and the relationships between people and the environment. It looks at Native American cultures in the region, as well as early colonial settlements such as Jamestown and St. Mary’s City.

Field School in Archaeology

Each summer, a local site is the focus of a 4 week exploration. Students learn field and lab techniques first hand by participating in research five days a week and field trips to other sites. 

Marine Archaeology

This upper level course explores the relatively new discipline of underwater archaeology. It is designed to give students an overview of both the history and methods of the field. The course presupposes a basic understanding of archaeological method and theory. In addition to class activities, students will be involved in practical exercises such as mapping and data analysis; field trips on the Sultana and elsewhere; outside lectures on marine history and archaeology; and other activities.

Historic Preservation

This course gives students a comprehensive introduction to the theory and methods of historic preservation and cultural resource management as practiced in the United States. It examines the history of the preservation movement, the role of preservation in American culture, and the current status of the field. Course coverage will include preservation at the Federal level and practices at the state and local level, with a primary focus on Maryland. We will use a variety of case studies during the semester, looking at issues in architectural review, contract or “salvage” archaeology, and the growing business of “heritage tourism.” Finally, we will address the politics of historic preservation and the costs and benefits of this kind of activity.

Geographic Information Systems

This course teaches students the theory behind and many applications of GIS. Students have extensive hands on experience in managing and analyzing unlimited geographic data in a digital form. Learn more about GIS.

Students also can take advantage of extracurricular opportunities in the Public Archaeology Laboratory at the historic Custom House.