Archaeology Advisor: Severin Fowles

Other faculty in the Columbia Anthropology Department offering coursework and guidance in archaeology:

  • Francesco de Angelis (Associate Professor, Art History and Archaeology, Columbia)
  • Brian Boyd (Lecturer, Anthropology, Columbia)
  • Zoe Crossland (Associate Professor, Anthropology, Columbia)
  • Terrence D'Altroy (Professor, Anthropology, Columbia)
  • Feng Li (Professor, East Asian Language and Culture, Columbia)
  • Jue Guo (Assistant Professor, Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Banard)
  • Meredith Linn (Assistant Professor, Urban Studies, Barnard)
  • Ellen Morris (Assistant Professor, Classics and Ancient Studies, Barnard)
  • Nan Rothschild (Professor, Anthropology, Columbia)

Within anthropology, archaeologists specialize on the study of human communities through the material worlds they produce, consume, dwell within, and leave behind. Traditionally, this focus on objects or artifacts has gone hand-in-hand with a study of the past, particularly those millions of years of antiquity prior to widespread literacy when archaeological remains provide our sole means of exploring the vast array of human communities and their diverse evolutionary trajectories. The ancient past continues to be a core concern, but contemporary archaeologists increasingly use their object-based methodologies as a critical tool to analyze and rethink more recent historical contexts as well. Historical texts may be largely written by the wealthy and elite, but archaeological records tend to be radically democratic, documenting the stories of otherwise invisible people through the tangible remains they leave behind. As a result, archaeology has come to offer an important opportunity to challenge textual orthodoxy and write counter-histories.

During the past twenty-five years many archaeologists have further extended their methodologies and intellectual frameworks into the present to examine modern material culture and our complicated relationships with "things". Today, archaeologists can be found excavating-- both literally and figuratively-- the material record at the very moment it is produced and contested. Not surprisingly, special attention has come to be paid to how objects from the past are made meaningful in the present, be those objects in museums, embedded within monuments, or displayed on mantles. The resultant research into "cultural heritage" draws attention to the powerful manner in which past and present converge in the archaeological study of the material record.

Students with a background in archaeology may pursue graduate level research or they may develop careers in a diverse set of fields such as cultural resource management, historic preservation, museum work, repatriation and cultural property law, government, education, journalism, tourism, and the like.

Note: Students whose primary interests lie in biological anthropology are also welcome in the archaeology track. While there is no biological anthropologist on staff at Barnard, Prof. Fowles works closely with faculty at Columbia to develop a robust course of study for students interested in this specialization. 

Requirements for the Archaeology Track

Archaeology at Barnard is explicitly viewed as a subdiscipline of anthropology, and students opting to enroll in the track are expected to take a suite of core courses designed to acquaint them with both the body of social theory shared by all anthropologists as well as the special methods, empirical databases, and intellectual frameworks of archaeology. All students are strongly encouraged to take additional courses in sociocultural or linguistic anthropology beyond those required for the major. 

Eleven courses are required for the major:

(1) ANTH UN 1002 (Interpretation of Cultures)

Provides a general introduction to the intellectual history and theoretical commitments of anthropology as a discipline. 

(2) ANTH UN 1007 (The Origins of Human Society)

Surveys six million years of the human past from the emergence of bipedalism to the Neolithic Revolution drawing upon the intellectual frameworks of biological anthropology, archaeology, and critical theory. 

(3) either ANTH UN 1008 (The Rise of Civilization) or EEEB UN 1010x (The Human Species: Its Place in Nature)

Students interested in archaeology are advised to take ANTH UN 1008. Students interested in bioarchaeology or biological anthropology are advised to take EEEB UN 1010x. The former extends the survey of world prehistory initiated in ANTH UN 1007 to include the rise of archaic states and the expansion and collapse of empires. The latter provides a deeper exploration of the biological history of hominin species.

(4) ACLG UN2028y (Pasts, Presents & Futures: A Critical Introduction to 21st Century Archaeology)

ACLG UN2028y provides an introduction both to the craft of archaeology and to the intellectual history of archaeological interpretation. 

(5) either ANTH UN 3040x (Anthropological Theory I) or ANTH UN 3041 (Anthropological Theory II)

ANTH 3040 and ANTH 3041 provide students with a strong background in anthropology's intellectual history, the former focusing on anthropological theory from the 1870s-1970s and the latter focusing on theory since 1970. Both courses are required for regular anthropology majors, but students in the archaeology track are only required to enroll in one of the two.

(6, 7) both ANTH BC 3871x and BC 3872y, Senior Thesis Seminar

The Senior Seminar is composed of two courses taken in sequence by all anthropology majors at Barnard during their senior year. The seminar provides a formal setting in which students are supported in the research and writing of a thesis, the culminating scholarly project within the anthropology major. Students in the archaeology and biological anthropology track are required to write a senior thesis that may or may not be based upon original field or laboratory research. Given the special logistical concerns that can arise during archaeological research, students are strongly encouraged to discuss potential projects with their advisor during their junior year.

(8) "Field" Course

A cornerstone of the archaeology and biological anthropology major is its field requirement, typically fulfilled through enrollment in a summer archaeological field school run by Columbia or another major educational institution. Field schools provide students with the opportunity to get their hands dirty through excavation and survey, tangibly contributing to the documentation of the archaeological and/or paleoanthropological record. Field schools are offered in many parts of the world by a variety of American and foreign universities; they typically run 4-6 weeks in length and grant 3 or 4 credits. Students interested in archaeology may also fulfill this requirement by applying to the Barnard Archaeological Field Program in New Mexico, directed by Prof. Fowles or the Hadrian's Villa Excavations in Italy, directed by Prof. de Angelis. Students interested in bioarchaeology or biological anthropology may choose to fulfill this requirement by enrolling in Stony Brook University's study abroad program in the Turkana Basin, Kenya. For those students with special interests in heritage or museum studies, the "field" requirement may also be fulfilled through an internship at the American Museum of Natural History or enrollment in a course or independent study focused upon museum curation, conservation, or display. Limited funds to support summer research are available through Columbia University's Stigler Grant program and the Archaeological Institute of America's Waldbaum Scholarship

(9, 10, 11) Electives

Three additional electives on an archaeological theme. These courses need not be taken in the Anthropology Department, but may be chosen from offerings in Art History and Archaeology, Classics, History or another department with the approval of the Prof. Fowles. A list of pre-approved courses is provided below. Students are especially encouraged to consider enrolling in a G.I.S. (Geographical Information Systems) course through the Environmental Science department at Columbia.

Courses Qualifying as Electives

The following are a partial list of pre-approved courses fulfilling the elective requirement. Students should consult Prof. Fowles to determine if other courses qualify.


  • ANTH UN 3027Archaeology and Africa: Changing Perceptions of the African Past
  • ANTH UN 3064, Death and the Body
  • ANTH UN 3204, Dynamics of Human Evolution
  • ANTH UN 3300, Pre-Columbian Histories of Native America
  • ANTH UN 3907, Posthumanism: Radical Expansions of the Social
  • ANTH C 3922, The Emergence of State Society
  • ANTH UN 3970, Biological Basis of Human Variation
  • ANTH UN 4001, The Ancient Empires
  • ANTH UN 4028, Prehistory of the Holy Land
  • ANTH UN 4065, Archaeology of Idols
  • ANTH GU 4127, Archaeology of Contemporary Conflict
  • ANTH GU 4147, The Human Skeletal Biology I
  • ANTH GU 4148, The Human Skeletal Biology II
  • ANTH GU 4210, The Ancient Andes: The Inkas and their Ancestors
  • ANTH GU 4220, The Social Production of Technologies
  • ANTH GU 4470, Critical Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations
  • ANTH UN 4346y, Laboratory Techniques in Archaeology
  • ANTH GU 6651, Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past

Art History and Archaeology

  • AHIS UN 3201, The Arts of China
  • AHIS UN 3250, Roman Art and Architecture
  • AHIS UN 3904, Aztec Art and Sacrifice
  • AHIS UN 3908, Topics in the Mediterranean Bronze Age
  • AHIS GU 4155, Mesopotamian Art and Archaeology
  • AHIS GU 4085, Andean Art and Architecture

Classics and Ancient Studies

  • CLCV UN 3110, The Ancient City
  • CLCV UN 3145y, Cities and Sanctuaries in Ancient Greece
  • CLCV UN 4110y, Gender and Sexuality in Ancient Greece
  • CLCV UN 3158, Women in Antiquity
  • CLCV UN 4200, Egypt and Hellenism


  • HIST UN 1002y, Ancient History of Mesopotamia and Anatolia
  • HIST UN 1004x, Ancient History of Egypt
  • HSME UN 3854x, East Mediterranean in the Late Bronze Age
  • HSEA UN 4869y, History of Ancient China to the End of Han