Archaeology Track, Anthropology Major


Archaeology Advisor: Severin Fowles

Other faculty at Barnard and Columbia offering coursework and guidance in archaeology:

  • Francesco de Angelis (Art History and Archaeology, Columbia)
  • Brian Boyd (Anthropology, Columbia)
  • Hannah Chazin (Anthropology, Columbia)
  • Zoe Crossland (Anthropology, Columbia)
  • Terrence D'Altroy (Anthropology, Columbia)
  • Feng Li (East Asian Language and Culture, Columbia)
  • Jue Guo (Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Banard)
  • Ellen Morris (Classics and Ancient Studies, Barnard)
  • Nan Rothschild (Anthropology, Columbia)
  • Jill Shapiro (Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia)

Within anthropology, archaeologists specialize in 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 critical tools 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 powerfully democratic, offering access to the stories of otherwise invisible people through the tangible remains they leave behind. During the past twenty-five years many archaeologists have further extended their inquiries 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. 

Students with a background in archaeology pursue careers in a diverse set of fields such as cultural resource management, historic preservation, museum work, field and laboratory work in archaeological sciences, forensics, repatriation and cultural property law, government, education, journalism, tourism, and more.

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. 

Eleven courses are required for the Archaeology Track:

(1) ANTH UN 1002 (Interpretation of Cultures)

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

(2) either ANTH UN 1007 (Origins of Human Society) or ANTH UN 1008 (Rise of Civilization)

ANTH UN 1007 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. ANTH UN 1008 extends this survey of world prehistory to include the rise of archaic states and the expansion and collapse of empires. 

(3) ACLG UN2028y (Introduction to 21st Century Archaeology)

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

(4) ANTH UN 3040 (Anthropological Theory)

ANTH 3040 provides students with a strong background in anthropology's intellectual history.

PLEASE NOTE: The requirements of the General Anthropology Major have recently changed. Whereas both ANTH UN 3040 and 3041 had previously been required, they have now been combined into a single seminar (the new ANTH UN 3040), which will be taught during the Spring term in 2018-19. Majors who previously took either ANTH UN 3040 or 3041 will have fulfilled this requirement. Majors who have not yet taken this course should plan to enroll in ANTH UN 3040.

(5, 6) 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 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.

          Guided Research Experience

A cornerstone of the Archaeology track is its research experience requirement, which draws majors into the thick of archaeological discovery, analysis and interpretation. Students may fulfill this requirement in one of four ways...

(a)  ANTH BC 2011 (Field Methods in Archaeology) and/or ANTH BC 2012 (Laboratory Methods in Archaeology): These courses convene each summer in New Mexico under the direction of Prof. Severin Fowles. Students gain hands-on training in excavation, survey, remote sensing and analytical techniques while tangibly contributing to the documentation of important archaeological sites that are rewriting our understanding of the indigneous and colonial histories of the American Southwest. For application information, including financial assistance, see:

(b) CLST4200 (Hadrian’s Villa: The Archaeology of an Imperial Court): In this summer course, students excavate and explore Hadrian's Villa, a UNESCO World Heritage site near Rome under the direction of Prof. Francesco De Angelis. Students learn archaeological techniques, while thinking critically about how excavation work allows for deeper insight into the social, political, economic, architectural, and artistic history of classical antiquity. For application information, including financial assistance, see:

(c) An Archaeological Field Course from another institution, at least 4 weeks in length, and approved in advance by Prof. Fowles. There are a great range of summer programs offtering students research experiences all over the world. These programs vary in quality and in the training they offer students, but many provide extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime experiences for participants. The American Anthropological Association and the Institute for Field Research both coordinate lists of a range of field offerings all over the world.

(d) ANTH UN 3998 (Supervised Individual Research): Students may also fulfill their research requirement through an independent study under the direction of Prof. Fowles or another archaeologist at Barnard or Columbia. A range of laboratory-based projects are regularly undertaken in the Columbia Center for Archaeology, focused on various material types (ceramics, bone, chipped stone, botanical remains, and so on). Interested students should consult Prof. Fowles to discuss possibilities. 

(7, 8, 9, 10, 11) Electives

Five additional electives on an archaeological theme. These courses need not be taken in the Anthropology Department, and 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 Urban Studies or Environmental Science departments.

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 1007, Origins of Human Society
  • ANTH UN 1008, Rise of Civilization
  • ANTH BC 20111, Field Methods in Archaeology
  • ANTH BC 2012, Laboratoory Methods in Archaeology
  • ANTH UN 3027Archaeology and Africa: Changing Perceptions of the African Past
  • ANTH UN 2031, Corpse Life: Anthropological History of the Dead
  • ANTH UN 3151, Living/Thinking/Doing with Animals
  • ANTH UN 3007, Archaeology Before the Bible
  • ANTH UN 3204, Dynamics of Human Evolution
  • ANTH UN 3300, Pre-Columbian Histories of Native America
  • ANTH UN 3723, American Material Culture
  • ANTH UN 3823, Archaeology Engaged: The Past in the Public Eye
  • ANTH UN 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 4235, Mortuary Archaeology
  • ANTH GU 4470, Critical Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations
  • ANTH UN 4346y, Laboratory Techniques in Archaeology
  • ANTH GR 5127, Necropolitics
  • ANTH GR 5527, Mobilities Past & Present

Art History and Archaeology

  • AHIS UN 3201, The Arts of China
  • AHIS UN 3250, Roman Art and Architecture
  • AHIS UN 3433, Enlightenment and Archaeology
  • AHIS UN 3434, Diplomacy by Ceramics
  • 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
  • AHIS GR 8100, Eidolon: The Image in Antiquity

Classics and Ancient Studies

  • CLCV UN 2441, Egypt and the Classical World
  • CLCV UN 3101, Archaeology of Ancient Egypt and Nubia
  • CLCV UN 4110y, Gender and Sexuality in Ancient Greece
  • CLCV UN 3158, Women in Antiquity
  • CLCV UN 3535, Identity and Society in Ancient Egypt
  • CLCV UN 3992, Archaeology of the Bronze and Iron Ages in the Southern Levant


  • HIST UN 1002y, Ancient History of Mesopotamia and Anatolia
  • HIST UN 1010, Ancient Greek History, 800-146 BC
  • HIST UN 1020, Romans/Empire 754 BC to 565 AD
  • HIST UN 1004x, Ancient History of Egypt
  • HIST UN 2026, Roman Social History
  • HSME UN 3854x, East Mediterranean in the Late Bronze Age
  • HSEA UN 4869y, History of Ancient China to the End of Han


Funding for Senior Thesis Research:

  • Fieldwork Research Grant in Anthropology: The Department of Anthropology awards funds for senior thesis research to be carried out in the summer between the junior and senior year. Students who wish to apply should develop ideas with their major advisor. The application procedure can be downloaded here. Funds for Senior Thesis Research Applications are due April 1 2014. Click here for file download. Fieldwork Research Grant (Updated 3/2015)
  • Stigler Grant for Archaeological Fieldwork: All full-time undergrad and grad students at CC, BC, and GS are eligible to apply, excepting students who will graduate before their field season. Preference will be given to students majoring in Archaeology and Anthropology. Awards typically run about $300-$1,000, for 8-10 students. For information about how to apply, contact Prof. Crossland or Prof. Fowles
  • Tow Foundation Travel Fellowship: Barnard rising seniors seeking funding for travel expenses related to research for their senior essay should contact the Junior Class Dean (also at 212-854-2024) in the fall of junior year about the Tow Travel Fellowship. Candidates must apply to the Committee on Honors (CoH) before March 1st of the junior year to request support for travel that will take place during the summer between the junior and senior years. Starting in 2002 the Tow Foundation has donated $25,000 each year to support senior research-related travel. Individual awards have ranged between $1,000 and $3,500.
  • Lucyle Hook Travel Grants: The Lucyle Hook Travel Grants are awarded by the Committee on Honors to promising Barnard rising or current seniors with enriching, eclectic senior projects who demonstrate originality and self-direction. Students seeking funding for travel and other research expenses related to their senior essay project can apply to the Committee on Honors for this grant. Expenses may be incurred during the summer prior to the senior year as well as during the senior year, i.e. the rising or current senior may apply in November for either the previous or the following summer. The applicant should submit a full description of her essay with a detailed estimate of expenses, along with a letter of recommendation from her (prospective) senior essay advisor, to the attention of the Junior Class Dean. The nomination deadline usually is around November 10. About $1,500 is available each year, with most grants in the $100-$300 range.