History of the Program

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Field school students working at Airigh Mhuillin, a domestic site on South Uist in the Outer Hebrides

Archaeology is an interdisciplinary field with close ties to Anthropology, Classical Studies, the History of Art and Architecture, and other fields of study. Its distinguishing feature is its specialization in the study of the human past through the lens of material culture obtained from excavations, surveys, and research in museums, laboratories, and libraries. Our faculty members do research across many disciplines and bring a wealth of learning and experience to the classroom. Our alumni enter a variety of professional positions, both within the academy and beyond. People are naturally drawn to the human past, and we strive to convey our broad interests to our curriculum at all levels.

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Professor James R. Wiseman lecturing to field school students at the museum at the Roman site of Sanisera, Menorca. Summer 2009

Professors James R. Wiseman, Creighton Gabel, and Fred Kleiner developed the first archaeological program at Boston University based on the concept of archaeological research as an interdisciplinary activity drawing upon the natural and social sciences and the humanities. The first interdepartmental courses in archaeology, sponsored by the Departments of Classical Studies and Anthropology, were offered in 1974/75. In 1979 the College of Liberal Arts [now the College of Arts and Sciences] and the Graduate School instituted an inter-departmental Archaeological Studies Program with faculty drawn from Anthropology, Art History [now the Department of the History of Art and Architecture], Classical Studies, and Religion. The Program was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1980, the Center for Archaeological Studies was established to develop and coordinate the growing number of academic programs in archaeology, faculty research, publications, contract work, and public education programs. The Center’s Office of Public Archaeology (OPA) conducted archaeological investigations under contract with municipal, state, and federal agencies, and private corporations from 1981 to 1995.

Between 1981 and 2018 archaeology at BU was organized as its own department. As of 2018 we have reorganized as an interdisciplinary program with the goal of serving as a central hub for connecting various academic units on campus involved in the study of the human past through material remains. We offer degree programs at the BA and MA levels, including a joint BA/MA degree that can be completed in five years. Our faculty conducts original research in many parts of the world and specializes in topical issues such as ancient urbanism, technology, environmental change, and the management of archaeological heritage across the globe. Archaeology at BU is affiliated with the highly-ranked Journal of Field Archaeology.

 

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