Minor in Archaeology

Archaeology is the study of people, cultures, and human environments in the distant and recent past. A major in archaeology will help you develop a global perspective, an understanding of diverse cultures and places, an appreciation for the complexities of cultural heritage, and a long view of human history. Our majors work closely with faculty in field projects, analytical labs, and the classroom to gain expertise in different and the shared aspects of human cultures, the importance of cultural heritage, and how archaeology plays an important role in international relations, territorial claims, climate change research, national movements, and other aspects of the modern world. Students also learn about the appropriate applications of quantitative analysis and the assumptions that underlie them. In addition to skills specific to the discipline, courses help hone analytical and writing skills that are valuable in many different fields. Archaeology is interdisciplinary by nature; students are encouraged to double major in related fields such as anthropology, biology, classics, computer science, earth and environment, history of art and architecture, international relations, history, and more. We offer a major and minor in archaeology as well as a combined BA/MA degree in archaeology.

Requirements

Students with majors in other programs may earn a minor in Archaeology by completing six 4-credit courses with a grade of C or better:

  • CAS AR 190 Introduction to Archaeology
  • CAS AR 307 Archaeological Science
  • Four additional 4-credit CAS AR courses, of which no more than one can be at the 100 level, and one must be at the 400–500 level

Resources in Archaeology at Boston University

In the classroom, students study particular world cultures and regions as well as broad topics including the origins of agriculture, the rise of complex societies, environmental change, and issues in cultural heritage management. Technical courses provide methodological training in remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and analytical techniques such as paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, ceramic analysis, and bioarchaeology. Area courses cover the early cultures of Mesoamerica, North America, East and Southeast Asia, Israel, Mediterranean societies, Paleolithic archaeology, and more. Nearly all archaeology courses count toward Hub requirements.

Archaeology laboratories are state-of-the-art facilities that provide hands-on experience with a range of analytical techniques. The Environmental Archaeology Lab is devoted to the study of human interactions with past environments, focusing on the analysis of plant remains from sites worldwide from the Paleolithic through recent historical periods. The Zooarchaeology Lab processes, catalogs, and analyzes faunal remains from sites around the world, and includes a large and varied comparative collection of animal skeletons. GIS and Remote Sensing facilities provide training in geophysical survey methods, aerial and satellite image analysis, and GIS for landscape analysis, site detection, and other goals. Various consortia make it possible for students to take advantage of the collective resources of the numerous institutions of higher learning in the greater Boston area.

The Boston University Archaeology Society is organized by undergraduate majors and offers many opportunities for students to socialize, meet visiting scholars, learn hands-on skills such as flint knapping, learn about fieldwork opportunities and internships, and enjoy field trips to archaeology-related sites, labs, lectures, and museum exhibitions.

Career Opportunities

An undergraduate degree in archaeology is preparation for study or professional development in almost any field. If you are interested in a career in archaeology—whether via higher education, museum work, or cultural resource management—you will need an advanced degree, and an undergraduate degree from Boston University will put you in a competitive position for admission to a graduate program. If you decide to pursue another career, the broad range of studies in our undergraduate program, with its strong focus on the liberal arts, provides excellent preparation; recent graduates have found success in law, museology, cultural resource management, and journalism. Archaeology majors attract interest from employers in areas including publishing, government service, management, and foreign service because of their diversity of research and analytical skills and their breadth of knowledge about world culture.