Archaeology explains when, how, and why things happened in the past. Archaeologists document patterns of change and variability through time and space and relate these changes to the world around us today. In broader terms, archaeological research involves the discovery, description, and analysis of technological adaptation, social organization, artistic production, ideology, and other forms of human expression through the study of material remains recovered from the excavation of sites that were used or settled by past peoples. Analyses may be peculiarly archaeological in nature - the classification of broken pieces of pottery is an example - or they may involve the use of methods, analytical techniques, and information from fields as diverse as art history, astronomy, biological anthropology, botany, chemistry, genetics, history, linguistics, materials science, philology, physics, social anthropology, and zoology. 

The formal study of archaeology prepares students to evaluate critically the record of human material production and to develop informed perspectives on the ways the past is presented, interpreted, and dealt with by a wide range of actors - from interested individuals to nation-states - in societies around the world today. Archaeologists carry out basic research in the field and in museum collections and increasingly deal with such topics as cultural resource management (including the recovery, documentation, conservation, and restoration of ancient artifacts); cultural tourism; nationalistic uses and abuses of the past; the depiction of the past in the media (including film, television, and the internet); the illegal trade in antiquities; repatriation of cultural patrimony; and environmental and climatic change. 

REQUIREMENTS: 5 courses (20 credits)

  1. One introductory course selected from:
    • GENED 1105: Can We Know Our Past?
    • Anthropology 1010: The Fundamentals of Archaeological Methods & Reasoning 
    • Anthropology 1130: Archaeology of Harvard Yard 
    • Introductory course in the archaeology of Ancient Greece and/or Rome or in Medieval Archaeology, as available
    • In addition to the required introductory course, a student may count only one additional introductory course from the above list for the secondary field.
  2. Four additional courses selected from those listed under the course search "Archaeology" in and approved by the Secondary Field Adviser.


Up to three approved courses in Gen Ed may be counted toward fulfillment of the requirements for the secondary field. In addition, one approved course in the student’s concentration and a maximum of two ancient language courses may be counted toward secondary field credit. All course work must be taken for a letter grade and must be passed with a grade of B- or better. 

Students pursuing a secondary field in Archaeology are strongly encouraged to participate in an archaeological field school in the U.S. or abroad. Students who complete a Harvard-sponsored or a pre-approved off-campus archaeological field school may count one course credit from that field school experience toward completion of the secondary field. 


For more information, please contact the Secondary Field Adviser in Archaeology, Professor Jason Ur, Students interested in or intending to pursue a secondary field in Archaeology should first review their programs of study with the Standing Committee on Archaeology Coordinator by emailing before the beginning of their next to last semester. Whether considering or having decided on a Secondary Field in Archaeology, students are strongly encouraged to use the Secondary Fields Web toolto work out a proposed program of study and to notify the secondary field advisor early on in the process.