Why Study Archaeology?
Archaeology is a multi-disciplinary field that emphasizes the interpretation of material remains in order to understand a culture's history, demographics, religions, economic exchange, political systems, and social values. Archaeologists can specialize in traditionally scientific areas, such as floral and faunal remains and forensic archaeology (biology), the chemical composition of ceramics or preservation of delicate paintings (chemistry), or the petrology and geomorphology of lithics and the ability to survey and map sites (geology).
Archaeologists use computer software to record and catalog data and to map, and sometimes reconstruct, ancient sites. Historical archaeologists must be able to read coins, inscriptions, and the preserved writings of a culture (languages).
Finally, archaeologists need to be able to understand human interaction (anthropology) suggested by the art and artifacts of a culture (art history). In short, to be a good archaeologist, one needs a broad liberal arts education with emphases in one or more specific areas.
Cornell's small size and liberal arts orientation make it easy for you to develop a curriculum that crosses disciplines and suits your interests. Our major requirements are designed to give you a broad perspective while allowing you the flexibility to tailor your coursework to your own needs.
Cornell's One Course at a Time calendar affords many immersion experiences that allow you to delve deeply into the subject matter. One way we do this is through block-long, off-campus courses to places like Greece and Rome. We also maintain a relationship with Iowa State Archaeologist John Doershuk, who has taught a range of courses in archaeology and anthropology at Cornell and frequently extended research opportunities to our students through his lab at the University of Iowa.