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Indiana University Bloomington
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Department of Anthropology College of Arts and Sciences
One Discipline, Four Fields

Archaeology

Archaeology is the study of people in the past, and the present, using material remains – the things humans “leave behind” as evidence. Much like detectives or crime scene investigators, archaeologists assemble tiny clues to build interpretive arguments. As scientists we must always cope with ambiguity and missing pieces, but ultimately we try to tell a story of how the human past connects to the present, which helps us to understand who we are today. Archaeologists are also anthropologists, and therefore focus on social and cultural questions. We try to understand how people came to have different belief systems, technologies, forms of government, and ideas about themselves. We look at how societies were formed, how our earliest human ancestors lived, what families were like in different times and places, what kinds of foods that people ate and the reasons that they did so, what kinds of crafts people produced and traded, and whether people did things because they feared violence and famine, or because they believed in inspiring leaders. In other words, we study all that makes us human!

archaeologyThe study of archaeology not only helps us understand diversity in the world around us, it helps us to understand how people relate to the material world. Students who focus on archaeology as part of their major or minor learn to become better critical thinkers and enhance their analytic and writing skills.

Our faculty's interests range from the archaeology of human origins and the evolutionary ecology of early hominids, to research in culture contact studies, household production, identity, and lithic and ceramic technologies. We also have a unique program focused on ethics and the social context of archaeological research. We have strong programs in the archaeology of North America, Mexico and the Caribbean, and in paleoanthropology in Africa.