Re: Anthro/Archaeology Depts combined

Michael Bauser (
13 Nov 1995 01:04:32 -0500

Note: sci.archaeology added to "Newsgroups" header.

Following-up from <URL:news://sci.anthropology>
In article <47qiof$>, wrote:
> My university combines the fields of Anthropology under the major
> Anthropology.
> That is to say that Archaeology degrees are not offered but the
> Archaeology classes are offered by the Anthro dept. Is anyone in a
> similar situation? I am wondering what constraints that puts on
> the development of Archeo students if any?

This is not an uncommon situation in U.S. universities (especially
smaller ones), given that the "Four Fields" model is dominant. Many
European anthropologists/archaelogists think it's truly bizzare, though,
insisting archaeology should be paired with history departments.

I'm *not* an archeology major, but I've known enough of them to tell
it's not a major problem for such students. From knowing them, my
advice is such a situation is simple enough to be obvious, but here:

1) If at all possible, get an archaeologist for your advisor. If
you don't get a choice of advisors, at least find a friendly
archaeology prof who can give you unofficial advice.

(I knew one archaeology professor who always recommended archaeology
students take a photography course, because he was sick of seeing "bad
artifact photos" in journals. Weird but pragmatic, I guess.)

2) Fill out as many of your electives with archaeology classes as
possible (and do well in them) but don't neglect taking courses
in the other three fields (especially cultural anthro). Looking
well-rounded is very helpful when applying to graduate school.

3) If your school doesn't offer many archaeology classes, start bothering
that friendly archaeology professor about some "independent research"
classes, or get together with some other archaeology students and try
to talk the friendly professor into running more "special topics"
classes for archaeology. At many schools, the administration will
approve any "special topic" that the professor can prove "x number"
of students want to take.

(Really base observation: It's also going to be important *how* your
school lists "independent research" and/or special seminars on your
transcripts. If the class listing just says "Independent Research in
Anthropology" (without mentioning the topic), you're going to have
to really push the point "I took a lot of archaeology research classes"
in cover letters to grad schools and potential employers.)

4) *Do* as much archaeology as possible while you're an undergrad.
Employers and/or schools really do prefer someone with experience
to someone with a specialized degree.

5) Look for graduate schools that *will* provide "real archaeology
degrees" (assuming you wnat to go to grad school, that is). You
definitely should be focusing by then.

> Anyone out there that
> has their Anthro studies pigeonholed under History for example?

I think there are a few (U.S.) schools that still combine History &
Anthropology, but it's not common; combined Departments of "Sociology &
Anthropology" are more likely.

(Even schools that don't offer anthropology degrees often sneak a lone
"Introduction to Anthropology" class into the Sociology Department, but
the quality of such course is often questionable.)

Michael Bauser <> 42 07 30 N, 83 08 30 W
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