Students studying archaeology learn the historical development of the study and current techniques used to investigate archaeological materials, such as biomolecular methods, paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, geoarchaeology, dating techniques, remote sensing and conservation. Students learn to place findings in the context of culture and learn about the importance of avoiding contamination and keeping an open mind when confronted by facts which may defy conventional wisdom.
Students focusing on biological archaeology investigate human remains and any genetic, environmental, and cultural influences which may impact group numbers, death rates, and the diagnosis of disease. New techniques such as molecular biology and its applications to archaeology are also studied. Students also study concepts in geology such as the deposition of sediments so they can understand the timeline of archaeological findings at sites.
Students analyze various ancient civilizations through an examination of artifacts such as cities, middens, burial plots, and ancient writings. Students can choose to focus on a specific geographic or temporal area such as the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, Mesoamerica, the Bronze Age, the Stone Age, or Norse archaeology.
All programs integrate a comprehensive field school component, where students become familiarized with field and laboratory techniques. Through the excavation of an archaeological site, they learn about research design and the methodologies involved in site surveying and mapping, such as the identification of archaeological sites, the use of surveying instruments, photography, cataloguing, and the creation of accurate site maps.