Revised June 16, 2008
David L. Carlson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Texas A & M University
College Station, TX 77843-4352
German translation by Andrey Fomin
Belorussian translation by Martha Ruszkowski
Professional archaeologists work for universities, colleges, museums, the federal government, state governments, in private companies, and as consultants. They teach, conduct field investigations, analyze artifacts and sites, and publish the results of their research. The minimal educational requirement to work as a field archaeologist is a B.A. or B.S. degree with a major in anthropology or archaeology and previous field experience (usually obtained by spending a summer in an archaeological field school or participating as a volunteer, see question 5). While this is sufficient to work on an archaeological field crew, it is not sufficient to move into supervisory roles. Supervisory positions require a graduate degree, either an M.A./M.S. or a Ph.D.
Academic Positions. Academic institutions in the U.S. can be broadly divided into three groups: 1) universities (with graduate programs); 2) colleges (undergraduate programs leading to B.A./B.S. degrees); and 3) community colleges (two year programs leading to Associates degrees). A Ph.D. is required for faculty positions at colleges and universities. An M.A./M.S. is required for community college positions. Faculty teaching loads vary among these three groups. University faculty teach graduate courses, upper level undergraduate courses (for anthropology or archaeology majors), and introductory level courses. College faculty teach upper level undergraduate courses and introductory level courses. Community college faculty teach introductory level courses (and sometimes a few upper level courses). Requirements to obtain research funds and publish research results are highest in universities and lower in community colleges. Laboratory facilities are greater in universities than in community colleges. Most faculty positions are nine month appointments. During the summer, academic archaeologists conduct field research funded by grants or contracts, teach summer school, teach summer field schools, or work as private consultants. Research funds come from the archaeologist's school, from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from private foundations such as the National Geographic Society, Wenner- Gren, Earthwatch, and others. Within colleges and universities archaeologists are found in departments of anthropology, archaeology, art history, architecture, classics, history, and theology.
Museum Positions. Museums may be connected with a university or independent. Museum curators conduct research, publish the results, give public presentations, prepare displays, and conserve the museum collections. Museum positions require a graduate degree (M.A./M.S. or Ph.D.). Museum positions are usually full-year appointments.
State and Federal Government Positions. Many archaeologists work for the federal government. The U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have about 800 archaeologists among them. Many archaeologists also work for state government agencies. Every state has a State Historic Preservation Office with one or more archaeologists on staff. In addition, other archaeologists work in state parks departments, highway departments, and water resource departments. Some cities also hire archaeologists to handle local ordinances protecting archaeological sites. Federal and state laws that protect the environment include protection for important archaeological sites. As a result the government is involved in managing archaeological sites on federal and state lands (parks, forests, etc). Construction projects often require archaeological surveys to locate prehistoric or historic sites and the excavation of some sites before construction can begin. Federal and state archaeologists are involved in making these decisions and supervising the archaeologists who perform the work. This kind of archaeology is called cultural resources management (CRM). Most government positions require an M.A. degree.
Private sector archaeologists. Archaeologists also work for firms that conduct the CRM investigations required by law. They may work for laboratories or centers within colleges and universities, for engineering and environmental companies, for companies specializing in archaeological investigations, or as private consultants. Positions in CRM work require an M.A. to have a supervisory role. Private sector archaeologists conduct archaeological surveys to locate prehistoric and historic sites. They also excavate significant sites prior to their destruction by construction activities. Private sector archaeologists work in the field, in the laboratory analyzing the results of their field investigations, in the office writing reports on those investigations and preparing proposals to conduct additional work. These organizations also hire field archaeologists as temporary staff to assist with the field investigations. Field positions usually require a B.A. degree and previous field experience in an archaeological field school.
Education and training requirements are different for different kinds of archaeology. In the U.S. anthropology departments include archaeology as one of four subdisciplines (the others are physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology). During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, anthropology programs in the U.S. were established to study American Indian societies, languages, and ruins. As a result, there are few separate archaeology departments. Interdisciplinary programs that combine archaeology with various other fields of study are more common. Students who wish to study ancient or classical civilizations (including the Near East, Egypt, early civilizations of the Mediterranean, classical Greece and Rome, and the early civilizations of India, China, and southeast Asia) are more likely to pursue their studies in interdisciplinary programs that include courses in art, architecture, classics, history, ancient and modern languages, and theology. Students who wish to study the historical periods (roughly from the fall of Rome to the present) combine history (including archival and oral history research) with courses in historical and vernacular architecture, material culture and folklore, and archaeology.
At the undergraduate level, there is little specialization. A major in anthropology requires courses in all of the subdisciplines. For students interested in ancient and classical civilizations, the particular undergraduate major is not important, but it is advantageous to begin learning several ancient and modern languages (e.g. Greek, Latin, German, French). Historical archaeologists usually major in anthropology or history. An undergraduate degree (B.A./B.S.) is sufficient to work as a field archaeologist in the U.S. and to perform basic laboratory studies. Previous experience through participation in an archaeological field school or as a volunteer is often required. Summer archaeological field schools provide the best way to learn how to properly excavate and record archaeological sites and to find out if archaeology is really for you. Job opportunities outside the U.S. are very limited, but volunteers with field experience should be welcome almost anywhere.
There are two levels of graduate training in archaeology. The first is an M.A. or M.S. degree which takes about 1-2 years of course work beyond the B.A./B.S. degree and a written thesis which presents the results of original research by the student. Some programs offer a non-thesis M.A. degree. Unless you are planning to work immediately on a Ph.D. degree, the preparation of a thesis is an important part of the educational process. An M.A./M.S. would be enough to direct field crews and is sufficient for many government positions in archaeology. It is also sufficient to work in the private sector, to teach in a community college, and to work for some museums. An M.A./M.S. with a thesis and a year of field and laboratory experience is the minimum for certification by the Society of Professional Archeologists. Most foreign governments will issue excavation permits only to archaeologists with a Ph.D. degree. This means that opportunities to direct field projects outside the U.S. are limited to those with a doctoral degree.
The second graduate degree is the Ph.D., which is required to teach in a college or university or hold a museum curatorship. The Ph.D. degree requires 2-3 years of courses beyond the M.A. and the successful preparation and oral defense of a dissertation containing original research in your chosen specialization within the field of archaeology. Some graduate programs offer streamlined tracks for students with a B.A. degree so that they work directly toward a Ph.D. while others require an M.A. degree first.
The American Anthropological Association publishes annually the "AAA Guide 2007-2008." It lists most of the graduate and undergraduate anthropology programs in the U.S. and Canada. Included in the listings are the names and research interests of all faculty in the department. The guide is published annually and can be purchased from the American Anthropological Association, AAA Book Orders, 4350 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 640, Arlington, VA 22203-1620. You should be able to find a copy at any college or university library. The AAA guide coverage is less complete for interdisciplinary programs combining art, architecture, classics, language, and history to study ancient and classical civilizations or historical archaeology. Three other guides will be useful in locating these programs.The "Guide to Graduate Programs in Historical and Underwater Archaeology" is available from the Society for Historical Archaeology. Williams College has a useful listing of U. S. Graduate Programs in Classics. The website GradSchools.com lists programs in many subject fields including anthropology, archaeology, and classics. Washington University in St Louis has an Anthropology Dept Website Directory that makes it easy to look at different programs.
Bass, George, editor. 1988. Ships and Shipwrecks of the Americas: A History Based on Underwater Archaeology. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 050027892X. Nautical archaeology in the Americas.
Biers, William R. 1996. The Archaeology of Greece: An Introduction. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801482801. >From prehistory, through the Minoan civilization and the the classical Greek city states to the Roman period in Greece.
Coe, Michael D. 1992. Breaking the Maya Code. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500277214. How linguists and archaeologists deciphered Maya writings.
Coe, Michael D. 1993. The Maya. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500277168. The classic account of the ancient Maya.
Coe, Michael D. 1994. Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500277222. The rise of civilization in Mexico.
Daniel, Glyn. 1981. A Short History of Archaeology. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500021015. A historical perspective on the great discoveries in archaeology and the archaeologists who made them.
Deetz, James. 1996. In Small Things Forgotten: The Archaeology of Early American Life. Anchor Books. ISBN 0385483996. How the archaeological record provides information about colonial America not found in written records.
Deetz, James. 1995. Flowerdew Hundred: The Archaeology of a Virgina Plantation, 1619-1864. Univ. Press of Virginia. ISBN 0813916399. Archaeological and archival explorations at a seventeenth century British colony.
Edey, Maitland A. and Donald C. Johanson. 1990. Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution. Penguin. ISBN 0140132651.
Fagan, Brian. 1989. Adventure of Archaeology. National Geographic Society. ISBN 0870448145.
Fagan, Brian, ed.. 1997. Eyewitness to Discovery: First-Person Accounts of More than Fifty of the World's Greatest Archaeological Discoveries. Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0195081412. Great archaeological discoveries described by the discoverers themselves.
Fagan, Brian. 1987. The Great Journey: The Peopling of Ancient America. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500275157. Describes the migration of hunting and gathering societies from northeastern Asia to the Americas over 10,000 years ago.
Fagan, Brian. 1990. The Journey From Eden: The Peopling of Our World. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500050570. Recent advances in our understanding of human evolution.
Fagan, Brian. 1991. Kingdoms of Gold, Kingdoms of Jade: The Americas Before Columbus. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500050627. Accounts of the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica and South America.
Fagan, Brian. 1994. Quest for the Past: Great Discoveries in Archaeology. Waveland Press. ISBN 0881337919. Great moments in the history of archaeology.
Fagan, Brian. 1992. The Rape of the Nile: Tomb Robbers, Tourists, and Archaeologists in Egypt. Moyer Bell. ISBN 1559210664. History of destruction and discovery in Egypt.
Fagan, Brian. 1995 Snapshots of the Past. Altamira Press. ISBN 0761991093.
Fagan, Brian. 1995. Time Detectives: How Archaeologists Use Technology to Recapture the Past. Touchstone. ISBN 0684818280. A new book about how archaeologists attempt to solve the puzzles of the past.
Feder, Kenneth L. 1996. Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology. Mayfield Publishing Co. ISBN 1559345233. The title says it all.
Folsom, Franklin and Mary Elting Folsom. 1993. America's Ancient Treasures. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0826314503. A guide to archeological sites and museums in the U.S. and Canada.
Grant, Michael. 1990. The Visible Past: Recent Archaeological Discoveries of Greek and Roman History. Scribners. Recent discoveries by classical archaeologists.
Johanson, Donald & Maitland Edey. 1981. Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. Touchstone. ISBN 0671724991. Johanson's account of the discovery and controversies surrounding Australopithecus afarensis.
Johanson, Donald, Blake Edgar, and David Brill. 1996. From Lucy to Language. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684810239.
Johanson, Donald & James Shreeve. 1989. Lucy's Child: The Discovery of a Human Ancestor. Avon. ISBN 0380712342. Further discoveries of fossil ancestors by Johanson and their importance for understanding human evolution.
Kemp, Barry. 1989. Ancient Egypt: The Anatomy of a Civilization. Routledge. ISBN 0415063469. A summary of the ancient Egyptians.
Kennedy, Roger. 1994. Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilization. Penguin. ISBN 0140255273. A historical account of moundbuilder archaeology in the U.S. during the eighteenth century.
Leakey, Richard. 1996. The Origin of Humankind. Basic Books. ISBN 0465053130.
Leakey, Richard and Roger Lewin. 1992. Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human. Anchor. ISBN 0385467923. Explores multiple lines of evidence to understand the details of human evolution.
Lewin, Roger. 1997. Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226476510. The history of paleoanthropology and paleoanthropologists.
Lewin, Roger. 1988. In the Age of Mankind: A Smithsonian Book of Human Evolution. Smithsonian Books. ISBN 0895990253. Describes recent efforts to understand the details of human evolution.
Moseley, Michael E. 1992. The Incas and Their Ancestors. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500277230. A well-illustrated account of Andean prehistory.
Noel Hume, Ivor. 1994. Here Lies Virginia: An Archaeologist's View of Colonial Life and History. University Press of Virginia. ISBN 0813915287.
Noel Hume, Ivor. 1982. Martin's Hundred: The Discovery of a Lost Colonial Virginia Settlement. Dell Publishing Co., Inc. ISBN 0385292813. The discovery and excavation of a British settlement founded in Virginia in 1618.
Reeves, C. N. and Nicholas Reeves. 1995. The Complete Tutankhamun. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500278105. A description of the discovery of King Tut's tomb.
Renfrew, Colin. 1990. Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521386756.
Schick, Kathy D. and Nicholas Toth. 1993. Making Silent Stones Speak: Human Evolution and the Dawn of Technology. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0671693719. A look at the earliest stone tools, how they were made and what they were used for.
Schele, Linda and David Freidel. 1990. A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya. Quill. ISBN 0688112048. A history of the Maya based on recent translations of Mayan writing.
Stringer, Christopher and Clive Gamble. 1993. In Search of the Neanderthals. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500278075. Everything you need to know about neandethals and the current controversy concerning their place in human evolution.
Thomas, David Hurst. 1994. Exploring Native America: An Archaeological Guide. MacMillan. ISBN 0671880500.
Throckmorton, Peter, editor. 1987. History From the Seas: Shipwrecks and Archaeology From Homer's Odyssey to the Titanic. Mitchell Beazley. Nautical archaeology around the world.
Williams, Stephen. 1991. Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812213122. A careful, thoughtful look at outlandish theories.
Wood, Michael. 1987. In Search of the Dark Ages. Facts On File. Archaeological discoveries in historic Europe.
Wood, Michael. 1985. In Search of the Trojan War. Facts On File. ISBN 0816013551. Archaeological evidence for the events described in Homer's The Illiad.
Ashmore, Wendy and Robert J. Sharer. 1995. Discovering Our Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology. Mayfield. ISBN 1559345217. An abbreviated version of Archaeology: Discovering Our Past.
Barber, Russell J. 1994. Doing Historical Archaeology: Exercises Using Documentary, Oral, and Material Evidence Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-176033-5. Examples and exercises showing how historical archaeologists combine written and material evidence of the past.
Daniels, Steve and Nicholas David. 1982. The Archaeology Workbook University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN0-8122-1125-1. A series of problems illustrating archaeological methods.
Fagan, Brian. 1997. Archaeology: A Brief Introduction. Longman Publishing Group. ISBN 067352252. An abbreviated version of In The Beginning.
Fagan, Brian. 1993. In The Beginning: An Introduction to Archaeology. Harper Collins. ISBN 0673521346. A thorough introduction to archaeological methods of analysis and reasoning.
Greene, Kevin T. 1995. Archaeology: An Introduction. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812215702.
Hasten, Linda L., editor. 1996. Archaeology 96/97. The Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc. ISBN 0697315088. A collection of articles about archaeology and archaeologists.
Hester, Thomas R., Harry J. Shafer, and Kenneth L. Feder. 1997. Field Methods in Archaeology. Mayfield. ISBN 1559347996. A classic text on archaeological methods completely revised and updated.
McIntosh, Jane. 1986. The Practical Archaeologist: How We Know What We Know about the Past. Facts on File. ISBN 0816018146. A simple, direct introduction for beginners.
Orser, Charles E., Jr. and Brian M. Fagan. 1995. Historical Archaeology: A Brief Introduction. Harper Collins. ISBN 067399094X. Archaeology applied to historic sites.
Patterson, Thomas C. 1994. The Theory and Practice of Archaeology: A Workbook Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-014846-6. A series of exercises to illustrate how archaeologists interpret the past.
Price, T. Douglas and Gitte Gebauer. 1996. Adventures in Fugawiland: A Computer Simulation in Archaeology. Mayfield. ISBN 1559347627. An exercise book and computer simulation of prehistoric sites in the midwestern U.S.
Thomas, David H. 1991. Archaeology: Down to Earth. Harcourt Brace. ISBN 0030475848. A brief description of the basics of archaeological interpretation.
Renfrew, Colin and Paul Bahn. 1996. Archaeology: Theories Methods and Practice. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500278679. A comprehensive summary describing how archaeologists learn about the past.
Sharer, Robert J. and Wendy Ashmore. 1993. Archaeology: Discovering Our Past. Mayfield Publishing Co. ISBN 155934041X. An thorough introduction to how archaeologists study artifacts and sites to learn about the past.
Webster, David L., Susan T. Evans, William T. Sanders. 1993. Out of the Past. An Introduction to Archaeology Mayfield Publishing Co. ISBN 155934153X. A thorough introductory text covering the basic principles of archaeological research illustrated with examples from around the world.
Fagan, Brian. 1995. Ancient North America. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500278172. A thorough, readable summary of North American prehistory.
Fagan, Brian. 1995. People of the Earth: An Introduction to World Prehistory. Harper Collins. ISBN 0673523942. A survey of world prehistory from the earliest hominids to rise of civilizations.
Fagan, Brian. 1996. World Prehistory: A Brief Introduction. Harper Collins. ISBN 0673523721. An abbreviated version of People of the Earth.
Feder, Kenneth L. 1996. The Past in Perspective: An Introduction to Human Prehistory. Mayfield. ISBN 1559343842.
Hayden, Brian. 1993. Archaeology: The Science of Once and Future Things. Freeman. ISBN 0716723077. Archaeological theories and their use to understand social and technological changes in prehistory.
Price, T. Douglas. 1995. Images of the Past. Mayfield Publishing Co. ISBN 1559346949. World prehistory seen through summaries of 80 archaeological sites.
Wenke, Robert J. 1997. Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind's First Three Million Years. Oxford. ISBN 0195085728. A survey of the state of our knowledge about the human past.
Archaeology on Film, Downs, Mary, Peter S. Allen, Mark J. Meister, and Carole Lazio, editors. Available from the Archaeological Institute of America, c/o Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., Order Department, 4050 Westmark Dr. Dubuque, IA 52002, (800) 228-0810. $13.50 + $4.00 shipping and handling for non-AIA members. Also describing many good archaeological films and videos is Films for Anthropological Teaching, 8th edition (American Anthropological Association Special Publication Number 29) edited by Karl Heider and Carol Hermer. $10 from AAA Book Orders.
The Ancient World on Television lists weekly schedules of archaeological programs on television. The Society of American Archaeology has a guide to Archaeology in Movies and Television and the Archaeology Channel has streaming video clips and programs on archaeology.
Check with your state archaeological society. They may have an annual field school. Visit Passport in Time, a program in which volunteers work with archaeologists in the National Forest Service on a variety of projects. The Archaeological Institute of America publishes an annual Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin.
On the internet, a number of projects seeking students and volunteers are listed by the Archaeological Institute of America Search for Fieldwork Opportunities.
Several organizations place volunteers and students into archaeological field projects directed by professional archaeologists:
Bureau of Land Management
27501 Highway 184
Dolores, CO 81323
|Center for American
Department B, Kampsville Archaeological Center
P. O. Box 366
Kampsville, IL 62053
|Crow Canyon Archaeological
23390 County Road K
Cortez, CO 81321
Earthwatch Membership Service
P. O. Box 8037
Syracuse, NY 13217
The National Park Service information about archaeology on the For Teachers webpage. The Society for American Archaeology has an online brochure, Archaeology & You.
Careers in Archaeology from the Society for American Archaeology describes the training required to become a professional archaeologist. Careers in Historical Archaeology from the SHA covers historical and underwater archaeology and provides information primarily on training and job opportunities in the United States. The Princeton Review Guide to Careers has a some information on archaeology as a career on the web search on "Archaeologist" or "Curator."
The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service have produced several lesson plans called, Teaching with Historic Places. Also the Archaeological Institute of America has teaching resources at Archaeology in the Classroom. The National Museum of Natural History produces a free newsletter for teachers called Anthro Notes.
For web resources to help you learn about North American Archaeology, visit The Archaeology of North America by Kevin Callahan at the University of Minnesota.
To stay up to date on the latest archaeological discoveries, visit Anthropology in the News a site that links you to current news stories concerning anthropology and archaeology (http://www.tamu.edu/anthropology/news.html).
Several comprehensive guides to internet resources of interest to archaeologists are now available:
The following world wide web servers provide additional information about archaeology or can link you to other archaeological resources on the web:
American Archaeology. A quarterly journal published for members of the Archaeological Conservancy.
Archaeology. Published bimonthly by the Archaeological Institute of America.
Biblical Archaeology Review. Biblical Archaeology Society.
Bulletin of the Society for American Archaeology. An electronic version of the Society's quarterly bulletin.
Common Ground. Published by the National Park Service Departmental Consulting Archeologist and Archeological Assistance Program. Editor, NPS Archaeological Assistance Division.
Current Archaeology. Published in the United Kingdom.
Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews. John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Historic Preservation. Published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt. KMT Communications.
Minerva. A British archaeology magazine.
National Geographic. National Geographic Society.
Near Eastern Archaeology. Published by the American Schools of Oriental Research.
American Anthropological Association
Archaeological Institute of America
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Register of Professional Archaeologists
Society for American Archaeology
Society for Archaeological Sciences
Society for Historical Archaeology
Numerous other archaeological societies and newsletters can be found in the Directory of Archaeological Societies and Newsletters by Smoke Pfeiffer.
Additional information and valuable suggestions for improving the guide have been provided by the following individuals: George Bass, Brighid Brady-de Lambert, Karen Eva Carr, Shawn Bonath Carlson, Jim E. Chase, Anita Cohen-Williams, Jack L. Davis, Richard Ellis, Rich Fishel, James Gallagher, Bill Green, Karl Hagglund, Charles E. Jones, John O. Kopf, Smoke Pfeiffer, Andrew Selkirk, and K. D. Vitelli. The HTML version is produced and maintained by Erich Schroeder.
The latest version of this document is available over the
Copyright � 1997 by David L. Carlson. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed as long as it is not modified or abridged in any way. An RTF version of this document (compatible with most Windows and MacIntosh word processors) is available for anyone who wishes to reprint and redistribute it.