Anthropological Archaeology

UC Santa Cruz student and community volunteers doing archaeological work at the site of Cowell Ranch workers' cabins on the UC Santa Cruz campus, December 5, 2009 [Photo by Jim MacKenzie]

Archaeology uses the material evidence of human activities to understand past human lives. Archaeology at UC Santa Cruz focuses on past peoples' interactions with one another at the local level and with their wider social and ecological contexts. Faculty research areas include the pre-colonial and early post-colonial history of East Africa and the American Southwest. Active faculty research includes zooarchaeological approaches to the emergence of pastoralism in Africa and to colonial accommodation in New Mexico, ceramic characterization studies as a key to production and exchange in community formation, ethnogenesis and inter-ethnic alliance in the American Southwest and Southern Plains, and prehistoric human interactions with marine mammals in California.

At the undergraduate level, an integrated program of courses on regional culture of North America, Mesoamerica, and the Paleolithic, archaeological theory and method, research design, archaeological materials analysis, and a writing-intensive senior seminar prepare students for graduate programs in archaeology or for entry-level jobs in cultural resource management.

At the graduate level, a more specialized curriculum focuses on the archaeological study of non-stratified ("middle range") societies, emphasizing relations with peers and state-level societies in Holocene Africa and the American Plains and Southwest. Emphasis is placed on combining innovative laboratory analytic methods with social theory, including ethnic identity formation and maintenance, inter-ethnic relations, and gender studies.

The archaeology laboratory program at UC Santa Cruz offers rigorous training in theory and method of ceramic analysis and zooarchaeology. Both zooarchaeological and ceramic analytic programs have strong links with researchers in Earth Sciences, specifically in isotopic characterization studies. An undergraduate combined major in Anthropology and Earth Sciences offers students a concentrated pathway in archaeology and geosciences. Zooarchaeology students at all levels can benefit from an outstanding program in physical anthropology, specifically in skeletal biology, forensics, and biomechanics. A well-equipped anthropology laboratory supports both programs.