Anthropological Archaeology

Anthropology PhD student Camille Louis and Haitian students excavating the royal palace of Henry Christophe, Milot, Haiti [Photo by J. Cameron Monroe]

Archaeology uses the material traces of human activities to understand past human lives and cultures. The Department of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz provides broad training in archaeological method, theory, and regional cultures, offering a particular focus on the global archaeology of culture contact, colonialism, and its enduring legacies today. Our department boasts regional specializations in West and East Africa, California, the Caribbean, the Near East, the Pacific Northwest, and South America. Active faculty research projects focus on zooarchaeological approaches to foodways and human-environment interactions in eastern Africa and the western Indian Ocean, village life and climate change in Neolithic Turkey, West African urban and rural transformations in the era of the slave trade, Indigenous persistence and survivance in Colonial California, architecture and political sovereignty in Haiti after the Haitian Revolution, local resistance and transformation of Inka and Spanish colonialism in the Central Andes, and cultural heritage law and indigenous protocol in the Pacific Northwest.

At the undergraduate level, we offer an integrated program of courses on the culture histories of the aforementioned regions, archaeological theory and method, research design, archaeological materials analysis, and  writing-intensive senior seminars. These courses prepare students for graduate programs in archaeology, museum studies, and entry-level jobs in cultural resource management. Students are encouraged to seek out opportunities to work with faculty in their labs and on their field projects, providing a level of hands-on experiential learning that is unparalleled in the UC system.

At the graduate level, we offer a specialized curriculum focusing on the archaeology of culture contact, colonialism, and its legacies today. Emphasis is placed on combining innovative laboratory or field methods with social theory, including theories of empire, environment, ethnic identity formation, resistance and survivance, and gender studies. Graduate students at UCSC receive mentorship in a wide range of methods. These include ceramic analysis, zooarchaeology, GIS and spatial analysis, landscape archaeology, bioarchaeology, isotopic analysis, Ancient DNA analysis, community-based participatory research (CBPR), and  cultural heritage stewardship. 

We encourage our PhD students to seek out co-mentorship from 2 or more faculty members in archaeology or bio-anthropology, allowing students to draw creatively from the expertise of multiple faculty in developing their research projects. Examples of co-mentored PhD projects completed or currently underway in our department include:

  • ​​Stable Isotopes and Herd Management Strategies of Early Pastoralists in South-Central Kenya
  • Spatial Analysis of Spanish Colonial Buffer Settlements in Northern New Mexico
  • Zooarchaeology and political sovereignty in Hawai’i
  • Modeling Maroon settlement patterns and social networks in Colonial Saint Domingue
  • Isotopic analysis and Indigenous trading networks in Colonial La Florida
  • Urbanism and Craft Specialization in 19th Century Nigeria
  • Landscapes and memory of Japanese internment camps in Colorado
An undergraduate combined major in Anthropology and Earth Sciences offers students a concentrated pathway in archaeology and geosciences. Additionally, the UCSC Archaeological Research Center facilitates interdisciplinary dialogue and public outreach among students and faculty, and provides archaeological travel and research grants for undergraduates and graduate students.