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archaeological ruins


The grand and distinguished tradition of archaeology at Smith—based on the study of ancient Greece, Rome and the Near East—gained a broader geographical multidisciplinary focus when the archaeology minor was introduced in 1984. Built on interdepartmental collaboration, the archaeology program works in cooperation with and is complemented by the anthropological and archaeological program at the University of Massachusetts. In addition to students who enroll in ANT 135 Introduction to Archaeology, and those who declare a minor in archaeology, students pursue archaeology studies through various avenues. Most student experiences occur during the summer in addition to the regular academic program.

Department Update

Late Medieval Excavation Field School, Scottish Borders

HARP, in association with the Ancrum and District Heritage Society (ADHS), will be running a two-week excavation field school from Monday 4th to Friday 15th September at the site of the Mantle Walls, Ancrum in the Scottish Borders. More information and application are here.

Requirements & Courses

Archaeology Minor


Six courses

  1. ARC 135/ ANT 135
  2. Five additional courses chosen in consultation with the student’s minor adviser. (If the archaeological project, below, carries academic credit, only four additional courses are required.) We encourage students to choose courses from at least two different departments, and to study both Old World and New World materials. A list of approved courses is available on the program website at
  3. A project in which the student works outside of a conventional classroom but under appropriate supervision on an archaeological question approved in advance by the minor adviser. The project may be done in a variety of ways and places; for example, it may be excavation (fieldwork), or work in another aspect of archaeology in a museum or laboratory, or in an area closely related to archaeology such as geology or computer science. Students are encouraged to propose projects related to their special interests. This project may be, but does not need to be, one for which the student receives academic credit. If the project is an extensive one for which academic credit is approved by the registrar and the advisory committee, it may count as one of the six courses required for this minor.
Minor Requirement Details 
  • No more than two courses counting toward the student’s major program may be counted toward the archaeology minor.
  • Only four credits of a language course may be counted toward the minor.


ARC 135/ ANT 135 Introduction to Archaeology (4 Credits)

Offered as ANT 135 and ARC 135. This course studies past cultures and societies through their material remains and explores how archaeologists use different field methods, analytical techniques and theoretical approaches to investigate, reconstruct and learn from the past. Data from settlement surveys, site excavations and artifact analysis are used to address economic, social, political and ideological questions across time and space. This course is taught from an anthropological perspective, exploring key transitions in human prehistory, including the origins of food production, social inequality and state-level societies across the globe. Relevance of archaeological practice in modern political, economic and social contexts is explored. First-years and sophomores only. Enrollment limited to 30. {N}{S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

ARC 400 Special Studies (2-4 Credits)

By permission of the Archaeology Advisory Committee, for junior or senior minors.

Fall, Spring

Crosslisted Courses

ANT 135/ ARC 135 Introduction to Archaeology (4 Credits)

Offered as ANT 135 and ARC 135. This course studies past cultures and societies through their material remains and explores how archaeologists use different field methods, analytical techniques and theoretical approaches to investigate, reconstruct and learn from the past. Data from settlement surveys, site excavations and artifact analysis are used to address economic, social, political and ideological questions across time and space. This course is taught from an anthropological perspective, exploring key transitions in human prehistory, including the origins of food production, social inequality and state-level societies across the globe. Relevance of archaeological practice in modern political, economic and social contexts is explored. First-years and sophomores only. Enrollment limited to 30. {N}{S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

ANT 221 Thinking From Things: Method, Theory and Practice in Archaeology (4 Credits)

This course focuses on the theoretical foundations of archaeological research, the variety of methods available to analyze material culture, the interpretation of results, and ethical considerations of practicing archaeology in the United States and abroad. The course provides students with a solid foundation for evaluating and contextualizing current methodological and theoretical trends within archaeology. Case studies illustrate the diversity of archaeological thought, interdisciplinary approaches to studying material culture and innovative directions in the field of anthropological archaeology. Discussions of practice address the roles and responsibilities of archaeologists in heritage management, museum development and community outreach.

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

ANT 226 Archaeology of Food (4 Credits)

This course explores (1) how and why humans across the globe began to domesticate plant and animal resources approximately 10,000 years ago, and (2) new directions in the archaeology of food across time and space. The first part of the semester focuses on the types of archaeological data and analytical methods used to understand the agricultural revolution. Case studies from both centers and noncenters of domestication are used to investigate the biological, economic and social implications of changing foodways. During the remainder of the semester, emphasis is placed on exploring a number of food-related topics within archaeology, such as the relationship between agriculture and sedentism, food and gender, the politics of feasting, and methods for integrating archaeological and ethnographic approaches to the study of food across the globe. Enrollment limited to 30. {S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ANT 237 Monuments, Materials and Models: The Archaeology of South America (4 Credits)

This course offers an overview of the archaeology of South America, from the earliest traces of human occupation over 10,000 years ago to the material culture of the present. The course focuses on how archaeologists use data collected during settlement surveys, site excavations and artifact analysis to reconstruct households and foodways, social and political organization, and ritual and identity over the millennia. Discussions also include the relevance of the past in contemporary indigenous rights movements, heritage management strategies and nationalist projects. {N}{S}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

ANT 347pp Seminar: Topics in Anthropology-Pondering Pottery (4 Credits)

Pottery-- both fragments and whole vessels-- is ubiquitous in the archaeological record and provides insights into technological choices, shifting styles, food-related practices, economic relationships, and many other aspects of past lifeways. In this course we will focus on how archaeologists collect, analyze, interpret, and present information about pottery from diverse contexts across the globe. Students will have the opportunity to conduct independent research on fragmentary and complete pottery vessels and we will also utilize ethnographic and historical studies of potters to expand our understanding of these practices today. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ARH 200 China in Expansion (4 Credits)

During the formative periods when the local and global forces simultaneously took actions in shaping Chinese civilization, the functions of images and objects, the approaches to things and the discourses around art underwent significant shifts, not only responding to but also mapping out the "Chinese-ness" in visual and material culture. This course of early Chinese art investigates diverse media bronze vessels, sculptures, murals, textiles, architecture and other visual and material forms in relation to political and military conquest, cross-cultural exchange, the dissemination of ordinary practices and the formation of identities. Key terms/issues for the course will include expansion, connection and materiality. Counts for ARU. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

ARH 204 Inkas, Aztecs and Their Ancestors (4 Credits)

What is antiquity in the Americas? To explore this question, this class focuses upon visual cultures and urban settings from across the Americas. Emphasis rests upon recent research especially about the Inka, the Aztec, and their ancestors, but we will also study current debates in art history and archaeology. Among the themes we will discuss: sacrifice and rulership, representations of human and deified beings, the symbolic and economic meanings of materials and the ethics of excavation and museum display. Case studies include architectural complexes, textiles, ceramics and sculpted works from Peru, Mexico, the Caribbean and the U.S. Southwest. Counts for ARU. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ARH 207 Translating New Worlds (4 Credits)

In this class we ask how travel to and through the New World was imagined, described and lived by Indigenous residents as well as those who came to the Americas from across the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Our focus rests upon the ways in which geographies, anthropologies, material objects, and pictorial and written records shaped colonial ambitions and experiences. Among the objects we will consider: books and painted images, dyes and metals, feathers, and urban buildings. Case studies will be drawn from across the Americas, including Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Haiti, and the United States. We will also discuss contemporary cultural practices that seek to explain, interpret, and redress colonial encounters and settlements in the Americas. Group A, Counts for ARU. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ARH 212 Ancient Cities and Sanctuaries (4 Credits)

This course explores many different aspects of life in the cities and sanctuaries of the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, Etruria and Rome. Recurrent themes include urbanism, landscapes and patterns of worship, including initiation, sacrifice and pilgrimage. The class probes how modern notions of the secular and the sacred influence interpretation and how sometimes the seemingly most anomalous features of the worship of Isis or of the juxtaposition of commercial and domestic space within a city can potentially prove to be the most revealing about life in another place and time. Counts for ARU. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ARH 216 The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Roman World (4 Credits)

From North Africa to Gaul, from the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar) to Asia Minor, the interrelationships of art and power in the visual culture of the ethnically diverse Roman empire, from the first century B.C.E. through the fourth century C.E., are the subject of study. We also examine works of art from later periods as well as literature and film that structure our perception of the Roman world. Counts for ARU. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ARH 217/ CLS 217 Greek Art and Archaeology (4 Credits)

Offered as CLS 217 and ARH 217. This course is a contextual examination of the art and architecture of Ancient Greece, from the end of the Bronze Age through the domination of Greece by Rome (ca. 1100-168 BCE) and handles an array of settlements, cemeteries and ritual sites. It tracks the development of the Greek city-state and the increasing power of the Greeks in the Mediterranean, culminating in the major diaspora of Greek culture accompanying the campaigns of Alexander the Great and his followers. The course takes a broadly chronological approach, and the question of a unified Greek culture is stressed. Continuing archaeological work is considered. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

ARH 285pm Topics: Great Cities-Pompeii (4 Credits)

A consideration of the ancient city: architecture, painting, sculpture and objects of everyday life. Women and freed people as patrons of the arts are emphasized. The impact of the rediscovery of Pompeii and its role as a source of inspiration in 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century art is discussed. No prerequisite. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ARH 285rm Topics: Great Cities-Rome (4 Credits)

Urban and architectural history of the Eternal City, comprising seven famous hills whose summits and slopes (and the valleys in between) are a cradle of Western civilization. Extensive readings in primary sources and the analysis of works of art of all types will help us understand why Rome has constituted such an indispensable and inexhaustible point of emulative reference from the traditional date of its founding (21 April 753 BCE) to the fascist era and beyond. Considered as well is the relationship between city and country as expressed in the design of villas and gardens through the ages. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

CLS 218 Hellenistic Art and Archaeology (4 Credits)

We will examine the art, architecture, and material culture of the Hellenistic period, spanning the years from 323 to 31 BCE and representing one of the most exciting and dynamic eras of Greek history. Beginning with the expansionist campaign of Alexander the Great and ending with the conquests of the future emperor Augustus, it is a time of fast-paced change, experimentation, and diversity. In addition to examining the archaeology of this period, we will explore ideas about the accessibility of archaeological material and how this may be facilitated through digital collections and virtual reconstructions. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

CLS 227 Classical Mythology (4 Credits)

The principal myths as they appear in Greek and Roman literature, seen against the background of ancient culture and religion. Focus on creation myths, the structure and function of the Olympian pantheon, the Troy cycle and artistic paradigms of the hero. Some attention to modern retellings and artistic representations of ancient myths. {A}{L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

CLS 238 The Age of Heroes: Archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age (4 Credits)

For many of us, the Mediterranean Bronze Age is associated with mythological events like the Trojan War. But how did the people of the Bronze Age actually live? This course surveys the archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age, including Egypt and the Aegean, among others, from 3000 to 1100 BCE. We explore not only the pyramids and palaces of the period, but also the evidence for day-to-day living, from crafts production to religion. We also examine how these cultures interacted, and the Mediterranean networks that both allowed them to flourish and led to their collapse. {A}{H}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

FYS 147 Power Lunch: The Archaeology of Feasting (4 Credits)

Throughout history, food and dining have formed some of the most fundamental expressions of cultural identity--in a very real sense, people are what they eat, and how they eat. This cross-cultural examination of the topic begins by exploring the various roles that feasting played in the world of the ancient Mediterranean, particularly the cultures of Greece and Rome. The class examines comparative material from contemporary societies. How does food define and create culture? In what ways does dining express or reinforce inequalities? These and other questions are tackled through the use of primary literature, anthropological studies and archaeological material, along with hands-on approaches. Enrollment limited to 16 first-years. WI {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GEO 232 Sedimentary Geology (5 Credits)

A project-oriented study of the processes and products of sediment formation, transport, deposition and lithification. Modern sediments and depositional environments of the Massachusetts coast are examined and compared with ancient sedimentary rocks of the Connecticut River Valley and eastern New York. Field and laboratory analyses focus on the description and classification of sedimentary rocks, and on the interpretation of their origin. The results provide unique insights into the geologic history of eastern North America. Two weekend field trips. Prerequisites: GEO 101 and GEO 102; GEO 108; or GEO 102 with any other GEO 100-level course. GEO 102 can be taken concurrently. Enrollment limited to 22. {N}


HST 201 The Silk Road and Premodern Eurasia (4 Credits)

An introduction to major developments and interactions among people in Europe and Asia before modernity. The Silk Roads, long distance networks that allowed people, goods, technology, religious beliefs and other ideas to travel between China, India and Rome/Mediterranean, and the many points in between, developed against the backdrop of the rise and fall of steppe nomadic empires in Inner Asia. We examine these as interrelated phenomena that shaped Eurasian encounters to the rise of the world-conquering Mongols and the journey of Marco Polo. Topics include: horses, Silk and Steppe routes, Scythians and Huns, Han China and Rome, Byzantium, Buddhism, Christianity and other universal religions, Arabs and the rise of Islam, Turks, Mongol Empire, and medieval European trade, geography and travel. {H}


HST 203 Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic World (4 Credits)

The career and conquests of Alexander the Great (d. 323 B.C.) wrought far-reaching consequences for many in Europe, Asia and Africa. In the ensuing Hellenistic (Greek-oriented) commonwealth that spanned the Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia and India, Greco-Macedonians interacted with Egyptians, Babylonians, Jews, Iranians, Indians and Romans in ways that galvanized ideas and institutions such as the classical city as ideal community, cult of divine kings and queens, "fusion" literatures, mythologies and artistic canons and also provoked nativist responses such as the Maccabean revolt. Main topics include Greeks and "barbarians," Alexander and his legacies, Hellenism as ideal and practice, conquerors and natives, kings and cities/regions, Greek science and philosophies, old and new gods. This course provides context for understanding early Christianity, Judaism and the rise of Rome. {H}

Spring, Variable

HST 204 The Roman Republic (4 Credits)

A survey of the history of the Roman people as Rome developed from a village in central Italy to the capital of a vast Mediterranean empire of 50 million people. We trace Rome’s early rise through mythology and archaeology and follow developments from Monarchy to the end of the Republic, including the Struggle of the Orders, conquests and citizenship, wars with Carthage, encounters with local cultures in North Africa, Gaul and the Greek East, challenges of expansion and empire, rich versus poor, political corruption, and the Civil Wars of the Late Republic. We also study the family, slavery, traditional and new religions, and other aspects of Roman culture and society. {H}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

HST 205 The Roman Empire (4 Credits)

The history of the Romans and other mediterranean peoples from the first to the early fifth centuries A.D. With Emperor Augustus, the traditional Republican form of rule was reshaped to accommodate the personal rule of an emperor that governed a multiethnic empire of 50 million successfully for several centuries. Imperial Rome represents the paradigmatic classical empire that many later empires sought to emulate. The class traces how this complex imperial society evolved to meet different challenges. Topics include: the emperor and historical writings, corruption of power, bread and circuses, assimilation and revolts, the Jewish war, universal and local religions, early Christianity, Late Antiquity, migrations and the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. This course offers context for understanding the history of Christianity, Judaism and the early Middle Ages. Enrollment limited to 40. {H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

JUD 214/ REL 214 Women in the Hebrew Bible (4 Credits)

This course focuses on the lives of women in ancient Israelite society through close readings of the Hebrew Bible. We look at detailed portraits of female characters as well as the role of many unnamed women in the text to consider the range and logic of biblical attitudes toward women, including reverence, disgust and sympathy. We also consider female deities in the ancient Near East, women in biblical law, sex in prophetic and Wisdom literature, and the female body as a source of metaphor. {H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

REL 112 Introduction to the Bible I (4 Credits)

The Hebrew scriptures (Tanakh/Old Testament). A survey of the Hebrew Bible and its historical and cultural context. Critical reading and discussion of its narrative and legal components as well as an introduction to the prophetic corpus and selections from the wisdom literature. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Annually

REL 213 Social Justice in the Hebrew Bible (4 Credits)

An exploration of biblical prophecy with a focus on how the prophets called for social and religious reform in language that continues to resonate today. {H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

Advisory Committee

Joel Kaminsky


Morningstar Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religion

Joel Kaminsky

Elizabeth Klarich


Associate Professor of Anthropology & Department Chair of Anthropology

Elizabeth Klarich

Archaeology at Smith

Harriet Boyd Hawes 1892 inaugurated the teaching of archaeology at Smith. Her discovery of the Minoan site of Gournia on Crete remains crucial to the modern understanding of Bronze Age cities in Greece.

Harriet Boyd Hawes in Smithipedia
Harriet Boyd Hawes

Opportunities & Resources

Students have worked on geographical surveying in Idaho, as volunteer excavators in the Athenian Agora and on many other projects. (Smith has been represented in greater numbers than any other undergraduate college in the students chosen to dig in the prestigious excavations at the Athenian Agora.) Smith is a founding member of the American Academy in Roma and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, and Smith students have been admitted most every year to the highly competitive summer programs at both institutions. In addition, Smith institutional memberships and affiliations include the American Schools of Oriental Research, the American Journal of Archaeology (founding member 1885 and a founding member of the society that supports the journal), and the Inter-Collegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (charter member 1964). Smith students benefit from programs offered by these institutions and our faculty are active in all of these organizations.

Archaeological Field School Databases 

Contact Archaeology Program

Hillyer Hall 102A
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3102 Email:

Rebecca Davis, Administrative Assistant