Archaeology Program Overview

Archaeology Lab - Graduate Student Work Space

Faculty specialties, and course offerings, include settlement patterns, origins of agriculture, household archaeology, comparative political economies, sources of political authority and legitimization, chiefdoms and states, the rise of cities, mortuary analysis, human ecology, maritime adaptations, pastoral societies, warfare, contact period studies, historical archaeology, cultural resource management, statistical analysis and computer applications (including Geographic Information Systems), faunal analysis, and geophysical approaches in archaeology.

Department resources include: dedicated computer facilities for quantitative and GIS/spatial analysis and digital imaging; wet and dry labs for isotopic pre-treatment and sample preparation; comparative collections for the analysis of Old and New World fauna; and equipment for field-based survey, mapping, geophysical prospection and materials analysis.  The Department regularly offers a summer field school investigating prehistoric/protohistoric Iroquois communities in upstate New York, and occasionally offers other opportunities in other parts of the world.

The Center for Comparative Archaeology, housed within the Department of Anthropology, fosters comparative analysis of global scope through publications, scholarship, and student research support.  The Center disseminates primary research through innovate online digital formats in addition to traditional books. The Center's Visiting Scholar collaborates in teaching and research. The Center also provides fellowships and research support for graduate and undergraduate students. 

Pitt graduate students have extensive fieldwork opportunities throughout the world working independently or on faculty projects. At any moment, nearly half of our roughly 35 archaeology graduate students are from abroad, helping create a unique international student community. Current students represent Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, China, Taiwan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, England, and Canada. To see examples of student work, go to the Research page and select filters for Archaeology and Graduate Students.

Archaeology at Pitt is part of a large and diverse Department of Anthropology. Cultural anthropologists offer courses in Latin American ethnohistory and demography, social stratification, Pacific prehistory, political economy, and seldom-taught native languages including Mayan and Quechua. Other Department of Anthropology faculty can train students in geoarchaeology, bioarchaeology, human skeletal analysis, paleopathology, and museum science. Students benefit from Pitt's strong Area Studies Centers — internationally recognized, multidisciplinary centers of international study that coordinate the activities of hundreds of Pitt faculty members active in the language, history, and culture of that area. The Center for Latin American Studies, the Asian Studies Center, and the Center for Russian and East European Studies have each been designated National Resource Centers by the United States Department of Education. Each center offers a certificate program and small grants for fieldwork in their respective areas. 

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History maintains close working ties with our Department of Anthropology, providing students with opportunities for specialized training in curation and museum techniques. Pitt students are welcome in the Carnegie labs and the extensive archaeological collections.

Degrees offered include both an MA and a PhD in anthropology, though currently we are not accepting applications for terminal MA degrees. Support for graduate students is our highest priority; we strive to provide every student with full support. In addition, we emphasize helping students develop the skills to obtain funding for dissertations (and later research as well). In recent years, 98 percent of Pitt PhD students have obtained their own funding for dissertation research from agencies such as the National Science Foundation.

Selected Courses

  • Ancient Maya
  • Ancient States in the New World
  • Andean Prehistory
  • Archaeological Data Analysis
  • Archaeology of China
  • Archaeology of Migration & Diffusion
  • Archaeometry
  • Ceramics
  • Chiefdoms
  • Climate & Culture
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Household Archaeology
  • Human Behavioral Ecology
  • Human Skeletal Analysis
  • Lithics
  • Maritime Adaptations
  • Mesoamerica Before Cortez
  • Mortuary Analysis
  • Regional Settlement Demography
  • Warfare and Violence
  • Zooarchaeology

Core Faculty

Archaeology Lab Plan

Archaeology Lab Layout - Second Floor, Posvar Hall

Archaeology Lab - Graduate Student Work Space