Archaeology is about the discovery of the past and how that past can inform us about the present. Through the excavation of sites and by the analysis of the physical evidence those sites contain (structures, objects, human, animal and plant remains), archaeologists reconstruct past human lives, activities, and environments. An inherently interdisciplinary field, archaeology draws from methods and research practices in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
The Curricular Committee on Archaeology at Oberlin is comprised of faculty members representing disciplines related to the field of archaeology. Members of the Curricular Committee on Archaeology are Susan Kane, art, chair, fall; Karla Hubbard, geology; Amy Margaris, anthropology; and Jack Glazier, anthropology, chair, spring.
Archaeological studies at Oberlin is a program of interdepartmental offerings that cover a range of cultures—from prehistoric to early historic—in both the Old and New Worlds. This program of study also introduces students to the skills and analytic tools that facilitate archaeological research.
The archaeological studies major is interdisciplinary in several respects:
- It requires students, regardless of their specific interests, to become acquainted with a range of different archaeological research perspectives, as represented by courses in anthropology, art, classics, and religion.
- It permits students to explore the interrelations between archaeology and science in a manner consistent with current trends in both study and research.
- It is the only major in the College of Arts and Sciences that requires work in all three divisions: the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.
Majors design their own curriculum in close consultation with their advisor according to their area of concentration within the discipline. The program's core curriculum consists of a selection of courses drawn from the regular offerings in anthropology, art, classics, and religion. The core courses are supplemented by appropriate ones in such related disciplines as biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, geology, mathematics, and physics. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of archaeology, many students often double major, choosing archaeological studies to enhance studies in anthropology, art history, classics, or geology.
In addition to class work, the program offers archaeological fieldwork and laboratory research opportunities for students, which may include participation in Oberlin faculty research, or in field schools, internships, or other arrangements outside of Oberlin.
Oberlin College, along with the University of Oxford (UK), is an institutional sponsor of the Sangro Valley Project and the Sangro Valley Field School in the southern Abruzzo region of Italy. This jointly operated field school trains both undergraduate and graduate students from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Italy in the latest archaeological methods and techniques. Participants also take field trips to other sites and nearby museums, and attend lectures given by leading scholars and researchers.
Oberlin College partners with College of Wooster to manage a local chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). The AIA provides two national lecturers each year to supplement the two college's other sponsored events, workshops, and lectures.