A student holds up an artifact. Her tee-shirt says Oberlin College Lab Crawl 2019.
Program Overview

Archaeological Studies

Build a tailored major from the ground up.

Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Dig In and Study Diverse Pasts

How can plant remains help us understand life on the Roman frontier? What can archaeological discoveries tell us about the people who wrote the Bible? How has historical colonialism impacted Indigenous identities today? As an interdisciplinary major, Archaeological Studies, sits at the nexus of science and culture, exploring human society through its material remains.

Faculty Mentorship, Fieldwork, and Collections Research

Faculty mentors connect each student to opportunities for real, hands-on experience, from fieldwork projects around the world to curatorial research with collections right here on campus. Plus, you can bake cuneiform cookies with an active student-run archaeology club. Our approach to material culture studies emphasizes collaboration, ethical approaches to cultural heritage, and data management skills. Graduates go on to work as academics, researchers, curators, librarians, and educators.

More than 650 artifacts in the Oberlin Near East Study Collection, 1,600 in its Ethnographic Collection, and 10,000 plant specimens in the herbarium.

Oberlin in the World

Professor Amy Margaris’ current research engages ethnographic collections as platforms for dialogue and knowledge exchange between Indigenous communities, scientists, and Oberlin students.

Two people kneel by a cooler in a field, writing notes and labelling items.
An average year features more than 5 field projects with an Oberlin student on its crew

Curation and Collections

Preserving artifacts and other specimens is central to archaeology and museums. ACHS students have opportunities to gain hands-on experience in object curation and study, both on and off campus.

Working at a table, a student prepares a plant for preservation.

Undergraduate Research

Elf Zimmerman

Museums have an obligation to help address the historical wrongs done to Native communities by returning agency over their material culture.

Featured Courses

CLAS 351

Pompeii: Life and Afterlife

Buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE, Pompeii is the best-preserved city from the ancient world. Replete with evidence from daily life, the site offers a time capsule of ancient Roman culture, preserving evidence from all aspects of life, from foodways to politics, and from religion to sex.

Taught by
Andrew (Drew) Wilburn
GEOL 152

Soils and Society

Soils are the basis for the formation of our societies - we need soil to grow crops and to have land for our animals to graze. However, our activities greatly alter the soils that we rely on, reducing our ability to productively use the land we live on. Through the use of case studies from regions around the world, students will learn the basics of soil science, hillslope geomorphology, and anthropogenic effects on these systems.

Taught by
Amanda Schmidt
ANTH 382

Archaeological Lab Methods

This is a hands-on course aimed at deepening your understanding of how archaeologists make meaning from the material record.  Through an iterative process of reading, making, describing, and analyzing, you will critically engage with such media as stone tools, ceramics, textiles, geoarchaeological samples, and digital archives.

Taught by
Amy Margaris ’96
RELG 109

Jerusalem: Negotiating Sacred Space

An introduction to the history of Jerusalem and to the many and varied religious groups within Judaism, Christianity and Islam that have laid claim to its sacredness. Students will explore notions of sacred space as they find expression in sequential historical periods within Jerusalem. Weekly study topics include sacred cartography, apocalypticism, pilgrimage, and the role of archaeology in ‘uncovering’ and bolstering religious land claims.

Taught by
Cynthia (Cindy) Chapman

Student Profiles

Researching Biblical Archaeology

An archaeological studies and classical civilizations double major, Julian Hirsch ’20 has been digging into Oberlin’s Near East Study Collection featuring artifacts from 16,000 B.C.E. to the present.

Julian Hirsch.

Archaeology in Action

At Oberlin, Susanna Faas-Bush, ’18 helped to cofound the Oberlin Archaeology Society while pursuing research into the ancient world. She is now a PhD student at UC Berkeley.

Susanna Faas-Bush

Using Artifacts to Tell Stories

At Oberlin, Christian Bolles ’18 combined his interest in archaeology with work as a student journalist and coeditor of The Oberlin Review. “The archaeological truth is incredibly malleable,” he says, “but that’s what I love about it.”

Christian Bolles

What Does Archaeology at Oberlin Look Like?

At a table covered with papers, books, and boxes, two students examine an artifact.

As part of a winter term project, ACHS students catalogued Oberlin’s Herbert G. May teaching collection, including objects from ancient Israel and the larger ancient Near East.

Photo credit: Marissa Camino
Three people in a lab, where a large screen above a microscope displays a colorful image.

In Professor Amanda Schmidt’s lab, students explore the intersection between human activity and surface processes, including soil erosion.

Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97
A student works with a tray of artifacts.

Archaeology and Geology student Allen Tao works with one of the college’s many natural history collections.

Photo credit: Jennifer Manna
About 2 dozen people pose with the Stonehenge site in the background.

Geoarchaeology students lounging at Stonehenge, UK during the spring 2019 Oberlin-in-London course co-taught by Zeb Page and Amy Margaris.

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.

Aerial view of campus buildings and fall foliage.