"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." –L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between, 1953
Archaeologists explore this foreign country that is the past, they discover ruins and the material remains of what ancient people built and made, and they piece together the puzzle of what life was like in the past.
Archaeology professors in the Department of Anthropology at Tulane have unearthed evidence about ancient cities and monuments in Peru and Mexico, ancient Maya palaces and hieroglyphic inscriptions in the jungles of Guatemala, stone tools and symbolic material culture from Stone Age Africa, and a mid-sixteenth-century Spanish colonial fort at the capital of a Native American chiefdom in North Carolina. They venture far and wide in search of sites and artifacts; they dig along the coast, in the mountains, and in the swamps; and they search for sites in woods, fields, rainforests, and deserts. They study stone tools, pottery, trade goods, architecture, monuments, iconography, rock art, past environments, and maps.
Although adventure does figure in the archaeology undertaken by Tulane professors, they are all bound by an anthropological interest in broad patterns of cultural continuity and change in the prehistory and history of humankind. This focus is reflected in our undergraduate curriculum, which encourages students to 1) develop broad background knowledge of anthropology, 2) gain experience in archaeological fieldwork, 3) participate in analyses and management of archaeological collections, and 4) explore interests in related fields of study, including other subdisciplines of anthropology, and disciplines such as history, classics, linguistics, environmental studies, earth sciences, and geography.
Our graduate curriculum emphasizes a broad appreciation for method and theory in anthropological archaeology, as well as a breadth of knowledge of world prehistory. We also emphasize deep knowledge in particular world areas of particular interest to faculty and students. Archaeology faculty in the Department of Anthropology at Tulane have interests and expertise in human origins and the development of behavioral modernity, the archaeology of Paleolithic and Neolithic societies of the Old World, ancient civilizations of the New World, the development and collapse of complex societies, and Native American responses to European contact and colonialism in the Americas.
Five faculty members in the Department of Anthropology specialize in archaeology. These faculty members teach courses on areas and themes within their areas of interest and expertise, and they offer courses on archaeological theory, research design in anthropology, and technical methods in archaeology. For a listing of these courses, please refer to our Classes page.
- Professor Marcello Canuto specializes on the archaeology of the ancient Maya and lowland Mesoamerica more broadly.
- Associate Professor Grant McCall specializes in the archaeology of the Early and Middle Stone Age, the prehistory of Africa, and lithic technology.
- Assistant Professor Tatsuya Murakami specializes in Mesoamerican archaeology with a special focus on Central Mexico.
- Assistant Professor Jason Nesbitt specializes in the archaeology of the central Andes, with a focus on the Initial Period (ca. 1700–800 B.C.) and Early Horizon (ca. 800–300 BC) of Peru.
- Professor Chris Rodning specializes in the archaeology of Native American peoples of North America, particularly in the American South, including Cherokee and ancestral Catawba towns in the southern Appalachians, and the Gulf South.
Prospective applicants for the Ph.D. program in anthropology at Tulane, with particular interests in archaeology, should contact faculty members whose interests most closely match their own.