This class will examine how we use archaeological materials to learn about past societies by studying the traces that their inhabitants left behind. Students will explore the range of methods used in the field, laboratory, and museum to find, record, date, preserve, contextualize, and interpret material culture. Basic methods of investigation and research will be discussed through the examination of site survey, excavation, and the analysis of artifacts.
While we are symbol users and inhabitants of imagined worlds, we are also toolmakers whose hands are dirtied in manipulating the world. This course will focus attention on materiality and our engagement with the material world. Examples of material culture studies will be drawn from such disciplines as archaeology, anthropology, geography, history, folklore, popular culture, architecture, and museum studies.