Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Summer 2024
Units: 4
Hours: 4 lecture per week (48 total per quarter)
Advisory: Not open to students with credit in ANTH 8H.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area IV: Social & Behavioral Sciences
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will practice and apply understandings of archaeological method and theory.
  • Students will critically analyze and interpret archaeological data gathered from fieldwork.
  • Students will apply archaeological principles for solving human problems on the local, regional and world scales.


Introduction to the historical development, theory, and techniques of archaeological research and fieldwork. Development of comparative theoretical approach to the study of ancient cultures with eye to understanding present day social and environmental issues. Focus on cultural resource management, survey and selection of field sites, dating, excavation, artifact classification, interpretation of data, and written analysis.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Use and apply basic archaeological terminology.
  2. Integrate and apply the newer techniques of laboratory analysis as applied to field data.
  3. Analyze the history of archaeology and its relation to the modern world.
  4. Evaluate the modern theories and developmental trends in the field.
  5. Compare archaeology to other subfields within anthropology.
  6. Understand the basic elements of archaeological field excavations.
  7. Demonstrate critical thinking skills necessary to understand material culture.
  8. Evaluate archaeological reports and written analyses.
  9. Identify the various archaeological theories, methods, and techniques used to investigate the human past.
  10. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry and its application in archaeological research.
  11. Articulate the goals, and the legal, operational, and ethical framework of cultural resource management and heritage preservation.
  12. Illustrate the use of archaeological methods with reference to cultural sequences.
  13. Discuss the relationship between anthropology and archaeology.

Course Content

  1. Introduction to archaeology
    1. Goals of archaeology
      1. Culture history
      2. Past lifeways
      3. Cultural process
      4. Scientific methodology
      5. History of archaeology
      6. Contemporary archaeology
        1. Careers in archaeology
        2. Politics in archaeology
    2. Ethics in archaeology
      1. Working in someone else's backyard
      2. Case histories from archaeology
        1. Ohlone in the Silicon Valley
        2. Maya and museums
        3. Other cultures
      3. Women pioneers in archaeology
  2. Archaeological approaches
    1. Culture historical interpretation
    2. Processual archaeology
    3. The systems-ecological approach
    4. Postprocessual archaeology
    5. Evolutionary archaeology
    6. Indigenous archaeologies
    7. Gender archaeology
    8. Public archaeology
  3. Theoretical approaches
    1. Inductive vs. deductive
    2. Neo-Marxist
    3. Post-postivist
    4. Phenomenological
    5. Practice
    6. Interpretive
  4. The basic units of archaeology
    1. Artifacts
    2. Stratigraphy
    3. Archaeological sites
    4. Settlement patterns
    5. Context
    6. Culture
  5. Exploration and discovery: conducting fieldwork
    1. Site surveying and locating sites
    2. Site surveying and collecting data
    3. Excavation: the dig, tools, techniques
    4. Excavation: recording and preserving
  6. Analysis and description
    1. Dating techniques
    2. Soil analysis
    3. Floral and fauna analysis
    4. Artifact analysis
    5. Classification, taxonomy, and systematics
    6. Bioarchaeology: human remains
  7. Explaining the past
    1. The environment
    2. Environmental archaeology
    3. Human biological adaptation
    4. Human cultural adaptation
    5. Domestication and agriculture
  8. Settlement and subsistence
    1. Subsistence systems
    2. Ecofactual evidence
    3. Settlement archaeology
    4. Site catchment
    5. Site hierarchy
  9. Understanding cultural systems
    1. Political organizations
    2. Social stratification
    3. Origins of states
    4. Religious organization
    5. Cosmology
    6. Archaeoastronomy
  10. Understanding cultural change
    1. Systems theory
    2. Diffusion
    3. Contact and conflict
    4. Warfare
  11. Archaeology - its history and future
    1. Collectors and antiquarians
    2. Geological developments and human evolution
    3. Public archaeology
      1. Cultural resource management
      2. NAGPRA
      3. Public education
      4. Ethics in archaeology
    4. Archaeology today and tomorrow

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

When taught as an online distance learning section, students and faculty need ongoing and continuous internet and email access.

Method(s) of Evaluation

Methods of Evaluation may include but are not limited to the following:

Group and individual presentations based on classroom hands-on exercises
Fieldwork and fieldnotes from attendance at a local field experience
Research paper based on topic pertinent to class
Oral presentations based on archaeology workbook assignments with archeological scenario that is analyzed
Essay and objective midterm and final exams
Student-led lecture and discussion on topical issues
Short answer and problem solving exercises emphasizing class discussion of results
Library research analysis based on topics pertinent to class

Method(s) of Instruction

Methods of Instruction may include but are not limited to the following:

Cooperative learning exercises
Field work
Oral presentations
Field trips

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Renfrew, Colin, and Paul Bahn. Archaeology Essentials, 4th ed.. 2018.

Sutton, Mark Q., and Robert M. Yohe II. Archaeology: The Science of the Human Past. 2018.

Sullivan, Mary C., and Samuel Connell. A Case Study in Archaeology: A Student's Perspective, 2nd ed.. 2012.

Silliman, Stephen. Engaging Archaeology: 25 Case Studies in Research Practice. 2018.

Fagan, Brian, and Nadia Durrani. Bigger than History: Why Archaeology Matters. 2019.

Daniels, Steve, and Nicholas David. The Archaeology Workbook. 1982.

The Sullivan/Connell text was last published in 2012, and no new editions are planned. The Daniels/David workbook is timeless and essential.

Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

  1. Students required to analyze detailed reports from two archaeology workbooks which allow them to interpret data and present conclusions.
  2. Students create an applied heritage project and begin proposed implementation of project. For example, elementary school outreach programs for archaeology.