The archaeology subdiscipline provides continuous geographic coverage of ancient societies from the Plains of North America through the Southwest and Mesoamerica to the Intermediate Area. The native societies we focus on range from egalitarian hunter-gatherers through middle range societies to the city-states and empires of Mesoamerica. The faculty’s theoretical and topical interests include human ecology, ethnoarchaeology, agency and social theory, lithic and ceramic analyses, remote sensing, disasters in ancient and modern times, and geophysical applications in archeology.
Archaeology links with biological anthropology in a number of ways. For instance, archaeologists encountering burials frequently turn to biological anthropologists for analyses of stature, health, and other topics. Many archaeologists and biological anthropologists share a deep interest in human ecology, i.e. the ways people have adapted to their environments and affected those environments. Archaeology also relates to cultural anthropology in significant ways, since much archaeological theory is derived from cultural theory. Given the vast diachronic interests of archaeology, significant archaeological theory is also derived independently from ethnography. Ethnoarchaeology spans the two subdisciplines, as archaeologists study the material culture of functioning contemporary societies to learn how better to make inferences about past behavior. Both archaeology and cultural anthropology study ethnic and political groups in contact with each other, including topics of migration, acculturation, trade and tribute, conquest, information sharing, elite emulation, and the rise of multiethnic powers.
Every summer, the CU Department of Anthropology conducts an archaeological field school for qualifying undergraduate and graduate students.
- Douglas Bamforth - Pre-contact archaeology of the North American Great Plains
- Catherine Cameron - Archaeology of the North American Southwest
- Gerardo Gutiérrez - Mesoamerican Archaeology and Ethnohistory
- Arthur Joyce - Origins and development of complex societies of Mesoamerica
- Steve Lekson - Curator of Anthropology-Archaeology of the North American Southwest
- Scott Ortman - Historical Anthropology of the North American Southwest
- Payson Sheets - Archaeology of Mesoamerica and the Intermediate Area of lower Central America