Archaeology is the study of the material evidence of the human past. This evidence can include monumental structures like the ceremonial statues and platforms of Easter Island as well as smaller portable artefacts such as pots and stone tools. Archaeologists may also study the buried foundations of structures and the remains of animals and plants used by ancient peoples. This research can contribute significantly to our knowledge of human origins, and the variety of societies and environments in the past. Otago offers a range of stimulating archaeology papers with opportunities for postgraduate students to carry out supervised field and laboratory research, particularly in New Zealand and the Pacific.
The study of archaeology will broaden your understanding of the development of human society and cuture. At Otago you will learn about the methods that have led archaeologists to discover how and why complex societies emerged throughout the world. Otago courses provide a unique 50,000 year perspective on early human colonisation and cultural change in Asia and the Pacific. Students gain novel insights into human social and material environments and interactions in the past. Students can also prepare for a career that promotes new and exciting research into our human heritage, and the care of archaeological sites today. Graduating archaeology students will have gained critical skills in the systematic recording, analysis and interpretation of the cultural past.
“Studying archaeology at Otago gave me a sound grounding in both the academic and practical aspects necessary to excel in this field, proving invaluable for my studies in the area of underwater archaeology.”
Matthew Carter (BA Hons I Otago, GPMA Flinders, MA candidate Otago) 2009 Australasian Rolex Scholar, Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society
Archaeology at Otago is taught as part of the broader discipline of Anthropology; the comparative study of humanity and culture. Students who wish to specialise in Archaeology major in Anthropology. It is possible to major in Anthropology with Archaeology papers only, but students wishing to specialise in archaeology are encouraged to take one or more lower-level Social Anthropology papers too (including the joint ANTH 103 paper). Archaeology students may also wish to take Biological Anthropology courses concerned in part with the study of human biological remains from archaeological sites. These courses are offered through the Department of Anatomy. Students with strong interests in archaeological techniques and science may wish to credit other relevant science and surveying papers in their degree.
Qualified students may apply to study for MA or PhD degrees in the archaeology programme. If you are contemplating studying for an archaeology Masters degree please consult our information document for MA students. If you wish to undertake doctoral study in archaeology please consult our PhD information document. All applicants for these degrees must complete and submit the Preliminary Proposal for Postgraduate Research in Archaeology form as part of the application process. This form does not replace the formal Humanities Division application process for the Masters degree. You must complete the Divisional form and submit this together with your 'archaeology preliminary proposal to the Administrator, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology'.
You should not enrol until your admission has been approved by both the Department and the Division.
The Anthropology Department has maintained active research programmes in prehistoric archaeology since the 1960s and in historical archaeology since the late 1970s. Projects have focussed upon three regional areas: New Zealand, Pacific and South East Asia. For more information about archaeological research in the Department of Anthropology check out the research section of this website.