Graduate Program on Ancient Technologies in their Environmental Contexts
The archaeology program in the Department of Anthropology at New York University provides students a broad foundation in archaeological theory, methods, the history and development of archaeology as a discipline in the social and natural sciences, and extensive and in-depth knowledge about regional archaeological records across Eurasia, Africa, and North America. Our approach to understanding the diversity and evolution of past human behavior emphasizes ancient technologies and the importance of geological and environmental context for interpreting the archaeological record.
The study of ancient technologies provides a solid foundation for interpreting the archaeological record and is a major research theme of the archaeology program in the Anthropology Department of New York University. We view artifacts as the basic unit of analysis for archaeologists. Artifacts are important in showing the evolution of technological complexity through time, and perhaps more importantly, provide the opportunity for rare insight into social processes associated with tool manufacture, use, and the ways in which developments in material culture are used as expressions of personal or group identity.
The four faculty members provide students with theoretical, methodological, and hands-on training for each of the major technological facets of the archaeological record. They include the analysis of stone tools (Tryon), artifact forms that dominate much of the 2.5 million years of the archaeological record; the production of symbolic artifacts that are crucial indicators of complex means of constructing identity through material goods (White), the production of pottery, a major transformation that facilitated increasing urbanization and large scale trade (Wright), and changes in food acquisition and processing (Crabtree) that mark fundamental differences in human interactions with the environment.
The department maintains excellent laboratory facilities (experimental, ceramic, lithic and zooarchaeological) for teaching and hands-on research in prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology. These include an array of computer hardware and software, including image analysis and storage capabilities, fully equipped histological laboratory, in house optical and light microscopy, sample preparation, and zooarchaeological, ceramic and lithic technological comparative collections.
The archaeologists in the department are committed to integrating students into long-term, ongoing field programs which they direct or in which they are key participants. At present, these include White’s Paleolithic excavations at Abri Castanet, France, Crabtree’s prospection and excavation at Dun Alinne, Ireland, Wright’s excavations and surveys at Harappa, Pakistan and Tryon’s survey, excavation and geological prospection in East Africa and Anatolia. These field and laboratory opportunities provide intensive training in excavation methods, data collection and analysis, geoarchaeology, total-station technology, remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Through collaboration with other departments and schools, students have access to technical support and courses through New York University, museums, educational institutions and CRM firms within the New York City metropolitan area. Working with small numbers of students (we typically accept two students a year), we are able to form strong collaborative ties and integrative programs among students and faculty. We consider mentoring and professionalization to be among our principal strengths.
SPECIAL RESOURCES AND FACILITIES IN ARCHAEOLOGY
The department maintains excellent laboratory facilities for teaching and research in protohistoric and prehistoric archaeology. An array of computer hardware and software, including image analysis and storage capabilities, is available for graduate research projects. In addition, there is a state-of-the-art photographic laboratory, a thin-section laboratory for seasonality studies, and excellent microscopic equipment, including access to scanning electron microscopes. A zooarchaeological reference collection and ceramics laboratory are available for teaching and research purposes.
Students benefit from the close ties that exist between the department and other programs and institutions. These include the Smithsonian Institution, the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of the City of New York, the New Jersey State Museum, the Center for American Archaeology, and many museums, laboratories, and agencies in France, Britain, Israel, Pakistan, and the former Soviet Union.
Pam J. Crabtree
Research/Interest: Zooarchaeology; animal domestication and history of domestic animals; archaeology of later prehistoric and early medieval Europe; Iron Age Ireland; historical archaeology of North America.
Research/Interest: Archaeological and geological methods to explore the behavioral evolution of Middle and Later Pleistocene hominins and the origin of Homo sapiens.
Research/Interest: Paleolithic Europe; prehistoric art; archaeological approaches to the technologies of ancient hunter-gatherers; France.
Rita P. Wright
Research/Interest: Urbanism; state formation; gender relations; the ancient Near East, and South Asia.