Anthropology PhD

Archaeology Approach

Arizona State University is home to one of the world's leading programs in anthropological archaeology, attracting students and distinguished visitors from around the world. 

Awards iconA recent analysis of the archaeology job market identified ASU as one of the leading programs in the country for job placement. The peer-reviewed study, published in American Antiquity, ranked ASU 4th in the country in academic job placement. ASU PhDs not only were successful in obtaining academic employment across the study’s period, they also were more likely to receive jobs at top-tier programs in the United States.

Graduates from ASU are now on the faculty of many top-ranked universities. ASU archaeologists carry out research world-wide, studying topics as diverse as the origins of modern humans; the ecology and beginnings of farming; the development of institutionalized social inequality; the rise and fall of urban states and empires; and the long-term reciprocal impacts between people and their environment. Our graduate students are actively involved in research and publication.

Since the formation of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in 2005, the archaeology program at ASU can be viewed in two ways. First, we have maintained our status as a strong, vibrant and active program of anthropological archaeology. Our students are among the best in the country. Our graduate and undergraduate courses are still labeled "anthropology" courses in the catalog, and our master's and doctoral degrees are in anthropology.

From a second perspective, archaeologists at ASU are taking advantage of transdisciplinary opportunities and resources to lead the discipline in new directions: developing basic social science theory for understanding the dynamics and challenges of Western and non-Western societies; creating new technologies for collecting and analyzing data; directing interdisciplinary teams of scientists in novel research on past sociocultural systems and their environmental contexts; and applying unique knowledge about long-term dynamics to diverse issues facing humanity today.

ASU archaeologists focus their research on key areas, the study of which has transformative impact on other disciplines and society more broadly:

  • long-term change
  • ecological dynamics of societies
  • social complexity and heterogeneity
  • the dynamics of living together
  • the peopling of the earth

Topical Strengths:

  • Human origins in natural and social context
  • Origins and transformation of food production
  • Urban societies
  • The spread of anatomically modern humans
  • Socio-natural systems
  • Physical and social landscapes
  • Technology and identity
  • Economy and the organization of craft production
  • Heritage and material culture
  • Social identity

Current Regional Strengths:

  • Southwestern U.S.
  • Eastern North America
  • Mesoamerica
  • Mediterranean and Western Europe
  • Northern, Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Central Asia
  • Andes

Archaeology Curriculum

Required Courses

  • ASB 591 Professionalism
  • ASM 579 Proposal Writing

Recommended Courses
Students will choose the courses that best fit their needs in consultation with their committee.

It is strongly recommended that archaeology students take the following courses:

  • ASB 560 Theory and Archaeology
  • ASM 565 Quantitative and Formal Methods in Archaeology (or another methods course)

It is strongly recommended that archaeology students take courses across the following thematic categories to build a professional foundation:

Hunter-gatherer / Paleolithic, including:

  • ASB 563 Hunter-Gatherer Adaptations
  • ASB 591 Stone Age of Africa
  • ASM 530 Paleoanthropology

Small Scale Societies, including:

  • ASB 542 Small-scale Societies
  • ASB 567 Southwest Archaeology

Complex Societies, including:

  • ASB 549 Chiefdoms
  • ASB 555 Complex Societies
  • ASB 537 Topics in Mesoamerican Archaeology

Analytical, Quantitative or Formal methods, including:

  • ASB 568 Space in Archaeology
  • ASM 568 GIS and Spatial Technologies for Anthropological Research
  • ASB 544 Settlement Patterns
  • ASM 566 Advanced Topics in Quantitative Archaeology
  • ASM 591 Dynamic Modeling in Social and Ecological Systems
  • ASM 520 Agent Based Modeling
  • Other GIS, Modeling, or Statistics courses offered by SHESC or other units.

Theoretical Topics in Archaeology, including:

  • ASB 560 Archaeology of the Social Realm
  • ASB 550 Economic Archaeology
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Archaeology of Religion
  • ASB 558 Mortuary Practices and Cultural Analysis
  • ASB 525 Material Culture
  • ASB 591 Ancient Built Environments
  • ASB 591 Landscape, Space and Place in Archaeology
  • ASB 591 The Quality of the Archaeological Record

Materials or Biological Analysis, including:

  • Archaeological ceramics
  • ASM 548 Geoarchaeology
  • ASM 573 Lithic Analysis
  • ASM 553 Human Behavior through Bone Chemistry
  • ASB 591 Zooarchaeology
  • Paleoecology
  • ASM 555 Advanced Human Osteology
  • ASB 591 Paleoethnobotany

A course on the archaeology of the geographical area that is the student’s primary interest

A course focusing on the archaeology of a second geographical area

A non-archaeology SHESC course

A course taught by another unit

Archaeology Faculty

David Abbott
Associate Professor Emeritus
Michael Barton
Michelle Hegmon
Keith Kintigh
Professor Emeritus
Matthew Kroot
Assistant Professor
Konstantina-Eleni Michelaki
Associate Professor
Christopher Morehart
Associate Professor and Associate Director, Teotihuacan Research Laboratory
Christopher Nicholson
Associate Research Professor and Director, Center for Digital Antiquity
Joel Palka
Associate Professor
Matthew Peeples
Associate Professor and Director, Center for Archaeology and Society
Charles Perreault
Associate Professor
Kathryn Ranhorn
Assistant Professor
Charles Redman
Michael E. Smith
Professor and Director, Teotihuacan Research Laboratory
Saburo Sugiyama
Research Professor
Sander Van Der Leeuw
Foundation Professor