Archaeology at the University of Sydney

Why Archaeology?

discipline which incorporates aspects of many other related disciplines, e.g. sciences, anthropology and history. While history largely concerns the study of the past through written evidence, archaeology is primarily concerned with the artefacts or objects left by past societies. It is a subject that involves problem-solving and sophisticated use of evidence and theoretical argument.

As an undergraduate you can major in archaeology, or you can simply take subjects of particular interest to you in addition to your other subjects of choice. Core subjects in archaeology might be complemented by other streams e.g. Science, Aboriginal Studies, Museum Studies, and even Architecture or Fine Arts. At the University of Sydney, a degree in Archaeology involves a high proportion of library research, although fieldwork is also involved.

There are no prerequisites for Archaeology, however, those who have studied Ancient History, Geography, Geology or other related subjects at HSC level are well placed to start studying in Archaeology.

Why study Archaeology at the University of Sydney?

There are other universities in New South Wales that offer programmes in ancient world studies, but none that offers a full programme in archaeology. Our programme ranges from the time of the first dispersal of modern humans around the globe (with a focus on Australian prehistory) to the great civilisations of Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, not forgetting, of course, the archaeology of colonial and post-colonial Australia.

The Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney is a centre of excellence and has unique facilities for broadening your archaeological studies. In particular the Spatial Science Innovation Unit and the Archaeology Teaching Laboratory allow access to the latest technologies and analytical techniques, while the University's Nicholson Museum provides an unmatched resource of artefacts from the ancient world.

We are one of Australia’s longest-standing and leading Departments of Archaeology. Our newly restructured department offers a highly diverse program of undergraduate teaching and postgraduate research opportunities spanning many areas of archaeological research and practice. The research funding success of staff projects and our global connections are demonstrated in the broad scope of our international fieldwork projects across Europe and Asia, as well as in Australasia. An active community of professionals and interested members of the public in Sydney, along with frequent visitors from overseas, contribute to a lively program of activities.

Archaeology has been taught at the University of Sydney in various forms since the early 1930s. The Department of Archaeology is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

The teaching and research strengths of the Department lie in the archaeology of a number of regions: the Classical world (Greece and Italy), the Near East, Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australasia. Departmental staff and associates also offer a range of research and teaching expertise in archaeological method and theory including key areas of archaeometry, digital technology, archaeozoology, lithics and ceramics analysis. Our department now also includes the Master of Museum and Heritage Studies which will draw on Departmental expertise in aspects of critical heritage studies, professional practice and public archaeology. Our curriculum makes full use of the Department’s research and teaching strengths.

The resources of the Nicholson Museum, the Archaeology Materials Laboratory, the Australian Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis (ACMM) and the Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia are frequently used in teaching and research. The close proximity of such resources as the Angkor Research Program Facility, the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens and the Near Eastern Archaeological Foundation, housed on the main campus, enrich our teaching and research community.

Students often gain field experience in Sydney and/or participate in one or more of the University’s diverse archaeological field projects, or work with overseas institutions. Our graduates have had great success in recent years and today occupy positions in Australia, the USA, the UK, Europe and the Near East and work in SE Asia.

Regional Archaeology

Many units of study focus on the archaeology of one region of the world. Particular departmental strengths lie in Classical archaeology (ancient Mediterranean: Aegean, Greek, Etruscan and Roman), Near Eastern archaeology (from the origins of agriculture to the coming of Islam), central Asian and south-east Asian archaeology, and Australian and Pacific archaeology (both prehistoric and historical). These are the regions in which staff members have active research projects.