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Archaeology at Memorial University

Archaeology approaches past human cultures through what they have left behind: material culture or artifacts; ecofacts, including animal bones and plant remains; architectural features and even cultural landscapes, like settlement systems or coastal zones. Bioarchaeologists specialize in the study of human remains. The Archaeology Department includes prehistorians who work on the undocumented people of the distant past as well as historical archaeologists, who work on the people who took part in the post-medieval expansion of Europe. The Department specializes in the North Atlantic world and in the Canadian Subarctic.

History of Archaeology at Memorial University

From 1967 until 2009 Memorial University offered undergraduate instruction inarchaeology within the Department of Anthropology (later Anthropology and Archaeology). The University accepted our first MA thesis in Archaeology in 1973 and since then our graduate students have completed over 70 MAs. We introduced a doctoral program in 2001. Archaeology at Memorial has an international reputation due to the strong research profiles of its faculty members and its vibrant teaching programs.

The Department has a special focus on the archaeology of the Atlantic region, although members of our faculty also have expertise in both Old and New World archaeology and in biological archaeology.  

Our interests cover a wide range, from the study of ancient Aboriginal cultures, through the historical archaeology of European expansion, to downed World War II aircraft.

Today, the faculty offers undergraduate, Master's and PhD programs in archaeology and bioarchaeology. Students have access to state of the art laboratory facilities and collection rooms. Memorial also now boasts the only PhD program in historical archaeology in Canada, outside of Quebec.  

Current faculty-led research projects include excavations of:

  • the early 17th-century English colony of Ferryland, south of St. John's 
  • prehistoric and historic sites in Nova Scotia 
  • early fishing stations on northern Newfoundland's French shore 
  • regional sites containing 4500 years of First Nations, Paleoeskimo and Inuit settlement in southern Labrador 
  • late Thule and early historic Inuit villages in Labrador. 

Outside Atlantic Canada, faculty have active interests in Europe and the Canadian Arctic. Research topics are also diverse, and include hunter-gatherer studies, historical archaeology, ethnoarchaeology and palaeoethnobotany. For more information check out our Faculty & Staff page to see what our professors are up to and our Graduate Student Profiles to see what their students are working on!