Why Archaeology?

What is archaeology?

Archaeologists and bioarchaeologists study past human cultures and behaviour through the material left behind: artifacts and features, plant and animal remains, human remains, sediments, sites, and their associated landscapes. Our students engage in practical training and experiential learning in classroom, laboratory and field work settings that provide a comprehensive education and transferable skills. State of the art laboratories specializing in applied archaeological sciences, archaeobotany, archaeological conservation, and prehistoric, historical and Indigenous archaeology integrate students into community-university research initiatives from Northern Labrador to French Guiana and from British Columbia to Northwest Europe.

What do archaeologists do?

Dr. Meghan Burchell and M.A. student Anna Sparrow talk about why studying archaeology at Memorial is rewarding.

What do archaeologists study? Some sample courses include:
  • 2450 Principles of Archaeological Science introduces students to a broad range of scientific approaches used in archaeology. The course provides an overview of the historical development of archaeological science and a survey of the current techniques used to investigate materials recovered from archaeological contexts, including biomolecular methods, paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, geoarchaeology, dating techniques, remote sensing and conservation.

  • 2495 Archaeological Frauds and Mysteries. This course explores the sensationalized and ‘unreal’ side of archaeology and delves deeper into popular misconceptions of the past. From unraveling the mysteries of Big Foot to evaluating the evidence for alien life on Earth, students will learn how scientific methodology is used to determine facts from myths in archaeology.

  • 3594 Archaeology of Sport surveys the rich global archaeological record of past sporting practices. While sports associated with Classical Mediterranean civilizations have been well-described by Classics scholars, archaeology hints at a much wider – indeed, cross-culturally universal - record of sports and athletic games. Classes explore the full human record of sport, beginning with the emergence of a modern human body equipped for running and other forms of athleticism, and exploring the evidence – sporting equipment, competition venues, artistic depictions, skeletal traces and more - from diverse times and places.

Find out more about the undergraduate and graduate courses we offer.

What kind of jobs do archaeology grads get?

Dr. Barry Gaulton is an associate professor in Memorial’s Department of Archaeology. He graduated from Memorial University with a B.A., majoring in anthropology and minoring in history. His research currently focuses on life in Eastern North America and Newfoundland during the 17th century and he heads up the archaeological dig at the Colony of Avalon.

See what some of our former students have gone on to do.


Department of Archaeology

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000