Anthropology Magazine

Unit 1 – Archaeological Methods

Unit 1 – Archaeological Methods


Archaeologists make use of a wide array of methods and methodologies in order to conduct accurate research that yields credible results. In this unit, students will learn about some of the different methods that archaeologists are incorporating into their work and innovative techniques that are helpful for exploring the past in new ways.

SAPIENS Articles:


Professor Talking Points:

  • Provide an overview of different research methods, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • Discuss how methods have changed over time, often dependent on technological advances.
  • Explore how different methods allow for different kinds of questions to be asked and answered.
  • Discuss the relationship between generating data through specific methods and interpreting those data.

Academic Articles:

  • Kassabaum, Megan. 2019. “A Method for Conceptualizing and Classifying Feasting: Interpreting Communal Consumption in the Archaeological Record.” American Antiquity 84 (4): 610–631.
  • Mitchell, Peter. 2018. “Introduction to Archaeological Methods and Sources.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedias.

Student Discussion Questions:

  1. In what ways do archaeological methods allow us to see into the past?
  2. In what ways do current methods limit what we can know about the past?
  3. Why do you think archaeological methods are so dependent on technological advances?
  4. What questions do you have about history? What tools would you use to explore those questions?


  • Have the students write a paper that (a) imagines a question about the ancient past and then (b) uses the Society for American Archaeology’s web article What Do Archaeologists Do to explain what methods they would use to answer their question.

Additional Resources:


Unit by Eshe Lewis (2020)