Paige Mills '14 (wearing yellow and black)
at the 2011 Agora excavation
In spring 2012, the Randolph-Macon College faculty approved a new major in archaeology.
The archaeology major brings together knowledge from many disciplines to understand
“Archaeology is the study of the human past, based on material culture. Archaeologists
excavate objects that are displayed as art, analyze finds using methods and technologies
from the natural sciences such as chemistry and geology, read historical documents
and texts in many languages, and write with anthropological perspectives,” says
Classics Professor Elizabeth Fisher. “The Archaeological
Studies program is interdisciplinary, so many of the courses that complete the general
education requirements of the liberal arts curriculum also count on the major or
minor in Archaeological Studies. There is a lot of choice and three different paths
for emphasis: the ancient world, historical archaeology, and archaeological sciences.”
Field work is an integral part of the archaeological program, and core classes provide
opportunities to practice the techniques and methods of archaeology in the field.
Students excavate at local historic sites in Hanover County or can choose to excavate
at other sites around the world, including the
Agora Excavations in Athens, Greece.
The new program emphasizes World Heritage stewardship and the safeguarding of historic
sites in all areas of the world.
“An important component of archaeology today is learning about the laws and conventions
that apply to archaeology, as well as the issues that make archaeology both popular
and controversial,” Fisher explains. “Students of
international studies, environmental
studies, political science
and business benefit from understanding
the influence archaeological research has on national, regional, and cultural identities
and attitudes toward land use, urban planning, and economic development.”
This newest addition to R-MC’s curriculum offers students a wide variety of career
choices. The archaeology major trains students to work as field archaeologists in
any area of the world, and the major or minor is useful for the art historian, historian,
teacher and politician.
“Even if students choose to follow archaeology avocationally while pursuing a different
career, training in archaeological studies enriches their understanding of the world
and the diverse and amazing achievements of all humans in the past,” says Fisher.
Fisher, an archaeologist, earned her B.A. from William and Mary, her M.A. from Florida
State and her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. She joined the R-MC faculty
in 1988. Her most recent archaeological excavation was conducted during the summers
of 2011 and 2012 in Thebes, Greece.