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About the Major

Geoarchaeology is the study of techniques and methods used to understand geological processes applied to the archaeological record and how humans engage, utilize, and move through landscapes during the past. Students combine a sequence of courses in archaeology and geosciences for broad study of theory, method, and analysis in both disciplines. Topics of focus include geochemistry, stratigraphic succession, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, and landscape evolution. Opportunities for research include fieldwork in eastern Africa, Romania, the Pacific Northwest, eastern North America, and Central New York.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Engage with disciplinary fundamentals from anthropological archaeology
  • Engage with disciplinary fundamentals from geosciences
  • Combine practice and methodology through research design
  • Apply disciplinary perspective(s) in an original research project

A Sampling of Courses


Analytic Methods in Archaeology

A survey of analytic techniques central to archaeological and paleoecological interpretation. Laboratory performance of artifact analysis and classification, computer-aided data management and statistical analysis. Three hours of class and three hours of laboratory.

Explore these select courses:

A two-term course during which concentrators pursue an independent project and give a public presentation of their results. Proposals for projects must be accepted in the spring semester of the student’s junior year. 501 may not be taken as a separate course. One course credit for 500 and one-half credit for 501.

Meet Our Faculty

Catherine Beck

Chair and Associate Professor of Geosciences

sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleolimnology, paleoenvironmental reconstruction

Nathan Goodale

Professor of Anthropology, Associate Dean of Faculty

complex hunter-gatherers in the interior Pacific Northwest; the forager/farmer transition in Southwest Asia; rural coastal adaptations in western Ireland

David Bailey

Winslow Chair of Modern Science and Professor of Geosciences

geochemistry and petrogenesis of Miocene volcanic rocks in the Powder River Volcanic Field; history of igneous and tectonic activity in the northeastern United States; the mineralogy of New York State

Colin Quinn

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

origins of inequality; increasing social complexity; mortuary archaeology; landscape archaeology; material culture signaling; public archaeology; mining communities; Europe, Near East, North America

Explore Hamilton Stories

Robert Welch ’20

XRF Lab Puts Hamilton on the Map

Over the past seven years, the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) lab has put Hamilton on the map in the world of geochemical analysis. The lab uses x-rays, a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, to determine the chemical composition of rocks, minerals, and soils.

 Nathan Goodale

Nathan Goodale Promoted to Professor

An interdisciplinary practitioner of scientific anthropological archaeology, Goodale also teaches within the Geoarchaeology Program and currently directs the Digital Arts Program.

Catherine Beck in Kenya

Beck Awarded NSF Grant: How Extreme Weather Affected Early Humans

Using fossil evidence and modern water isotope measurements, the researchers’ goal is to understand the impact of extreme weather on early humans and the ecosystems on which they depended.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in geoarchaeology are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Senior Principal Scientist, Hazen and Sawyer, P.C.
  • Ph.D. Student, University of Cambridge
  • Acting Executive Director, The Quivira Coalition


Department Name

Geoarchaeology Program

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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