Kari Zobler



Intro to Archaeology

Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child.
— Cicero

Archaeologists study the human past through material culture. This introductory course in archaeology provides a brief history of the discipline, its place within the broader field of anthropology, and the theories and methods that archaeologists use to explore human cultural diversity. Although a comprehensive survey of the human past will not be part of this course, a number of archaeological sites, surveys, and research projects are discussed as case studies to highlight the questions archaeologists ask, the process by which data is collected, and the ways in which that data is interpreted.

Novel Archaeology

There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure
— Mark Twain, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"

In this worldwide survey course, we will examine pervasive themes in archaeological fiction and pop culture as well as discuss the real archaeology behind the myths. We will deconstruct the idea of the “archaeologist” as explorer, adventurer, scholar and treasure hunter. We also will weave together travel narratives and tales of real archaeologists whose experiences dwarf any fictive accounts. The course includes a broad selection of written sources, from classics to comic books.  It is frequently illustrated with examples drawn from ongoing research projects, thereby providing the most current perspective on this fascinating topic.

The course begins with an introduction to archaeological method and then proceeds to examine different manifestations of archaeology in fiction. The course is organized into seven thematic sections, each of which represents a pervasive myth about archaeology in popular culture. Within each of these sections, we will examine fictive narratives and how these relate to real archaeological sites in historical and cultural context. The course contemplates underlying issues of Orientalism, collection, heritage, community engagement and archaeological ethics.

Ancient Urbanism

Ancient Urbanism

When I was a King and a Mason — a Master proven and skilled — I cleared me ground for a Palace such as a King should build. I decreed and dug down to my levels. Presently, under the silt, I came on the wreck of a Palace such as a King had built.
— Rudyard Kipling, “The Palace”

In this course, we will examine ancient urbanism and sacred space from earliest sedentism through the rise of the first cities at the initial development of complex societies to its florescence at some of the world’s greatest archaeological and historical sites. Do we make the city? Or does the city make us?

The course begins with definitions of “city” and then proceeds to examine different kinds of urbanism and sacred space along with the underlying environmental, political, economic and religious factors that promoted and shaped the rise and configuration of these places. We examine topics such as ancient urban planning, neighborhoods and ethnicity, maps and vision, the architecture of social control, “lost” cities, utopias and ruins. The course is frequently illustrated with examples drawn from ongoing research projects, as well as a range of sources from historical texts to fiction and graphic novels.

AndeaN Worlds

Then on the ladder of the earth I climbed through the lost jungle’s tortured thicket up to you, Macchu Picchu.
— Pablo Neruda, "Heights of Macchu Picchu"

This course provides an introduction to the ancient and historic native cultures of the central Andes in South America. We begin with the peopling of the Americas and then proceed to examine the rise and fall of Andean states. The course concludes with the conquest of the Inka Empire, and the beginnings of European colonialism. We will explore common themes and challenges like climate change, sociopolitical complexity and collapse, as well as uniquely Andean solutions to emphasize the diversity of human achievement in the region. Our exploration of the Andean past will be enriched and contextualized through topics such as the history of archaeological research, archaeological site museums and emergent indigenous archaeology. The course is frequently illustrated with examples drawn from ongoing archaeological research projects, as well as a range of sources from ethnohistoric accounts to film and fiction.

Space & Place

Deep inside the town there open up, so to speak, double streets, doppelganger streets, mendacious and delusive streets.
— Bruno Schulz, “The Cinnamon Shops”

Consideration of anthropological, archaeological, and related disciplinary perspectives on space, place, landscape, the built environment, and architecture. Coursework encompasses critical review of major theoretical literature and case studies of ancient and modern societies.

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.
— George Orwell

Museums & Heritage

A foundational introduction to museology consisting of a critical examination of the history and social life of museums and how museums have been studied by scholars in a range of academic disciplines. The course includes detailed examination of the theoretical and practical issues of archaeological heritage management. Focusing on the legal, environmental, ethical, social, political, educational, and touristic aspects of the management of ancient sites for their continued sustainability. Includes visits to campus and local museums.