Archaeology is a multifaceted discipline that examines ancient human societies from many different perspectives. It embraces both humanistic and scientific approaches and examines human societies at many different levels of cultural development. The focus of Archaeology at Penn State University is the origin and evolution of cultural complexity. Faculty research in the ancient Old and New Worlds reflects our concern with understanding how ancient societies were organized and developed over time.
Archaeology is fundamental to the study of human development because the three of the greatest developments in human history: the development of agriculture, urbanism, and the rise of complex state civilizations occurred before the advent of writing. These great developments can only be explored using archaeological methodologies and ongoing research by Penn State faculty is actively engaged in unraveling the mysteries of all three. The archaeology faculty teach, research, and attempt to model the processes involved in the evolution of civilizations. We believe that the most productive investigative approach to any exploration is one that examines a question from multiple different perspectives and we follow this in our multidisciplinary approach to the discipline.