Archaeology Program


Archaeology is the branch of Anthropology that studies the history of human societies through their material remains. The Archaeology Program at Wayne State offers students comprehensive methodological and theoretical training in anthropological archaeology and contemporary issues within the field. Students benefit from numerous hands-on research and fieldwork opportunities within and beyond the university. Undergraduate students may major in Anthropology with a focus in archaeology, or they may major in another field and Minor in Archaeology. Graduate students may pursue a MA or PhD in Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology. MA students may focus on Archaeology generally, or may pursue a more specific focus in historical archaeology / public archaeology or museum studies.  Ph.D. students will work towards an Anthropology degree with a special focus in an area of Archaeology that is relevant to their interests and faculty expertise. Prospective students are encouraged to address questions about pursuing a MA degree vs. a PhD degree to the Department's Director of Graduate Studies and the archaeology faculty.

Opportunities to participate in faculty research vary from year to year. In recent years members of the archaeology faculty have conducted archaeological research in Michigan, Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain,  the Caribbean, and other parts of North America (including numerous projects in Detroit and Southeast Michigan). The Department also maintains a strong commitment to the archaeology of urban Detroit and offers fieldwork opportunities at local archaeological sites on a regular basis. The faculty encourages field research early in graduate training and competitive funding is available for student fieldwork.


Core Archaeology Faculty (click on individual names for bio and contact information)

Tamara L. Bray (Ph.D., SUNY Binghamton 1991; Professor of Anthropology, Director of Grosscup
Museum of Anthropology) Interests: Andean archaeology; complex societies; museum anthropology;
archaeological method and theory; repatriation; Inca; Ecuador. Sabbatical Fall 2017

Thomas W. Killion (Ph.D., New Mexico 1987; Associate Professor of Anthropology) Interests: Anthropological archaeology; ethnoarchaeology; settlement; agriculture;
environment; ethics; repatriation; Mesoamerica; North America

Krysta Ryzewski (Ph.D., Brown 2008; Associate Professor of Anthropology), Interests: Historical and contemporary archaeology; urban
archaeology; archaeometry; industrial and craft production; big data; ethics; heritage management; public archaeology; digital humanities; Caribbean; North America). 


Archaeology at Wayne State University: 60 Years and Counting

Archaeology, (and historical archaeology in particular), is the Anthropology program's longest-standing specialization, and Wayne State Anthropology is internationally regarded for its strength in this area. Archaeology was first established as a departmental focus in 1957 by Professor Arnold Pilling (who would go on to found the Museum of Anthropology in 1958). Dr. Pilling was the first professional urban archaeologist to conduct excavations in Detroit, and one of the first professional urban historical archaeologists in all of North America. During the 1960s and 1970s, before the advent of cultural resource management and related legislation, Pilling, his faculty colleagues, and Wayne State students conducted dozens of surveys and excavations in Detroit. This work resulted in the recovery of hundreds of thousands of (mainly historic) artifacts, which are now housed in the department's Grosscup Museum of Anthropology and are available for faculty and student research and training opportunities. In 1967 Pilling was a founding member of the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA).  The legacy of Dr. Pilling's public scholarship and community-based research continues today with several faculty and student research, outreach, and training initiatives. 

Over the past 60 years, Wayne State's Anthropology program has trained numerous undergraduate and graduate students who have gone on to successful and impactful careers, locally and nationally, in a wide variety of public and private sector jobs. Notable archaeology alumni include:  George L. Miller (Recipient of the SHA's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Harrington Medal), Charles E. Orser, Jr., C. Stephan Demeter, Nancy Ford Demeter, Karen Krepps, Kent C. Taylor, George Martinez, Mark Branstner, and Ted Roberts.


Career and Job Prospects for Archaeology Students

What can you do with training in archaeology? Perhaps the more appropriate question is, what can't you do with training in archaeology?  Archaeology may seem like an unconventional career path, but it should not be mistaken for one with limited professional options! There are countless opportunities to apply training in archaeology and/or museum studies in a wide variety of professional settings.

Thanks to the extensive hands-on training and research experiences our program offers, our undergraduate students who have focused in archaeology and/or museum studies (either as Anthropology majors or Archaeology minors) have been very successful in gaining admission to top, nationally-ranked graduate programs. Many graduates have gone on to jobs in museums, federal and local government positions, education, law, public policy, historic preservation, city planning, tourism, GIS-based work, engineering, and, of course, cultural resource management.

Our graduate students with archaeology and/or museum specializations are readily employed upon graduation in a wide range of jobs related to their training. These jobs are located in public and private sectors and include work in cultural resource management firms, federal and local governments, industry, national research laboratories, environmental consulting firms, publishing houses, educational institutions, law firms, non-profits, and museums. Employers of our recent graduates include: National Parks Service, US Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Customs and Border Patrol, Commonwealth Heritage Group, Mannik & Smith Group, Ethnoscience Inc., PaleoWest, Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, The Henry Ford Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Science Center, Arab American Museum, City of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools, Isle Royale National Park, River Raisin National Battlefield Park, Governor Warner Mansion, and many others. 

Some of our MA students decide to pursue doctoral degrees, and their training at Wayne State has gained them admission to competitive PhD programs in archaeology, anthropology, and public history nationwide. 


All Courses Offered by Core Archaeology Faculty

(students should refer to the WSU Course Bulletin for corresponding ANT course numbers)

  • Archaeological Theory and Method (Concepts and Techniques in Archaeology)
  • Archaeology of the Atlantic World
  • Archaeology of Religion
  • Cultural Resource Management and Public Archaeology
  • Grant Proposal Writing for the Social Sciences
  • Great Lakes Archaeology
  • Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology
  • Historical Archaeology
  • Inca and their Ancestors
  • Introduction to Archaeology
  • Archaeological Field Methods
  • Archaeological Laboratory Analysis
  • Lost Cities and Ancient Civilizations
  • Material Culture and the Social Meaning of Things
  • Mesoamerican Archaeology
  • Museum Studies
  • Native American Archaeology
  • Urban Archaeology
  • Graduate students may also take Independent Directed Study courses with archaeology faculty to gain experience with topics that may not offered but are relevant to their professional development.


Research Projects Please view the Archaeology Research Page



The Archaeology and Physical Anthropology Laboratories, housed in the Grosscup Museum of Anthropology, include facilities for mapping, computerized drafting, photography, spatial analysis, ceramic analysis, and statistical research, as well as important comparative collections. The Museum contains fairly extensive collections of local historical and contemporary material culture that are available for student research.



Archaeologists at Wayne State work closely with:

  • the Gordon Grosscup Museum of Anthropology, Wayne State
  • the Anthropology of the City initiative, Wayne State, Dept. of Anthropology
  • Wayne State Depts. of Geological Sciences, Urban Studies, History, and Engineering
  • Wayne State University’s six campus libraries
  • the Foreign Language and Technology Center, Wayne State
  • the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library
  • local groups: the Detroit Historical Society, Preservation Detroit, Community Development Councils
  • local museums: the Detroit Historical Museum, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and many others.

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