Archaeology

Archaeological dig

Credit: rich_pickler

Welcome to the Archaeology subject page at King’s. Here you will find an overview of the Cambridge course and information about studying Archaeology at King's, the fellows who research here, and what will happen when you apply.

Archaeology at Cambridge

Archaeology covers a huge range of topics, spanning the evolution of humans through the development of farming, ancient civilisations and world empires, as well as the role of material culture in human life and of heritage in modern societies. Students can follow several streams – Archaeology (covering all world cultures), Biological Anthropology (humans in an evolutionary, ecological and biological perspective), Egyptology and Assyriology (the languages and cultures of two ancient civilisations).

Whatever interests you pursue and develop, archaeology will refine your existing skills and build new ones, making you an informed and intelligent analyst of past societies and cultures, as well as a critical thinker, and an articulate presenter and writer of your ideas.

With the Division of Archaeology and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge is one of the largest centres of archaeological research in Britain, and we have recently been awarded top place in the Good University Guide for Archaeology in the UK. Archaeology students at Cambridge benefit from direct hands-on access to world-class collections in Cambridge’s many museums, libraries and research centres.

Archaeology at King's

Fitzwilliam Exhibition Sign outside King's College

 The Fitzwilliam Museum is five minutes walk from King's

King’s has a rich tradition as one of the major colleges for ‘Arch and Anth’, and the new course in Archaeology continues that spirit of broad enquiry into the human past. Prominent archaeologist Kingsmen have included Sir John Marshall, a pioneer in the archaeology of India, and Charles McBurney, who was a Fellow of King’s in the 1940s, and a leading figure in development of archaeology in Africa. More recently the College has particular research strengths in human evolution and ecology, and in the African origins of humanity.


The Director of Studies in Archaeology is Robert Foley, who is Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies and is a specialist in human evolution. You might like to watch recent video clips on his work in human evolution and discoveries of the earliest evidence for warfare part of the In-Africa Project.

King’s is very strong in Social Anthropology, the study of contemporary human cultures, societies and behaviour, and there are opportunities to study this alongside archaeology and biological anthropology (see below for our social anthropology fellows). King's also has a strong profile in related subjects such as HSPS, Classics, and History. The College is located close to The Division of Archaeology as well as The Fitzwilliam Museum and The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology which holds many open sessions for Archaeology students throughout the year, in which students can study objects from the Museum’s collections in their own time. The Division of Archaeology itself is the oldest department of its kind in the UK, with Cambridge being the first University in Britain to teach Archaeology.

As well as offering a rich intellectual environment, King's has a well-stocked College Library, which is a very pleasant space for researching and writing essays: see the virtual tour. In addition, students have easy access to the Haddon Library of Archaeology & Anthropology and Cambridge University Library just a few minutes walk away.

Fellows with related interests

Robin Osborne

Robin Osborne (Classics) teaches ancient history and art and archaeology; his research is known for its use of the evidence of art and material culture to address historical questions. His most recent book is The history written on the classical Greek body.

Robert Foley

Robert Foley (Biological Anthropology) is concerned with understanding the pattern of human evolution in terms of evolutionary processes. While much of his work has been concerned with the whole range of human evolution since the divergence from the African apes, more recently it has been developed in relation to modern human evolution and diversity.

Caroline Humphrey

Caroline Humphrey (Social Anthropology) has carried out research in Siberia and Mongolia in the Soviet and post-Soviet periods, and has also worked in India, Nepal and China (Inner Mongolia and Manchuria). Her research interests include shamanism and Buddhism; theories of ritual; socialist/ post-socialist economy and society; political forms; and the political imagination in east Asia.

James Laidlaw

James Laidlaw (Social Anthropology) has worked in south Asia (India) and east Asia (Taiwan and Inner Mongolia). His interests include the anthropological study of morality, and the interface of anthropology and moral philosophy; religion and ritual, with special interest in the Asian religions of Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism; and theoretical approaches to religion including cognitive psychology.

Matei CandeaMatei Candea (Social Anthropology) works on the anthropology of identity, belonging, political commitment and urbanism in Europe; the anthropology of science and human-animal relations in scientific research; and alternative histories of French social theory.
 
Perveez ModyPerveez Mody (Social Anthropology) has conducted fieldwork on love marriage in India, and is interested in the politics of caste, religious nationalism, changes in South Asian kinship, marriage and sexuality, law and human rights, and the ways in which the state transforms intimate relations. Her current research is on South Asian marriage and kinship in East London, including the complex phenomena often referred to as ‘forced marriage’.

Applying for Archaeology at King's

applying for Archaeology

Applying with limited support?

We welcome applications from suitably qualified students at any kind of school, all over the world. Please see the entrance requirements page for details of our most common offers.

The application process for all subjects is explained on our how to apply page, which we advise applicants to read thoroughly in combination with the details below about subject choices and interests for Archaeology, the interviews and the Archaeology at-interview written assessment.

subject-requirements

To apply to study Archaeology at King’s, you do not need to have studied any particular subjects at school.  While we certainly welcome applicants who have done A level Archaeology or equivalent, this is by no means necessary or expected.

What we look for in applicants is ability, motivation, and intellectual curiosity; because Archaeology is such a broad field, we welcome applications from those who have backgrounds in everything from History to Biology, English to Physics, Philosophy to Geography. When choosing subjects you may find the general advice on subject choices helpful.

Various things are useful but not required: knowledge of history, current and international affairs, philosophy, economics, and/or biology; also helpful is aptitude with languages and/or mathematics. We will be impressed if you have had a sustained interest in archaeology or a related discipline (have you read any anthropology books, participated in an archaeological dig, etc?), but we also welcome students who are just developing a new interest. All the first-year courses start without assuming prior knowledge.

Interviews

If you are invited for interview at King's, this will take place in early December. Archaeology candidates have two interviews whilst they are in Cambridge.

Information about the interview options for international candidates are on the International Students page.

admissions assessment

Students who are invited for interview in Archaeology are also asked to take the at-interview admissions assessment for Archaeology, which lasts one hour. You do not need to register for this assessment as it will be organised automatically by the College if you are invited for interview.

Your performance in the Archaeology at-interview admissions assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.

Reading, resources and events

Further information

Walking through King's

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