Palomar College Learning For Success

Palomar College Archaeology Program

For a Career or for Fun


Program Overview

Students desiring a career in the field of archaeology have the option of selecting a program leading to the Associate in Arts degree, or two programs leading to Certificates of Achievement, depending upon their needs and desires.

The Palomar Archaeology Program, with its A.A. Degree, A.A.T emphasis, and Certificate of Achievement, is oriented toward three audiences:

  • students who seek immediate or eventual employment in Cultural Resource Management as an excavator, surveyor, lab assistant, and/or cartographer
  • students who wish to gain valuable technical field and lab skills along the way toward a B.A. or advanced degree in Anthropology/Archaeology
  • interested members of the public who would like to work on archaeological projects as an avocation and desire some training, e.g., the Excavation Certificate

In addition to standard excavation, surveying, and laboratory skills, the program offers training in database management, computer aided drafting (AutoCad), GPS, and GIS (Geographic Information Systems).

Course Descriptions

ANTH 110 – Introduction to Archaeology:  Another name for this class might be “Lost Cities and Civilizations”.  The course presents a basic history of archaeology and explores the methods behind the study of material culture. The remainder of the semester is given over to a survey of world prehistory from our hominid beginnings to the first state level societies.  There is no prerequisites for this course.    This class is offered both Fall (online) and Spring (lecture) semesters.

ANTH 120 – Archaeological Excavation: Focuses on basic techniques of surface collection; unit layout and unit excavation techniques; wet and dry screening; identifying, sorting, and bagging of artifacts; collection of

An overview of the excavations at Los Penasquitos

Excavations at Los Penasquitos

radiocarbon, macrobotanical, and pollen samples; flotation; unit level record keeping; unit photography; unit soil profiles; and field journal. Also includes material on the phases of Cultural Resource Management, research designs, site significance, and discussion of human remains.

Native American guests are sometimes invited to the excavation site.  Offered every Fall, now at the Rancho Penasquitos Adobe with both prehistoric and historic excavations.

ANTH 121 – Cultural Resource Management: Provides background and practical knowledge about the legal and operational framework of applied archaeology or cultural resource management (CRM). Historical and legal contexts focus on key legislation, such as the National Historic Preservation Act and the California Environmental Quality Act. The operational context focuses on the phases of CRM research in the context of technological innovations, budget and time constraints, Native American consultation, and the goals of CRM technical reports.

ANTH 205 – Advanced Archaeological Excavation: Provides additional experience in refining the techniques of archaeological  excavation  learned in ANTH 120. Advanced  students serve as mentors

Area excavation of a historic feature

A large Area Excavation

to beginning students.  Advanced students produce a unit excavation report following state (ARMR) guidelines. The class may be taken up to four times and usually involves some experience in historical archaeology. Meets concurrently with ANTH 120. In the Fall of 2008, advanced students helped excavated the Sikes Adobe in Rancho Bernard. See Fall 2008 Excavation Web Page for Details. Offered every Fall.

ANTH 210 – Archaeological Surveying: Provides basic instruction in map and compass navigation ; field survey techniques; site recording; completion and submission site forms; use of survey grade GPS units and Total Stations to collect mapping data ; and preparation of a site survey eport. Course consists of 32 hrs in the classroom & 32 hours in the field in the project area.  

Archaeological Survey Crew in Action

Palomar Students on the 2013  Survey conduct survey for State Parks. Students also learn how a records search is done at the South Coastal Information Center. See Cuyamaca 2008 Web Page for details. Offered alternate Spring semesters.  

 ANTH 215 – Archaeological Laboratory Analysis: Provides basic instruction and experiential labs for the identification, analysis, and report write-up of shellfish remains, faunal remains, ceramics, and stone tools and debitage. Basic data on floral (botanical) residue analysis

Large hammerstone in a person's handare also provided. Other topics include radiocarbon dating, obsidian sourcing and obsidian hydration dating, collection processing and curation, artifact illustration and photography, and database management. Students are encouraged to use MS Excel for the production of tables and charts. Except for those focusing on curation, most students produce an artifact analysis report with tables, charts, and graphs. Offered every two years in the Spring. 

ANTH 220 – Advanced Archaeological Survey focuses on the use of electronic instruments for survey and mapping in concert with the beginning survey course.  Each student has a site mapping project. Course involves at least 32 hours in the field. Meets concurrently with ANTH 210.  Offered alternate Springs pending demand. 

ANTH 225 – Historical Archaeology: Method and theory of historical archaeology, including archival research, artifact identification, and report preparation. Training in the location and interpretation of archival documents, such as Spanish land grand documents, homestead patents, Sanborn fire insurance maps, assessor’s records, and historic topographic maps. A field trip to local historical archives in San Diego is also included. Training in the identification of ceramic, glass, and metal artifacts and their associated function, method of manufacture, manufacturer, and temporal distribution is also an important part of the course. This class is offered every two years .

Anth 100 – Introduction to Biological Anthropology Lecture. Biological Anthropology is one of the four branches of American Anthropology.  This lecture class covers a broad range of topics. We begin with the nature of scientific inquiry,  then move into the historical development of evolutionary theory. From there we explore basic cell theory and genetics, and follow up with primate phylogeny.  These concepts are used to explore  the fossil record for primate evolution, the rise of the hominids, and the emergence of modern humans.  The lessons of the past are finally synthesized in a discussion of modern human variation and the ecological problems faced by our species. This course is offered every semester.

Australopithecus africanus skull

Australopithecus africanus skull

ANTH 100L – Biological Anthropology Laboratory. This course teaches students how to recognize the various parts of the mammalian vertebrate skeleton, including the human skeleton. This knowledge is very useful to have in the field as the archaeologist often encounters both animal and human bone. Human bone is subject to certain California and Federal laws and it is important to be able to recognize such bones in the field. This course is offered every semester. 

ANTH 101 – Introduction to Biological Anthropology with Laboratory. This class is a 4 unit class that combines ANTH 100 (Biological Anthropology) and ANTH 100L (Biological Anthropology Lab).  Combining the lecture and lab is the preferred way to take this course if your schedule allows.  This is offered every semester. 

ANTH 296 and 297 – Special Problems in Biological Anthropology or Archaeology: Students with previous coursework in Anthropology can pursue individual research or tutorial projects of interest. This class is set up individually between the professors and the student.  Please contact them before enrolling in this course.  Offered Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.

ANTH 298 – Internship in Archaeology: Interested students in the Palomar Archaeology Program can sign up for 2-4 units of CE 150 and obtain internships at county Cultural Resource Management (CRM) or environmental firms, museums, and government agencies. Most internships are unpaid, but paid positions are occasionally available. To date, students have interned at Tierra Environmental Services, ASM Affiliates, ESquaredM, California State Parks (San Diego, Cuyamaca, and Anza Borrego offices), San Diego Archaeological Center (SDAC), PanGIS, the South Coastal Information Center (SCIC), the Barona Museum and Cultural Center, the San Diego Museum of Man, and the Palomar Archaeology Lab. This is offered Fall and Spring semesters.