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Archaeology is the study of the material conditions inhabited and acted upon by people, both in the past and in the present. Investigation of the past through the study of material remains is entangled with historiography, politics, and individual and collective memory, and is implicated in the production of present-day identities. Archaeology has come to mean many things to different generations of scholars, yet all approaches share a common focus on the physical remains of the past and the relationship of these traces to the interpretive acts through which they are understood.

At Columbia , archaeology is a multidisciplinary field practiced by faculty and students in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. At present, there are faculty in the departments of Anthropology, Art History and Archaeology, Classics, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Historic Preservation, History, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who conduct research on prehistory, ancient society, or historical archaeology.

Among locations in which students and faculty are conducting or participating in field programs are Argentina, Peru, Central America, the North American Southwest, New York City, upstate New York, the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Israel, Palestine and Madagascar. Archaeologists at Columbia also work with professionals at a wide range of institutions in New York.

Among the institutions at which students in particular programs may conduct research or work on internships are the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the National Museum of the American Indian, the New York Botanical Garden, and the South Street Seaport Museum.

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