Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

Anthropology/Archaeology at Mercyhurst

Anthropology in its broadest applications is the scientific study of human culture from its origins some 2.5 million years ago to the present day. Archaeology is a major branch of anthropology as it examines the cultures of prehistoric, protohistoric, historic, and modern societies. The Department of Anthropology/Archaeology at Mercyhurst University provides basic training in the broad field of anthropology as well as specialized training in Archaeology, Physical Anthropology, and Forensic Anthropology.

Through the unique mechanism of participation in year-round research activities of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute students have the opportunity of “hands-on” experience in all phases of contemporary archaeological research. MAI investigators are focused on long-term, year-round research including field, laboratory, and library studies as well as reviews of extant collections. Through these year round activities, students have access to a wide variety of research opportunities in diverse topical, chronological and environmental settings. MAI has conducted field and consulting work all over North and Central America, Europe, and the Near East. In addition, a variety of long-term MAI field and archival research projects are currently underway throughout Pennsylvania, Gault, Texas, Taos, New Mexico, and on the Isles of Scilly, UK. MAI also has the principal responsibility for the ongoing research at Meadowcroft Rockshelter and the associated Cross Creek Drainage in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Department of Anthropology/Archaeology has a special relationship with the Applied Forensic Sciences and Geology Departments at Mercyhurst University. All are interactive parts of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute. Mercyhurst University serves as a regional center through which regional coroners and law enforcement officials can consult with forensic anthropologists on a wide variety of cases from rural searches to laboratory analyses. Students have the opportunity to participate in a number of forensic cases that are processed by MAI every year. Furthermore, because of the critical necessity of basic geological training to the education of undergraduates with an interest in archaeology, a variety of geology courses are available, which are tailored to meet the needs of archaeology students. Many of these students participate in field research as part of their degree. Mercyhurst also serves as the principal center for forensic geoarchaeological studies for various federal agencies protecting Archaeological Resources Protection Act cases. Through this unique venue students assist in preparing evidence to be used in the ongoing war against the illicit vandalism of America’s archaeological heritage.

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