Are you among those curious minds who want to research and study the ancient and recent human past through material remains? If you find studying million-year-old-fossils of human ancestors amusing, then you are in the right place. Read along with us and find out all about becoming an Archaeologist in India.

This comprehensive guide is all about what is an archaeologist, how to become an archaeologist, career opportunities in this field, and much more.

What is Archaeology?

Archaeology is the study of the history of ancient and recent humans. It is a diverse field of study and usually involves the in-depth study of human activity through the study and restoration of material culture. (Material culture is the part of social reality which is grounded in the objects and architecture, used and surrounded by the people.)

Archaeology is a subfield of anthropology, the study of human cultures, and relies on cross-disciplinary research upon anthropology, history, art history, ethnology, geography, geology, literary history, linguistics, semiology, sociology, paleontology and so on.

Archaeology is primarily concerned with reconstructing extinct cultures from the material remains of ancestors, or the things they made or used and left behind. These remains are called artifacts. These artifacts or archaeological records are researched and evaluated for further investigation into the human past.

What is an Archaeologist?

An archaeologist is someone who studies prehistory and history from the development of first stone tools millions of years ago up until recent decades. Archaeologists use various Historical Research Techniques for studying the past. These involve surveying, excavation, and analysis of data collected; archival research; oral history; site surveying, etc.

So how do archaeologists study the past? 

The Archaeological record which is also called the record of the past is no longer available, as organic materials like food or clothing are perishable and cannot be preserved. But some artifacts like pottery, stones, human skeletons, etc. become a great source of information about past cultures and societies.

An archaeological investigation involves several phases before any practical excavation takes place.

  • Firstly, a clear objective/ plan is created which contains details about what the archaeologists are looking to achieve followed by archaeological site surveys to gather information about it and the nearby area.
  • Secondly, an excavation may take place to uncover any archaeological artifacts buried under the ground.
  • Thirdly, the information and data collected from the surveyed sites are then studied and evaluated to achieve the objectives of archaeology.

What are the types of archaeologists?

  • Prehistoric Archaeologist: Prehistoric Archaeologists are involved in the study and research of the past before the historical records began to be documented. Prehistory is further classified into Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic periods and periods before the lithic age i.e. Stone-Age. Archaeologists in this fieldwork on the study and research of these periods.
  • Protohistoric Archaeologists: Protohistoric Archaeologists are involved in the study and research of the periods relating to the Bronze Age and Iron Age, and the Copper Age.
  • Historical Archaeologist: Historical Archaeologists are involved in the study and research of artifacts and documents recovered from the past. The study focuses on educated and upper-class historical societies different from non-literate, prehistoric societies.  The archaeological sites are found on land and underwater.
  • Classical Archaeologist: Classical Archaeologists research and study the ancient Greek & Roman civilizations and other contemporary civilizations of the period. The study also focuses on the influence and impact of civilizations on each other.
  • Bio-Archaeologist: Bio-archaeologists study the human remains from archaeological sites.  The study focuses on integrative, interdisciplinary analysis of the links between biology and culture in past societies to understand social, behavioral, and economic conditions and circumstances that have shaped the human experience over the last 10,000 years of human evolutionary history.
  • Ethno-Archaeologist: Ethno-archaeologists research and study about the nature and origin of artifacts like weapons, tools, human and animal fossils to understand the living cultures of hunters and gatherers.
  • Environmental Archaeologist: Environmental Archaeologists deal with the study of the interrelationship between the ancient people and their natural environment.
    The study focuses on finding what kind of natural habitat the ancient people were surrounded by, what were the types of flora and fauna of the historic age, what were the types of crops and weeds, types of domestic and wild animals, what climatic changes that took place over a period of time, and what were the effects of changes in the natural environment had on the lives of the people and on their desertion.
  • Landscape Archaeologist: Landscape Archaeologists study the changes that took place in different landscapes either by natural circumstances or by human intervention. The study focuses on how landscapes and natural habitats are interconnected and interlinked with human behavior and cultural changes.
  • Forensic Archaeologist: Forensic Archaeologists research on the buried human remains, personal items, weapons, or buried evidence that is related to crime. The study determines the situation in which crime might have happened, and to discover the influences on the remains of external factors that may have disturbed the crime scene.
  • Cyber-archaeologist: Cyber-archaeology is the amalgamation of archaeology with engineering, computer, and natural sciences. Archaeologists involved in this field of archaeology study and research about the past using the disciplines of science and engineering. As Cyber Archaeologist you would study the past by digitally stimulating the past.

Is an Archeology career for you?

Before we address the question of how to become an Archaeologist, do you know what all it takes to become one? Do you think you are fit for this career field? Take a quick look at the top skills and competencies required to be an Archaeologist:

Skills needed to become an Archaeologist
Skills needed to become an Archaeologist

So what do you think? Do you have it in you to pursue a career as an Archaeologist? If you are still not sure, then better save your time and talk to Career experts now! Taking a career expert’s help would enable you to decide which career field matches your personality. Go ahead and let career counsellors guide you.

How to become an Archaeologist?

Let’s finally address the most awaited question- how to become an Archaeologist. To become an Archaeologist in India, you need to have a Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology or a similar field. Find out the detailed pathways mentioned below:

How to become an Archaeologist: After class 12th

Students who want to pursue a career in Archaeology must have completed their class 12th in any subjects (preferably in Arts & Humanities). After completing higher secondary education you can go for a degree in B.A. in Archaeology & Ancient History or similar subject followed by a Master’s degree in Archaeology/ Indian History/ Culture & Archaeology or similar subject.

How to become an Archaeologist: Pathway 1
How to become an Archaeologist: Pathway 1

How to become an Archaeologist: After graduation

This pathway is for students who wish to go for a one-year Post Graduate Diploma or PG Diploma in Archaeology & Museology Conservation and Heritage Management or similar subjects after completing graduation in a similar discipline.

How to become an Archaeologist: Pathway 2
How to become an Archaeologist: Pathway 2

How to become an Archaeologist: After Post Graduation

This career pathway is for those who want to pursue higher studies after Master’s in Archaeology or similar subject. Complete your graduation in any subjects followed a Master’s degree in Archaeology/ Indian History/ Culture & Archaeology or similar subject. After Master’s degree you can then go for a PhD in Archaeology.

How to become an Archaeologist: Pathway 3
How to become an Archaeologist: Pathway 3

If not Archaeology then what? Ask the Experts!

List of Archaeology degrees

Bachelors

  • B.A.in History, Culture & Archaeology
  • B.A. in Archaeology & Ancient History
  • B.A.in History with Archaeology & Museology
  • B.A. in Ancient Indian & Asian Studies

Masters

  • M.A. in Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology
  • Master’s in History & Archaeology
  • Master’s in Archaeology & Heritage Management
  • M.A.in Ancient History & Archaeology
  • M.A. in History, Culture & Archaeology
  • M.Phil. in Ancient History and Archaeology
  • PhD. in History & Archaeology
  • PhD. in Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology
  • PhD. in Indian History, Culture & Archaeology

Diploma/ PG Diploma

  • Certificate in Culture and Archaeology
  • Certificate in Archaeology of Buddhism
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Archaeology
  • Certificate in Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Archaeology & Museology Conservation and Heritage Management

List of Top colleges in Archaeology

Take a look at the list for various Archaeology courses offered at PG Diploma, Bachelor’s and Master’s level:

Bachelor’s in Archaeology

Take a look at the list of Indian colleges offering a Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology:

  • Jain University Bangalore
  • RIMT University, Gobindgarh, Punjab,
  • St. Columba’s College Hazaribag, Jharkhand
  • Yogi Vemana University College, Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh
  • Marthoma College for Women, Perumbavoor, Kerala
  • St. Thomas College Palai, Kerala
  • Madras Christian College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • Maharaja’s College Mysore, Mysore, Karnataka
  • Faculty of Arts Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara, Gujarat
  • Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Government Degree College, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
  • Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Delhi
  • Arya Mahila Degree College (BHU), Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh
  • B.D. College Patna Gurukula Kangri Vishwavidyalaya ( GKV HARIDWAR)
  • Assumption College, Kottayam
  • JSS Polytechnic For The Physically Handicapped ( JSS MYSORE), Mysuru
  • Shri. S.R. Narasapur Arts And M.B. Shirur Commerce College (VPM), Bagalkot
  • Uma Arts & Nathiba Commerce Mahila College ( UANCMC) , Gandhinagar
  • Mohamed Sathak A.J.Academy Of Architecture ( MSAJAA) , Kanchipuram
  • Lucknow Christian Degree College ( LCDC) , Lucknow
  • Vasant Kanya Maha Vidyalaya ( VKMV) , Varanasi
  • Tamil Nadu Open University ( TNOU) , Chennai
  • Mahila Maha Vidyalaya, Banaras
  • DVA Degree College (BHU), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
  • Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University
  • Vasantrao Naik Government Institute of Arts and Social Sciences, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  • Shri Jagdishprasad Jhabarmal Tibrewala University, Rajasthan
  • Vasant College for Women (BHU), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
  • R.D.S. College Muzaffarpur
  • Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University, Udaipur
  • Sai Sree Degree College Dhone, Andhra Pradesh
  • North Bank College Lakhimpur
  • Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University
  • Department of Archaeology, University of Calcutta
  • Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University

Master’s in Archaeology

Take a look at the list of Indian colleges offering a Master’s degree in Archaeology:

  • St. Xavier’s College Mumbai University of Kerala
  • Panjab University
  • Patna University
  • Annamalai University
  • Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
  • University of Kota
  • Osmania University Hyderabad Centre for Heritage Studies, Ernakulam, Kerala             
  • Jiwaji University, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh       
  • Solapur University, Maharashtra
  • Chaudhary Devi Lal University
  • Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management
  • Rashtrasant Tukadoji Mahraj Nagpur university, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  • Shivaji university, Kolhapur, Maharashtra          
  • Deccan College Postgraduate & Research Institute, Pune, Maharashtra          
  • DVA Degree College (BHU), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
  • Indira Gandhi National Tribal University Amarkantak    
  • Kurukshetra University
  • Ranchi University, Ranchi, Jharkhand     
  • Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, Nalanda, Bihar
  • Vidya Sagar PG College Tumkur, Tumkur, Karnataka     
  • Tumkur University
  • Department of Archaeology Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kachchh University
  • Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University, Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh
  • Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad, Telangana
  • Guru Govind Singh Indraprastha University
  • Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
  • Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
  • Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh       
  • Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya, Chandigarh, Punjab
  • Karnataka State Open University, Mysore, Karnataka
  • Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Handicapped University,Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh
  • Faculty of Arts Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara, Gujarat
  • Tamil University, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
  • Lucknow University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
  • University of Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • University of Mysore, Mysore, Karnataka
  • Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
  • Central University of Bihar, Patna, Bihar
  • Kuvempu University
  • Iswar Saran Degree College, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh 
  • Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, Kerala
  • Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University, Udaipur, Rajasthan

PG Diploma in Archaeology

Take a look at the list of colleges offering a PG Diploma in Archaeology:

  • Institute of Archaeology, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Delhi
  • Centre for Heritage Studies, Ernakulum, Kerala
  • Polytechnic for Women University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, Rajasthan
  • Deccan College Postgraduate & Research Institute, Pune, Maharashtra
  • Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University, Udaipur, Rajasthan

Syllabus

To help you understand the subjects and specializations are offered in Archaeology courses in India, we have curated course wise break of the syllabus for PG Diploma, Bachelors, and Masters in Archaeology degree. Take a look at each one of the following for more clarity:

Syllabus for Post-Graduate Diploma in Archaeology

Semester-I Semester-II
Principles of ArchaeologyField Archaeology
Social & Economic Institutions of Ancient IndiaArchaeological Science
South Asian PrehistoryOptional (any two)
• South Asian Protohistory
• Introduction to Ethno archaeology
• Earth Sciences in Archaeology
• Dissertation
• Open Paper
Epigraphical Records of Ancient India
Introduction to cultural Heritage Management
Research Methodology

*Candidates must note that field work is compulsory for students in Semester II.

Syllabus for Bachelors in Archaeology

Ist year2nd year
Political History of Ancient India (from c 600 BC to c 320 AD)Political History of Ancient India (from c 320 AD to c 750 AD)
Social, Economic & Religious Life in Ancient IndiaElements of Indian Archaeology
3rd year
Political History of Early Mediaeval India
Ancient Indian Art & Architecture
Ancient World Civilizations

Syllabus for Masters in Archaeology

Semester-ISemester-II
Political History of India (up to 1200 A.D.)Religious History of India
Social and Economic History of India (up to 1200 A.D.)Methods in Archaeology
Introduction to ArchaeologyProtohistory of South Asia
Prehistory of South Asia: Paleolithic and MesolithicScience in Archaeology
Semester-III (Any four electives)
Art and Architecture of India-I (300 B.C. to 600 A.D.)
Ancient Indian Iconography
Ancient Indian Paleography and Epigraphy
Archaeology and Literature
An Outline of World Prehistory
Environmental Archaeology (Bioarchaeology)
Biological Anthropology
Advanced Archaeological Theory and Research Methodology
History of Indian Archaeology
Harappan Civilization
Museology-I: Basic Principles and Practice
Cultural Heritage Management

Expenses

The average course fee for an undergraduate degree in Archaeology may range anywhere between Rs. 1, 50,000 to Rs. 4, 00,000.

The average fee for a postgraduate degree in Archaeology and related courses shall be Rs.1,00,000 per year approximately.

A Post-Graduate Diploma in Criminology may cost around Rs.15, 000 to 50,000.

Salary

As an Archaeologist having a master’s degree, you may earn around Rs.50, 000 to Rs. 65,000 per month or more in the government sector.

If you are a PhD degree holder, you may earn around Rs.2, 50,000 per month while working in the government sector.

Archaeology career prospects

  • For people who are driven by knowledge and curiosity, the sky is the limit. A career in Archaeology is for those passionate enough to go on about history and ancient culture, research on topics that drive them that gives them enough motivation to pursue a prospective career in Archaeology.
  • Archaeology career offers a plethora of opportunities to those passionate in this subject area. They may find work in:
    • Colleges/ Universities as an Associate Professor, Junior Research Fellow, or Research Fellow;
    • Indian Council of Historical Research, Archaeological Survey of India, Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), National Archives of India, Private & Public Museums of India, etc. as Archeologist, Heritage Manager, Historian, Document Specialist, Museum education officer, among many others.
  • As advancement in technology can be seen almost in every sphere of our lives, the field of archaeology is no far behind. There are now newer and more digitally advanced devices that have made an archaeologist degree worth having. The use of drones, digital photography, photogrammetry, and three-dimensional imaging software is rapidly changing the way archaeologists do their research. The field of archaeology is bound to witness more such advancements in the times to come.

Summing Up

In the above article, we focused on how to become an archaeologist, types of archeology degree, and comprehensive lists of colleges offering archaeology degree and much more. You must have decided by now which course you would take up or have created a career plan. Even if you haven’t, you have our career counsellors’ back!

Go ahead and talk to the experts and get some industry insights or future trends of archaeology career or any career field you may wish to pursue. 

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