What’s Archaeology & Cultural Heritage?


Archaeology is the study of the human past and is a sub-discipline of Anthropology which is concerned with the broader study of human cultures and societies in contemporary times.

Archaeologists are interested in understanding ancient cultures by looking at their material remains such as architecture, artefacts, tools and technology, what people ate in the past, who they interacted with, how they adapted to new environments and modified them (and much more!).

Archaeology differs from History in that we deal with a time period that goes beyond the written text, to the times when humans first appeared-which is at least millions of years ago.

How humans and cultures have changed and developed through time and finding out where we came from are some of the things that are taught in the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Programme at the NUS.

Cultural Heritage is mostly concerned with the preservation, conservation and management of cultural heritage of living communities. Through this Programme you will learn how to incorporate methods and theories from Anthropology, Archaeology, Samoan language and other social and natural sciences towards a multi-disciplinary approach to protecting cultural heritage. This will equip you with knowledge and skills that can be used in any career you pursue. This includes recording oral traditions, cultural sites, important landmarks within villages, community participation in heritage management.

Some of the things you will learn:

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  • What the study of Anthropology, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage are about;
  • Where Samoans and Polynesians came from;
  • How the ancestors of Polynesians developed the first voyaging technology in human history and successfully colonized the last region of the world;
  • How Samoan culture, history, and customs have been recorded by early missionaries and European visitors;
  • Gain practical skills on excavation, mapping and surveying techniques used by archaeologists to learn how to record the past;
  • Discover and visit archaeological sites all over Samoa;

And much much more!

You will gain skills in research, report and essay writing, analysis and documentation, working with communities and governmental departments and much more-these skills can be applied to any career you choose.

What jobs can you get?

NUS students excavating at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, 2011

NUS students excavating at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, 2011

People who have a background in this field have found work in the following areas:

  • Archaeological Field Technician (where you get paid to do archaeology-lots of opportunities in American Samoa and the Pacific);
  • Work in Government departments that deal with Cultural Heritage and Environmental Management (e.g., Museums, MESC, MNRE, PUMA, Forestry, National Parks, UNESCO);
  • Project Archaeologist/Principal Investigator/ Manager for Cultural Resource Management projects affected by development;
  • Engineering/Environmental consultants;
  • Tourism;
  • Teaching History, Social Studies, Geography, and Samoan in High Schools;
  • Universities and more!

You can also continue to post graduate studies in Archaeology and/or Cultural Heritage at the Masters and PhD levels in overseas universities. These qualifications will offer similar career choices listed above as well as entry to careers in Academic teaching and research, or regional and international careers with UNESCO, and more!

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