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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

ANTHROPOLOGY 102H Archaeology: Humans Past and Present

The Research Assignment

You have two options for completing the research project portion of this class (outlined below). The goals of both are to allow you to put archaeological methods into practice.

Project option #1

Dr. Stone is currently working on a historic archaeological project in Belen New Mexico and as such is inviting students to work on an aspect of this project as your semester project in this class. 

Examples of research you can undertake:

  • Beads and the material culture of burials  
  • Coffins in Historic Cemeteries (predating 1865)
  • DNA and how archaeologist can work with descendants
  • What is a community engaged archaeology?

Project option #2

You will formulate your own typology of Amherst tombstones, and compare your archaeological findings with historical research about Amherst (and the larger Pioneer Valley), as well as with similar tombstone research from the New England area. More details for the Gravestone Project will be handed out in class in the near future.

Examples of research you can undertake:

  • Styles of tombstones over time
  • Who is buried? Class and burial
  • Health and illness in colonial/historic New England
  • What do cemeteries tell us about a community?

In-class Activity

Search the Libraries' Collections

Example Databases

Keyword Searching Tips


  • Determine the most important and unique from your research topic.
    • Common words such as "effect" or "period" are less useful than specific words such as "burial" or "hierarchy".
  • Toss out extraneous words such as question words and prepositions.
    • For example:
      • How did gravestone imagery change during the Colonial period? --> gravestone, Colonial
  • Use synonyms and related words as keywords.
    • For example:
      • graveyard --> cemetery, burying ground, burial ground
  • Add broader or more narrow terms as keywords.
    • (more narrow) Belén - New Mexico - Southwest (more broad)
  • Look at the terms that different authors use to discover new keywords.

Boolean Operators

AND, OR, and NOT help the search engine understand the relationship between your keywords.

Research Guides

Managing Citations