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Department of Anthropology

What is Anthropology? What is Archaeology?

Humans are complex and diverse species, and anthropology gives us the tools to better understand who we are, how we used to be, and to shape what we might become.

To do so, the field brings together scholars from multiple subdisciplines. Archaeologists study past people using the material they leave behind. Biological anthropologists show us where biology and culture intersect. Cultural anthropologists explore the customs of people near and far, and linguistic anthropologists consider how and why we use language as we do. Applied anthropologists use knowledge created across the subdisciplines to help solve real-world problems in the present.

At Potsdam, students can explore all of these areas by majoring in Anthropology. Students who wish to specialize in archaeology can declare an Archaeological Studies major, which brings together courses from multiple disciplines.

Jeimi Toribio '23, a double major in archaeological studies and anthropology, discusses how the archaeology program at SUNY Potsdam has allowed her to explore the past through hands-on field experiences—most recently during an archaeology field school in the Adirondacks where she unearthed artifacts from the 1800s.

“I’m really glad for the opportunity to do independent research while still an undergraduate. Not all colleges have these kinds of opportunities." 

Alexis Michael Archaeology major
In Search of Lost History

Years of detective work by SUNY Potsdam archaeologist Dr. Hadley Kruczek-Aaron and her search for a forgotten African American settlement in the Adirondacks are highlighted in "Searching for Timbuctoo," a new film by Paul Miller. The examination of pre-Civil War social justice and roots of abolitionism in the North Country has been screened and discussed across central and northern New York.

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Fertile Ground for Exploration

A double major in anthropology and international studies, Simisola Macaulay ’23 has taken on leadership roles as the president of the anthropology club, a student ambassador for Admissions and Advancement, and a peer study abroad counselor in the Lougheed Center for Applied Learning. Whether giving a TEDx Talk on gender expression within the Yoruba community in Nigeria, or conducting research on maternal practices of women in the Maasai tribe in Tanzania, she has continued to personalize her educational experiences by connecting them to her family and African heritage.

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Examining Humanity Through an Anthropological Lens

From nightly performances on a Royal Caribbean cruise line, to acting gigs all over the world, Charlie Sarkioglu ’22 has had a fruitful career embracing his passion for the arts. Now he’s shifting gears as he completes his undergraduate degree in anthropology at SUNY Potsdam—something that he believes will positively impact his future theatrical projects.

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SUNY Potsdam Faculty Member Documents Greenland Visit in ‘Virtual Field Trip’

Dr. Kathryn Grow Allen engages with SUNY Potsdam students & public in Greenland visit, thanks to grant from the U.S. Embassy in Nuuk.

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Seeing the Future Through the Past

Marla Jacobs ’20 drew strength from her Mohawk heritage to overcome daunting challenges and finish an archaeology degree with three minors. Hard at work on a new display for The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, she continues to help build our knowledge of Indigenous peoples and their role in the ancient Adirondack landscapes. 
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The Man Behind the Lens

If you’ve recently gazed on photos of Jupiter’s murky gases or a panorama showing unprecedented detail on the surface of Mars, chances are, you were seeing Daniel Krysak’s work. Krysak ’08, who graduated from SUNY Potsdam with degrees in both speech communication and archaeology, with a minor in geology, is living the dream of just about every techie and space buff. He's one of the people behind all those stunning panoramas of Mars, for three different NASA missions.

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The Destruction Guy

In chaos, destruction and ash, Dr. Jesse Millek '12 finds sweet order.

Sudden invading armies that freeze time in their wake, earthquakes that seal layers of history and flames that throw the past into stark relief — these are Millek’s forte, as he works to pioneer a systematic study of the destructive events of antiquity. A SUNY Potsdam alum with a double major in archaeological studies and art history and a suite of graduate degrees, honors and fellowships, Millek is a visiting scholar with the Department of Middle East Studies at the University of Michigan.

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Nicole Weed '20

Nicole Weed ’20, a senior in the Department of Anthropology, is currently working on a Presidential Scholars project looking at how technology has affected language and communication over time. With opportunities to work as a research assistant for Dr. Lydia Rodriguez and as an intern for Dr. Faris Khan, the culmination of her experiences has been paving the way for graduate school and a successful career as a linguistic anthropologist.

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Archaeology Students Dig at Camp Union

From June 24 to July 19, SUNY Potsdam Professor Dr. Hadley Kruczek-Aaron led an archaeology field school for 12 of her students at Camp Union in Potsdam—a Civil War training ground once used by soldiers preparing for battle. Students spent four weeks unearthing layers of dirt, digging excavation units, using sifter screens and bagging artifacts. The Meadow East Apartment Complex property in Potsdam became the students’ outdoor classroom for a month as they searched for historic remnants from the Camp Union occupation.

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Testing the Meadowood projectile point

As one of 21 students working on independent research projects through the Presidential Scholars Program this year, Alexis Michael ’18 took aim at an experiment that could change archaeologists’ theories about when Indigenous populations first used the bow and arrow.

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Field School on John Brown’s Farm

Sitting in a hole, surrounded on all sides by layers of exposed soil in a 2-meter-long excavation unit, SUNY Potsdam junior Michael Madeiros ’19 uses a trowel to dig for artifacts on abolitionist John Brown’s farm.

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Professor Timothy Messner

SUNY Potsdam professor Timothy Messner forges a piece of metal while leading a field trip to Farmhouse Forge in Potsdam as part of his experimental archaeology class.

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Anthropology Club

In March 2017 a group of 20 Anthropology Club members traveled to Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts to attend the Northeastern Anthropological Association meetings. 

Learn more about the Anthropology Club