How can we use archaeology to understand the past?


Intro to Archaeology: Archaeology as Reconstruction

Welcome to the third course in the Knowing the Past specialization on Archaeology. In this course, we will explore the various forms of interpretation that archaeologists use to reconstruct different aspects of the past. We will focus on how archaeologists reconstruct the identities of past people based on the food they ate and how their enculturation influenced their food choices. Additionally, we will delve into the transition to food production through early maize in Mesoamerica and learn about deep human origins through the work of paleoanthropology. We will also discuss the role of palynology and ethnoarchaeology in archaeological interpretation. After this course, you will understand archaeologists' various approaches to interpreting historical events.

Who should attend:

  • Advanced high school, college students, or lifelong learners.
  • Anyone interested in how to become an archaeologist.
  • Individuals with a strong interest in archaeology are particularly fascinated by how archaeologists reconstruct the identities of past people.
  • People fascinated by the connection between food and human history are interested in how archaeologists use food remains to interpret the past and reconstruct the identities of past people based on their diet.

You will be able to:

  • Recognize different anthropological concepts that inform archaeological interpretations.
  • Connect archaeological datasets with corresponding interpretations of past life using correct terminology.
  • Understand case studies in archaeological interpretation.


Course three
Course three
Course three


Professor Molly

Dr. Molly Morgan, Ph.D.

Molly Morgan is an archaeologist investigating the lives of enslaved people who lived and worked at regional plantations including Levi Jordan and Varner-Hogg in order to examine the historical context and legacies of slavery and how it is presented in public history. This work involves public archaeology through engagement with communities and local groups in Texas. She also works toward public history interpretations along with colleagues at the Texas Historical Commission, which manages these historic sites. This work offers experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students in all parts of the process of archaeological research.

Visiting Archaeologists

Dr. Molly Morgan is joined by world-class archaeologists throughout this specialization. They are (from left to right, starting at the top row) Dr. Mary Prendergast, Dr. Nick Bourgeois, Dr. Jeff Fleisher and Dr. Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo.

Image of the world-class archaeologlists

Explore our related Archaeology Courses

Intro to Archaeology Course Specialization

Intro to Archaeology Specialization (4 Courses)



Any questions? Please e-mail