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University of Cambridge

Q&A: Archaeology

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Dr Paola Filippucci

I am the Director of Studies for Archaeology even if I am a social anthropologist by training and my research and teaching are now largely in this subject area. However, my first degree was in Archaeology, and I have maintained a strong and active interest in the subject. Archaeology also features in my current research, which focuses among other things on the material traces of war and their impact on the social memory of conflict. As part of this I have participated in archaeological research on the former First World War battlefields of the Western Front in France and Belgium; and I have also researched the role of archaeology in the creation of First World War memory and heritage. Through my interest in conflict archaeology and heritage I am a member of the Heritage Research Centre in the Department of Archaeology. I am also strongly interested in the relationship between archaeology and anthropology and this has led me to contribute undergraduate teaching in social anthropology for the Archaeology department.

What's special about Archaeology at Cambridge?

Archaeology is an incredibly broad discipline, using techniques ranging from the study of art and languages, to social theories and archaeological science techniques (such as ancient DNA analysis)to reconstruct the human past.

Archaeologists look at the whole sweep of human history, excavating sites to recover evidence that tells us about ancient diets, rituals, symbolic systems, and more. The Department of Archaeology in Cambridge is one of the best in the world and among the largest and most diverse in Europe; its staff work on almost every continent. Additional specialities include Archaeological Science, Heritage, and Egyptology and Assyriology, alongside the choice of either Archaeology or Biological Anthropology. Most of our students participate in fieldwork during their undergraduate years; the course includes practical work in a variety of aspects of archaeology and there is the opportunity to do independent research in the final year by opting for a dissertation.

How does 鶹 support its Archaeology students?

As the Director of Studies I offer you regular meetings to monitor and support your academic progress and to help you with any academic issues that may arise. Since my main disciplinary basis is in social anthropology rather than archaeology, I have created links of collaboration with colleagues in Archaeology based in other Colleges, particularly in the nearby ‘Colleges on the Hill’. This ensures that 鶹 Archaeology students receive small group teaching (supervisions) with experts in the field for all of their courses and can meet and work together with a larger cohort of students in the subject. For example, first-year 鶹 students are often supervised alongside Churchill College students, building friendships and collegiality within the subject group.

What do you enjoy most about working at 鶹?

I enjoy the modern, open and informal atmosphere of the College and I am proud to belong to an institution that was created with the explicit aim of making Cambridge more inclusive. I really value the College’s commitment to academic excellence and to the wellbeing of students; in terms of my role as Director of Studies I find it really rewarding to get to know my students individually and to help them to develop their own academic interests and to mature intellectually as they progress through their degree.