Archaeology is the study of the human material world over space and time. While the word usually brings to mind far-off, exotic places, very ancient cultures, and often spectacular finds, in fact, archaeology is usually much more mundane, but it is also much more relevant.  In Historical Archaeology, focusing on the last 500 years, we study the same important cultural questions as our colleagues in Cultural and Biological anthropology.  We aim to understand how people interact, form communities, and how race, religion, gender, class all work. The only difference is that we do this by looking at things: material culture. 

Follow UM-Dearborn Archaeology on facebook for updates and news!

Archaeology Classes

Even though most Archaeology students at Dearborn take these classes on the way to some other career, they provide useful, transferrable experiences doing real, primary, scientific research, with all the messiness that entails.  Students going into law, medicine, education, engineering and other fields benefit from getting excited about a project and seeing where it takes them.  Even if it deals with mundane bits of old trash, Archaeology can often be the area which invites them to take ownership over their own education!

River Raisin Archaeology Project, Monroe, MI

 River Raisin Archaeology Project, Monroe, MI
River Raisin Archaeology Project, Monroe, MI

In partnership with the City of Monroe and River Raisin National Battlefield Park, we have started a long-term archaeological field project on this important site dating 1780s-1813.  We are uncovering the story of the multiethnic French, British, and Native community that traded and farmed here, but was often unable to write their own history.

The site is also the scene of the January 1813 Battles of the River Raisin, part of the War of 1812, which were pivotal for the “Old Northwest” and one of the greatest military disasters in US history, in which only 32 of one thousand US troops escaped.

Take a look at this short (~8 min) video on the project, and join us to excavate Fridays, each fall!

To Join us Excavating! Here’s How:

To work on the project, you need to be registered in ANTH 410: The Archaeological Field School, which is offered most Fall semesters, one day per week, Fridays. Usually we meet in Monroe at the site but also in the lab on campus at Dearborn in bad weather. We will make every effort to arrange car-pooling for students without their own transportation.

  • Current UM-Dearborn Students. Search for the class in the current course catalog and simply register!
  • Current UM-Ann Arbor, UM-Flint students. Use the Guest Student page and select “Undergraduate Guest/Consortium Agreement” when enrolling. You’ll transfer your credits back to your home school after the class, and you should consult with your financial aid adviser before enrolling to ensure that enrollment at two campuses won’t cause a problem.
  • Current students at any other College or University.  Use the Guest Student page and select “Undergraduate Guest” when enrolling. You’ll transfer your credits back to your home school after the class, and you should consult with your financial aid adviser before enrolling to ensure that enrollment at two campuses won’t cause a problem.
  • UM-Dearborn Alumni may take classes under the Alumni Enrichment program for the substantially discounted rate of $84/credit (2021-22)
  • Seniors/Retirees wishing to enroll as guests also get a substantial discount, currently $140/credit (2021-22).  See the information for the Retired Person Studies Program.
  • Members of the Community wishing to enroll as guests. Use the guidance on the “Personal Enrichment” webpage or the Prospective Degree webpage, or, for anyone else the Non-Degree, Returning, and Other Students page.

Email John Chenoweth with questions!

CASL Archaeology Lab

Room number sign 3045 Archaeology and Biological Anthropology Lab

UM-Dearborn's Archaeological Lab, in CASL room 3045, hosts research projects on a wide variety of sites and topics from the Caribbean to right here in Dearborn!  The focus is on the study of human beings through material culture throughout the historic period (about the last 500 years), particularly in the Caribbean, New England, and in Michigan.

Students can take part in these in a number of ways! Students are using the lab as part of independent study projects (ANTH 398/399), in lab-based classes such as ANTH 201 (Introduction to Archaeology) and as part of the fall Archaeological Field School Class, ANTH 410. Current work includes the analysis of artifacts from several 18th and 19th century sites in the British Virgin Islands, a collection on loan from the Dearborn Historical Museum from the Dearborn Arsenal Building, material from Cape Cod National Seashore, and several other sites in Michigan.

About Me

John Chenoweth
John Chenoweth

John M. Chenoweth, PhD, RPA (#15941)

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Email: jmchenow (at)

Office: 3045F CASL Building

Lab: 3045 CASL Building

Tel: 313-583-6368


I'm anthropologist and historical archaeologist studying the archaeology of religion, social identity, practice theory, and the negotiation of conflicts between religion, race, and class. My work combines archaeological and documentary evidence to understand daily life and has focused on the Caribbean, especially the British Virgin Islands and their interactions across the Atlantic World, as well as New England and Michigan.  I’ve worked on sites dating to the 17th century, 18th century, 19th century, and even the 21st century!

I was honored to be the recipient of the 2019 John L. Cotter Award for “outstanding achievement by an individual at the start of his/her career in historical archaeology” awarded by the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Here's my academic interest summary and background:

  • Bachelor's New York University (2001)
  • MA University of Pennsylvania (2006)
  • PhD University of California-Berkeley (2011)
  • Post-doc Stanford (2011-2013)

Department of Behavioral Sciences

4012 - College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Building
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
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Phone: 313-593-5520