Arizona Archaeological Society



AAS Certification Course Descriptions

The Certification Program of the Arizona Archaeological Society (AAS) is designed with the help of professional archaeologists to give training in various aspects of archaeology outside an academic degree program. Because most courses provide field experience in addition to classroom training, students can develop those skills that make them a qualified and valuable member of an archaeological project. The student may elect to join the Certification Program where records will be kept of courses taken, and where certificates will be issued upon successful completion of the course requirements. AAS members who are not seeking certification may take these courses without joining the certification program.

To enroll in the Certification Program an individual must be a member of the AAS, complete the Certification Program Application form, and pay a one-time fee of $10.00. When the application is accepted, the Department Recorder will establish a file in the individual's name to maintain a permanent record of qualifications. The applicant will receive a certificate that instructors will sign as each course is completed and the individual becomes certified in that aspect of archaeology.

Individuals who have previously completed courses similar to AAS approved courses from other societies or educational institutions may apply to the Review Committee of the Certification Department for a waiver. In order to qualify for a waiver, a Student Course Waiver Request Form must be completed and proof must be submitted that the standards of the courses completed were at least equal to those of the AAS Certification Department.

Student Course Waiver Request Forms and additional information about certification courses and when they will be offered may be obtained from the Chapter Certification Representative. Following is a listing of the courses presently offered through the AAS Certification Department with a brief description of areas of study and course requirements.

Certification Program Courses

Prehistory of the Southwest

This prerequisite course is listed first because it provides a basic overview of archaeology in the Southwest. It incorporates discussions of cultural sequences, dating systems, subsistence strategies, urbanization, abandonment, and the general characteristics of the major cultural groups in the Southwest.[20 hrs lecture]

Advanced Southwest Archaeology

In this course one of the four main cultural regions namely, Hohokam, Patayan, Mogollon, or Anasazi is selected for concentrated study. Among the topics examined are settlement, social and organizational systems, ceramic types, lithics technology, architecture, and interaction with other cultures. [20 hrs lecture, report]

Advanced Southwest Prehistory: Paleoindian and Archaic Periods

This course explores the period in the American Southwest prior to the time of the major Southwestern archaeological cultural traditions (Hohokam, Patayan, Mogollon, and Anasazi) by focusing on the Paleoindian culture (large game hunters) and Archaic culture (small game hunters and gatherers) from the initial entry of peoples into North America to approximately A.D. 500. [25 hrs lecture, report]

Archaeoastronomy of the Southwest

This class will review the current literature on archaeoastronomy in the American Southwest, discuss important issues relating to the naked eye observation of celestial objects in the night sky, and cover basic recordation techniques and methods. This class will sample a small portion of a large body of literature on archaeoastronomy. Mesoamerican archaeoastronomy will be included because of the influence of Mesoamerican cultures on the Southwest and because of the advanced state of archaeoastronomy studies in Middle America.[20 hrs lecture, 14 hrs field]

Archaeological Mapping Techniques

More time is spent in the field for this course so that students can gain experience using such equipment as Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM), compass, tape, transit, and theodolite. The object is to produce a map of a site using other maps, aerial photographs, and measurements made in the field. [12 hrs lecture, 56 hrs field]

Archaeological Photography

This course provides instruction in the practical application of photography to the documentation of archaeological subjects in the field and in the studio. Needs of the archaeologist are explained and illustrated as to how best to achieve them. [10 hrs lecture & hands on]

Ceramic Identification and Analysis

This course provides the student with a working knowledge of ceramic ID and the ability to sort prehistoric ceramics found in Arizona (the basic course can be tailored to any area of the state). Emphasis is placed on identifying specific ceramic types, recognizing vessel forms from sherds, the relationship between research questions and the design of ceramic analysis, and the key technological attributes of ceramics that are most useful for recognizing specific types. [20 hrs lecture, 60 hrs lab]

Field Crew Member I

This course prepares the student to become a valuable member of an excavation crew. It covers the basic tools used (backhoe, shovel, trowel, screen, etc.), techniques for collecting samples for lab tests (pollen, flotation, radiocarbon, dendrochronology, etc.), and site record keeping. [30 hrs lecture, 40 hrs field]

Field Crew Member II

This course is a continuation of Field Crew Member I with an emphasis on preparing the student to take on greater supervisory responsibilities. Some of the areas considered are setting up a site for excavation, applying a research design, controlling the excavation, and interpreting a site. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs field]

Historical Archaeology I

Because the area of investigation is historic, emphasis is placed on how to research documents, records, and literature to supplement findings made in the field. The object of this course is to develop the ability to integrate the various sources of data and interpret the cultural changes that took place. [30 hrs lecture, 10 hrs field & lab]

Introductory Human Osteology

This course is an intensive introduction to the entire human skeleton to prepare students to recognize and properly deal with human remains (from ethical, physical, and legal standpoints) when encountered during archaeological fieldwork during both excavation and survey. The course also promotes proper handling and storage of human remains. [30 hrs lecture & lab]

Laboratory Techniques

This class deals with the methods and materials used in processing, preserving, cataloging, and storing of artifacts. It includes classifying artifacts with particular attention paid to ceramics and lithics. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs lab]

Prehistory of the Southwest

This prerequisite course is listed first because it provides a basic overview of archaeology in the Southwest. It incorporates discussions of cultural sequences, dating systems, subsistence strategies, urbanization, abandonment, and the general characteristics of the major cultural groups in the Southwest.[20 hrs lecture]

Lithic Identification Analysis

This course provides a working knowledge of, and the ability to identify and sort lithic materials found in Arizona. Emphasis is on identifying specific rock types, recognizing minerals, crystals, and rock forming processes, and analyzing human modification techniques. Laboratory Techniques is suggested as a prerequisite, but is not required. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs laboratory, lithics research project]

Pottery Technology

Lectures, laboratory and field trips will cover the characteristics of clay and clay bodies, methods of form and decoration used prehistorically, the uses of ceramics by archaeologists, and an introduction to the identification of the wares of one cultural tradition. However, this is basically a very hands-on course. In order to complete this course the participant must gather clay, form and decorate a pot and successfully fire it using prehistoric methods. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs lab, make 1 pot]

Prehistoric Architectural Analysis

This course introduces the student to the various forms of architectural analysis used when investigating prehistoric sites in the American Southwest, including interpreting different architectural components and overall site configurations observed in the prehistoric record. [20 hrs lecture, 30 hrs analysis, 20 hrs field]


Recording consists of preparing documentary records of field facts while on a survey crew or excavation team. The various forms used (field logs, journals and excavation reports) are examined during this course. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs field]

Rock Art Recorder

This course addresses all types of rock art including pictographs, petroglyphs, and intaglios. Among the topics considered are recognizing types of rock art by style, culture, elements used, and different methods used to record them. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs field]

Shell Identification and Analysis

The purpose of this class is to give members of the Arizona Archaeological Society a working knowledge and ability to recognize and analyze archaeological shell assemblages. The course is intended to focus on a specific site, a series of related sites, or a region of the state. Depending on the project objectives, analysis forms will be developed from the research design. Members may take this class several times to become proficient with shell materials found in Arizona. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs lab/field]

Stabilization and Reconstruction

This course is taught in conjunction with an ongoing stabilization/reconstruction project. In addition to field work on the project, there are classroom lectures on evaluating a candidate site, developing a stabilization and reconstruction plan, and examining the different techniques, materials, and equipment used. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs field]

Survey Techniques I

Surveying is the process of initial discovery, evaluation, determination of the location, and preliminary mapping of an archaeological site. Accordingly, this course involves ways in which different types of surveys are organized (including how to recognize a site, use a map and compass, and evaluate a site), and basic mapping. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs field]

Writing Preliminary Reports

This course helps the student develop skills for writing reports that conform to standard archaeological writing styles. Also included is the organization of ancillary information and an overview of the mechanics involved to see a report through printing. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs field]

Survey Techniques II Crew Chief

The purpose of this course is to provide advanced preparation in field skills to provide the avocational archaeologist the skills to supervise small survey teams. Prerequisite classes are Survey Techniques I, plus either Ceramic Identification or Lithics Analysis, or similar experience as approved by the instructor. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs field].

Zooarchaeology - Faunal Analysis

This course is an intensive introduction to the methods used to analyze animal bones from archaeological sites, and the procedures and theory used to interpret zooarchaeological data. The focus is on reaching a synthesis of taphonomy and zooarchaeology. [20 hrs lecture, 40 hrs lab]

Workshops and Seminars

Workshops and seminars are occasionally offered (for example in Ceramics or Lithics Analysis) either in conjunction with a course for certification or to assist the student with intensive training and as a supplement to course content, or presented separately to provide information/experience to students outside the approved courses. Certification credit is not awarded for workshops and seminars. [hours of lecture, lab, & field will vary]

© Arizona Archaeological Society
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software