I have been teaching archaeology for nearly a decade, first as a faculty member at the Dept. of Anthropology, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and now as a member of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC), at Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona, USA.

The way I approach teaching has been profoundly affected by both my own teachers and my students. I have been fortunate to have encountered people who filled me with enthusiasm about learning, taught me to not fear failure, had the patience to guide me in finding my own way and the generosity to encourage me when I did fail. I learned from them that learning is an on-going process and that, to be effective, it must be personal and experiential. This is how I approach my teaching now: as a process about which I perpetually learn, by being fully engaged with the students and the material about which I teach. I am also committed to creating the same encouraging, yet challenging learning environment for my students, to help them find their own way.


In my undergraduate teaching I am aware that not every student wishes a career in archaeology and that, for some, the relevance of the past to their own life is not immediately apparent. It is the connection of the past to the present and to the future that I strive to make apparent. By revealing relationships among humans, technology, and nature, discussing human choices and their long-term consequences, I encourage students to think in a longer-term perspective, to consider the inter-connectivity of their lives, institutions, material culture, and history, and to engage in more informed decision-making, especially regarding sustainable patterns of living.

Since I arrived at SHESC, I have taught the following undergraduate classes:

      - ASB 222: Buried Cities and Lost Tribes (Old World)

As part of McMaster University, I taught the following:

      - 1BO3 World Prehistory

      - 2PA3 Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology

      - 3CA3 Ceramic Analysis

      - 4FO3 Current Debates in Archaeology

I also enjoy working with undergraduate students on ceramic technology related projects in my laboratories. Such collaborations have led to co-authored posters and presentations in major international and regional anthropological meetings. As an example, see the following, where the name of the student in underlined:

K. Michelaki, K. Cook, S. Koprich, and C. Barry, 2009. Firing ceramics in Neolithic Umbro and Penitenzeria, S.W. Calabria, Italy. Poster presented at the 75th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Atlanta, Georgia, April 24, 2009.

K. Michelaki and K. Peterson, 2007. Raw material selection and preparation in Neolithic S.W. Calabria, Italy. Paper presented at the 21st Ceramic Ecology session, Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington D.C., December 2, 2007.


The same commitment to a personal engagement with the creative process of learning that underlines my undergraduate teaching also infuses my interactions with graduate students. In this case I start with the principle that I interact with committed colleagues who want to strengthen, expand, and deepen their own skills, and my role is to help them become independent scholars and accomplished professionals in the field of archaeology. I consider it my success when, as the semester goes by, my role becomes progresively secondary and ultimately strictly supportive, allowing space for students to build their skill, confidence and independence, while learning how to be professionals.

Since I arrived at SHESC I have taught the following:

      - ASM 579 Proposal Writing

      - ASB 525 Introduction to Material Culture

While at McMaster University, I taught the following:

      - 736 Archaeological Research Design

      - 730 Applied Archaeological Sciences

I have also provided a number of independnt reading and conference courses to students interested in material culture, technology, ceramic analysis, and Iroquoian archaeology.

I am particularly excited about opportunities to work with graduate students on projects that relate to material culture, prehistoric ceramics, and technology as seen from a variety of viewpoints (theoretical, experimental, analytical, ethnographic, ethnoarchaeological etc.).

My own research and teaching are firmly grounded on transdisciplinary and experiential/experimental approaches to the past (if you want to read more about research click here). This is why I created two laboratories in SHESC: the Ceramic Technology Microscopy (CTML) and the Ceramics and Sediments Preparation (CSPL) Labs. These labs give undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on training in techniques fundamental to their research. Furthermore, the CSPL, shared by myself and Drs. Campisano, Abbott, and Simon, brings together students and researchers from archaeology, geoarchaeology and physical anthropology and provides opportunities for transdisciplinary collaborations that lie at the core of my, SHESC's and ASU's research and educational values. (If you want to read more about the labs, click here).

For an archaeologist, of course, the best laboratory is the field. I see my long-term fieldwork in southern Italy as central in my ability to provide continued access to both graduate and undergraduate students to international, well-established networks of transdisciplinary infrastructure and expertise. (if you want to read more about my Italian fieldwork, click here).


      Completed Student Theses and Dissertations


Watkins, ChristopherPh.D. 2016, ASU - Social boundaries and the organization of plain ware production and exchange in 14th century central Arizona.   (committee member). 

Current Position: Senior archaeologist at Logan Simpson Design, Phoenix, Arizona.

Walter, CristPh.D. 2016, ASU - Board games and social complexity in Bronze Age Cyprus. (committee member).

Current Position: Library technical assistant II at The New York Public Library. 

Burchell, MeghanPh.D. 2013, McMaster University - Shellfish harvest on the coast of British Columbia: the archaeology of settlement and subsistence through high-resolution stable isotope analysis and sclerochronology.  (committee member). 

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

Reimer, Rudy / Yumks, Ph.D. 2012, McMaster University - The mountains and rocks are forever: Lithics and landscapes of Skwxwú7mesh Uxwumixw. (co-chair).

Current Position: Associate Professor, Archaeology Department, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

Armstrong, Justin, Ph.D. 2010, McMaster University - Lives once lived: Ethnography and sense of place in the abandoned and isolated spaces of North America. (committee member).

Current Position: Visiting Lecturer, Wellesley College, Wellesely, MA.


Gauthier, Nicholas, M.A. in passing, SHESC, Arizona State University.

Klassen, Sarah, M.A. in passing 2014, SHESC, Arizona State University.

Cook, Katherine, M.A. 2011, McMaster University - Deathscapes: Memory, heritage, and place in cemetery history. (committee member).

Densmore, Nadia, M.A. 2010, McMaster University - An archaeological assessment of fisheries in Vava'u Tonga. (committee member).

Chenier, Ani, M.A. 2009, McMaster University - Negotiations of individual and community identity: A study in Chinese-Canadian mortuary material culture in Vancouver and Victoria, 1920-1960. (committee member).

MacDonald, Brandi, M.A. 2008, McMaster University - Ochre procurement and distribution on the Central Coast of British Columbia. (committee member).

De Schiffart, Nicole, M.A. 2007, McMaster University - Representing remarriage on 19th and early 20th century burial monuments in southwestern Ontario. (committee member).

Holterman, Carrie, M.A. 2007, McMaster University - The Fonger site: A case study of Neutral ceramic technology.(chair).

Kluge, Hagen, M.A. 2007, McMaster University - In search of clarity: A comparison of current and novel measurement techniques involved in the description of age-related transparent root dentine in the human permanent dentition. (committee member).

      Ongoing student committee work


Striker, Sarah, SHESC-ASU (co-chair)

Torvinen, Andrea, SHESC-ASU (committee member)

Brewstern, Natalie, McMaster University (committee member)



Jessica Roberson (advisor)

Nicholas Schultz (second reader)

© Dr. Kostalena Michelaki 2012