Archaeology is the science that studies humans and cultures with the help of material sources they have left behind, such as objects, structures or chemical changes in the soil due to human activity. Archaeology is multidisciplinary in nature. Archaeology is a humanistic science, but it has traditionally had many links with the natural sciences, particularly in terms of research methods. The goal of archaeological research is to understand and explain culture and changes of culture. An archaeologist is a versatile expert in material culture, research and conservation. Archaeologists work in cooperation with land users, planners and environmental protection authorities. Protecting archaeological cultural heritage is a part of protecting the environment, and the ethical goal of archaeologists is to retain as much of the past as possible for future generations.
In general basic studies of archaeology and cultural anthropology, students get an overall view of archaeology and cultural anthropology. The studies include, for example, the prehistory of Finland, Finnish folklore and the birth of cultures. The focus area for archaeology is the study of the archaeological cultural heritage of northern Finland and other northern areas within a global context. In addition to mastering basic knowledge of the subject, teaching focuses on universal cultural processes and research technologies pertaining to the processing of source material. A key goal of the studies is to offer the students the ability to complete the process of conducting archaeological research independently. This consists of gathering a dataset, analysing it, interpreting it and presenting the results in writing. Student exchange programmes with several universities abroad offer students of archaeology excellent opportunities to study abroad for a short time.
The study of archaeology provide necessary skills for museum work, antiquities administration and research positions. It is also essential for those seeking to protect and manage cultural heritage. For aspiring history teachers, taking archaeology as a minor subject provides a good foundation for teaching the development of humankind before literary sources began. Furthermore, studies in archaeology create a solid foundation for all-round education and an understanding of the northern identity for people working in various cultural positions. At the University of Oulu, therefore, archaeology is therefore available as a minor subject to all students.
Minors that complement archaeology include cultural anthropology, history, art history, museology, geology, geography, biology and environmental studies in the humanities.