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Insights into Society and Culture

Redefining World Culture


In the 20th century, the amount of archaeological research conducted throughout the world surged. At Pitt’s Center for Comparative Archaeology, the goal is to turn raw data into knowledge.

One of the center’s tools for accomplishing this task is its Comparative Archaeology Database, an online database for collecting and storing information gathered during archaeological fieldwork. This global database preserves our record of past civilizations, and makes these records more widely available for future research.

Professor Robert Drennan exemplifies the kind of comparative thinking encouraged by the database. In his work, Drennan compares the organization of communities in three areas in which he has done fieldwork: the Alto Magdalena Province in Colombia, the Hongshan culture in Northeastern China, and the Valley of Oaxaca in Mexico.

Comparative anthropological research at Pitt also benefits from faculty and students immersing themselves in particular geographic regions. Professor Joseph Alter focuses on sexuality, masculinity, and the body in India. Professor Keith Brown has spent decades looking at the organization of small-town Japanese life in Mizusawa, a small city in Northeastern Japan.