Old World Program

Bettina Arnold’s research interests follow three major topical strands:

  • Iron Age European mortuary analysis (“Landscape of Ancestors”)
  • the archaeology of ancient alcohol,
  • the archaeology of gender, and
  • the history of archaeology.

A fifth project, “Excavating Prehistoric Europe in American Museums”, is an outgrowth of the history of archaeology research focus and has generated several recent Masters thesis projects.

Collections-based research and analysis has been the focus of many student projects. Extensive collections from the Bronze Age site of Tell Hadidi in Syria and the Swiss lake dwelling site of Robenhausen housed at the Milwaukee Public Museum as well as other Old World collections there and at the Chicago Field Museum, the Peabody Museum at Harvard, the Logan Museum at Beloit and the Smithsonian Institution have been the subject of numerous thesis projects and are available for future thesis work. Other thesis projects have made use of published primary sources of data on topics as diverse as child labor in Iron European mining contexts, Pictish mirror and comb symbols and experimental approaches to the use of madder as a textile dye in prehistoric Europe. The archaeology of ancient alcohol and experimental approaches to archaeological interpretation are among the broader themes addressed by recent student theses, which are listed on the Department Web page and accessible on Digital Commons.

Old World Archaeology Program

The primary focus of the Old World Archaeology Program is European prehistoric archaeology, with an emphasis on Iron Age Celtic cultures. Professor Bettina Arnold, the Program Director, is …

  • Former coordinator and actively involved in the Anthropology Department’s Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program, which provides students the opportunity to take courses at and participate in internships at the Milwaukee Public Museum, one of the premier natural history museums in the United States;
  • Actively involved in the UWM Center for Celtic Studies, which includes an undergraduate certificate program in Celtic Studies and offers study abroad opportunities in Ireland and other European countries; General Editor, e-Keltoi: Journal of Interdisciplinary Celtic Studies.
  • Actively involved in the Archaeological Institute of America’s Milwaukee Society, which brings 6-8 archaeologists to campus every year to present their research in a series of public lectures and provides students with numerous volunteer opportunities.
  • An updated CV can be found here.

Ongoing and Future Research Projects

More detailed information about ongoing and future research projects can be found at Bettina Arnold’s faculty website.

Student Thesis Projects

Past Masters and PhD thesis projects in Old World archaeology range from a study of ushabti figurines at the Milwaukee Public Museum and their significance in understanding temporal and regional variation in ancient Egypt to an analysis of soapstone vessels from the Byzantine/Islamic site of Ayla/Aila (Aqaba) in Jordan. Extensive collections from the Bronze Age site of Tell Hadidi in Syria, housed at the Milwaukee Public Museum, as well as other Old World collections there and at the Chicago Field Museum, have been the subject of several thesis projects. Several graduate students have worked on projects relating to the Celtic cultures of the British Isles, including a study of changing gender configurations due to Romanization in the territory of the Durotriges as reflected in mortuary contexts in southern England. Several Masters theses have been completed on material from the Swiss Neolithic Lake Dwelling site of Robenhausen at the Milwaukee Public Museum (Eberwein 2019; Lillis M.S. 2005; Johnson M.S. 2006), and two projects analyzing collections from the type-site of La Tène, Switzerland at the Logan Museum and the Chicago Field Museum were completed in 2008 (Farley/Logan; Kubicek/Field Museum). Current PhD student projects include the mortuary archaeology of Iron Age Cornwall; decapitation burials in Roman Britain; the shelf-life of Iron Age beer and strategic drinking in Iron Age continental Europe; and the use of personal ornament in the creation of death styles in women’s burials in Iron Age southwest Germany.


The Old World Archaeology Program has access to a portion of the Archaeology Research Lab for storing and laying out artifacts. A computer, printer, scanner, digital camera and other small electronic equipment are available for students working on projects to use. Software includes ArcView GIS and various database programs. The Old World Archaeology Program also has access to general Archaeology Lab equipment, including microscopes, darkroom facilities and computers, and to Department of Anthropology facilities and equipment.