Interested in anthropology, archaeology, and museums? Check out these courses offered through the University of California, Davis.

Museum Studies: Analysis of Native American Basketry (ANT 186A) - 4 units

basketry scholar Ralph Shanks with students processing acorn meal
Instructor Ralph Shanks Processing acorns with students

Basketry was a prolific and important technology in Native America, ensuring economic survival and serving as a medium for art and spirituality. No other type of material culture was used in so many aspects of daily Native life, especially in California. However, despite its widespread importance and ancient history, basketry does not preserve well in the archaeological record. Nonetheless, we can use ethnographic distributions, corollaries in the archaeological record, and the occasional finding of ancient baskets to understand the development and movement of basketry technology across space and time. Ethnographic accounts help enrich our understanding of the cultural context in which basketry existed and still persists today.

This class will teach students analytical techniques necessary to describe and categorize basketry such that they can provide primary analysis of basketry material. The class will also cover basic theoretical understandings and frameworks for understanding how basketry traditions transmit culturally and how to assess relatedness in basketry traditions. Additionally, the class will consider the types of botanical knowledge and preparation needed to weave, as well as cultural practices and meanings embedded in the traditions of weaving.

A key goal of this class is to help you understand how the study of basketry brings important insights to interdisciplinary fields of research.  The class currently offers the rare opportunity to examine ethnographic basketry from many regions throughout California and work with California basketry scholar and author Ralph Shanks.

Museum Internship Program (ANT 192/ANT 198) - Variable Units

The museum internship program gives students hands-on experience working in a museum setting. Projects can vary by interest and expertise, though exposure to many different types of museum work is encouraged and provided. If you're interested in interning with the museum, please contact to set up an appointment. Space is limited.

museum intern Katherine Dixon repairing ethnographic basket for conservation
Katherine Dixon, Museum Intern Basketry conservation and repair
museum volunteer Chris Swanson with anoxic environment of antelope skull
Chris Swanson, Museum Volunteer Preparation of an anoxic environment