The “Seminar for Prehistory” was founded in 1950, after Otto Tschumi left his “Extraordinarius” professorship in General Prehistory, Early History, and Medieval History (which he held from 1924-1949). It was housed in barracks next to the Historical Museum. Hans-Georg Bandi continued the seminar until 1956 as “Extraordinarius” professor, and then as “Ordinarius” professor until his retirement in 1985. He was succeeded by Werner E. Stöckli, who led the seminar, and remained “Ordinarius” professor of Prehistory and Early History until 2011.
In 1957 Hans Jucker was appointed professor of Classical Archaeology and the “Archaeological Seminar” was established at the Münstergasse. From 1961 until his retirement in 1983, he headed the seminar as “Ordinarius” professor. In 1965 the department moved to Kramgasse 54, but it wasn’t until 1976, when it moved to Schwanengasse 7, that it finally gained some much-needed space. In 1974 Jucker opened the “Bernische Gipssammlung" (Bernese Gypsum Collection) at Nydeggstalden to the public. Under the name “Antikensammlung der Universität Bern” (Collection of Classical Antiquities of the University of Bern), the collection was moved to its present home in 1996 – in the former storage rooms of the Kümmerli & Frey card publishing house on Hallerstrasse. Dietrich Willers was appointed “Extraordinarius” professor of Classical Archaeology in 1984, and promoted to “Ordinarius” in 1987. In 1992 the seminar moved to Länggassstrasse 10, where Willers taught until his retirement in 2003. From 2005 to 2008 Michael Heinzelmann was “Extraordinarius” professor of Classical Archaeology.
In 1964 Elisabeth Ettlinger was given a teaching position in Archaeology of the Roman Provinces, and in 1970 she was promoted to “Extraordinaria” professor. Her successor was Rudolf Fellman, who taught from 1977-1990 as “Extraordinarius” professor. With the election of Stefanie Martin-Kilcher as head of the ARP, the “Seminar for Prehistory” was renamed “Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte & Archäologie der Römischen Provinzen" (Department of Pre- and Early History and Archaeology of the Roman Provinces) in 1993. In 1997 Stefanie Martin-Kilcher was promoted to “Ordinaria”, eventually retiring in 2010.
A 1969 dossier contained Jucker’s first request for the representation of Near Eastern Archaeology in Bern. In 1980 a permanent teaching position in the subject was established, and finalized in 1983 with the hiring of Markus Wäfler as “Extraordinarius” professor of the “Seminar for Near Eastern Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Languages”. In 1997 Pascal Attinger was appointed “Titularprofessor”; he then served as “Ordinarius” professor from 2008 until his retirement in 2017. Since 1999, Ancient Near Eastern Philology has been studied as a main subject.
In 2005, the two departments of Classical Archaeology and Near Eastern Archaeology merged to form the “Institut für Archäologie” (Department of Archaeology). And since January 2010, all four sections, the former “Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte & Archäologie der Römischen Provinzen" and the “Institut für Archäologie” combined under the Department of Archaeological Science (IAS). Since June 2018 the department is located at Mittelstrasse 43.