The Institute supports archaeological fieldwork, archaeological science, material culture studies, and archaeological theory in an interdisciplinary framework. Since its inception, the Institute has played a particularly leading role in cognitive archaeology, broadly defined. It sponsors seminar series, workshops and international conferences. It produces the Cambridge Archaeological Journal and publishes the .
The Institute provides an intellectual base for archaeologists at the University of Cambridge:
- as a postdoctoral research institute within the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology. In this role the Institute independently supports archaeological fieldwork, other archaeological research, research fellows, visiting scholars, conferences and publications.
- as an interdisciplinary centre for archaeology in Collegiate Cambridge, serving staff in a variety of divisions, faculties, museums and colleges.
- as the ‘research school’ of the Division of Archaeology, facilitating the work of Division staff, postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students.