The beginnings of the Department of Archaeology date back to 1923 when the Archaeological Seminar was introduced. The first generations of the study were mainly focused on classical archaeology, numismatics, and Roman and Greek archaeology. After 1947 the seminar was upgraded when the study was reorganised into an independent department of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. From that year the study field of Prehistoric and Old Slavic Archaeology was introduced as a part of the programme.
Along with the Archaeological Seminar the Department of Archaeology Library, University of Ljubljana was established. The Library currently has around 26,000 units of study and reference material in the field of Archaeology.
Throughout the years the Department has shifted its focus from historical positivism and a cultural-historical context to more broad archaeological cultural contexts, from palaeo-environmental studies, landscape and settlement archaeology to archaeological theory and methodology. Currently the department has eight chairs: Archaeology of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic, Archaeology of Neolithic and Eneolithic, Archaeology of the Metal Period, Classical Archaeology, Archaeology of the Early Middle Ages, Archaeology of the Early Periods, and Archaeological Methodology and Theory.
The scholars of the Department regularly organise Neolithic Seminars for world researches active in the field of the Neolithisation of Eurasia. In 2010 the 17th Seminar on Eurasian Neolithics is focused on Perspectives from Culture, Population and Climate. The Department annually publishes the English-language journal Documenta Praehistorica with articles as well as abstracts in Slovenian language available online. The journal Archaeologia Historica Slovenica publishes articles in Slovenian, English, Italian and German. A description of the content of each issue of the journal is available online.
The Department is active in the international cooperation, mainly as a part of the SOCRATES/ERASMUS student exchange network with cooperating departments from universities in Beijing, Berlin, Edinburgh, Leiden, Newcastle upon Tyne, Oxford, Pisa, and Thessaloniki. It is also included in the European COST G2 research network and was active in the sixth framework programme of the European Community for research technological development and demonstration (RTD) activities.
A recent discovery resulted from an archaeological excavation in the Istra region in the North Adriatic, where the remains of the urban settlement and the necropolis dating from the Bronze Age (1800–1200 B.C.) were found. The research was conducted on the initiative of professor Biba Teržan, an archaeologist and an academician at the Department of Archaeology, along with partners from Croatia, the Folk Museum from Rovinj, and the Istra Archaeological Museum from Pula.