ICA's mission centers on the performance of innovative archaeological research and the thorough dissemination of the information produced by that research. Its interest in the rural world in antiquity is complemented by a strong belief in the importance of interdisciplinary, international, and collaborative investigations that bring together many different perspectives. ICA is also committed to the protection and presentation of the sites and landscapes that are the objects of its archaeological activity.
The Institute of Classical Archaeology was established as an Organized Research Unit of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin in 1978, in order to support projects begun in South Italy by Professor Joseph Coleman Carter in 1974. Its focus was then and continues to be on the rural populations of the ancient Greek world. In keeping with this interest, ICA expanded its activities in the early 1990s to include an ongoing project at the site of Chersonesos in Crimea, Ukraine.