c. 1600, "ancient history," from French archéologie (16c.) or directly from Greek arkhaiologia "the study of ancient things;" see archaeo- + -ology. Meaning "scientific study of ancient peoples and past civilizations" is recorded by 1825.
word-forming element meaning "one who does or makes," also used to indicate adherence to a certain doctrine or custom, from French -iste and directly from Latin -ista (source also of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian -ista), from Greek agent-noun ending -istes, which is from -is-, ending of the stem of verbs in -izein, + agential suffix -tes.
Variant -ister (as in chorister, barrister) is from Old French -istre, on false analogy of ministre. Variant -ista is from Spanish, popularized in American English 1970s by names of Latin-American revolutionary movements.