ANTH 148 Topics in Complex SocietiesCourse Description: This course will explore current archaeological topics regarding ancient complex societies. While the world "complex" is somewhat of a misnomer (all human societies are relatively "complex"), the term is generally used by archaeologists to describe nonegalitarian groups with chiefdom or state-level political systems. The course will examine quantitative and qualitative methods and theories used to understand the development and collapse of complex political systems and analyze how archaeological inferences are established. It potentially covers such groups as the Aztec, Inca, Maya, Olmec, Zapotecs, Tibetans, Nepalese, or other Old or New World groups. The structure of the course may consist of an in depth analysis of a specific culture or may take comparative approaches that are fruitful in demonstrating cross-cultural patterns or diverse trajectories. Regardless of specific content, this course will include 1) an historical background on the subject, including its relevance to anthropology, other social sciences and the natural sciences, and 2) an in-depth study of current primary literature on the topic, which considers the broad implications of the material to anthropology as well as other disciplines. Course material will vary and specific topics may focus on modeling complexity, the rise of complexity, societal collapse, the interaction between humans and the environment, diverse political systems and leadership strategies, understanding ancient life ways, the role of ancient religion and cosmology, the implications of ranking and class, development of technology, dynamics of architecture, and understanding ancient warfare. Learning Outcomes: Depending on the particular course topic, anthropological learning outcomes include: 1. Acquisition of fundamental knowledge of topics in anthropology including terminology, concepts, intellectual traditions, familiarity with methods and theoretical approaches. 2. Students being able to identify and analyze how trends in anthropology link to research shared by its sub-fields. 3. Students recognition and appreciation not only what it means to be human and the development of an appreciation for human cultural diversity 4. Students better understanding of the methods and theories that archaeologists apply to anthropological inquiry. This course fundamentally addresses the UC Merced guiding principles of: 1. Scientific literacy- As a discipline, archaeology often borrows quantitative and qualitative methods and theories that are grounded in natural science. Therefore, one expectation is that the evaluation and analysis of scientific studies will play a significant role. Conversely, the course presents an opportunity to examine and evaluate interpretations of data and to question their assumptions and agendas. 2. Communication- Research papers required in the course are expected to contribute to writing and library research skills and the instructor will provide feedback on content and form. 3. Decision making- One of the most important outcomes from this course is the student's exposure to cultural processes viewed over long temporal periods. This sort of perspective is valuable in modern problem solving because it challenges the student to think of issues and solutions to them, as part of long-term solutions and not short term fixes. This is particularly relevant given some of the environmental issues that confront us today and will continue to confront our students in the future. 4. Self and society, and ethics and responsibility- Courses such as this broaden the student's overall perspective on the world and invite them to examine some of their own closely-held beliefs. Assessments: Grading schemes may differ, but will always include a strong writing and library research component that will contribute at least ¼ of the total grade. Other grading opportunities may include exams, quizzes, short position papers, and group projects.