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Transcript
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.