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Please Note: Course Summary Form must accompany this form
ANTH& 204: Archaeology
(to replace ANTHR 205 to match the current CCN for the Anthroplogy sequence)
On completing this course the student will gain:
1. An understanding of principles and methods of archaeology as a branch of
anthropology, as a science and as an element of historical research.
2. A knowledge of how archeological sites are formed and interpreted in terms of
stratification and contents.
3. A knowledge of how artifacts and other cultural remains are preserved in a context of
time and space and how they are analyzed in terms of material, style and function.
4. An understanding of the aims and methods of archaeological survey and excavation
and a basic knowledge of field techniques through direct experience when sites are
5. A knowledge of the most important methods of relative and absolute dating.
6. A knowledge of basis for interpreting ancient environments and climates.
7. A knowledge of the interpretation of prehistoric culture in terms of a) technology, b)
subsistence, c) settlement, d) social and political organization, e) economic exchange,
and f) ideology.
8. An ability to apply cultural theory to archaeological data, including the explaining of
culture change.
9. An understanding of the importance of protecting the past from destruction in the
present and an understanding of the sensitivities in excavating the remains of indigenous
10. An understanding of how the various cultures around the world sustained themselves within
their specific environments through the use of their technology, social organization and
ideology and to gain insights into how those cultural aspects impacted their environments
leading to cultural change or even cultural collapse.
COURSE CONTENT: The following questions and topics will be covered in detail:
Introduction - The nature and aims of archaeology
The history of archaeology
What is left in the archaeological record? The variety of evidence
How to survey and excavate archaeological sites
How old is it? Dating methods and chronology
How were societies organized? Social archaeology
What was the environment like? How people adapted to their world
What did they eat? Subsistence patterns
How did they make and use artifacts? Technology and trade
What did they think and believe? Cognitive archaeology
What did they look like? Physical anthropology
Why did cultures change? Understanding and explaining the past
Who owns the past? The ethics of archaeology
CULTURE is all the behaviors, artifacts and beliefs that a people chooses in order to
sustain themselves within their physical (geology and climate), biological (flora and fauna)
and social (relations with people) environments. While ethnology is the study of how
people use culture today, archaeology is the study of how they managed in the past.
All cultures had methods of sustaining themselves. The impact of those methods on their
environments is an underlying theme throughout archaeology. Because this is a global
discipline that incorporates the dimensions of time, it is able to better understand the big
picture of the consequences of human culture on the natural world.
This course offers a global perspective that looks at past cultures and civilizations all
over the world and all through time. In that approach, one of the major aspects of study
is how a particular people survived in relation to their environment, and how in many or
most cases, that civilization became out of balance with their surroundings and
consequently fell into ruin. This is the case with the Maya of Mexico, the Indus
Civilization of Pakistan, the Anasazi of the Southwest United States and the culture of
Easter Island in the Pacific. In addition to these and many other specific cases in the
archaeological record, we also study how to recognize and interpret the archaeological
data to see how any group of people, at any point in time, developed their own social,
economic and ideological systems to help them survive. How successful these cultures
were in sustaining themselves is one of the main objectives of this course and comprises
approximately 40% on the content. The history of archaeology, its various theories and
the problems archaeologists face today are also covered.
Class participation/discussion, written responses to readings, quizzes and
exams, optional projects or term paper.
Renfrew, Colin & Bahn, Paul; Archaeology Essentials: Theories, Methods and Practice.
Bahn, Paul; 100 Great Archaeological Discoveries.