Introduces the field of archaeology and provides an overview of world prehistory. Initially explores what archaeologists do, including discussions of excavation, survey, dating techniques, artifact analysis, and cultural interpretation. Then covers what archaeologists have discovered about our ancient human ancestors beginning with our earliest human ancestors and continuing through the development of early state level societies such as those of Ancient Egypt.
Goals, Topics, and Objectives
To introduce students to the field of archaeology and world prehistory. Students will appreciate the importance of and the need to protect our archaeological resources and gain a better understanding of our distant past. In addition, practical experiences will help students improve their critical reading, writing, and cognitive skills.
- What is Archaeology and what do Archaeologists do?
- Archaeological ethics
- Archaeological techniques
- Archaeological analysis
- Archaeological interpretation
- Human evolution
- Human evolution including discussions of the hypotheses and controversies surrounding the Out of Africa Theory, the relationship between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, the origins of language, and the origins and importance of tool use.
- The spread of anatomically modern Homo sapiens
- The spread of anatomically modern Homo sapiens to Australia and North America and the controversy surrounding the timing and routes of these migrations.
- The rise of agriculture in both the Old and New Worlds
- The development of social complexity and state level societies with examples from many locations around the world
- The relevance of archaeology to the modern world
- Describe what archaeologists do and how the field has developed.
- Explain the importance of ethics in the field of archaeology.
- Explain how archaeologists determine the age of sites and artifacts.
- Demonstrate a general understanding of basic field methods of site survey, excavation, and recording.
- Analyze how archaeologists interpret data to learn about cultural behaviors such as trade, social organization, ethnicity, and cultural history.
- Discuss current scientific knowledge about the earliest hominid ancestors including fossil evidence, tool use, hunting, and radiation out of Africa.
- Describe current scientific debates about Neanderthals including physical and cultural attributes and their controversial relationships to Homo erectus and anatomically modern Homo sapiens.*
- Analyze the controversies surrounding the peopling of Australia and North America.*
- Discuss different theories concerning the rise of agriculture and examine the archaeological evidence for this transition around the world.
- Describe the social and economic context for the construction of monumental architecture in societies without state level organization such as Stonehenge, Pueblo Bonito, and Cahokia.
- Discuss the archaeological evidence of urbanization, mortuary complexes, and social inequality in early states such as those of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
- Explain how the study of archaeology can benefit modern human cultures.
Assessment and Requirements
Methods of assessing academic achievement are left to the discretion of individual instructors. These may include such assessment items as exams, quizzes, classroom analysis activities, archaeolgical site analysis activities, and research papers.
General Course requirements are left to the discretion of individual instructors.
Chazan, Michael. 2013. World Prehistory and Archaeology: Pathways Through Time. Third Edition. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall.