Sept 5, 2013
Introduction toAnthropology: Sex, Food & Death
The systematic study of human kind
Anthrops = humans; Logia = study of
Two major goals:
To understand the uniqueness and diversity of human behaviour & human
societies around the world
To discover the fundamental similarities that link human beings throughout the
world in both the past and present.
Combines the four subfields to bridge the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the
How did we come to be the way we are?
What forces in the past have shaped us?
What do all humans have in common?
How do we differ?
What are the reasons for this difference?
What circumstances, environments, and beliefs (=context) shape human
How can we understand the entire picture of the human condition, both biological
The study of contemporary societies and cultures
Culture: learned, transmitted behaviour
Cultural Autonomy – Dr. Petra Rethmann
The Four Subfields ofAnthropology Initially emerged in Western society in an attempt to understand non-Western peoples
Today, anthropologists examine all societies, rather than solely non-Western
Concerned with humans as a biological species
Subfield most closely related to the natural sciences
Conduct research in two major areas:
Modern human variation
The fragmentary remains of bones and living materials preserved from earlier periods
The study of human evolution through analysis of fossils
Paleo = old or prehistoric
Date, classify, and compare fossil bones
The study of primates
Observations of living primates may provide insight into the behaviours of early human
Osteology The study of the human skeleton
Identification of murder victims
Design of ergonomic airplane cockpits
Important for understanding changes in fossil material & adaptations in living
Philip Walker (2001)
Attempted to answer general questions about the prevalence of violence in past
Found that human cannibalism and violence has been prevalent since the beginning of
Human skeletal remains show traumatic injuries such as:
Embedded flint arrow points in the vertebrae
Cut marks on cranial skulls
Data indicates that frequency of prehistoric violence is associated with climate
changes that resulted in crop failures/other scarcities
An increasingly important area of research
The study of biological ―blueprints‖ that dictate the inheritance of physical characteristics
Important complement to paleoanthropological research
The Genographic Project
Traces both mitochondrial DNAand the Y chromosome
Helped provide independent evidence for theAfrican origins of modern human species
and human ancestors.
The branch of anthropology that examines the material traces of past societies
Informs us about the shared values, beliefs and norms of those societies Some archaeologists do research in modern societies
Methodical, time-consuming, and tedious research
Excavation can take months or years
Cultural Resource Management
The material products of former societies
Provide clues to the past
Ancient trash piles
Shows how past societies ate their meals, what tools they used in their households &
work, and what beliefs gave meaning to their lives
Study the artifacts of prehistoric groups
Ancient inhabitants of Europe
First humans to arrive in theAmericas
No written documents or oral traditions to aid research
Archaeological record provides the primary source of information
Work with historians in investigating the artifacts of societies of a more recent past
ClassicalArchaeologists Conduct research on ancient civilizations such as in Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
The study of material artifacts of the past along with the observation of modern peoples
who have knowledge of the use and symbolic meaning of the artifacts.
Ancient maize beer
Geographical Information S