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1_1 History of Research into Human Origins_Lecture script

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ARCH 131
Dennis Sandgathe

UNIT 1INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN ORIGINS History of Resarch into Human OriginsPart I Slide 1 Welcome to Archaeology 131 an introduction to research into the origins of us humans We will be investigating the course of human evolution from our very early primate ancestors up until the emergence of us modern humans It will include 14 PowerPoint and lecture units that can generally be divided up into 4 major topic sectionsThe first major section is an introduction to the history of this area of research and an examination of the fundamentals of evolutionary theory and geneticsThe second is an introduction to primates and the basic primate condition in terms of both their evolution and primate adaptations as observed among modern living species of monkeys and apesThe third major topic section will be an examination of the fossil record of human evolution from prehominin primates through to the emergence of modern humansyou are going to be introduced to all our major fossil ancestors and will come to recognize and understand the major differences that distinguish them This will be paralleled by an abridged survey of the development of material culture and technologyAnd the fourth major topic section will be an examination of modern human variation and adaptation I hope that you find this course as interesting to learn as I find it to teach It covers some of the really big questions about what it means to be human Slide 2 Title slide Slide 3 This course is essentially an introduction to the science of Physical or Biological Anthropology These terms Physical Anthropology and Biological Anthropology are synonymous and using one or the other is just matter of preferenceWhile the nature of the research is quite specialized Biological Anthropology and research on the origins of humans is part of the larger discipline of anthropology In its broadest sense anthropology is the study of people their biological evolution and their modern and ancient cultures including their material culturethe things they made and used their social structure their economic systems and their ideologyAnthropology is traditionally divided up into several subdisciplinesCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGYthe study of living people and their culturesARCHAEOLOGYthe study of past cultures mainly through an examination of the material culture they left behindPHYSICAL or BIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGYthe study of human biological evolution and the study of human remains recovered from archaeological sitesand some researchers include LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY the study of languageshow they work how they evolve and the role they play in culture The only real difference between these subdisciplines is the type of data with which questions about human behaviour are addressed Of course each discipline approaches trying to understand human behaviour by asking different types of questions as well For example an archaeologist might want to know what the function was of the 25 million year old stone tools found in East Africa A physical anthropologist might ask what were the differences in the morphology of the wrists and hands of the hominins who made these early stone tools compared to the hominins from 3 million years ago who apparently didnt make stone tools Both scientists are trying to
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