Anthropology 2100 Lecture Notes - Aurignacian, Franz Boas, John Frere

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Sept, 10, 2012
Introduction to Archaeology and Pre-History
-Anthropology is the study of all humanity ancient and modern
-Anthropology’s sub-fields are cultural, physical (biological), linguistic, and archaeology
-Archaeology is the study of the human past through the traces of the past that exist in the present
-Text-aided archaeology or historic archaeology is the study of ancient societies with the aid of written records and
pre-historic or pre-contact archaeology focuses on societies that lack written records
-Paleoanthropology is the anthropological study of the evolution of our species
-Culture is the invented, taught, and learned patterns of behaviour of humans that is passed on from generation to
generation primarily through the use of language and it is our primary way of adapting to our environment
-Is sometimes seen as a system of interacting subsystems (technology, economy, etc)
-Material Culture is the physical objects that humans manufacture
-Cultural Ecology is the study of culture as a means of adapting to the environment and early 20th century
“unilinear evolution” held that all cultures developed from simple to complex but this is too simplistic because
each society follows a unique evolutionary course multi-linear evolution”
Primary Cultural Processes:
-Early 20th century ideas about the mechanisms of culture and change focused on:
1. Invention development of a new idea or technology, innovation
2. Diffusion transfer of an idea or technology from one group to another through interaction
3. Migration movement of an idea or technology from one area to another through population movement
Other Aspects of Culture:
-Recent approaches to the study of culture emphasize knowledge, beliefs, values, and customs and culture is much
more than environmental adaptation
Bruce Trigger:
-Said external constraints are the natural environment and internal constraints are the beliefs, values and customs
of a cultural tradition
A Brief History of Archaeology:
-Archaeology is always a product of its social and political environment
Antiquity to AD 500:
-Origin myths and oral histories do not provide scientific explanations of the past
-Some societies incorporated ancient artifacts or ruins into their religious practices but this was not archaeology
(ex: Aztec uses of Olmec figurines)
-Egyptians had an interest in the past but no archaeological tradition and they believed the gods created
civilization in a perfect form and it was in decline
-Neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus (ca 538 BC) was possibly the first archaeologist because he rebuilt ancient
temples and looked for inscriptions of earlier kings as well as using physical remains to investigate the past
-The Greeks and Romans relied on written records and oral history and they had a heroic past of powerful kings
and warriors and they collected artifacts and valued works of art but they did not establish a tradition of
archaeological research
The Middle Ages (AD 500-1300):
-The only certain knowledge of the past was that recorded in the bible and Greek and Roman histories and in their
view the world had been created around 4000-5000 BC and was in a state of decay
-They had no appreciation that the past was much different than the present
The Renaissance (1300’s-1600):
-Was the development of classical Archaeology in Italy and scholars recognized that the past was different than the
present but they continued the belief that civilization had declined and artifact collecting became popular among
the elite and interest in Classical antiquities resulted in much uncontrolled digging (no interest in prehistory)
-Dr. John Lightfoot in 1642 calculated the date of creation to the year 3928 BC based on the Old Testament
-Archbishop James Ussher refined the date of creation to 4004 BC in 1650 and this was widely accepted
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