- The study of remains of human activity
- Deals with theories about how humans have changed through time
- Analysis and description of humans material remains, includes artifacts, sites and bones.
*There are only five hunters and gathers left!
* The very first writing was 6,000 years ago and it was a type of bill stating that someone owed
Biological Anthropology aka Physical
- The study of evolution and human ancestors (human paleontology or paleoanthropology)
- Human variation, including disease, population and genetics
- Forensic anthropology
*Theories cannot be proven once they are proven they become laws!!
-Diffusionism (late 19 century & early 20 century) higher civilization stated in one place
(Egypt) and people borrowed from other cultures.
- Historical Particularism (1920s) cultural trait, must be studied in the context in which they
Early Anthropological Theories
Psychological Approach- 1920s, saw culture as personalities (ex: that culture is shy, or sad.)
Functionalism- 1930s, looks at the part that an aspect of culture plays in maintaining a cultural
Structuralism- 1940s, culture is the expression of the underlying structure of the human mind
(ex: binary opposition)
Cultural ecology- 1950s, concerned with the relationship between environment and culture.
Political economy- 1960s, assumes external forces of the state that causes a society to change
and adapt (factor of imperialism)
Feminist approach- 1970s, focuses on women’s roles in culture.
Interpretive approach- 1980s, the “literary turn” in anthropology includes use of fiction, poetry
and experimental writing.
Postmodernism- 1990s, rejects authoritative definitions and assumes all knowledge is subjective.
Pragmatic approach- (current), strive for humanistic understanding- center of which is the
research questions (not rating a culture “good/bad) Archeology: How we know the past
- People, animals and plants that lived in the remote past all have one commonality:
they are dead
- We cannot observe them or their life ways
- Knowledge of pre-history is based on observations of physical remains.
Evidence from the past
-Artifacts: Anything made or modified by humans, a product of human manufacture.
-Eco facts: Natural objects that have been used or affected by humans (ex: charcoal, pollen,
bones of food animals, remains of food plants.)
-Features: A kind of artifact but unique because it cannot be easily removed (non-portable), you
have to document these “features” in your book because you cannot bring them to your lab.
-Site: location of human activity.
A fossil is an impact or the actual remains of a plant or animal (humans and or ancestors), they
are studied by Paleontologists. Archeologists study the remains of human activity which MAY
-Stone tools: -the most common artifacts from the past
-the only type of artifact available for 99% of human history.
Preservation: there are certain environmental conditions which promote preservation of human
material. Ideal factors would include: rapid burial, freezing conditions, dry condition, anaerobic
condition (no oxygen), and submersion in stagnant water (non-moving)
Analysis of the hair of the “Llullaillaco Maiden,” a 13-year-old girl sacrificed in an Incan ritual
500 years ago, shows that she was consuming heavy amount of alcohol (probably to get numb
from the pain) around the time she died, suggesting she might have been sedated. Radiological
scans also reveal coca leaves in her mouth. (coca leaves were used to stop pain)
Tolland Man: A man was preserved in the bogs of Eastern Europe by lack of oxygen (anaerobic
conditions), low temperatures and highly acidic water during Iron Age (1200BC-400AD)
Radiocarbon dating has shown a bog body found in Ireland two years ago was once a nobleman
who was ritually sacrificed around 2000BC Destruction of Artifacts
- exposure to sunlight
- exposure to oxygen
- warm and or moist conditions
- Disturbance or movement of artifacts or remains
- Trampling, animal activity, Root action
- Movement of water or wind.
Taphonomy: The study of the processes of site disturbance and destruction
- Cagny-L’Epinette in France is a Lower Paleolithic Site. An Archeologists named Dibble argues
that it is not the location of an inhabited village, but a low lying area where artifacts were washed
by water flow.
How to find a site:
- Pedestrian Survey: Walking to find a site
- Uses systematic surveying techniques
- Focus on likely places human would in habit (ex: water sources, however not always on point
because the water source could have shifted)
- Remote Sensing: using technology, such as a magnetometer to identify anomalies
- Uses technology borrowed from exploration geology (like a ground penetrating radar)