Overview of Physical Anthropology
Chapter 1 Big Questions
*What is anthropology?
-the study of all humankind in all contexts, in all times (today, kya, mya). Thus,
anthro uses a broad comparative (holistic) approach
*What is physical anthropology?
-the study of human biological evolution & human biological variation. Seeks
why we are what we are as biological organisms
*What makes us human and different from other animals?
-Bipedalism 6 mya
-Nonhoning chewing (absence of diastema) 5.5 mya
-Material culture and tools 2.5 mya
-Speech 2.5 mya
-Hunting (cooperative) 1 mya
-Domestication of plants 11 kya (BNMSHD)
*How do physical anthropologists know what they know?
-through the scientific method (the scientific method is a self-correcting
approach to knowledge acquisition)
-6 Steps to Scientific Method: Observations of natural world, identify a
problem, formulate a hypothesis, test the hypothesis using data, provisionally accept
(or reject) the hypothesis, replicate the hypothesis test/formulate an alternative
-This is an empirical process
-Hypothesis: A tentative statement that potentially explains specific
phenomenon observed in the natural world
-Scientific Theory: an explanation about the natural world built through
rigorous hypothesis tests, testable, falsifiable, and modifiable
4 Fields of Anthropology
*Archaeology: study of past societies and their cultures
*Linguistic anthro: study of language, especially how language is structured, evolution of
language and the social and cultural contexts for language
*Physical (Biological) anthro: the study of human evolution and variation, both past and current
2 Underlying Key Concepts in Physical Ant