Anthropology final study guide
A. Understand what anthropology does and what the focus of research is.
• Studies human diversity in both time and space. Study of human species and
immediate ancestors. Study of human nature, human society and human past.
• It’s holistic and comparative, adaptable, variable, and in constant change.
• Concepts: culture, evolution, environments
• Systematic survey- way to find, explore, and map large areas to find where to
i. Used to find sites to dig & answer certain research questions.
• Excavation- systematic removal of soil and material
i. Site is subdivided by systematic grid
ii. Recover and record artifacts and features
B. Four subfields as well as academic versus applied research
• Four subfields:
o Biological- why people change over time, why they look the way they do
today, physical, biological diversity in time and space.
o Archaeology- looks at culture, culture process, and past human behavior.
o Linguistic- study of language and culture, lang has changed over time,
how lang and culture change together.
o Cultural- biggest field, ask research questions about modern human
society dealing w culture
• 2 dimensions
o Academic: produce questions and publish, grant university research,
funded by others as well as private funding, trying to gain info through
o Applied: practical application of anthropology research to solve social
problems. Practicing anthropologists practice their profession outside of
academia. Aimed at influencing behavior and social conditions.
▪ Theory aids practice and application fuels theory, creating new
fields of study:
• Education, urban and rural areas, medical fields, business
and politics, developmental fields
▪ 4 subfields:
• cultural anthropology
• physical o They are historically mixed.
▪ Pre- WWII most was applied
▪ After WWII academic anthropology grew as people became more
C. Understand what anthropological fieldwork is, the techniques, the role in research
• Anthropological Fieldwork
o Problem oriented- specific research questions
o Longitudinal- long term based on repeated visits
o Team research- by multiple researchers
o Systematic survey and excavation
▪ = archaeological fieldwork: regional perspective by gathering info on
settlement patterns over a large area; remove soil and other
materials; GPS findings.
▪ Archaeological excavation: Systematic removal of soil and other
things. Compliments the regional analysis.
• 1. Site mapped and surface collected
• 2. Site subdivided
• 3. Excavate- recovering and recording artifacts and features.
• Ethnographic fieldwork
▪ Fieldwork in about a particular living culture.
• Fieldwork techniques
▪ Learning a culture through social participation and personal
observation over a long period of time (living there for example).
▪ Conversations that maintain rapport and provide knowledge.
o Genealogical methods
▪ Procedures to understand kinship, descent, and marriage.
o Key consultants
▪ Experts on particular aspects of local life.
o Life histories
▪ Personal cultural portrait of existence or change in culture.
o Emic v etic- comparison of local beliefs and perceptions to the ethnographers
▪ emic: inside(local) perspective
▪ etic: outside perspective
A. Know how we define and understand what culture is in anthropology
• Culture: a set of learned behavior and ideas that humans acquire as a member of
o Consists of the abstract values, beliefs, and perceptions of the world (knowledge,
belief, arts, morals, laws, customs, traditions, etc.)
o Enculturation: process by which culture is learned and transmitted across time
o Cultured is not a word used in anthropology
B. Identify and describe the different traits of culture
1. Learned: passed between generations
2. Shared: located and transmitted in groups
3. Symbolic: something that comes to stand for something else.
4. Culture and nature: converts natural urges and action into cultural customs that shapes
the way people go about their daily lives
5. All encompassing- all shared learned behavior- culture is a model that includes all
aspects of human group behavior (holistic perspective)
6. Integrated: patterned systems of customs that are related. Impacts how they get their
food and economic behavior.
7. Adaptive and maladaptive:
a. Adaptive: culture is an adaptive strategy- humans have learned to adapt in
almost every environment on the planet.
b. Maladaptive: examples consist of war-fighting and killing each other, does not
help advance human race.
8. Individual practice: humans have the ability to avoid, manipulate, subvert and change-
not everyone is the same and will not necessarily do the same thing.
9. Levels: different levels exist- international, national, subcultures.
C. Understand the different aspects of cultural behavior
• Ethnocentrism: opinion that one’s way of life is natural or correct; using ones own.
o Cultural values to judge one another. Everyone is ethnocentric
• Aspects of culture:
1. All people have equal biological and psychological capabilities
2. Everyone has the same cultural capabilities meaning that everyone can learn
3. Universal, general, and particular characteristics
a. Universal: Behaviors shared by all humans (all cultures involve living
in social groups, have families, share food, and have incest taboos)
3 b. General: Behaviors that occur in MOST cultures (Life cycle events are
recognized by most cultures) puberty, marriage, death, parenthood
c. Particular: Unusual and exotic beliefs specific to individual societies
D. Be able to explain the different forms of a culture change
1. Diffusion: the spread of culture traits from one culture to another (original
culture is lost)
2. Acculturation: the exchange of features when groups come into continuous
contact (original culture or cultures are kept)
3. Independent Invention: the creative innovation of solutions to old and new
4. Globalization (different): A series of processes working to promote change
across the world
E. Understand what cultural relativism is and its use in anthropology
o Cultural Relativism: the world around us means different things to different
cultures; different perceptions of reality; cultures should be understood
independently; inhibits cross-cultural understanding
1. understanding other cultures by its own terms
2. comprehend why behavior appears meaningful
• Use cultural relativism to overcome ethnocentrism and explain practices of different
cultures in a non objective way. explains the unexplainable. Method for data
F. Think about the different ways anthropologists theorize about culture
o We think of culture/understand specific cultures as coherent wholes to explain
the world, shaping individual and social behavior
o by balancing their understanding with ethical responsibility. To clarify, ethical
responsibility takes into account Human Rights, the inalienable individual rights
to speak and believe free from persecution, murder, torture, etc, and Cultural
Rights, the right for groups to believe and act according to their customs free
from persecution, restrictions, etc.
o Evolutionism: societies evolve through stages.
o The Boasians: 4 field anthropology/ historical particularism/ independent
invention vs. diffusion.
o Functionalism: focus on function of sociocultural practices in social systems.
3)Language and culture
A. how do we think about defining what human language is?
• All people use language to experience and understand the world
• Human beings’ primary means of communication
• Sounds with gestures put together in meaningful ways.
B. What is language and how is it constructed?
4 o Phonology: the study of sounds-phonemes
o Morphology: study of how sounds are combined to form words- morphones
o Syntax: rules for the formation of phrases and sentences such as the proper
order of words
o Grammar: entire format of language including morphology and syntax
o Descriptive linguistics: recording, describing, and analyzing a language’s features
o Nonverbal (body language-kinesics)
▪ Gesture: facial expressions, bodily postures, and motions that convey
▪ Proxemics: examination of personal space, cultural differences across the
▪ Odor: can often hold various cultural meanings
C. What is the relationship of language and culture?
o Language shapes cultural ideas and thoughts= Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
▪ Cultural change means linguistic change
▪ Language language changes the way people see the world.
• Think about what focal vocabularies are and what they mean for a culture
o Focal vocabularies: set of words that describe a culture’s experiences and
▪ Language influences the way people understand environments and/or
environments influence language choices and meanings
▪ Ex) Inuit has a ton of words for “snow”. Americans have a ton of words
• What does the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis say?
o Language shapes the way people see the world, influencing both culture and
• Think about how a language reflects cultural beliefs and social organization
o Gender and status
▪ Language differences between males/females (gender speech)
• Generalities that are constantly changing
• People break gendered speech for specific reasons
o Social status and language
▪ Language is to mark social status differences
• Honorifics: titles implying high status deserving respect-Mrs. Mr.
• Black English vernacular: is labeled as pseudo-language and has
different linguistic rules.
o Some verbs forms are dropped and others are added
o Keeps some west African sound patterns
o Considered a different dialect
5 • Style switching/code switching: being able to switch between
different vernaculars depending on the audience that is being
• Dialects change the way people are perceived
4)Modern Theory of Evolution
A. what does the theory of evolution assert?
• Assets that species change and give rise to new species
• Think about the development of the theory
o essentialism: the world as we see it, is how it has always been. Every living being
is essential to life then...
o great chain of being: we can look at the world based on similarities and
differences: a hierarchy where humans are the top (fossils disproved these ideas)
o Early evolution ideas that explained the fossil record…
▪ Catastrophism: fossils came from the divine natural disasters; stemmed
from biblical beliefs in Christianity.
▪ Transformism: Darwin, descent with modification: creatures change over
▪ Uniformitarianism: current earth processes are the same as the past
• Know what Darwinian Evolution is, particularly by understanding the principle of natural
o Principle of natural selection: those forms most successful at reproducing in
specific environments are selected (will survive)
▪ Variant individuals occur (variation principle)
▪ Some have superior fitness
▪ Reproduce successful offspring
▪ Specific environments
B. Understand what Mendelian Genetics added to the Theory of Evolution
▪ Genes: traits determined by discrete inherited particles
o Understand the principles of segregation, dominance and recessive, as well as
independent assortment and recombination
▪ Segregation: individual gets one gene from each parent, making a gene
▪ Dominant and recessive: physical traits expressed are dominant, traits
that are not are recessive.
▪ Independent assortment and recombination: gene pairs separate
independently and recombine in fertilization. *creates some variability.
C. What does Biochemical Genetics add to the Theory of Evolution?
▪ Mitosis: cell division
▪ Meiosis: production of sex cells
6 ▪ Crossing over: during meiosis; chromosomes intertwine and exchange segments of
D. Identify the different ways population genetic frequencies can change in terms of natural
selection, genetic drift, and gene flow
o Natural selection: forms most reproductively successful are selected given a specific
o Genetic drift: gene frequency changes due to chance- increases speciation
o Gene flow: exchange genetic material through interbreeding-decreases speciation
E. how does evolution happen? slowly? quickly?
▪ Phyletic gradualism: species gradually transform into a new species
o Does not always require a progressive change or increased complexity.
▪ What is punctuated equilibrium?
o Occasional punctuation speciation bursts
▪ Is instigated by mass extinctions
▪ Is dependent on the environment
F. what are the different concepts that together make up the modern synthesis of evolution?
1. Darwinian evolution
2. Mendelian genetics
segregation, dominant and recessive, independent assortment and
3. Biochemical genetics
mitosis, meiosis, crossing over
4. Population genetics
natural selection, gene drift, gene flow
5. Punctuated equilibrium
(speciation bursts) opposite of phyletic gradualism
5)Primate Evolution and Primatology
A. know how anthropologists place fossils into evolutionary order based on the dating
techniques that determine age and the homologies we use to define species.
▪ Relative dating
▪ How earth sediments are deposited over time.
▪ Absolute dating
o Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA):
▪ Counts mutations and can tell us when they occurred
o Radiometric dating
7 ▪ Measures loss of unstable isotopes
▪ Works by measuring amount of element present during lifetime versus
amount of element present while decaying.
▪ EX) carbon 14 dating for specimens less than 40K years
Potassium-Argon dating for specimens older than 40K years
▪ Homologies: shared traits based on ancestry; jointly inherited from a common ancestor.
o Ex) mammals share traits such as fur, mammary glands, and birthing processes.
B. Understand the shared traits that define primates as an Order and the specific
environments to which they evolved.
▪ Primate order of evolution:
o Stereoscopic sight
o Tactile senses
o Brain/body size ratio
o Parental investment
▪ Primate order has two suborders
o Anthropoids (monkeys and apes)
▪ Has two infraorders:
• New world monkeys: brachiate, prehensile tail, lack full color
• Old world monkeys and apes
o Catarrhines- old world monkeys and apes
• Arboreal: much smaller and little sexual
• Terrestrial: larger with greater sexual
▪ Two super-families
• Old world monkeys
o 3 hominoid families:
▪ Hylobatids (gibbons,
▪ Pongids (orangutans)
▪ Hominids (gorillas, chimps,
o Full color vision
8 o Apes:
• mostly terrestrial, large (400 lbs.), social
• 3 subspecies
o mountain gorillas
o western gorillas
o eastern gorillas
• 2 species:
o common (social organization=
o bonobos (little conflict and very
▪ Hominins (humans)
• one living species (anatomically modern
• mostly terrestrial
• Lesser ape is the only monogamous ape, i.e.
C. Be knowledgeable of the evolutionary tree for primates, particularly the branches leading to
the human species.
▪ Origins of human species
o Earliest primates: Lemurs and Lorises
o All monkeys and apes: Anthropoids
o New/old world monkeys: both of these groups split off anthropoids
o Gorillas chimps and humans related to hominids
o Missing links: There are common ancestors for all living apes and independent
D. Think about why we study primatology in anthropology.
▪ The study of primatology refers to the order of mammals other than recent humans.
This includes how they have adapted over time from vision, grasping, and larger brains.
There have been studies that show we have evolved from earlier primates. It is essential
to know how primates evolved because it explains the possibilities of how we have
evolved (human evolution)
E. How do the living primates that are most closely related to us inform us about human
▪ By looking at the homologies of species that are most closely related to humans,
we can build up a more complete picture of human evolution.
9 F. What are the behavioral similarities and differences between living humans and the other
living apes? What do they say about early Hominin evolution?
o Learning (not a human genetic trait)
▪ Behavioral, not genetic
o Tool usage
▪ Humans originally used tools
o Predation and hunting
o Sharing and cooperation
▪ Do not see in the primate world
▪ Humans share food and shelter
o Mating and kinship
▪ Monogamy vs. polygamy, etc.
a. Know the four trends of Hominin evolution that define biological change leading to
Anatomically Modern Humans.
▪ Dental changes
▪ Cranial capacity
▪ Material culture
B. Know the Hominin evolutionary tree and the evolutionary order of the different Hominin
Link to timeline:
C. What are the different evolutionary paths within Australopithecus?
▪ Evolved from Ardipithecus
▪ Marked by: increasing bipedalism, changing in teeth, small cranial capacities
▪ 5 species:
o Robust Austropithecines (heavier skeletal build, large skull ridges- sagittal crests)
▪ A. boisei- E. Africa
▪ A. robustus- S. Africa
o Gracile Australopthecines (light skeletal build, smooth skull shapes)
▪ A. anamensis
10 ▪ A. boisei
▪ A. africanis- S. Africa
▪ A. afarensis (homo genus)
D. What made Homo genus different from Australopithecus?
▪ Increased cranial capacity
▪ Smaller teeth and face
▪ More adapted bipedalism
▪ Material culture
E. Make sure you understand the three Out of Africa* models for different groups of Hominins.
• Out of Africa Model 1:
o Homo Erectus was the first Hominin found outside of Africa
▪ complex tools
▪ first use of fire
▪ changing diets
• Out of Africa Model 2:
o Homo Sapiens replacing Erectus
• Out of Africa Model 3:
o Homo sapien sapiens (AMH) spread and reoccupy world
▪ prominent forehead
▪ distinctive chin
▪ stone tools
▪ cave paintings
F. What are all the species within the Homo genus?
o Homo habilis (1 use of stone tools)
o Homo erectus (1 found outside Africa, complex tools, use of fire)
o Homo sapiens
1. Homo sapiens
2. Homo sapiens sapiens
3. Homo sapiens neanderthalensis
o homo floresiensis
7)Human Variation and Race
A. Why is there biological variation within and between human populations today? c. What are
some examples of specific modern human population adaptations?
▪ Human populations looks different because people adapt to specific environmental
stimuli, which creates phenotypic differences
11 o Thomson’s nose rule- large long nose= cold weather
short flat nose= warm
o Teeth- large teeth=grittier food/lots of grinding
o Allen’s rule- cold climate= less body surface (short, round people)
o Berman’s rule- hot climate= more body surface (tall, thin, less mass to obtain)
o High altitudes- Have to produce more red blood cells at higher altitudes. (Andes,
o Skin Color (skin color is related to proximity to equator. Melanin. darker=more
protection against skin cancer and sunburn. lighter=greater ability to form
b. How does Hominin species hybridization help explain some modern human variation?
c. What is race and what does it have to do with human variation?
• Race: the presumed biological category
o The isolated subdivision of a species, based on common ancestry and biological
o -Race is NOT a scientific biological categorical system.
-Does NOT explain human
▪ 1) clinal differences overlap between groups.
▪ 2) greater biological variation within the races than between or human
o race still exists as a cultural construction of categories.
o constructed race different cultures categorize race differently.
▪ Japan-idealized as homogeneous. 10% of citizens are minorities.
▪ Brazil- idealized as heterogeneous. Multiple racial categories. 40+
o US construction of race
▪ 1) determined by biology.
▪ 2) it is an ascribed status and does not change.
▪ 3) Hyodescent rule- children are mostly categorized as minority
parent's racial group.
o Anthropologists explain biological traits in terms of human variation, not
scientific biological categorization
o Cultural constructs of human variation
▪ best explained by cultural categories.
shaping cultural ideas about
race and ethnicity.
12 8)Archaeology and the origins of culture
A. What is archaeology and and what are the different types of cultural material remains?
• Archaelology interprets human behaviors and cultures through material things
o Artifacts: material items that humans manufactures or modified
o Cultural feautures- non portable remnants form the past such as house walls
o Cultural landscapes
o Human made, modified environements
B. What are the origins of human cultural behavior?
1. Art- creative use of interpreting and expressing life
2. Domestication- human interference with reproduction of another species
3. Sedentism- settled lifestyle and living in permanent structures
4. Civilization- complex society with an extensive social hierarchy
i. What are the first two changes that mark first true human cultural behavior?
▪ Tool production
▪ Art in Africa
▪ Cultural innovation
• Shifting adaptive strategies
o Broad spectrum foraging
ii. What is the third major change that defined origins of human culture and a new
▪ Domestication and sedentism
• 1. Sedentism: settled lifestyle and living in permanent structures
• 2. Domestication: human interference with reproduction of
• How were adaptive strategies changing on a global scale?
a. People started becoming sedentary and domesticating plants and
• Where were the different locations these changes were happening?
a. Middle east (old world)- sedentism
b. Mexico/peru (new world)- domestication
• How did this change differ in the Old World Middle East from what happened
in the New World?
a. Old world middle east
i. Sedentism first
ii. Food was always available because soil was so good,
13 didn’t need to move
1. Led to population increase
2. People living in same area led to domestication
b. New world Americas (mexico/peru)
i. Domestication first
ii. People domesticated plants and animals
iii. Spreading seeds while continuously moving
iv. Imagine decades moving in a circular area
v. They were still nomadic as they domesticated
C. What are the advantages and disadvantages of changing adaptive strategies to
Domestication and Sedentism?
o Can support a larger community
o Increased sociability
o Farmers have more predictable food source
o Destructive to the environment
o Insecure food supply
▪ Greater susceptibility to disasters
o Increase in disease
▪ Greater concentration of people
D. What three factors really help explain and understand why the human species changed
overall cultural behaviors and adaptive strategies during the Neolithic era?
1. Environment- reacting to environmental change
2. Population pressure- supporting larger numbers
3. Human sociability- increasing social complexity and organization
9)Rise of Complex societies
a. The fourth major cultural change that defines cultural origins was about social structures.
What are the social and political organization changes that occurred after people became
sedentary and reliant on domesticated plants and animals?
• Hierarchical system
o The people producing the food became more important
b. Where have different civilizations arisen independent of each other?
o Fertile crescent
o Northern china
o Andean region
c. What are the different theories that archaeologists have suggested to explain these rises in
complex societies? Which early civilization locations best fit each of these theories?
14 • Hydraulic systems (water)- middle east, Egypt, china
• Long distance trade- middle east, Asia, Europe, Pakistan
• Circumscription, population, war
• Religion- NW Andes
• Charismatic leaders- Mayans
e. What are the cultural attributes of early states?
• Regional territory
• Farming economies
• Tribute and taxation
• Building programs
• Record keeping systems
f. Why did the early states collapse?
• Prolonged drought
• Environmental change
• Social transitions
• Different people made different choices
g. Be able to describe the rise of civilization in detail for at least one location and region.
• Harrappan civilization (near modern day Pakistan)
o Large river valley (indus river valley)
o Domestication at 9000 ya
o Sedentism at 5500 ya
▪ Farming wheat
o Around 4500 ya settling of Mohenjo-Daro began
▪ Large public structures
▪ Organized neighborhoods
▪ Very large public bathing facility
▪ Public toilets, sewers, and house bathrooms
▪ Indus script
o Trade and writing may have played role in emergence of harrappan state around
o Flourished between 4600 and 3900
▪ Featured urban planning, social stratification, and early writing system
▪ Maintained uniform system of weights
15 10)World systems, globalism, cultural behavior
a. What does it mean to say Global Culture? Make sure you understand the impact of
colonialism on global culture.
• Colonialism- political, social, economic, and cultural domination by an external power
for an extended period of time.
• Modern Geo politics- colonialism created whole countries and ethnicities.
• Globalism: the systematic interaction and sharing between cultures is worldwide
o A transnational culture of consumption
▪ Global culture and cultural diffusion driven by:
o Making and remaking culture
▪ Global influences
• Creatively reading
• Locally interpreting (acquire some kind of traits but not think
about it the same way)
o The continuance of Diversity
▪ Globalism is REAL
b. What is a world system and what does it mean in terms of understanding modern global
interactions and globalization?
• 3 specialization positions:
o core: first world countries (US, Europe)
o Semiperiphery: those sitting on peripheral certain amount of wealth more as
producers not buyers, second world (China)
o Periphery: on the edge, not much wealth or power but do have raw material
and resources essentially core countries buy resources themselves from
them, developing countries (Middle East)
• Emphasis on linkages
o Spread of Industrialization
• World System today
o World system theory stresses existence