Introduction to Anthropology
• We are better prepared to face the future because, unlike our ancestors, we have
knowledge of how and why old societies failed/succeeded.
Evolution A change in the genetic structure of a population from one generation to the next.
Appearance of new species.
Anthropology The field of inquiry that studies human culture and evolutionary aspects of
human biology; includes cultural anthropology, archeology, linguistics, and physical
Genetics, anatomy, skeletal structure, adaptation to disease, and other environmental
Scientific Method An approach to research whereby a problem is identified, a hypothesis (or
hypothetical explanation) is stated, and that hypothesis is tested through the collection
and analysis of data.
The Biocultural Approach
Biocultural Evolution The mutual, interactive evolution of human biology and culture; the
concept that biology makes culture possible and that developing culture further
influences the direction of biological evolution; a basic concept in understanding the
unique components of human evolution humans are combined effort of biology and
Culture All aspects of human adaptation, including technology, traditions, language, religion
and social roles. Culture is a set of learned behaviour; it is transmitted from one
generation to the next through learning and not by biological or genetic means
• Strategy by which we adapt to natural and social environments in which they live
Species A group of organisms that can interbreed to produce fertile offspring. Members of one
species are reproductively isolated from members of all other species (i.e., they can’t
mate with them to produce fertile offspring).
Society a group of people who share a common culture
Enculturation the process why which individuals, generally as children, learn the values and
beliefs of family, peer groups, and society in which they are raised
Adaptation Functional response of organisms or populations to the environment. Adaptation
results from evolutionary change (specifically, as a result of natural selection)
What is Anthropology?
• Study of humankind
• Integrates the findings of many disciplines, including sociology, economics, history,
psychology, and biology • Cultural Anthropology study th aspects of human behaviour
o Enlightenment an 18 century philosophical movement in Western Europe that
assumed a knowable order to the natural world and the interpretive value of
reason as the primary means of identifying and explaining this order.
o Ethnographies Detailed descriptive studies of human societies. In cultural
anthropology, it’s the traditional study of non-Western societies
Early ethnographies were narratives emphasizing religion, ritual, myth,
symbols and etc.
Urban anthropology Subfield of cultural anthropology dealing with issues
of inner cities
Medical anthropology relationship between various cultural attributes and
health and disease
Applied anthropology practical applications and are pursued by
anthropologists working both within and outside the university setting
• Physical Anthropology study of human biology within the framework of evolution and
with an emphasis on the interaction between biology and culture
o Paleoanthropology The interdisciplinary approach to the study of earlier
hominins, their chronology, physical structure, archeological remains, habitats
o Hominin A member of the tribe Hominini, the evolutionary group that includes
modern humans and now extinct bipedal relatives
o Anthropometry measurement of human body parts. When osteologists
measure skeletal elements, the term osteometry is often used.
o today concerned with human variation because of its adaptive significance and
because they want to identify the evolutionary factors that have produces
o Genetics the study of gene structure and action and of the patterns of
inheritance of traits from parent to offspring. Genetic mechanisms are the
underlying foundation for evolutionary change
Molecular anthropologists use cutting edge technologies to investigate
evolutionary relationships between human populations and well as
between humans and nonhuman primates
Primates members of the mammalian order including prosimians,
monkeys, apes and humans
• Similarities and differences in DNA sequences between
individuals, populations and species.