Chp1 Intro: Study of Human Past Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chp1 Intro: Study of Human Past Deck (47):

Sub-field within anthropology

- Archaeology
- Cultural anthropology (social anthropology)
- Biological anthropology
- Linguistic anthropology



- Goal: main source of knowledge for human past
- Illustrate full diversity of human culture & society
- Show how humans have changed & adapted
- Method: frm material remains


Cultural anthropology (Social anthropology)

- Goal: study diversity of living societies
- Method: ethnographers who live for a time within those societies
- Observe their behavior at 1st hand
- Focus shift: non-Western societies > specific gps within Western societies (immigrant communities, inner-city gps)


Biological anthropology

- Goal: human evolution & physiology
- Sub-gp: 1) paleoanthropology: fossil & skeletal remains
2) human ecology: biological adaptation to envr & disease
(Patterns of nutrition, fertility, genetics > population history)


Linguistic anthropology

- Goal: world languages > development & interrelationships


Material culture

- Hallmarks of humanness
- Other species use found objects to probe for food
- BUT none manufacture tools on a regular basis


Material culture

- Distinctively human:
1) A substantial adv in coping w/ wide range of envr
2) Human = products of material world we have created


Non-material traces

- Oral literature, dance, song, belief, myth, ritual practices
- Remains of material culture
> Evidence abt social, economic, symbolic, religious life
= Human experience


Cognitive archaeology

- Study of religious and symbolic behavior
- Study of development of human mind


Carving & figurines

- Direct representations of mythical beings & religious ceremonies
- e.g. scenes in Egyptian temples & tombs
> deities weighing the souls of the deads



- Ways in which people have disposed of their dead
> Indicate concern w/ identity & the after-life
- e.g. occasional burials of the Middle & upper Paleolithic
> Origins of respect in treatment of dead
- 1. Equipped with objects: assist life in afterworld
- 2. Statuary & art: Sichuan practices & political power


Adv of archaeology

- Depend on survival of evidence + attentions of archaeologists
> 1. Deals w/ rich & poor
2. Literate & illiterate
3. Ordinary & exceptional
4. W/o fear or favor
> 5. Study method of whole of human past (NOT juz early human past)


Industrial archaeology

- Archaeology of the Industrial Revolution & beyond
- Focus: NOT ONLY factories & machines,
ALSO housing & living conditions of ordinary families


Examples of archaeology of modern Western society

1. Arizona garbage project
2. Jodrell Bank radio telescope in the UK



- Study of human past
- Frm written records / recorded oral traditions



- Before writing was 1st invented
(- Wrtting first invented <5500 years ago in Southwest Asia)


Transition frm prehistoric to historic

- Occurs at diverse stages
- Becoz writing adopted at diff times in diff places


World archaeology

1) Global age - interlinked econ sys, diverse cultures
> How varied past human exp has been
2) Global archaeology - literate & non-literate societies, redress imbalance of a document-based history
3) See human development in long-term perspective
> Questions abt origins of agriculture, development of cities



- Lead to spread of sedentary societies
- Foundation of complex societies, urbanization, and states
> Prominent feature of recent past


Human are all descendants of...

- Modern human hunter-gatherers
- Who survived the Ice Ages &
had colonized most of habitable world by ard 10,000 years ago


World prehistory documents...

- Dominant political players (e.g. literate states & empires)
- Ordinary ppl (ways of farming and herding, eating habits etc.)
- Farmers + Warrior elites; Slaves + Owners
- Rectify serious imbalance: emphasize male histories & roles
(Disregarded those of females)


World prehistory

- = Subject of European & North American origin
> Product of Western traditions of scholarship & enquiry
> Spread to other regions thru work of Western archaeologists, sometimes within colonial context
> Contact & conflict w/ traditional understandings of native ppl


Gender archaeology

- Study of lives of women in prehistoric & early historic societies


*Indigenous archaeology

- Esp in post colonial setting
1) Archaeologists NOT claim to own the past they explore
2) Excavation ONLY w/ consent of locals
3) Uncovered artifacts NOT belong to archaeologists
4) Hand artifacts to competent local authority > curation / display
5) Respect beliefs & understanding of ppl
6) Encourage locals to collaborate
7) Larger scale of empowerment:
human culture arose 1st in wester Europe >
descendants of hominids living & making stone tools in tropical Africa 2.5 million years ago


*Development of archaeology

1) Renaissance in Europe (500 years ago): biblical + classical
2) 16th century: spread of literacy + challenge traditional authority structures + European economic expansion
3) 17th century: initial archaeology focus on northern & Western Europe lands; 1st serious investigations; 1st proper archaeological excavation
4) 18th century: systematic excavation; stratigraphy
5) 19th Century: solve chronology prb; start study of prehistoric archaeology; dvp universal stages of human progress > apply to archaeological materials


Renaissance archaeology (500 years ago in Europe)

- Scholarship constrained by authority:
1) Biblical
2) Classical (authors): e.g. 4th-century BC Greek philosopher Aristotle
> Enquiry Focus: debate & speculation


16th century archaeology

A) Constraints weakened by spread of learning
1) Invention of movable metal type
2) Printing press by Johannesburg Gutenberg @mid-15th century
> Cheaper + readily available books
> Spread of literacy (outside religious specialists)
> Create modern Western science
B) Christian church: challenge of traditional authority church
1) Fragmentation of previous orthodoxy by new spirit of enquiry
2) Rise of Protestantism
> Enquiry focus: direct observation & experimentation
C) European economic expansion
> Oversea voyages > bring knowledge of distant & diverse societies
> Draw comparisons btw ppl met in encountered lands (e.g. indigenous societies of native America) & prehistoric occupants of Europe


Field archaeology

- Observation, recording, excavation of archaeological sites
(Protestant nations of Northern Europe lead the way)


17th century archaeology

- Initial focus: northern & western Europe
- 1st serious investigations of British prehistoric monuments (17th century):
John Aubrey (description), Stonehenge (plans), Avebury @southern England
- 1st proper archaeological excavation (end of 17th century):
northern France & Scandinavia
> Digging still have the aim of treasure hunting
> NO attention to the contexts frm which objects came


18th century archaeology

- Late 18th century: systematic excavation + stratigraphy
- Unable to overcome chronology prb of prehistory
> Recognize remains = pre-Roman, BUT NOT knowing their true age



- Successive deposition of superimposed layers,
Either of natural / cultural material
> Basis for chronological sequences:
> Lower deposits lay down earlier than overlying layers
- e.g. Excavation of Native American burial mounds - Thomas Jefferson @1784


19th century archaeology

- Resolve prb of chronology + start study of prehistoric archaeology
1) Early: materials sorted into sequences by means of technology
> e.g. Within Europe: Stone > Bronze > Iron (NOT applicable to other continents)
- Increase subdivision of European 3 ages base on tech + style
> e.g. Stone Age: Paleolithic (Old Stone Age, chipped stone), Neolithic (New Stone Age, polished stone); Bronze Age & Iron Age: Early, Middle, Late
> Provide relative chronology
> BUT not any object / layer’s exact age; Unknown length of diff phases
2) Middle: 3 interlinked developments
A) Human chipped stone tools + remains of mammoth @1830s, gravel terraces of European rivers
> Great age of human tools + diff climate that human experienced
B) Pre-modern skeleton @1856, limestone cave in Neander Valley in western Germany
> 1st fossil hominin - a Neanderthal
> Development of modern humans frm archaic human forms
C) Charles Darwin “On the Origin of Species”@1859, “Descent of Man”@1871
> Natural selection > shape dvp of individual species over time
> Single species divide into sub-gps > specialize in particular envr
> Diversity of life (support by genetics)
<> Creationist views (incompatible with archaeological evidence)
> Rise evolutionary ecology


Evolutionary ecology

- Explore how species are adapted to their environments
- Biological BUT ALSO behavioral
- Study of culture = adaptive mechanism (cultural ecology)
> Insightful, BUT too limited to provide comprehensive explanation


Lewis Henry Morgan (1919-1881) @North America
Sir Edward Tylor (1832-1917) @Britain

- 3 stages:
1) Savagery - hunters & gatherers
2) Barbarism - herders & cultivators
3) equated with invention of writing
- Concepts: new stage = improvement; pattern of progress = social Darwinism (more advanced social forms supplant less efficient one)


Elian Service (1962) - 4 Major categories of human societies

1) Bands: 25-60 ppl, mobile hunter-gathered, relate to each other thru family & marriage
2) Tribes: few hundred - few thousand ppl, settled farmers / pastoralist herders, identity = descent frm a common ancestor, loosely organized w/o central control or developed social hierarchy
3) Chiefdoms: >10,000 ppl, hierarchy w/ diff of rank & status, rule by chief, redistribution economic feature
4) State societies / civilizations: greater lvl of size & complexity, centralized & institutionalized control, protect diff of rank & wealth


Adv & Disadv of 4-fold division of human societies

- Adv:
1) Useful for making comparison btw archaeological materials
2) Suggest increased population densities: general shift frm bands to tribes to states
- Disadv:
3) Universal <> reality: each society is diff & unique
4) Progress: each stage succeed previous one <> reality: bands today = richness of human social diversity


20th century archaeology

- Early: investigations @ every corner of the world
- Middle: study and compare pottery, farming, cities and states in many regions; prb of chronology
> Need a method of absolute dating


Dating methods (start frm late 1940s)

1) Radiocarbon dating (carbon-14; C14 dating)
> Apply to organic archaeological materials such as charcoal, bone, shell
2) Potassium-argon dating
> Cover periods that cannot use C14 dating
3) Uranium-series dating
4) Electron-spin resonance dating


C14 dating

- Found materials older than at first sight appeared
- Cons:
1) Date NOT precise but carry an error margin
2) Diff of ensuring that they relate securely to an archaeological layer
3) Effect on materials up to 40,000 years only
> NOT applicable to study human origins


Potassium-argon dating

- Date volcanic rocks
> Fix age of many early hominin fossils frm East Africa


Others new techniques and approaches arisen frm 20th century

1) Plan and record layers and buildings (modern laser tech)
2) Screen excavated earth to ensure no finds are missed
3) Collect and label samples for dating or analysis
4) Aerial photography / airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)
> Locate sites
5) Geomagnetic prospection or resistivity to identify specific below-ground features
6) Recover and analyze fossil DNA
7) Collect material lying on the ground surface
8) Off-site / survey archaeology
9) GPS (Global Positioning Systems)
10) GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
> BUT core of archaeology = humanity / social science + development + diversity


Evolutionary anthropology

- Evolution of human species
> Human physical and cultural development
- Challenge: how fossil species were related to each other
> Cladistic analysis


Cladistic analysis

- Track inheritance of morphological features
> Sort species (extinct + alive) into an evolutionary tree
> particular skeletal characteristics pass down thru fossil record, transforming, emerging, or disappearing
> Understanding pattern of early human evolution


Molecular genetics

- Combines:
1) DNA of living populations +
2) DNA from ancient human remains
- Pro: Evidence for ancestry and physical characteristics of early humans
- Con: NOT inform human behavior
1) Modern human more genetically diverse in Africa > elsewhere
> Modern human outside Africa descend frm subset of original African
2) (Potential) Document genetic interrelationships
> BUT rare cases has sufficient aDNA preserved > restriction
- Modern humans interbred w/ Neanderthals and Denisovans
- Interbreeding given modern humans enhanced immune response
- Development and spread of domestic livestock since end of last Ice Age


Borrow 3 basic principles from geology

1) Principle of Superposition:
- Unmixed and undisturbed sequence of sediments
> Oldest layers @bottom
2) Principle of Association
- Materials found close tgt tend to date to roughly same period
> Hominin fossils + fossil of extinct animals @same layer
> Approximate age
3) Principle of Strata Identified by Fossils / Artifacts
- From 2)
> Geological deposits frm diff areas to be compared and related


Highlight the importance of change

- Individual event = context of what came before and what succeeded it


Cultural ecology