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Applied Anthropology and Studying the Past

by: Carina Sauter

Applied Anthropology and Studying the Past ANTH 1102

Marketplace > University of Georgia > anthropology, evolution, sphr > ANTH 1102 > Applied Anthropology and Studying the Past
Carina Sauter
GPA 3.79

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About this Document

These notes focus on the fifth sub-discipline of anthropology, applied anthropology. It also discusses the methods anthropologists use to study the past.
Introduction to Anthropology
Dr. Birch
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Friday January 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 1102 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Birch in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Georgia.


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Date Created: 01/22/16
Applied Anthropology • Def: the use of anthropological data, perspective, theory, and methods to identify, assess, and solve contemporary problems o Governments, development agencies, tribal and ethnic groups, education, business • Methods o Applying anthropology is a unique holistic perspective o Different elements are interdependent o Advantage to evaluating people and businesses o Same methods as many education/research projects o Ethnography, interviews, and focus groups o Textual analysis, archival research, and other empirical methods o Applied archaeologists will also use survey and excavation o Make decisions about the significance and preservation of important sites and buildings • Development Anthropology o Branch that focuses on social issues in, and the cultural dimension of, economic development o Concerned with increased equity § Reducing poverty and distributing wealth evenly o Work with local populations to assess wishes and needs for change o Facilitate culturally compatible projects o Respond to local needs more than economic development policies with big businesses o Help to plan and guide and carry out development policy • Anthropology and Business o Work for corporations o Help improve moral and workflow o How businesses function better together o Study and improve organizational culture o Study part of the organization (workers, managers, etc.) and how they function together as a system o May also study how products are used in homes • Medical Anthropology o Examine issues – what diseases affect populations and why o How illness is socially constructed, diagnosed, managed, and treated o Disease – a scientifically identified threat such as a bacterium, virus, parasite, or other pathogen (medical professionals) o Illness – a condition of poor health as felt by an individual, and which is culturally constructed o Good health and bad health depends on distinguishing between disease and illness § Where we see a heart attack, others may think it is witchcraft § Understanding this helps you understand the community • *cultural relativism* o The incidence and severity of disease and illness vary between cultural and socio- economic groups o EX. Dr. Susan Tanner of UGA studies how educational and economic variation influences the distribution of infectious disease, nutritional stress, and childhood growth • Forensic Anthropology o Incredibly popular due to media within the last 10 years o Identification of deceased individuals o Age, sex, stature, ancestry, trauma, disease o Cause of death o Work with state and international legal teams § Homicides § War crimes, political violence • Applied Archaeology o The Garbage Project § Gathered data on household consumption (surveyed what people said they bough) and compared it to their waste • Found people either over or under exaggerated • Excavations at land fills – what was decomposing? § Advised cities and waste management firms § Led to modern recycling movement • Paper was the first product to be recycled in large scale • Cultural Resource Management o Archaeologists, architectural historians and historical architects o Managing places of archaeological, architectural and historical interest o Compliance with environmental and historic preservation laws o Management of culturally important resources and disturbed by land development § Malls, streets, etc. o Ex. 63,000 and archeologic sites in GA § Maps kept at UGA o Must go through archeological site when building roads and buildings Studying the Past • 5-7 MYA: first ancestor • 2.5 MYA: first stone tools • 200,000 BP: first skull found similar to ours • 30,000 BP: paintings/ art • 15,000 BP: crossed bridge from Siberia • 10,000 BP: domesticated animals • 5,000 BP: pyramids • 500 BP: Columbus • Origins and Evolution of o Technology o Small scale societies o Subsistence practices o Complex societies • Human Cultural Diversity in the Past o 95% of human history took place before written word o Origins and evolution of § Technology § Small scale societies § Subsistence practices § Complex societies o Bruce Trigger § “All human groups appear to have some curiosity about the past. For much of human history, however, this interest has been satisfied by myths and legends concerning the creation of the world and of humanity, and by traditions chronicling the adventures of individual ethnic groups” § Instead of myths, we dig and use scientific methods to understand and explain what happened in the past • Paleoanthropology o The study of fossil remains of humans, our ancestors (= species who we evolve from), and other ancient primates in order to understand and explain processes of human evolution o Paleoanthropology =/= paleontology o Fossils used to be bones § Replacement of hard tissues with minerals à made into stone § Organic material no longer exists § 10,000 years (on average) for a bone to fossilize/preserve à low acidity makes it faster § fossil: the remains of a once-living organism that has been preserved in the earth’s crust § fossilization: typically involved the hard parts of an organism • bones, teeth, shells, woody tissues of plants • Anthropological Archaeology o The study of material remains and cultural features in order to describe and explain past human behavior o Trying to reconstruct the culture of the past human societies o Reconstruct a cultural whole o The primary goal of anthropological archaeology is to explain past human behavior o Recovery and analysis of materials left behind by humans o The goal is to establish a broad picture of human and cultures and societies o Methods § Both archaeology and paleoanthropology use two primary methods • Systematic survey o Finding Archaeological Sites VS Fossil Localities § Archaeological sites can be found almost anywhere § Fossil localities are only present where geological contexts are suitable for fossilization § There has to have been some geological activity after the ground is set in fossil localities o How do we identify an archaeological site? § Visible – pyramids, Stonehenge, ruins of buildings § Pedestrian survey – then map site § By accident – ex digging to build structures • Excavation o Involves careful recording and removal of fossils or artifacts and other archaeological materials from the surrounding matrix o Meticulous fashion – can be very destructive § Can’t put something back the exact original place o CONTEXT is everything § Knowing context allows you to create associations between materials § Associations between objects are very important • Take out one piece from my room? Hard to understand • Freeze my entire room and observe? Learn a lot • Need entire picture • Although something may cost $50 on the black market, it is priceless to an archeologist Space Time • Locating objects in time o Relative dating: dating things in sequence § Stratigraphy – law of superposition (geology) • Oldest layers on bottom, youngest on top • People can mess this up by pulling things from earlier times and dropping them at a new level • Seriation – placing objects in a chronological sequence based on changes in form or style • Products of a given period and place have a distinctive style or design • Changes in style are gradual • Ex. Cellphones and cars o Absolute dating: precise calendar dates § Radiometric dates (carbon-14) • Measure isotope 14 of carbon • Decays at known rate – half life = 5730 years • Count in objects and things that used to be alive o Plant, bone, shell, wood, etc. • Common time scale allows us to know that the pyramids and Stonehenge were built at the same time – all around the world § Dendrochronology • Tree ring dating • Each year a new ring • Growth is constant • Fit archaeological sample into sequence • Construct a “master sequence / chronology” • “dendro” = tree • wet season = thick ring • dry season = thin ring


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