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Prehistoric Anthropology Textbook Notes: People of Earth

by: Melodi Harfouche

Prehistoric Anthropology Textbook Notes: People of Earth ANTH 120 001

Marketplace > anthropology, evolution, sphr > ANTH 120 001 > Prehistoric Anthropology Textbook Notes People of Earth
Melodi Harfouche


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About this Document

These notes are from Chapter 1 in People of Earth. They cover the basics of each topic introduced in the first chapter.
Prehistoric Archaeology
Kandace Renee Hollenbach (P)
Class Notes
People of Earth, textbook, Prehistoric Archaeology, ANTH 120
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Melodi Harfouche on Sunday January 31, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 120 001 at a university taught by Kandace Renee Hollenbach (P) in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 17 views.

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Date Created: 01/31/16
Chapter 1:  Archaeology and Prehistory  Anthropology: biological and cultural study of all humanity, ancient and modern.   Archaeologists study the human cultures and societies of the past, whereas  anthropologists are concerned with living societies.   Archaeology dubbed “science of rubbish”­archaeologists spend most of their time  delving into garbage of the past  Archaeology: study of past human behavior based on surviving material finds.   Archaeological record: archives of the past  History: different from archaeology; historians work with documents and more prosaic  archives (records of royal palaces and gov’ts).   Archaeology is anonymous all of the time  Two major types of archaeology:  o Text­aided archaeology: archaeology practiced with the aid of historical  documents o Prehistoric Archaeology: archaeology of ancient societies that were non­literate The Beginnings of World Prehistory  Uniformitarianism: gradual change over long periods of time through natural processes  such as flooding and erosion  World prehistory developed as a result of two major changes in archaeology:  o Radiocarbon dating: a dating method that enabled archaeologists to date sites in  all corners of the world and compare chronology  o An explosion in the number of professional archaeologists during the 1950s and  1960s  1961­Cambridge archaeologist Grahame Clark published classic World Prehistory: the  first global synthesis of archaeology, which took full account of radio carbon chronology  and archaeological research Who Needs the Past? Cyclical and Linear Time  Many non­Western societies think of time as a cyclical phenomenon, or sometimes a  combo of the linear and the cyclical.   The cyclical perspective stems from the passage of seasons and close relationships  between foragers and village farmers. It’s also based on varieties of human life: fertility,  birth, life, growth, death.   Societies only generally develop linear chronologies when they need them. Ex. Western  societies use linear time to regulate times of prayer, to control the working day, and to  schedule airline flights.   Robert Layton points notices that many non­Western societies don’t perceive themselves  as living in a changeless world.  Written Records, Oral Traditions, and Archaeology  Because most societies were non­literate, they transmitted knowledge and history by  word of mouth.   Oral histories were generally mixtures of factual data and parables that communicate  moral and political values.  Both written records and oral histories are subject to all kinds of bias Studying Culture and Culture Change   Culture: a concept developed by anthropologists to describe the adaptive system used by  human beings.   Human beings use language to transmit their ideas and their culture from one generation  to the next   Cultural system: a complex system comprising a set of interacting variables (tools, burial  customs, ways of getting food, etc.)  When one element of the system changes, another element will adjust accordingly  Cultural process: the processes by which human societies changed in the past Primary Cultural Processes  Process: refers to mechanisms by which cultures change   There are three primary cultural processes that are important:  o Invention: creating a new idea and transforming it; in archaeological contexts:  into an artifact or other tangible innovation that has survived. If important enough, invention spreads rapidly. Ex. Microchip o Diffusion: by which new ideas or cultural traits spread from one person to another or from one group to another over long distances. Ex. Tobacco smoking: was  favorite by the North American Indians and later spread to tens of thousands of  Europeans.  o Migration: involves the movement of people and is based on a deliberate decision  to enter new areas and leave old ones.  Theoretical Approaches: Culture as Adaptation Climatic Change  Beginning to understand impact of short and long term climatic shifts as agents for  culture change  Identifying ancient short­term climatic change requires extremely precise and  sophisticated environmental and climatic evidence  Easy to attribute food production and the collapse of a civilization to climate change  alone bc there are other factors that also came into play. Culture as Adaptation  Culture as adaptation approach: places considerable emphasis on cultural systems and  ecology  Basically, culture is the result of the ability of humans to assign meaning to events and  objects that can be understood and appreciated by others.   Culture is not only participated in, but shared amongst individuals   To understand individual sites and artifact patterning, archaeologists have to study  regions Cultural Evolution and Cultural Ecology  Unilinear cultural evolution: early Victorian social scientists believed human societies  evolved in a simple, linear fashion  Barbarism (hunting and foraging)  Savagery (subsistence farming)  Civilization  Multilinear cultural evolution: assumes that each human society pursues its own  evolutionary course determined by the success of technology and its natural environment   Cultural Ecology: the total way in which human populations adapt to and transform their  environments (core of multilinear evolutionary theory)  Multilinear cultural evolution combines the notion of cultural systems and cultural  ecology into a closely knit, highly flexible way of studying and explaining cultural  processes.  Multilinear Evolution: Prestate and State Organized Societies Prestate societies: societies on a small scale, based on the community, band, or village.  Divided into three loosely defined categories:  o Bands: associations of families of no more than 25 to 100 people. Bands were the  dominant form of social organization from the earliest times.  o Tribes: clusters of bands that are linked by clans­group of people linked by  common ancestral ties that serve as connections. Clans can act as a sort of linkage between common identities of people outside of their immediate family &  relatives.  o Chiefdoms: more hierarchical rather than kin based; power concentrated in the  hands of kin leaders. Leaders are usually people with unusual skills. Chiefdoms  have higher population densities (5k to 20k people). Surpluses of food and crafts  go to the chief, who then distributes them amongst his people.  State­organized societies operated on a larger scale w/political and social organization,  class stratification, and intensive agriculture.  They are based on notions of social inequality  Ruled by tiny group of elites who hold monopolies over strategic resources and use  coercion to enforce authority They were first ruled by priest­bureaucrats, then under secular kings  Theoretical Approaches: Evolutionary Ecology and Hunter­Gatherers  Evolutionary ecology: variation in the behavior of individual organisms is shaped by  natural selection  Does not require national choice on the part of its subjects, nor does it deny the existence  of intentional behavior  The process of selection will tend to favor the best strategy among various alternatives  Optimal foraging strategy: the most efficient foraging strategies adopted by human  groups are those that produce the greatest return in energy relative to time and effort  expended (to get the best foraging done you need to put in a lot of time, energy, and  effort)  Theoretical Approaches: People as Agents of Change   “Chiefly Cycling”: where different chiefdoms rose to prominence in the hands of able  leaders, then vanished into obscurity after their deaths.   The first known Egyptian ruler, Narmer, unified a patchwork of competing chiefdoms  along the Nile River into a single civilization that endured for nearly 3,000 years.   People are agents of culture change, even if most of them remain anonymous External and Internal Constraints  Post­Processual Archaeology: put more emphasis on the individual and group behavior,  the biases that archaeologists use in their data, and on the intangibles of human behavior.   It is complex, contradictory, and highly abstract.  Interactions  Dealings between individuals (men interacting w/women, children w/adults, etc.) is what  encourages culture change.  Gender: Men and Women   Archaeologists have studies people and households for a long period of time, but only  recently have they turned their attention to gender and gender relations.   Gender: socially and culturally constructed behavior associated with one’s sex  Gender is a vital part of human social relations and a central issue in the study of ancient  human societies   The archaeology of gender deals with the ideology of gender  To “engender the past” means to focus on interpersonal relations and the social dynamics  of everyday activity, not just major material achievements  Gender research in archaeology is concerned with people as individuals and their  contributions to society  Elizabeth Brumfield, in her studies of Aztec women, points out that the roles of women  were much more varied than those attributed to them  Trade and Exchange Exchange systems were a large part of human life  People make trade connections and set up the exchange systems that handle trade goods  when they need to acquire goods and services that are not available to them w/in their  own local area.  Both exchange and trade always involve two elements: the goods and commodities being  exchanged and the people doing the exchanging Ideologies and Beliefs  Intangible ideologies and beliefs of ancient times are extremely difficult to reconstruct  from material remains such as artifacts, art, and architecture.   However, the study of ancient ideology and beliefs offers great potential when written  records such as Egyptian documents or Maya glyphs can be combined w/excavations   Studying ancient beliefs and ideologies is like studying pictures without their captions


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