[ Lessons from Ancient Environments | Environmental Archaeology | Maya/Central American Zooarchaeology | Past Courses ]


ANG 6120C/ANT 4147C


University of Florida, Alternate Spring Semesters


Environmental archaeology is the study of past human interactions with the natural world—a world which encompasses plants, animals, and landscape. We will spend the first half of the semester examining the methods we use to reconstruct this complex ancient relationship through lectures, hands-on labs, and class discussions. In the second half of the course you will have the opportunity to use the methods you have learned to participate in an on-going ecological and archaeological investigation. We will use zooarchaeological, archaeobotanical, and geoarchaeological materials to reconstruct the ancient environment of the Maya site of Motul de San Jose, Guatemala.

      There is no text for this course, and all the required readings for lectures and labs will be available in the Environmental Archaeology Class Pak. Case studies for both presentations and discussions will be made available as necessary through the semester.
Presentations (20%):
      Environmental Archaeology provides us with a wide range of intriguing complexities and controversies—information about which is only available in the current literature of the last few years. To allow us access to these resources, each of you will be responsible for presenting a review and summary of one or more current articles associated with the lecture and reading material. These presentations are short (10-15 minutes) and form the basis for class discussion.
Quizzes (30%):
      We will have a series of short quizzes (1/2 hour in length) at the end of each topic to evaluate your understanding of the important features presented in lectures, labs, and discussions. These quizzes will include multiple choice and short answer questions and will be worth 10% of your final grade each. There will be no make-up exam times.
Annotated bibliography (35%):
      The final research project will be an annotated bibliography on a topic of your choice (with my prior approval). An annotated bibliography is a detailed analysis of a range of current articles, book chapters, and archaeological field reports and monographs all centered on a single theme or controversy. The bibliography must be extensive and it must adequately cover the topic chosen.
Participation (15%):
      This is a highly interactive class that incorporates both hands-on experience and class discussions. Your attendance and enthusiastic participation is essential. You are expected to attend every class, to do all assigned readings before each class, and to participate in all activities.
  Environmental Archaeology classes will meet only once a week - this format will allow us plenty of time for lab exercises and discussions of case studies and controversies in the use of environmental archaeology. For each topic we cover in the first section we will examine the subject using three formats—lectures and demonstrations, lab exercises, and analysis of a variety of case studies. By the time we reach the second section (week 12) you will be well versed in the evaluation of our methods and will be ready to apply your new knowledge in the analysis of environmental remains from an on-going archaeological investigation.

There is no schedule set up for the final segment of our course — we will be involved in the chemical and zooarchaeological analysis of remains from the Maya site of Motul de San Jose, Guatemala, and as with all research projects, flexibility must be the rule! Stay tuned...

Weeks 1-2
  Introducing Environmental Archaeology
  Background:   Reitz, E.J. et al. Issues in environmental archaeology
Renfrew and Bahn. What was the environment?
Renfrew and Bahn. What did they eat?
  Case Study:   Kemp, B.J. et al. Food for an Egyptian city: Tell el-Amarna
Weeks 3-4
  Zooarchaeology: Animals in Culture and Environment
  Background:   Rackham, J. What can a bone tell us?
Sutton, M.Q. and B.S. Arkush. Analysis of animal remains.
  Lab:   Rice, P. Environmental reconstruction: paleofauna.
  Case Studies:   Flannery, K.V. and J.C. Wheeler. Comparing microfauna.
Cooke, R.G. Preliminary observations on vertebrate food avoidance
Weeks 5-6, 8
  Archaeobotany: The Ancient World of Plants
  Background:   Pearsall, D.M. The paleoethnobotanical approach. pp. 1-9+439-459.
Sutton, M.Q. and B.S. Arkush. Analysis of plant remains.
Herz, N. and Garrison, E.G. Dendrochronology
  Lab:   Rice, P. Differential recovery techniques
Rice, P. Reconstructing paleodiets.
Rice, P. Dendrochronology
  Case Studies:   Lentz, D.L. Maya diets of the rich and poor
Fagan, B. The ancient ones (Anasazi)
Starna, W.A. and Kane, D.A. Phytoliths, archaeology (New York)
Weeks 9-11
  Geoarchaeology: Landscapes and Soil Chemistry
  Background:   Herz, N. and E.G. Garrison. The Scope of Archaeological Geology
Bevan, B. Remote sensing of gardens and fields
Miller, N.F. and Gleason, K.L. Fertilizer in cultivated soil
  Lab:   Rice, P. Environmental reconstruction: paleosediment and paleosoil.
Emery, K. Soil chemistry instructions
  Case Study:   Stone, E.C. and Zimansky, P. The tapestry of power (Mesopotamia)
Fagan, B. The classic Maya collapse
Manzanilla, L. and Barba, L. The study of activities in households
Week 12
  Introducing Motul de San Jose
      raised field use in ancient Mesoamerica and Peru
      failure in application of chinampas in Mexico; success in application of raised beds in Peru
  Dry lands and Water Management: Water is, and always was, freely available to rich and poor.
      possibilities and dangers of irrigation
      irrigation, complex management, and Mesopotamia
      water control in the ancient Maya world (northern and southern lowlands)
Week 13:
  Reconstructing Motul Animal Use
Week 14:
  Reconstructing Motul Agricultural Production
Weeks 15:
  Reconstructing Motul Household Patterns of Animal and Plant Use
Week 16:
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