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

ANG 6186


University of Florida, Alternate Fall Semesters

In this class we use the methods of zooarchaeology to explore the many theoretical questions that confront archaeologists working in Central America and particularly the Maya area. Advanced knowledge of zooarchaeological methods is required because the course takes the science as the foundation for investigating anthropological and archaeological questions. The course is geared to graduate students exploring Central American zooarchaeology and also those exploring similar issues in other world areas.

Emery, K.F. 2004. Maya Zooarchaeology. Cotsen Institute, UCLA.

Tropical Zooarchaeology: Special issue of the journal Archaeofauna 2004

Additional required readings will also be made available as necessary through the semester. These must be read prior to each class.

Discussion Round-Tables (50%):
    You will be responsible for organizing several discussions on topics relevant to the course. You will select and distribute readings at least one week in advance and will coordinate the discussion. Be prepared to use whatever strategies are appropriate to keep interest high – presentations, debates, show-and-tell, guest lecturers.
Final Research Project (30%):
    Each of you will be responsible for completing a research project relevant to Central American zooarchaeology. You will be expected to work with me to choose a topic, plan your research strategy, spend time in the Florida Museum of Natural History Environmental Archaeology laboratory completing data compilation and analysis, and present the data both in an oral preliminary report and as a final research report.
Participation (20%):
    This is a highly interactive class. Your advance preparation, attendance, and enthusiastic participation are essential. You are expected to attend every class, to do all assigned readings before each class, and to participate in all activities.
    Please Note: This class schedule includes mandatory lab work on your research project. Since your final assignment is based on research to be completed at the Museum, expect to spend much of your time working there. Please sign into the EA visitor register and list your hours each time ... this will act as your attendance record for the Museum work.
Weeks 1-2:
  Introduction: What does an animal mean? What does zooarchaeology encompass? Characters of Central American fauna, habitats, and archaeological assemblages.
Weeks 3-4:
  Methods: Taphonomy and recovery methods of tropical assemblages, advanced quantification and secondary research methods in Central America, the use of analogy
Weeks 5-6:
  Environmental Reconstruction: garden hunting or secondary forests? Landscape change and deforestation, overfishing/overhunting, climate change ...
Weeks 7-8:
  Subsistence: Tracking the transition to early agriculture, finding a Maya "diet" across space and time in Mesoamerica, the domestication debate, distinguishing "subsistence" from other animal uses
Weeks 9-10:
  Communities and Politics: discerning social/community patterning from spatial distributions, discussing rising social complexity, debating status and who eats more meat, reconstructing commoner activities, and performing animals (theater, presentation, and animals in political roles)
Weeks 11-13:
  Economics: crafting and bone/shell economics, debating trade of domestic subsistence animal products, revealing ritual economics, household activity areas and householder practice, the Terminal Classic and changing economics
Weeks 14-15:
  Ritual: iconographic/ethnographic data, finding evidence of animal "ways", proving sacrifice and toad licking, distinguishing between burials/caches/feasting deposits/termination rituals, understanding the taboo factor (representation vs use)
Week 16:
  Presentations/Paper due
© Kitty Emery 2001- 2004. All rights reserved. Site Design by VisibleMedia Inc.