[ Lessons from Ancient Environments | Environmental Archaeology | Maya/Central American Zooarchaeology | Past Courses ]
     
 
ZOOARCHAEOLOGY: THE STUDY OF ANCIENT ANIMALS
SUNY Potsdam
 
Course Description
   

Zooarchaeology is the identification, interpretation, and analysis of animal bones from archaeological sites. More importantly, it is the science of understanding the relationship between humans and the animals they live with. This relationship is a complex one since humans rely on animals for food, tools, medicine, clothing, and shelter. Humans have a direct impact on animals either as part of the domestication process, or when human activity alters the natural habitats upon which animals rely. We need to understand this complex relationship to recognize the importance of animals to ancient societies.

However, animals also provided far more than food for ancient cultures. They were the symbols and totems of important members of society or events in history; actors in oral and written histories, legend, and song; elements in epigraphic and iconographic representations; and sometimes participants in the ritual and ceremony of ancient life. Once a zooarchaeologist has identified the physical remains of animals at an archaeological site, the difficult interpretation of meaning must include a detailed understanding of the social role of animals for the members of the ancient culture.

   
Readings:
   
  TEXT: Wing and Reitz. 1999. Zooarchaeology
There are assigned and required weekly readings from this text that will be a useful companion to the lecture series. There are also some excellent appendices and exercises that will be helpful for your research project.
   
  LAB MANUAL: on sale in the Department of Anthropology main office
This manual contains useful illustrations and instruction sheets as well as identification sheets that you will use for your analysis. Be sure to bring these to class every week.
 
Course Schedule
 
 
Week 1   what is zooarchaeology?:
introduction to the zooarchaeology laboratory
Week 2   the zooarchaeological cycle of deposition, preservation, and recovery/comparative anatomy
Week 3   procedures for zooarchaeological analysis/ mammalian anatomy
Reading: Wing chapters 3 (pgs. 32-71) and 6 (pgs. 142-159)
Week 4   age and sex determination&seasonality/avian anatomy
Reading: Wing chapters 3 (pgs. 67-84) and 6 (pgs. 159-169)
Week 5   taphonomy: natural modifications of bone/reptilian and amphibian anatomy
Reading: Wing chapter 5
Week 6   taphonomy: cultural modifications of bone/fish anatomy
Reading: Lyman 1994
Week 7   quantification and osteometrics/ invertebrate anatomy
Reading: Wing chapter 7
Week 8   MIDTERM PRACTICAL EXAM
Week 9   revealing subsistence patterns: domestication
Week 10   revealing ancient environments
Week 11   revealing social systems
Week 12
to Week 15
  open labs
Week 16   FINAL REPORT DUE

 

ARCHAEOLOGY OF ANCIENT MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
SUNY Potsdam
 
Course Description
   

Step backwards in time to trace the cultural development of the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations that have fascinated scholars for centuries. Examine with us the fascinating questions surrounding the ancient Olmec, a complex civilization that flourished over 3,000 years ago; the Maya, whose brilliant achievements in architecture, writing, calendrics, and astronomy allowed them to maintain densely populated city-states in the jungles of Central America; the Zapotecs and Mixtecs who created and maintained the mountain-top cities of Oaxaca; and Aztecs, whose fabulous empire awed the first Spanish arrivals to the New World.

Where did the first Mesoamericans come from and how did they adapt to the diverse Central American environments? How did they build and maintain complex political systems and densely populated cities in the tropical rainforests? And what caused the disappearance of the magnificent “Classic” styles?

This course emphasizes the links that tie these cultures together to define a continuous Mesoamerican tradition. Through lectures, debates, and reviews of current literature, we will focus on these questions and other controversies while we examine the ancient Mesoamerican achievements in agriculture, engineering, literature, astronomy, mathematics, and art — technologies that astonished the conquering Spaniards in the 16th century, and continue to amaze us to this day.

   
Readings:
   
  Weaver, Muriel Porter. 1993. The Aztecs, Maya, and their Predecessors: Archaeology of Mesoamerica by Muriel Porter Weaver, 3rd edition
   
  Reserve Readings on file in the Anthropology Department office
 
Course Schedule
 
 
Week 1   Course introduction
Establishing a Mesoamerican Tradition
Week 2   Defining people and places: Mesoamerican culture and geography
Week 2   Finding Mesoamerica: settlers to farmers
Early Complexity and Statehood in Mesoamerica
Week 3   The Olmec: complexity and the Mesoamerican tradition
Week 4   Teotihuacan: Rise of an Early State
Week 5    
Week 6   Monte Alban and the Zapotecs
Week 6   MINI-CONFERENCE: FIRST EMPIRES OF MESOAMERICA?
Classic Mesoamerican Civilizations: The Maya
Week 7   EXAM ONE
Week 8   The Classic Maya World
Week 9    
Week 9   MINI-CONFERENCE: HOW ADVANCED WERE THE MAYA?
Transformations: Collapse and Postclassic Mesoamerica
Week 10   The Maya Collapse
Week 10   MINI-CONFERENCE: THE MAYA COLLAPSE
Week 11   After the Collapse: Postclassic Merchant-Warriors of the Yucatan
Week 12   SPRING BREAK
Week 13   Rise of the Aztec Empire
Week 14    
Week 14   MINI-CONFERENCE: THE “NEW” WORLD AT CONTACT
Week 15   The Highland Postclassic Empires
Week 15   EXAM TWO
FINAL PAPERS DUE

 

ANCIENT PEOPLE AND PLACES
SUNY Potsdam
 
Course Description
   

Who are the ancient people of the world? Where did they live? What were their lives like, and why did they choose to live the way they did? Our ancient past is an exciting place to visit! Join us on this journey to meet our ancestors from around the world.

Archaeologists study the human past through the material remains that people leave behind: footprints, food remains, broken tools, palaces, campsites, and cities. We will see how these remnants are brought together to reconstruct the prehistory of the ancient people and places of the Near East, Egypt, China, Mesoamerica, Peru, and your own backyard!

   
Course Schedule
 
 
Week 1   Course introduction: Doing Archaeology, chp 3
Week 2   Introducing the Maya, chp 15: to 480 / QUIZ 1 / What is “Culture”?, chp 8
Week 3   Conquest of the World, chp 9 / First Farmers and Settlers, chps 10,11
Week 4   QUIZ 2 / Why is Society so Complex?, chp 12 / Chiefdoms of the Southwestern USA, chp 14
Week 5   What is Civilization?
Week 6   Egypt - First Civilization?, chp 13:399-405 / EXAM 1
Week 7   Crete and the Minoans, chp 13: 415-419
Week 8   QUIZ 3 / China: The Longest History, chp 13: 411-414
Week 9   India and the Harrappans, chp 13: 405-410
Week 10   QUIZ 4 / The Olmec: State or Civilization?
Week 11   Aztecs: Lords of Sacrifice
Week 12   SPRING RECESS
Week 13   QUIZ 5 / Empires of the New World: The Inca, chp 15: to 490
Week 14   Pompeii
Week 15   QUIZ 6 / Easter Island: Seeds of Destruction?
Week 16   Review and Discussion
Week 17   FINAL EXAM
     
Video Schedule (tentative)
     
Week 1   Blood of Kings (The Maya)
Week 2   Search for the First Americans
Week 3   Settling Down (first farmers and settlers)
Week 4   Myth of the Moundbuilders (early complexity in North America)
Week 5   Egypt and Mesopotamia
Week 6   WINTER BREAK
Week 7   The Mystery of Atlantis (Crete and the Minoans)
Week 8   TBA (China)
Week 9   TBA (India)
Week 10   TBA (Aztecs)
Week 11   EXAM, NO VIDEO
Week 12   SPRING RECESS
Week 13   TBA (Inca)
Week 14   TBA (Pompeii or Vikings)
Week 15   Easter Island
Week 16   Out of the Past: Collapse

 

INTRODUCTION TO ARCHAEOLOGY
SUNY Potsdam
 
Course Description
   

What do archaeologists really do? What are the questions that they want to answer, and where do they look for those answers? To find out, join us on this introductory tour of the science of archaeology—the study of human past through the remains of ancient material culture.

Learn how archaeologists use survey, excavation, and laboratory analysis to reconstruct the past. Learn through hands-on laboratory exercises to analyse ancient diets and environments, to understand ancient economic, political, and social systems, and to reveal ancient religions and rituals.

Follow the development of modern archaeological methods and theories, and examine with us the major questions posed by today's archaeological investigations

   
Texts
   
  Ashmore, W. and Sharer, R.J. 2000. Discovering Our Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology. 3rd edition.
  Kamp, K. 1998. Life in the Pueblo: Understanding the Past Through Archaeology.
  Dibble, H.L., McPherron, S.P. and Roth, B.J. 2000. Virtual Dig: A Simulated Archaeological Excavation
  Emery, K.F. 1999. Introduction to Archaeology Lab Manual
   
Course Schedule
 
 
DEFINING ARCHAEOLOGY
  What is archaeology? an introduction / Archaeology in Action: Report from the Jungles of Guatemala
NO LABS
  A history of archaeological discoveries / What is it and why is it here? nature of archaeological remains
ARCHAEOLOGICAL MATERIALS LAB
HOW WE DO ARCHAEOLOGY
 

How do we ask the questions? theory and research design / Where do we find the evidence?
Sampling and Recon - SAMPLING LAB

  How do we retrieve data? EXCAVATION LAB
  How do we analyse artifacts? ARTIFACT LAB
  How do we analyse ecofacts and features? ECOFACT LAB
  When did it all happen? dating methods and chronology CHRONOLOGY LAB
HOW ARCHAEOLOGISTS RECONSTRUCT THE PAST
  How did they live? environment and diet ENVIRONMENT LAB
  How were they organized? economic systems VIRTUAL ECONOMICS LAB
  How were they organized: social and political systems CEMETERY LAB
  What did they think? religion and ideological systems GARBAGE LAB
DEBATING THE CHALLENGES OF ARCHAEOLOGY
  Archaeology: Science or Sacrilege? // Who Owns the Past?
 
   
 
 
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