Did you know that 99% of the human story is found beneath the ground? It is the goal of archaeology to locate, record, preserve, and interpret the record of human experience from our first direct ancestors to the recent past. How do archaeologists go about these undertakings, and how do we know what we know about ancient times? We will examine the basic methods of archaeology in its quest to reveal the past. From stratigraphic excavations to radiocarbon dating, analysis of stone and clay artifacts to locating temples and palaces in jungles, and from the remains of the people themselves, we learn about the individuals and societies that shaped our modern world.
By completion of this course, successful students will be able to:
- Identify the processes that produce and alter the archaeological record, and the basic principles of archaeological investigations
- Describe common dating methods along with their advantages, limitations, and contamination factors
- List the techniques for locating and excavating sites
- Apply the principles of identifying different types of ancient social complexities
- Define the kinds of evidence used to study the diet, health, and relatedness of individuals and populations at the skeletal and genetic levels
- Explain the ethical issues of preserving the human past, the laws protecting it, its political misuse, and opportunities for the public to participate in archaeology