Social Sciences: Anthropology

Anthropology is a discipline that studies human populations and cultures in the past and present. Sub-disciplines include cultural (or social) anthropology, biological (or physical) anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics. Other areas of research are subsumed under these broad categories, such as forensic anthropology, medical anthropology, bioarchaeology, and folklore. To obtain a minor in Anthropology, a student must complete 18 hours of instruction from the following courses, of which ANTK 300 and ANTK 340 are required:

  • 300* Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • 320 Introduction to Archaeology
  • 340* Introduction to Biological Anthropology
  • 410 Myth and Ritual (cross-listed with R SK 410)
  • 420 Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica
  • 430 Bioarchaeology
  • 440 Human Osteology
  • 451 Forensic Anthropology (cross-listed with C CJK 451)

* required for the minor

Course Descriptions

300 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Introduction to the concept of culture and the different attitudes toward cultural diversity in a postmodern, global community. Topics include prehistory, subsistence, economic anthropology, political anthropology, cultural eras, the rise of state societies, and kinship systems. Surveys theories and methods in anthropology and the history of the discipline.

320 Introduction to Archaeology. This course is an introduction to archaeological theory, method, and practice. A review of the history of archaeology and current techniques in site excavation. Examines archaeological cultural complexity by studying hunter-gatherer societies and state societies in a worldwide overview. Bioarchaeology, CRM work, and NAGPRA are also reviewed.

340 Introduction to Biological Anthropology. This course is an introduction to the anthropological study of human biology. Students will examine the basic anatomy of the human skeleton, evolutionary processes acting on human populations, non-human primate anatomy, the classification and ecology of primates, the primate paleontological record, and human variation and adaptation.

410 Myth and Ritual. This course primarily examines the history, beliefs, and practices of small-scale societies based on ethnographic literature. The course is part of the academic literature called the anthropology of religion. Topics include religious origins, shamanism, trance and other altered states, healing and bewitching, new religions, and certain treatments of the major religious traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. (May not take both RSK 410 and ANTK 410 for credit.)

420 Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica. This course explores the major pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica, from Olmec to Aztec periods, with a focus on the ancient Maya. Archaeological and bioarchaeological studies are emphasized during a chronological overview of the prehistory and history of these cultures up to and beyond the point of European contact.

430 Bioarchaeology. This course will acquaint the undergraduate student interested in archaeology and physical anthropology with the broad range of issues that can be examined with evidence gleaned from human skeletal remains. The course will focus on the role of human skeletal studies in reconstructing both the biological and cultural past of our species. Classes will be a combination of lecture and seminar formats, with some laboratory sessions.

440 Human Osteology. The foundation of biological anthropology is the study of the human skeleton. In this course, students will learn concepts and methods used by anthropologists to identify, describe, and analyze human skeletal remains from forensic and archaeological contexts. Classes will be a combination of lecture and laboratory.

451 Forensic Anthropology. Application of the science of physical anthropology to the legal process. Students will learn to identify human remains, both skeletal and decomposed, and age, sex, ancestry, stature, and unique features of a decedent from the skeleton and how these are used to help establish a positive identification. Overview of trauma and other pathological conditions to determine cause and manner of death. Combination of lecture and laboratory exercises. (May not take both CJK 451 and ANTL 451 for credit.)