Honors | Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology (ANTH)
P200 | 23508 | Stacie King
This course is an introduction to the methods and theories of
archaeology. Archaeology is the study of past human societies based
on material remains left behind by people. We will explore the
different kinds of anthropological questions archaeologists have
asked about human societies in the past, and the different ways that
archaeologists formulate interpretations about social organization,
subsistence, environment, architecture, trade, economic systems, and
political life based on archaeological data. You will learn about
the goals of archaeology as a subdiscipline within anthropology and
the development of archaeology as a scientific discipline.
Archaeologists employ a wide range of techniques to collect and
analyze material remains, including settlement survey, excavation,
environmental reconstruction, laboratory analysis of artifacts,
dating techniques, and microscale analytical methods borrowed from
the physical sciences.
Throughout the semester, we will draw on examples of archaeological
research from across the globe and will discuss major issues and
transitions in world prehistory. Examples include the peopling of
the New World, the transition to sedentary lifestyles, the
development of cities and monumental architecture, and
interpretations of everyday social life, identity, family structure,
and community membership. We will also discuss contemporary issues
related to archaeology, such as museums, site preservation, looting,
and use of the archaeological past in nation building and ethnic
politics. Students should come away from this class with a solid
background in how archaeologists do their work, what we have learned
from archaeological research about ancient human societies, and how
archaeology can be applied to the contemporary world.
This course meets for two 50-minute lectures and one discussion
section per week. Students in the Honors discussion section will
participate in section exercises, discussions, and activities along
with the professor. Students are asked to create classification
schemes for artifacts, identify plants remains, manufacture stone
tools, determine a site chronology, and other hands-on activities.
Students will also consider the complex issues involved in doing
archaeology in the 21st century. In the Honors section, students
will debate important ethical, practical, and analytical issues
involving site interpretation, the practice of archaeology, and the
presentation of archaeological findings to the public.
In my research, I examine social organization and social practices
in households of ancient coastal Oaxaca, Mexico. My research at the
site of Río Viejo is focused on people who lived in coastal Oaxaca
around A.D. 1000 to 1200, who were actively involved in cotton cloth
and thread production. I am interested in the organization of space
in residential areas, mortuary practices and burial beneath houses,
and the relationship between commensality and household membership.
I used soil chemistry, paleoethnobotany, and micromorphology as
methods to address daily activities involving food preparation,
cooking, and food sharing at Río Viejo, and hope to use similar
methods in future studies of household social organization.
This year, I am working on book chapters and articles for
publication related to this research. I also completed my
dissertation titled Social Practices and Social Organization in
Ancient Coastal Oaxaca in 2003.