Anthropology | Language and Prehistory
L407 | 27544 | LeSourd


This course provides an introduction to the areas of contemporary
linguistic research that are most relevant to the concerns of
archaeologists and students of cultural prehistory. We will begin by
looking at the way languages are structured, then explore how and why
languages change and investigate some of the methods that historical
linguists have developed in order to group languages into families and
to reconstruct proto-languages, the ancestors of linguistic families.

During the last part of the course, we will turn to applications of
such historical studies, looking at ways in which linguistic
reconstruction can help in identifying the locations of ancient
populations, tracing early patterns of migration, and revealing
aspects of both the material and the non-material culture of groups
who lived in the distant past. Work for the course will include a
series of problem sets that provide students with hands-on experience
with the methods of historical reconstruction.