Anthropology | Early Prehistory of Africa
P314 | 27774 | Sept


AFRICA is the birthplace of humanity, and the only continent where we
can study a complete archaeological record from the very beginnings of
stone technology.

Over 2.5 million years ago in Africa proto-humans discovered how to
fracture stone and create sharp-edged tools. With this initial
invention, a trail of our ancestors' litter and refuse began to
accumulate on ancient African landscapes. Archaeologists have been
able to study these stone tools and other traces of behavior as clues
to the evolution of our species and the emergence of modern human ways
of life. This course is called the "Earlier" Prehistory of Africa
because it focuses on human origins and evolution in Africa during the
Stone Age.  We will explore:

Human Origins Archaeology: After an introduction to the continent and
brief overview of the evolution of early hominin species, we will
study case studies of the major early archaeological sites, and learn
how archaeologists use information from many different sources
(primate behavior, carnivore studies, experiments) to learn about how
Early Stone Age ways of life developed from the Oldowan through
Acheulian times.

Rise of Humanity:  We can recognize the beginnings of modern human
biology and behavior very early in Africa.  We will explore what
Middle Stone Age and Later Stone Age sites reveal about ancient
strategies for survival, and our evolution and cultural development as
a species.

Our class will meet three times each week  generally lectures and
media presentations on Mondays and Wednesdays, and collaborative lab
or studio sessions on most Fridays.  Course grades will be based on a
combination of:  two in-class exams; a collaborative class
presentation and write-up of a case-study site; and an independently
researched final term paper.

Note: graduate students can enroll in P314 for credit, but have a
different workload and academic expectations compared to
undergraduates in the course.)