Concepts and Questions: Lost Worlds and Archaeology

Things you should know!

 The Dawn of Time:

Chapter 1,2: 1) What is anthropology? What are the sub-divisions and areas of responsibility of the sub-divisions of anthropology? What is archaeology and its special areas of concern? What is meant by the concept of evolution? What do we mean by Biological and Cultural Evolution? What is paleoanthropology?

 2) How is time divided? What is geological time? What are eras and epochs?

3) What does it mean to be human? Are humans primates? Who are the hominoids? Who are the hominids?

4) How does Afarensis fit into the human ladder of evolution? What is the significance of Hadar and Laeotoli? Who are the Australopithecines? What are the major divisions of Australopithecines? How do they differ? Where does Homo Habilis fit into this sequence? What makes this species special?

5) What do the earliest tools look like? Who wielded them? Why are they significant?

Homo Erectus:

Chapter 3: 1) What is meant by Homo Erectus? What is the evidence for Biological Evolution of Homo Erectus? What makes Erectus different from the earlier Hominids? Where has Erectus been identified? Why are the regional identifications of Erectus significant? Where was Erectus first identified? What is the evidence for Cultural Evolution for Homo Erectus as compared to the earlier hominids? What are some of the forces accelerating Cultural Evolution among members of Homo Erectus?

 Modern Humans:

Chapter 4: 1) When, where and under what conditions did Homo Sapien appear on the world scene? What are the competing arguments for the different models of human evolution? What is mitochondrial DNA? How do you evaluate the evidence? Is evolutionary development taking the exact same pathway everywhere in the world? Where do Neanderthals fit into evolutionary models? What is the evidence for increasing cultural complexity among Homo Sapiens?

The Advent of Agriculture:

Chapter 6: 1) What explains the relatively sudden appearance of agriculture in various, assumedly unconnected areas of the world? In what areas of the world did the transition to agriculture occur? Did everyone worldwide make this change? Did it look exactly alike in the various areas where agriculture appeared? What are the differences? What is the significance of these variants? What constitutes the process of domestication of plants and animals? How did it change the lives of people? Did the health of the inhabitants improve? Did people work less? Why did the concept of domestication spread?

 


Multiple Experiences: The North American Experience

Chapter 7:  1)How diverse was Native American life in North America?   What are  the variations in economic,cultural  and environmental adaptations, as well as  political structures. Know the sites which serve as examples for the variations you have named.
2)Cahokia has been characterized as a socially complex society.  What, in your opinion, supports the idea of Cahokia
being.a socially complex, hierarchically organized community?
3)How do the cemeteries discussed in the chapter give us insights into the ways people were socially organized? Can
they tell us anything about the nature of their cultures?  Do cemeteries in our own society also tell us about social
hierarchy and cultural traditions?
4)What role did exchange play in the development of social complexity in North America? How can we identify exchange archaeologically?
 

 


The Mesoamerican Experience

Chapter 8: 1)What is meant by state-organized society? What is the evidence for its appearance in Mesoamerica?
2)Where did sedentary life emerge in Mesoamerica?  Scholars often see the appearance of monumental architecture and sculpture as important.  What do such artifacts indicate?  What do they tell us about the society?
3)How do the Olmec fit into the emergence of complex life in Mesoamerica?  What is the evidence for the complexity of social organization in their communities?  What is the role of Teotihaucan in the emergence of complex life in Mesoamerica?  What is the evidence for its social/organizational structure? Think about the layout of the city, where people live, where political and religious activities are carried out.
4)Who are the Maya?  Where are they situated in Mesoamerica?  Who are the Aztecs?  Where are they situated?  What is similar about their experiences?  What differs in the social/organizational structure?
5)What role did writing/calenders play in Mesoamerican life? What role did intensive irrigation cultivation play in Mayan and Aztec life? What was the significance of ball courts?  Was this just a sport? Why did the Aztecs practice cannibalism?
6)Why did the Mesoamerican experience end? or did it?
 
 

 


The Andean Experience:

Chapter 9  1)How did Andean earliest sedentary life  (on the coast) differ from that of Mesoamerica?  What allowed this form of sedentism to exist?  What is the maritime hypothesis?
2)Markings on the bricks of Moche may tell us something about the labor system used for the construction of the great pyramids (huacas) of the center.  What is that labor system?  How was it organized? Did it only characterize the Moche area or did it play a role in other Andean communities? Was Moche society an egalitarian world? What is the evidence? Was there a developed system of division of labor among the Moche? (if so what might it have been?).
3)Who are the Inca?  Did they always dominate Andean political life?   How was their capital (Cuzco) organized? What was the function of the city?  Who lived there?  What role did private trade, or storage systems play in Incan life as compared to Mesoamerica?   How did the Incan rulers control such a vast area?  How did they communicate?  Given the fact that Andean society did not have a system of writing how did they administer such a vast region and keep an eye on tribute and taxes?  What is the mitmaq and what is the mit'a system?  How did symbolic/ritual activities play a role in Incan domination?



Mesopotamia

Chapter 10 1)A dramatic change occurs during the Uruk to Early Dynastic Period.  What are those changes? What happened in terms of crafts, economy, communication and social organization?
2)What role did the temple play in Mesopotamian state-development?  What changes did the temples undergo?
3)What is the beveled rim bowl?  What role did it play in Mesopotamian history?
4)Writing developed during the Uruk period.  Think about how its development differed from that of Mesoamerican writing. What was the token system?  How did it work:  What was the Mesopotamian sealing system?  How did they use seals as an element within their economy?
5)What is the significance of the Royal Cemetery of Ur? How would it compare to the basic story of Gilgamesh, the ruler of Uruk?



 Indus and Chinese Civilization

Chapter 10 1)Where did the Indus civilization emerge?  What were the geographic conditions like?
2)What kind of city was Mohenjodaro and Harappa? How were these cities laid out?  What were some of the important characteristics of these cities?
3)What kinds of craft activities are found within the Harappan region?
4)What is the significance of craft activity in Indus Society? Is it significant that there is a system of of
standardized weights, bricks and writing?  How were the inscribed stamp seals utilized?
5)China:Know the changes that occured from the Yang Shao thruough the Lungshan to the Shang phases of development.
6)Were there real capitals during the Shang phase of development?  What indicates the level of social complexity during those times?
7)Was Shang society a stratified society?  What would indicate that?  Was there a system of administration?  What suggests inequalities within the system?
8)  How was script was utilized in Shang society?
9)What role did Bronze play in the life of Shang society?
10)What was the function of the Great Wall in Qin Society?  How did it relate to the nature of Qin social organization?
 



African Civilizations:

Chapter 10  1) What indicates the increasing politicization of life in Egypt during the Gerzean period?
2) Did writing in Early Dynastic Egypt emerge from Mesopotamian writing?  Did it serve the same function?
3) What role did the Pharoah play in Egyptian society?  Did Pharoah's role change over time? What was
the function of the pyramid in Egyptian life?
4)What do the structures of Zimbabawe tell us about the organization and control of labor in that
community? What was the economic basis for this authority and the prosperity of the Zimbabawe rulers?


 Europe:

Chapter 11 1) When and under what conditions did the Neolithic appear in Europe? What is the evidence for a neolithic phase in Early Greece? What kinds of activities were evident at places like Franchthi cave?
2)What is the significance of the neolithic burials at Varna? What do they tell us about neolithic life in the region?
3)The discovery of the "iceman" has been universally praised.  Why? What does this discovery add to our understanding of the south European neolithic?
4)What are Megaliths? Where are they found? What are some of the forms that megaliths take in Europe?  When were megalithic structures built in Europe?  What was Stonehenge used for?
5)Where was the Minoan civilization based? What was distinctive about it? What was its relationship to the Mycenean civilization?  What systems of writing appeared in the Aegean region?  What kind of society emerges from these documents?
6)How similar/disimilar is northern Europe's development from that of southern Europe?



 Send email to zagarell@wmich.edu