Natalia Sergeev Slobodina
Techniques, methods, and goals of archaeological research. Excavation and dating of archaeological materials. General problems encountered in explaining archaeological phenomena.
As one of the subfields of anthropology, archaeology studies past and present societies through their material culture, i.e. everyday objects, most often found as trash abandoned by people. Archaeological discoveries make big news (“Hieroglyphs revealed in Egypt's Great Pyramid,” “Stonehenge: A new discovery,” “The world’s oldest shoe found in Romania,” etc.) because people are curious about the past and because it may hold advice for the present and future. In this class we are going to focus on theory and method which underlies all archaeological research. We will explore how archaeological methods and theories allow us to study such aspects of past cultures as subsistence, technology, interaction with diverse environments, art, warfare, socio-political organization, etc. Real examples of archaeological discoveries will supplement every topic we discuss!
Student learning goals
To learn the techniques of archaeological research, from data collection to analysis to interpretation
To preview some topics and research methods which are covered in depth by upper-division (300 and 400 level) classes such as Lithic Analysis, Faunal Analysis, Landscape Archaeology, History of Archaeology, etc. taught at UW and elsewhere.
To learn the historic trajectory of archaeological theory in the US
To explore the relationship in archaeological research between data and evidence, data and interpretations, theory and practice, hypotheses and their tests
To become familiar with ethical and legal context of archaeology in the modern world
To become educated and informed consumers of archaeological research presented in the media
General method of instruction
Our class will meet twice a week. Lectures will be interspersed with graded short assignments (partner discussions, short quizzes, 3-minute writing exercises, etc.), and activities designed to let you experience how archaeologists do their work (survey, analysis, interpretation, etc.). You will get to work with archaeological materials and discuss archaeological matters with your classmates and me.
Class assignments and grading