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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Larkin N. Hood
ARCHY 105
Seattle Campus

The Human Past

Explores human cultural and biological evolution: how ancestors 2,500,000 years ago were like us but still different, Neanderthals and their extinction, social/economic revolutions from foraging to farming to "civilized" - progress, setbacks, failures, relationships with social and natural environments, and the role of technology. Examines the astonishing variety of adaptations humans have made.

Class description

Writing and the keeping of written records represents less than one percent of the total span of human cultural development. This course focuses on the remaining 99+% part of the human past. The course is organized in three main chunks. We will begin the course by discussing key concepts and methods archaeologists use to investigate the past. Your understanding of these basic concepts will be necessary for later discussions. The second portion of the course focuses on the evolution in biological and cultural complexity in humans from our earliest pre-human ancestors through the end of the last ice age (11,500 years ago). The third and final portion of the course focuses on two of the most significant developments in more recent human prehistory: food production and the rise of ancient civilizations around the world.

Student learning goals

describe the physical and cultural attributes that reflect our shared ancestry with hominids and other primates, and identify those that make us unique as humans;

compare an contrast significant developments in human prehistory across different geographic regions;

explain how the past relates to your own life in the present and informs the future;

understand some of the specific conventions of writing in archaeology and practice writing yourself.

General method of instruction

The lecture portion of the class meets four times a week in EEB 105. During lecture I use a combination of slides and brief breakout sessions where students work in pairs or small groups. I do occasionally show films in class and consider them part of the lecture material. A typical section meeting will be spent engaging in a combination of discussion and review of the lecture material; some sections will be devoted to hands-on laboratory exercises and work on the lab/discussion reports. Students should use their out of class time to read the required background information for use in class, as well as study and test the skills and knowledge developed in class.

Recommended preparation

No prior knowlege of archaeology is necessary.

Class assignments and grading

Laboratory/discussion reports Laboratory and discussion reports (3 pages including any figures) enable students to develop an accurate sense of not only what archaeologists do but how they think and write. Reports allow you to think about what you have learned in lecture and in the hands-on lab sessions. Participation Participation in the context of this class includes: engaging in in-class exercises involving brief written (1 page or less) and/or prepared oral responses (usually 2-3 minutes); working well as a group, really listening to what others in the class have to say and actively offering your own ideas to move the discussion forward; responding to the work of others thoughtfully and helping them to take their work to the next level; challenging yourself to really engage in the in-class exercises and lab assignments to take your own work to the next level. Exams There are three exams. Exams are designed to give you an opportunity to apply the knowledge you have gained in class to new examples and situations. Exams are multiple-choice and short answer. There is no cumulative final.

Lab/discussion reports (2)40% Participation (including in-class activities)10% Exams (3)50%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Larkin N. Hood
Date: 01/06/2008