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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

J.Ben Fitzhugh
ARCHY 304
Seattle Campus

Archaeology of the Americas

History of earliest Americans, beginning with crossing of land bridge between Asia and North America and eventual spread over the Americas. Highlights prehistory and best examples of western hemisphere's civilizations. Mexico, Yucatan, Peru, southwestern and eastern United States, Washington.

Class description

Archaeology 304 is a survey of the prehistory of the New World beginning with the peopling of the American continents prior to 10,000 years ago and ending with the consequences of European contact on indigenous life and culture a few centuries ago. In the process the course addresses 5 major topics: (1) the apparently rapid colonization of two previously uninhabited continents by nomadic hunters and gatherers; (2) technological and cultural adaptations to unique and diverse environments by hunting and gathering people after colonization; (3) the origins of sedentism and agriculture; (4) the development of large scale, politically complex societies; and (5) the effects of European expansion into the New World with a focus on the Vikings, Colonial America, and Russian America.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Archy 304 is a lecture class with regular use of slides and overhead projection. Several movies will also be shown to provide exposure to important sites, issues, and viewpoints.

This class is designed to be informative, fast paced, and fun. Lecture topics will range from the specifics of prehistoric developments to broader anthropological issues that give these specifics relevance in our quest to understand human diversity and social evolution. Archaeological methods used to learn about the past will also be examined from time to time.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites. Only curiosity, willingness to read broadly and think critically, and an interest in the archaeological history of North and South America.

Class assignments and grading

Readings average 50-100 pages per week and discussion of key topics will be expecte. Four article reviews are required over the course of the quarter and additional reviews can be conducted for extra-credit. A collaborative research and poster presentation project is a core element of the class.

Final grades will be calculated according to the scheme below. Individual assignments will be graded on a 4 point scale.

Project: 30% Midterm Exam: 30% Final Exam: 30% Reports: 10% Extra-Credit: up to 10% (extra article reports)


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.
Course Web site
Last Update by J.Ben Fitzhugh
Date: 09/05/2002