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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Thomas J. Minichillo
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

This class attempts to investigate the major issues of the archaeology of North, South, and Meso-America. Beginning with the first peopling of the New World we will explore hunter-gatherer and farming cultures from different regions. Later in the course complex societies from Meso-America, such as the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec, and from South America, such as the Moche and Inca will be examined. As this class is New World Archaeology, not just prehistory, we will finish the course with an extended section on the archaeology of culture contact. Culture contact explores the exchanges of goods, ideas, domesticated plants and animals, and diseases that occured after 1492. The use of archaeology to investigate unwritten parts of history, mainly the African slave-trade, is also explored.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The general method of instruction is lecture that compliments, rather than replicates, the readings. Trips to on-campus resources, like the Burke Museum and the luminescence dating lab, are also part of the instruction. At least one day a week is devoted to visual learning, usually slides of sites and artifacts discussed, but sometimes films. The course is designed to be flexible, so that if students express an interest in a particular topic more time will be devoted to that subject.

Recommended preparation

Success in this course is largely dependent on three things. 1. Attending class with an open mind. 2. Completing all assigned readings. 3. Asking questions and engaging in dialogue.

Class assignments and grading

Reading assignments are frequent, but are not graded. They are intended to prepare you for each topic and for the exams. Attendence is also not required. However, no student with poor attendence has ever done well on the exams. A term paper (10 pages) on the students chosen topic is due at the end of the Quarter. This qualifies the course as meeting the writing requirement.

Grades are assigned based on two exams (150 pts. each) and a term paper (100 pts.) on a 400 point scale (ie. 352 pts. = 3.5, 297 pts = 3.0, etc.).


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.
Last Update by Thomas J. Minichillo
Date: 06/17/2003