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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

J.Ben Fitzhugh
ARCHY 377
Seattle Campus

Archaeology of the Artic

Archaeological history of the circumpolar arctic and subarctic from Pleistocene to the nineteenth century. Variability in human adaptation and social change in extreme cold environments such as Eurasian tundra, North Pacific rim, Beringia, and North American high arctic. Prerequisite: ARCHY 205.

Class description

Archy 377 examines the archaeology of the arctic and subarctic from the late Pleistocene to the 19th century AD. Arctic and subarctic environments represent some of the most extreme environments ever occupied by humans, and the history of human adaptation to these environments is a testimonial to human creativity and its limits. This course compares the archaeological evidence from northern Eurasia, Beringia, North America and Greenland to illustrate variability in human adaptation to geographic, ecological, and climatic differences and to explore questions of cultural change and history in these different areas.

Student learning goals

to describe the archaeological evidence for human colonization and adaptation to high latitudes from the Pleistocene to the 19th century

to summarize key aspects of environmental change in the high latitudes from the Pleistocene through Holocene and the relevance of environmental change to human adaptations and cultural practices.

to articulate, connect, and expand key concepts for explaining cultural and environmental change in the arctic and subarctic.

to describe the history of cultural contacts between arctic/subarctic cultures from Eurasia, what motivated them, how they developed, and what outcomes they precipitated.

to understand the deep historical legacy of arctic cultures and environments in the context of current social, climatic and environmental change.

General method of instruction

Class sessions will be broken up into mini-lectures, small and full group discussions, individual and group presentations, movies and collaborative activities. Two exams (in-class midterm and take-home final) and several low-stakes quizzes will test students comprehension of reading, movies, lecture topics and critical thinking skills. Low-stakes position papers may be used to hep students prepare for in-class discussions of reading assignments. A term project will be required by the end of the quarter and includes a choice of a group research poster project or an individual book report.

Recommended preparation

Archy 205 is strongly encouraged as is an interest in human adaptations to extreme conditions.

Class assignments and grading

Two books are required for this class: Human Ecology of Beringia (2007) by John F. Hoffecker and Scott Elias and The Last Imaginary Place (2007) by Robert McGhee. These do not cover the full range of weekly topics and additional readings will be made available online.

Through the quarter class members will take turn presenting position statements to the class about readings in advance of group discussions.

A term project (group poster or individual book report or research paper)will be developed through the quarter culminating in an in-class presentation and a final product submitted for a grade. To facilitate this, several preliminary (and graded) stages are scheduled including the submission of an initial project abstract and reading list, circulation of a rough draft for peer-evaluation.

A class blog will be set up to encourage dialog between class members beyond the confines of the classroom.

Midterm: 20% Final Exam: 20% Term project: 30% Abstract 5% Draft paper 5% Presentation 5% Final draft 15% Quizzes: 15% (combined) Position papers/ presentations: 15% (combined)


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 J.Ben Fitzhugh
Date: 03/25/2013