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ANTH 130: INTRODUCTION TO ARCHAEOLOGY

Napa Valley College Catalog Description:

ANTH 130 (3 units) Introduces the basic theories and principles of contemporary scientific archaeology and the methods through which archaeologists recover and interpret the past. Students will explore basic excavation and analysis methods, as well as the relevance of archaeological studies to contemporary social issues. Fieldwork and museum exhibits outside of class are required. CSU, UC

Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through material remains. It is a subfield of anthropology, the study of all human culture. From million-year-old fossilized remains of our earliest human ancestors in Africa, to 20th century buildings in present-day New York City, archaeology analyzes the physical remains of the past in pursuit of a broad and comprehensive understanding of human culture.

 

Archaeology offers a unique perspective on human history and culture that has contributed greatly to our understanding of both the ancient and the recent past. Archaeology helps us understand not only where and when people lived on the earth, but also why and how they have lived, examining the changes and causes of changes that have occurred in human cultures over time, seeking patterns and explanations of patterns to explain everything from how and when people first came to inhabit the Americas, to the origins of agriculture and complex societies. Unlike history, which relies primarily upon written records and documents to interpret great lives and events, archaeology allows us to delve far back into the time before written languages existed and to glimpse the lives of everyday people through analysis of things they made and left behind. Archaeology is the only field of study that covers all times periods and all geographic regions inhabited by humans. It has helped us to understand big topics like ancient Egyptian religion, the origins of agriculture in the Near East, colonial life in Jamestown Virginia, the lives of enslaved Africans in North America, and early Mediterranean trade routes. In addition archaeology today can inform us about the lives of individuals, families and communities that might otherwise remain invisible.
 

Courtesy of The Society for American Archaeology's "What is Archaeology" page.