ANTH 395 Midterm

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One of four subfields of Anthropology

  • Culture

  • Physical (artifacts, stones)

  • Linguistic

  • ___________

  • Historic

  • Prehistoric

Concerned with the recovery and analysis of material culture

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Defined today as urbanized state-level societies (Scarre)

Operate large scale with centralized social and political organization, class stratification, and intensive agriculture

Would suggest an ongoing process ordering individual behavior to promote the functioning of the broader social-economic-political system

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Division of labor

Usually by age and/or gender, characteristic of hunter-gatherer societies

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Craft specialization

Becomes feasible once a certain population threshold is reached

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People strive to control the supply and distribution of selected plants and animals (Essentials)

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Food or other goods produced by a worker in excess of the amount needed for his or her own consumption as well as the needs of his or her other dependents

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Found in 1991 near Hauslabjoch in Italian Alps, body was from around 3350 to 3150 BC

  • ~47 year old man who died of injuries and/or froze to death high in the Alps

  • Natural mummification

  • Animal skin cloak, grass cape, bear skin shoes stuffed with grass

  • Copper ax, flint dagger, yew longbow, wooden-framed backpack

  • Embedded arrow point in back, sliced tendons in hand, parasites, blackened lungs…

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Social ranking

Soctal distinctions among individuals, communities, exists as social differences, relationships, settlement patterns, distributions of luxury goods

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Social stratification

Refers to the structure of state-organized societies where classes have unequal access to the means of production

the differentiation of society into social classes. Typically found at the state level of social organization.

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Ideologies of domination

Overarching philosophies or religious beliefs used by rulers or entire civilizations to focus their power and ensure conformity among their subjects

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Characterization studies/sourcing

Studies of sources of raw materials used to make artifacts/

Study of sources of traded commodities using spectrographic analysis and other approaches

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(New Stone Age) ~10,000ya – V. Gordon Childe’s label for worldwide changes in human activity patterns.

  • Global dispersion of humanity.

  • Culture develops as an adaptive strategy.

  • Population levels increase.

  • Widespread shift in subsistence patterns, changes in social organization.

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Primary and Secondary civilizations

“Civilizations that are thought to have come into being independently”

  • Mesopotamia

  • Egypt

  • Indus Valley

  • Shang China

  • Olmec of Mesoamerica

  • Peru

Later date, proximity to ^

  • Minoans

  • Mycenaeans

  • Aztec

  • Nubia

  • Southeast Asia

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Dunbar's number

the number of maintained relationships a person can have maxes out at ~150

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Step ladder theory

•The ratcheting up of social complexity is universal, but each civilization followed a distinctive path.

•Some commonalities include…

–State religion.

–Public buildings and monumental architecture.

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T-shaped pillars

located at Gobekli Tepe, had animal carvings and were partially subterranean

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a region administered by a city

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Law of superposition

specifies that artifacts found at the deepest layers are older that artifacts found at the upper layers.

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Simple chiefdom

kin-based organization with little formal authority. Decision-making is collective

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Complex chiefdom

a paramount chief has a great deal of authority. Redistribution of resources falls to nobles

  • No bureaucracy

  • No standing army

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Cultural systems theory

Asks us to think about everything from a single artifact to an entire state as the result of a cultural system that regulated production.

  • Acknowledges multiple causal factors or “subsystems.”

  • Religion

  • Public architecture

  • Commodity production

  • Economic activity

  • Kinship systems

  • Class systems …

    • Subsystems are managed in a way that accords with the prevalent cultural worldview.

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Economic power

relies on the ability of elites and officials to

  • create specialized production

  • organic food storage and manage redistribution

dependencies foster a class structure

  • elites

  • managers (bureaucrats)

  • commoners

effective control of land shifts from families to emerging state institutions

trade is directed, supported, and managed by elites

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Social/ideological power

social power lies in the ideological use of symbols and narratives

  • unifies

  • legitimizes power structures

  • creates loyalties that transcend kinship ties

encoded in public architecture, ritual, religious belief, art, literature, music, etc . . .

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Political power

2 primary mechanisms

  • administrative: passing laws, regulations, managing economic activity, setting taxes . . .

  • coercive: military, policing, juridical . . .

supported through ideology - religion, customs, citizenship, mythology, rituals of the state . . .

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Cycling chiefdoms theory

states arise when chiefdoms compete and one achieves political dominance

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Younger Dryas

(10,800-9,600 BCE) a period of climate cooling and drying contracting the range of wild cereals, this led to some of the first experiments in cultivation and living in one location

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Jaques Cauvin

Theorizes that cognitive and symbolic development led to a new set of values that included attachment to place and the development of more complex communities

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Uruk Implosion

rapid demographic growth at Uruk and in many population centers in southern Mesopotamia

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Settled ~8,500 near Jordan River, centered around “Spring of Moses” in Palestine

  • A camping spot going back to 11,000 early Natufian structures at 9,000 BCE

  • The Younger Dryas made early permanent settlement impossible, but year-round occupation begins as it ends

  • Walls and tower (30 feet, really tall) at 8,000 BCE

  • plastered human skulls by ~7,3000 BCE

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Abu Hureyra

Occupied from ~11,000 BCE, Northern Euphrates river valley in Syria

  • Early occupation by hunter-gatherers

  • Circular houses, ~200 people

  • Wild cereals, situated along an annual gazelle migration corridor

  • Cultivation of drought-tolerant rye starting with the Younger Dryas (~10,800 BCE)

  • Settlement ceased, initially at 9,600 BCE

  • Resettled at 8,800 - this time with rectangular houses and clearly domesticated varieties of rye and wheat, these were farmers

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10,000 - 8,000 BCE, N Israel

  • Early ecample of Natufian hunter-gatherer sedentism

  • located on banks of Lake Hulek - oak, almond, pistachio forest

  • ~50 dwellings - partially cut into the bedrock, one room, hearths

  • Mortars, stone sickles with gloss

  • Wild wheat and barley - local game and fish

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in Turkey, showed early settled villages existed outside the Fertile Crescent, bones placed under homes and dug up to recall history

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Samarran villages

In central Mesopotamia before 6,000 BCE

  • Mud brick houses

  • Irrigation

  • Buttressed fortifications

  • Tell es-Sauwan

  • Trade networks to North and South

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Ubaid Period (6000 - 4200 BCE)

  • spread of farming villages in Southern Mesopotamia

    • irrigation agriculture

    • platform temples

    • trade and political interactions to the north and south - an “interaction sphere”

    • cultural uniformity - a template for early Uruk

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Northern Mesopotamia (2,344 - 2,190 BCE)

  • Sargan, official at Kish, seized power and marched on Uruk. Established at new capital called Akkad

  • Son Rimush and grandson Narma-sin quell rebellions and extend their empire north and east

  • At this point, kings become gods - Narma-sin, king of the four quarters, king of the universe

  • agricultural production intensified

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Uruk expansion (6000 - 4200 BCE)

  • irrigation led to expanding food production

  • many farming towns experienced periods of demographic expansion and concentration

  • Ubaid settlements spread throughout southern Mesopotamia - largely along the rivers and marshes

  • over time, raised platform temples became more elaborate in larger towns

  • patterns of Obaid settlements conforms to the geographic expanse of later Mesopotamian statues

A city of two temples (Anu = heavens, Ishtar = goddess of love and war)

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2,200 BCE Akkadian rule disintegrates

  • King Ur-Nammu or Ur extends his power primarily through diplomatic means starting in 2,112 BCE

  • builds ziggurat of Nanna at Ur, largest temple complex at the time

  • holy city of Nippur becomes center of government, moves to establish cultural means of control

  • establishes a code of law to govern his territories

  • his son, king Shulgi, extends empire to north and east over 50 year reign

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central Mesopotamia, scared city of “king god” Enlil

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Akkadian Empire, Northern Mesopotamia (2,344 - 2,190 BCE)

  • Sargan, official at Kish, seized power and marched on Uruk. Established at new capital called Akkad

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in S Persia, encompassed present-day Bahrain, Kuwait, eastern Saudi Arabia (2,300 - 1,700 BCE)

  • empire built on trade

  • Saur, coastal city on Bahrain, characterized by central planning (cosmopolitan and wealthy)

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What is “short hand definition” Scarre et al. use to define civilization?

urbanized state-level societies

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Know the different modes of subsistence and be able to discuss how they relate to division of labor, degree of equality, political organization, social organization, and economic system.

Four major categories:

Hunting and gathering (foraging): exploit naturally occurring resources.

  1. Most humans lived as hunter gatherers until about 10,000 years ago.

  2. Division of labor along age and gender lines.

  3. Seasonal mobility.

  4. Seasonal congregation and dispersal.

  5. Reciprocal sharing.

  6. Egalitarianism.

  7. The original "life of luxury"

Agriculture (cultivation): planting and harvesting crops.

  1. Horticulture: hand tools and human muscle power produce yields.

  2. Shifting cultivation and dry land gardening.

  3. Intensive agriculture: irrigation, fertilizers, and animal-powered plows.

  4. Industrial agriculture: the production of surplus is possible through fossil fuel-powered machinery, petroleum based fertilizers, and herbicides and pesticides.

Pastoralism (herding): tending, breeding, and harvesting livestock.

  1. Nomadic pastoralists - seasonal migrations. No permanent dwellings.

  2. Transhumance pastoralists - cyclical migratory pattern between the highlands and the lowlands.

    1. Each location has permanent dwellings.

Industrialism: energy is extracted to meet material wants and needs.

  1. Machines are used to do much of the labor involved with extracting and processing natural resources.

  2. Industrial societies seem to transcend the environmental limits imposed on other modes of subsistence

  3. Do they?

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Be able to discuss Dietrich et al. findings at Gobekli Tepe. Focus on what we know about the ritual community there, the role alcohol may have played, and the relationship the participants had to animals. Know the evidence used to support these findings.

  • 9,500 - 8,500 BCE in SE Turkey

  • T-shaped pillars, part subterranean, circle-shaped enclosures

  • carvings of animals (respected them)

  • hosted foraging groups

  • over time it may have become necessary to cultivate local wild cereals to support the festivities

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How is gender reflected in the bones of men and women at Abu Hureyra, Syria?

Sex: biological differences based on phenotypes averaged across a population.

Gender: cultural behaviors that tend to correspond with being male or female.

Example: grinding grain at Abu Hureyra, Syria.

  • Knee, hip, back, and toes showed signs of stress among women.

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In what ways is ethnic resistance exemplified in findings from plantations in Maryland and Virginia?

Kingsmill Plantation: VA, 18th century, famous for artifacts excavated from its slave quarters

Garrison Plantation: MD

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Know the different types of exchange.

  • gift exchange: exchange of goods between two parties marked by ceremonial giving signifying a special relationship

  • reciprocity: obligations involving expectation that the other party will respond when called on to do so

  • redistribution: passing out of goods by a central authority ensuring even distribution throughout a community

  • market: permanent place where trading takes place

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What macro- and microscopic evidence can archaeologists use to determine what plants were used by people thousands of years ago?

macrofossils: preserved grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables

  • preserved through environmental factors: cold, wet, dry…

  • preserved through charring (or carbonization)

  • preservation bias is a problem with all macrofossils


  • phytoliths: microscopic silicate secretions in plants that provide a morphological signature that identifies plant species and from what part of the plant (seed, leaf, stem…)

  • pollen: microscopic grains that contain male gametes

  • starch grains: subcellular structures found in grains and tubers

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What are the different types of material culture that archaeologists typically study?

material culture: ´the distillation of a social or cultural reality into an artifact

  • Artifacts – objects made or modified by humans.

  • Architecture – buildings, roads, infrastructure

  • ´Ecofacts – unmodified organic or geological material that has cultural relevance.

  • Sites – locations where past human activity is in evidence.

  • Cultural landscapes – areas that show evidence of human-environment interaction.

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What is a site grid used for?

  • Site excavation = site destruction.

  • Site grids establish the location of artifacts in space (horizontal plane) and in time (vertical plane).

  • Carefully recorded locations allow for more accurate analyses of finds.

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Know the different relative and chronometric dating methods we discussed in class.


  • Law of Superposition´

  • Seriation (sequence dating)


  • Dendrochronology

  • Radiocarbon

  • Potassium/Argon

  • Thermoluminescence

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Who were the key thinkers in “cultural ecology”?

Julian Steward (1902-1972) coined the term.

  • Focuses on culture as an adaptation to the environment.

  • Cultural ecologists look at...

    • Methods used to exploit the environment?

    • Patterns of human behavior and culture associated with the environment.

    • How environmentally influenced aspects of culture in turn shape other cultural norms and forms.

Marvin Harris (1927-2001) expanded the subdiscipline.

  • Base: demography, mode of production, ecological limits (nutrition, water, materials).

  • Superstructure: behavioral and ideational realm.

  • According to Harris, cultures only make “sense” in their ecological contexts (echoes Darwin here).

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What are some elements that typically characterize a state-level society?

  • monumental architecture

  • advanced infrastructure

  • large population

  • art (less this one)

  • market economy

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Know the ecological theories that explain state formation.


  • relies on single events or motivating conditions to explain change over time

  • examples:

    • Agricultural surplis (Childe)

    • Fertile crescent hypothesis (Breasted)

    • Demographic pressure hypothesis (Boserup)

    • Complex mode of subsistence model

    • Hydraulic models (Wittfogul)

    • Economic models (Renfrew and Rathje)

    • Warfare models (Carniero)


  • recognizes that a change in social typography (e.g. chiefdom to state) is the result of many different causes

    • Systems theories: interaction of various systems (economic, ecological, political, cultural, etc.)

    • Social theories: power exercised through

      • controlling economic resources

      • maintaining class divisions

      • monopolizing use of force

    • Individual and gander theories: how household, economic, and other activities changed as societies developed

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Know the economic theories that explain state formation.

Colin Renfrew’s economic interdependence theory

William Rathje’s trade as survival model

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How do stressed systems contribute social or institutional change?

deviations from cultural norms places stress on the system, system stress can result in new institutions and cultural practices (ex: cops, laws)

variables like disease, war, economic pressures, environmental change, can trigger society-wide adaptive responses that can lead to permanent social change

states tended to arise when centralized management and coordination became necessary

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What prompted the Ubaid expansion?

•Ubaid expansion (6000 – 4200 BCE)

•Irrigation led to expanding food production.

•Many farming towns experienced periods of demographic expansion and contraction.

•Ubaid settlements spread throughout southern Mesopotamia – largely along the rivers and marshes.

•Over time, raised platform temples became more elaborate in larger towns.

•Patterns of Ubaid settlements conforms to the geographic expanse of later Mesopotamian states.

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How do archaeologists explain the Uruk expansion?

•A city becomes a state:

•Late Uruk Period (250 hectares) >> Early Dynastic Period (400 hectares) and the center of an established settlement hierarchy.

•Collecting taxes and tribute from surrounding area.

•Conscripts for military expeditions.

•Beveled-rim pottery – bowls that dispensed rations to workers at the palace and temple – both major employers.

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Know the three theories that explain Uruk cultural uniformity in the region.

•What explains the cultural uniformity found throughout the region?

•Three theories:

  1. Uruk colonization – outposts to control trade and flow of tribute.

  2. Uruk world system – core and periphery relationship maintained through trade.

  3. Indigenous cultural developments – local coopting of Uruk culture to increase prestige and power among leaders of smaller communities.

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What do you need to produce bronze?

tin and copper

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Why is Alaca Hoyuk significant? Kanesh?

Alaca Hoyuk = key Hittite city with royal graves

Kanesh = Assyrian trade outpost

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What information about the political situation at the time comes through the Mari Letters?

Zimuri-Lim ruled Mari in northern Mesopotamia (1779 - 1759 BCE)

  • fall of Mari under king Hammurabi, protected cache of 20,000 clay tablets

  • recorded unstable political conditions

  • insight into court life

  • division of labor, textiles, labor from POWs

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What are the environmental and cultural theories that attempt to explain the origins of agriculture?


•Hilly flanks hypothesis (Braidwood) - horticulture occurred when culture was ready.

•Human tendency to "culture" nature (Hodder).

•Cognitive development thesis (Watkins).


•Oasis theory (Childe) - forests shrink around "oases" and as people increasingly interacted, they developed agricultural techniques.

•Packing model (Binford) - Early horticulturalists came from marginal regions, using marginal foods (grains and roots). Why?

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