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Anthropology 307
World Prehistory: Foundations of Civilization

Spring, 2002
M-W 2:30-3:45 Sabin G28

I think its Indus Valley for 'Ayans go home!'


  Additional Texts:  
  Christopher Scarre and Brian Fagan, Ancient Civilizations
Reading Packet: Available at the Copy Center, UWM Student Union
  Internet Sites  
  arrowArgos   Search the largest Ancient and Medieval internet sites
  arrowExploring Ancient World Cultures   A great place for information on world civilizations
  arrowArchNet   One of the largest virtual libraries of archaeological information
  arrowArchaeological Resource Guide for Europe   Virtual library for European archaeology
  arrowAncient World Web Another portal site covering archaeological topics
  arrowWorld Atlas of Archaeology on the Web   Find information by geographical location
  arrowClassics and Mediterranean Archaeology   An excellent link site
  Course Description:
About 10,000 years ago, human groups in several areas of the world began to undergo a series of major transformations. Small groups of hunters and gatherers settled into the world's first farming villages. From these villages arose larger settlements, and eventually complex urban civilizations like our own. How and why did these changes take place? Why did ancient civilizations evolve in repeated cycles of expansion and collapse? What do the similarities and differences in the development of early civilizations tell us about the nature of culture change, of civilization and the state, and of human society itself?

This course will review the origins of agriculture, urban life and state level societies. Origin theories and the archaeological evidence for changes in human economic and social organization will be discussed. The essential relationship between economy, environment and society provides the subtext for the more detailed presentation of the case studies. Readings will emphasize the Old World, but New World developments will be included for comparison. The two geographic areas in which primary states developed and have been intensively studied archaeologically are the Near East (Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley) and Mesoamerica. These regions will be the focus of the course, with some discussion of the emergence of state level societies in other areas (such as East Asia, Africa and South America). Comparing Old and New World cultural responses to different environmental and geographic contexts focuses attention on the way in which the evolution of social complexity occurs, rather than on the memorization of facts and dates alone. The course provides a context for understanding the process of cultural evolution in the past as well as in today's world by exploring why we are the way we are, and how we got here.

Course Format:
The course will include a combination of lecture and discussion, with slides and films where applicable. Questions during lectures are encouraged (if they are germane to the discussion!), and there will be occasional handouts with questions/issues intended to provoke thought as well as discussion. Attendance is part of your final grade, so be sure not to let your presence in class slip as the semester progresses!

Exams will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions, as well as a choice of take-home essay questions based on readings, lectures and films. The final exam will not be cumulative! There will be a map component on both the midterm and the final, so be sure you are able to associate significant sites in space as well as time. Study guides will be provided before each exam, but these will not be comprehensive. You will receive take-home essay questions several days before each exam and will hand in two of the completed questions on the day of the exam.

Midterm: 45% (Essays 40 points out of 100)
Final Exam: 45% (Essays 40 points out of 100)
Attendance/Participation: 5%
Attendance at three public lectures: 5%
Graduate Students
You will be expected to produce a 15-20 page final paper, typed, double-spaced with references in American Antiquity format, in addition to taking the midterm and final exams. Please see me about choosing a topic before the Midterm Exam!
Midterm: 30%
Final Exam: 30%
Final Paper: 30%
Attendance/Participation: 5%
Attendance at three public lectures: 5%


  Weeks 1, 2
History and Process
Ancient Civilizations Chapter 1
Reading Packet: Units for Weeks 1 and 2
  arrowWhy Settle Down? The Mystery of Communities   On-line publication from Science  

  Weeks 3, 4
Origins of Agriculture: Near East and Asia
Ancient Civilizations Ch. 3 pp. 49-51; Ch. 4 87-93; Ch. 5 pp. 118-123; Ch. 6 pp. 137-140
Reading Packet: Units for Weeks 3 and 4
  arrow`Ain Ghazal Excavation Reports On-line site reports
arrowÇatalhöyük   Reports on the ongoing excavations at Çatalhöyük
arrowHerders or Homesteaders? A Neolithic Farm in Wadi Ziqlab, Jordan   On-line report
arrowArchaeobotanical Reports   Bibliography of archaeobotonical research
arrowDissemination of Crops: Main Pathways   On-line paper on the spread of domesticates
arrowOrigins of Agriculture in New Guinea

  Week 5
Origins of Agriculture: Mesoamerica and South America
Ancient Civilizations Ch. 15 pp. 350-355; Ch. 17 pp. 401-411
Reading Packet: Unit for Week 5
  arrowEarliest Agriculture in the New World   Newsbrief from Archaeology  

  Week 6
Theories of the Rise of the State
Ancient Civilizations Chapter 2
Reading Packet: Unit for Week 6

  Weeks 7, 8
Evolution of Complex Societies: Near East [Mesopotamia]
Ancient Civilizations Chapter 3
Reading Packet: Units for Weeks 7 and 8
  arrowABZU   Resources for the Study of Ancient Mesopotamia
arrowAkkadian Language   Excellent summaries, focusing on culture history and language
arrowAmerican School of Oriental Research   Links to current research projects and more!
arrowWeb Sites Related to Near and Middle Eastern Studies  

Mid-Term Exam, March 9!!

Week 9 March 17-24 SPRING BREAK NO CLASS!

  Weeks 10, 11
Evolution of Complex Societies: Near East [Egypt, Indus Valley]
Ancient Civilizations Chapters 4 and 5
Reading Packet: Units for Weeks 10 and 11
  arrowEgyptology Resources   Large virtual library of Egyptology resources
arrowTheban Mapping Project   Large online archaeological project
arrowABZU--Regional Index: Egypt   Excellent virtual library of Egyptian information
arrowThe Ancient Egypt Site   Another excellent online link site
arrowHistory of Ancient Egypt   Online course
arrowThe Ancient Indus Valley   Excellent introduction to the Harappan Civilization
arrowExcavations at the Harappan site of Padri  

  Weeks 12, 13
Increasing Social Complexity: Near East, Asia, Africa [Anatolia, China, SE Asia, Kush, Meroe]
Ancient Civilizations Ch. 6. pp. 141-161; Ch. 7; Ch. 12; Ch. 13
Reading Packet: Units for Weeks 12 and 13
  arrowThe Prehistoric Archaeology of the Aegean   Another excellent on-line course
arrowHittite Home Page   Links to Hittite resources on the internet
arrowHistory of China
arrowTerracotta Warriors   A short virtual tour
arrowEast Asia Collection   Excellent link page on the history of China
arrowClassical Historiography for Chinese History   Another excellent link page

  Weeks 14, 15
Evolution of Complex Societies: Mesoamerica and South America [Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Chavin]
Ancient Civilizations Ch. 15 pp. 355-376; Ch. 16 pp. 378-389
Reading Packet: Units for Weeks 14 and 15
  arrowAncient Middle America   Excellent link page
arrowAncient Mesoamerican Civilizations   Excellent link page
arrowMesoamerican Archaeology   Another good link page
arrowChronological Table of Mesoamerican Archaeology  
arrowArchaeology of Teotihuacan  

  Weeks 16, 17
Increasing Social Complexity: Mesoamerica and South America [Aztecs, Moche, Inca]
Ancient Civilizations Chapter 16 pp. 389-400; Chapter 17 pp. 412-418; Chapter 18
Reading Packet: Unit for Weeks 16 and 17
  arrowThe Aztecs/Mexicas  A very good link page for Aztec archaeology and culture
arrowAztec, Olmec and Mesoamerican Research  A good link pag.
arrowThe Moche   Excellent presentation on Moche archaeology
arrowThe Incas   Excellent link page

Week 17 Final Exam! Monday, May 16, 12:30-2:30 pm (NOTE DIFFERENT TIME)

  University and Departmental Policies
Please take the time to read through the attached sheet. If you have any additional questions, please stop by my office or send me an e-mail message at

© 2000 Bettina Arnold, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Design: Homer Hruby, Last Updated: February 8, 2002


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