FALL 2004



COURSE NUMBER, TITLE:  AP580 Environmental Archaeology



 PREREQUSITES:  Undergraduates must have written consent of instructor. Must register for lecture and laboratory.

CLASS SIZE RESTRICTION:  Enrollment will be restricted to a maximum of 10 students

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  Archaeological interpretation requires integration of a wide range of data sets from the social and natural sciences.  In this course, students will be given a background in the geological, biogeochemical, zoological, biological, climatological, and botanical approaches that form essential components of the archaeologist’s analytical “tool kit.”  The class consists of both a 3 credit hour discussion section and a one credit hour required laboratory/field component.

INSTRUCTOR:  Lawrence Todd, Professor, Department of Anthropology

 COURSE OBJECTIVES: Environmental Archaeology will provide an overview of some of the basic principles of reconstruction paleoenvironments and paleoecology at scales relevant to understanding human evolution and long-term cultural changes.   Specifically, students will

·         be acquire an understanding  some of natural science approaches needed for archaeological interpretation

·         develop a fuller understanding how scientific interpretations of human prehistory are developed

·         sharpen their analytical skills and critical thinking abilities

·         practice methods for integrating quantitative data into interpretive narratives

·         gain a fuller appreciation of the necessity for an interdisciplinary, collaborative educational and research perspective

 TEXTS AND ADDITIONAL COURSE MATERIALS:  There will be three required textbooks for the class.  In addition, weekly reading assignments from recently published journal articles from on-line journals (e.g., Science, Nature, Journal of Archaeological Science, Quaternary Research, Geoarchaeology, etc.) will also be given.   The weekly reading “load” will be approximately 150-250 pages.

Bradley, Raymond S. (1999).  Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary (2nd Edition).  Academic Press. ISBN 012124010X

Hill, Christopher L. et al. (1998). Geoarchaeology: The Earth-Science Approach to Archaeological Interpretation. Yale University PressISBN 0300070764.

Gunderson, L, and B. Holling (2001) Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Systems of Humans and Nature. Island Press. ISBN 559638575


Weeks 1-2.  Environmental Archaeology -- Conceptual Framework

Weeks 3-6  Geoarchaeology: Geological Frameworks for Archaeological investigations

            A.  Stratigraphic Analysis

            C.  Geochronology:  Dating the past

            D.  Geomorphology: Landforms, human options and human impacts

            E.  Sediments and Soils

            F.  Context

Weeks 7-11 Paleoclimatology

            A.  Long term climate data: Ice cores, Tree Rings, soils

            B.  Modeling past climates

Weeks 12-16. Panarchy 


INSTRUCTIONAL METHODOLOGY/MODE OF DELIVERY: The class will meet once a week as a seminar in which reading are reviewed and evaluated.  Each week’s readings will include both background on specific methods derived primarily from the text books, as well as recent examples of applications derived primarily from recent journal articles.  Each week one or more students will be required to help select the journal articles, present an introductory lecture on the topic (using additional reference materials) and participate with the instructor as discussion co-facilitator.  Each week, all class members will be required to write a 1-2 page summary of the readings that emphasizes a critical evaluation of the “application” readings.  Guest speakers will be arranged to give more detailed discussion of topics such as soils, stratigraphy, geochronology, dendroecology, etc.   In addition to the discussion, the class will also meet for one 2-hour laboratory in which the group will meet in the Laboratory for Human Paleoecology to be given demonstrations and instruction in specific methods. In addition, occasional tours to a variety of specialized on-campus laboratory settings or near-by field settings will be arranged.

MODE OF EVALUATION: Grades will be assigned based on the following:

              Preparation of weekly 1-2 page written analysis of the readings             10%

              Seminar co-facilitation                                                                         10%

  Participation in discussion                                                                     10%

              Field/Laboratory project                                                                       20%

              In class 15 minute presentation                                                             10%

              Term paper                                                                                         40%