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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Anthropology (ANTH)

ANTH 008 (GS;IL) Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas (3) Comparative survey of the development of the pre-Columbian Latin American civilizations.

ANTH 008 Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas (3)
(GS;IL)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

Anthropology 008 is a general survey of three great New World civilizations - the Aztecs and the Maya of Mesoamerica (southern Mexico and northern Central America), and the Inkas of the Central Andes of South America. Both the Aztec and the lnka empires were thriving in the 16th century when Europeans arrived, and are known in almost ethnographic detail from oral and written records. Maya civilization matured much earlier --- between AD 250-900, and is known primarily through archaeological research, but also through the lens of the New World's only sophisticated writing system. Course information emphasizes the nature of these societies, analysis and interpretation of their basic institutions, their religions and world views, and their culture histories. Central to the presentation is the degree to which modern Latin American cultures and populations have deep cultural and biological roots in the Precolumbian past, and many ethnographic models are discussed. Within the context of each segment sociological concepts such as "institution", "household", "stratification", "political economy", "urbanization", and a host of others are used as organizing features. Issues of gender, ethnicity, and class structure are also discussed.
At the end of each semester, time permitting, issues such as the peopling of the Americas, the origins of agriculture, and some of the spectacular pre-Aztec cultures of Mesoamerica are also reviewed.
Specific examples of how archaeologists design and carry out research are included, including several in which members of the Anthropology Department have been involved. In addition to lectures, much visual material will be presented, including telecourse programs recently produced under the direction of Anthropology Department faculty.
Evaluation will consist of 3-6 museum or web-based writing assignments worth 15-30% of the grade. There will be two mid-term examinations and one final examination worth 70-85% of the grade. Although this is a large course, exams are hand-written and graded, and require a mix of objective and subjective responses. Each exam has an essay component. This course serves as a useful precursor to Anth. 422 (Mesoamerican Ethnography and Archaeology), Anth. 424 (Andean Ethnography and Archaeology), Anth. 456 (Cultural Ecology), and has a companion course on the Old World--Anth. 009--and the two are often taken as a linked pair by students. Anth. 008 also prepares students for courses in other departments where broad-based comparisons of ancient civilizations or archaeological methods are of concern. This course can fulfill elective credits for anthropology majors and minors. Anth 008 also may be used to fulfill three credits of General Education in the Social/Behavioral Sciences for the Bachelor of Arts requirement or three credits of Other Cultures in the Social/Behavioral Sciences for the Bachelor of Arts requirement. It can also serve as three credits toward the university requirement for United States and International Cultures Competence.


General Education: GS
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: Other Cultures and Social and Behavioral Sciences
Effective: Summer 2005

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.