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These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Anthropology (ANTH)

ANTH 429 Paleoethnobotany (3) Introductory course in paleoethnobotany, the study of the interrelationships between people of the past, natural environment, and plant resources.

ANTH 429 Paleoethnobotany (3)

This course is a survey of the fast-developing field of paleoethnobotany-- also known as “archaeobotany” or “phytoarchaeology”-- that involves the extension of ethnobotany into the past, emphasizing archaeological plant remains and study of the historical dimensions, complex dynamics, and myriad interrelations between people and plant resources. The primary goals of the course are 1) to promote understanding of the vital interplay between the natural environment and human societies, with their diverse systems of belief and resource use, especially those of the past but with relevance to the present; and 2) to foster an appreciation for what modern paleoethnobotany involves as a subdiscipline or specialization in archaeology, related to both anthropology and the plant sciences.

The course begins by considering the history and nature of the field, including parallel developments in plant biology. The first half of the semester entails weekly sessions that focus attention on the plant organism, sources of archaeobotanical data, taphonomic issues, and the major classes of archaeobotanical materials. Fundamental issues involved in fieldwork, and the variety of laboratory concerns and methodologies specific to paleoethnobotany as whole and with regard to individual subareas are addressed. Individual laboratory sessions highlight the different preservation states that affect ancient plant materials, as well as methods of identification and analysis. In the second half of the semester, attention is focused on theory and application, issues central to and/or addressed by paleoethnobotany as a subdiscipline of archaeological anthropology.

The course follows a seminar style, with substantial participation by students, including individual presentations, laboratory study, and analysis. Learning is augmented and enhanced by use of various visual aids, along with modern comparative specimens and actual archaeological plant remains.

ANTH 429 will fulfill 3 credits of the additional courses in the Anthropology minor and majors. Anth 002 is a prerequisite.

General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 2010
Prerequisite: ANTH 002

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


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