ARCHY 105 A: The Human Past

MWF 10:30am - 11:20am / THO 135
Th 10:30am - 11:20am / ECE 045
Ben Fitzhugh

Syllabus Description:

ARCHY 105: The Human Past

Instructor: Ben Fitzhugh.

Important: Due to limited classroom availability, the lecture portion of the class (Archy 105A) will meet in TWO locations every week, as follows:
--- MWF 1030-1120 in FSH 102 (Fisheries)
--- Th 1030-1120 ECE 125 (Electrical Engineering)
--Students in Archy 105 must also register for a QZ section of ARCHY 105 (AA, AB, AC, AD, AE, or AF), scheduled for Friday afternoons, in the Communications Building (CMU).



Archy 105 examines the history of the world and the bewildering diversity of cultural practices through the lens of archaeology.  Students will learn about the latest developments on the oldest human technologies; ponder the question of Neanderthal use of fire and language; examine the most enduring economic systems and ask why some societies invented agriculture and others did not. We will examine architectural marvels and artistic novelties and ask what they can tell us about politics, economics and the construction of cultural diversity and meaning. In the process we will examine how archaeologists study the human past.

Students can expect a fast-paced class, a mix of lectures and activities, readings and movies to introduce topics from a range of perspectives and approaches. Readings will be drawn from a combination of popular and modestly technical sources. Weekly quizzes will help students keep up with the content and provided "low stakes" grading. A midterm and final exam will be used to help you synthesize your learning.

Details of the course, including reading assignments and the midterm schedule, will be posted later this summer.

Course Outcomes: For most students, this will be the first class in Archaeology you have taken.  As a result, by the end of the class, you can expect to be able to:

  • Follow key debates and developments in human evolution and social/cultural change from the first tool using hominins to the archaeology of the contemporary past.
  • Understand the strengths and limits of archaeological data, methods and concepts for exploring and accounting for these changes.
  • Question the assumptions and examine the biases of archaeological interpretations by both professional and avocational archaeologists and enthusiasts.
Catalog Description: 
Explores human cultural and biological evolution: how ancestors 2,500,000 years ago were like us but still different, Neanderthals and their extinction, social/economic revolutions from foraging to farming to states and empires, setbacks, failures, relationships with social and natural environments, and the role of technology. Examines the astonishing variety of adaptations humans have made.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
September 17, 2019 - 9:10pm