Anthropology Courses

Anthro 101 – Human Origins

This course is an introduction to the evolutionary development of humans, both physically and culturally. Major topics include the concept of evolution, biological relationships between humans and other primates, primate behavior and taxonomy, the fossil record of human evolution, and the basic methods employed by anthropologists and archaeologists in the study of prehistoric human biological and cultural development.   Sample Syllabus

Anthro 305 – The Celtic World

The Celtic-speaking peoples of continental Europe and the British Isles have left us a rich archaeological, historical and mythological record. During the pre-Roman Iron Age the remains of their settlements and burial grounds can be found from Spain to the Black Sea. This course will trace the archaeological beginnings of the Celtic tradition from its late Neolithic/early Bronze Age roots to the western-most outposts of the Celtic world in the British Isles. The course will also explore the historical and political construction of the concept of “the Celts”, which has become the metaphor for the emerging, and contested, European community. How is ethnicity defined, appropriated, debated?   Sample Syllabus

Anthro 306 – European Archaeology

This course presents a survey of European prehistory through the study of archaeological remains from the Paleolithic period until the Roman conquest. The coverage is selective because of the temporal and geographic variability of Europe. Several significant themes are emphasized and important sites from the various selected regions are discussed, centering primarily on west-central Europe. The course introduces students to the archaeological evidence for the early development of what eventually become the various nation-states of modern Europe. In the process European cultural evolution is compared to other parts of the Old World, and placed in the context of increasing social complexity worldwide and its implications for the future of our species.
Sample Syllabus

Anthro 307 – World Archaeology: Foundations of Civilization

This course will review the origins of agriculture, urban life, and state level societies. Theories, processes and the archaeological evidence for changes in human economic and social organization will be discussed. The geographic areas in which primary states developed and have been intensively studied archaeologically are the Near East (Anatolia, 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.   Sample Syllabus

Anthro 426 – Who Owns the Past?

This course examines a number of issues relating to the study, interpretation, presentation and conservation of the past that are becoming more and more important in an increasingly politicized global environment. Why preserve the past, and in what form? How has the past been used and abused for political purposes in different historical and cultural contexts? To what extent have administrative policies and ethnocentric attitudes towards indigenous peoples alienated indigenes from anthropologists? How do museums, collections, the restitution of cultural property and the illicit traffic in relics contribute to this situation? What is being done to encourage communication between opposing interested parties in the ongoing struggle for control of the past?
Sample Syllabus

Anthro 763 – Anthropology Professionalism

This course is for students who are currently in a graduate program in archaeology or are considering entering such a program, either here at UWM or elsewhere. It is intended to provide a road map and survival guide for the world of archaeology, in its various manifestations. Whether you choose as your eventual venue to work in CRM archaeology, the museum, or the university setting, the skills you will need will include grant-writing, the presentation of research results in oral and written form, and the publication of research in the form of reports, articles, or books. However, each of these areas of archaeological activity also has its own culture, with its own specific requirements for successful participation. This course will attempt to prepare you, through practical applications and discussion, for success in any of the professional archaeological “cultures”.
Sample Syllabus

Anthro 802 – Perspectives on Prehistory

This course is designed to explore the complex interaction between method and theory in archaeological interpretation. Readings, lectures and discussions focus on fundamental methodological concepts and theoretical issues. The four short Case Study papers encourage analytical thinking and provide an opportunity for the practical application of the principles covered in class and readings. Leading class discussion as part of a team requires the deconstruction of readings and the creation of questions designed to generate debate. The final paper is expected to demonstrate the student’s ability to synthesize theoretical and methodological approaches in a critical analysis of an archaeological problem.   Sample Syllabus

Anthro 942 – Seminar: Archaeology of Iron Age Europe

This course will deconstruct what we know about the Iron Age peoples of west-central Europe known as the Celts. We will review, compare and critique the various sources of evidence available to us on this subject, including Classical texts (mainly Greek and Roman), insular texts (mainly Irish and Welsh), epigraphic and toponymic evidence, and the material record recovered from settlement, burial and ritual sites. The contemporary uses of this evidence will also be covered, ranging from neo-pagan religious traditions to white supremacist groups and ethnic identity construction in the form of musical and linguistic revivals.   Sample Syllabus

Anthro 942 – Seminar: Archaeology of Gender

This course is a graduate-level review of approaches to gender in anthropological and archaeological research over the past two decades. We will examine the archaeology of gender from methodological, theoretical, and historical perspectives. How can we recognize gender archaeologically? What can archaeology contribute to theoretical discussions related to gender in the social sciences and humanities? What are the political implications of gender studies? Is an “ungendered” archaeology possible? The course will focus on the interdisciplinary implications of such questions in archaeology against a backdrop of a more general examination of anthropological theories gender roles, gender ideology and gender politics.   Sample Syllabus

Honors College Courses

Anthro/Honors 381 – The Archaeology of Armageddon

What can archaeology tell us about how societies decline and collapse? How would we know if our own society was in peril and what could we do to prevent it—if anything? How have the portrayals of societal collapse in print and on film affected how we perceive this process? Does any society or culture ever truly disappear? Can archaeology help us understand current global cultural trends and possibly help us design a strategic response? This Honors seminar will explore these questions and others through reading, viewing, and discussion. We will study what happened to a select group of societies in the ancient Near East, Mesoamerica, and the Roman Empire. We will look at evidence from the past including social unrest, increased religious activity, environmental degradation, changes in social structure, and economic stresses. This seminar will use the lens of archaeology to analyze our contemporary context which will allow us to engage in critical discussion regarding our society today.   Sample Syllabus

Anthro/Honors 381 – Fantastic Archaeology: Frauds, Myths and Mysteries

Ever wonder why anyone would go into archaeology given the kind of job hazards that archaeologists seem to face? Dodging Uzi-toting bad guys and reanimated mummies makes a position on Wall Street seem tame by comparison. If this job description sounds bogus, it’s because the Hollywood version of archaeology and the real McCoy have only one thing in common: they make the past look like a cool place to be interested in. Real archaeologists do occasionally dodge bullets, but the bad guys are usually looters, and there’s nary an extraterrestrial to be seen. You’ll find that not only is truth stranger than fiction, but by the end of the semester you’ll be able to:

  • Identify the various stake holders and their respective positions on the way the archaeological past is recovered, perceived and valued
  • Understand the symbiosis between the study of the archaeological past and the politics of contemporary societies
  • Comprehend current debates regarding the definition and handling of cultural patrimony
  • Critically analyze and be able to deconstruct arguments related to the presentation and interpretation of the archaeological past.

Sample Syllabus