Review Questions - Anthropology Exam 2

Discovering the Past with Archaeology (Chp 2)
  • What are the four types of evidence sought by archaeologists?
  • What methods do archaeologists use to find evidence of human cultures of the past?
  • What is geological stratification and how does it work?
  • What is the difference between site conservation and site excavation?
  • How do archaeologists analyze evidence using formal and metric measures?
  • What are the relative methods of dating archaeological evidence covered in class?
  • What are the absolute methods of dating archaeological evidence covered in class?
  • How does the concept of radioactive half-life apply to dating archaeological evidence?


The Rise of Domestication and Civilization (Chp 8)

  • What is the difference between food production and food collection?
  • What is the "Neolithic Revolution" and what factors led to its occurence?
  • What were the first animals and plants to be domesticated?
  • Why did domestication occur around the world at roughly the same time?
  • What were the social consequences of domestication?
  • When was the origin of the first towns
  • and villages?
  • What were the first cities and city-state civilizations to emerge? Where did they emerge?
  • Why did city-states develop?
  • What forces create the cyclical pattern (rise and fall) of civilizations?

Cultural Anthropology (Chp 9)

  • What is the definition of culture?
  • What is the relationship between artifacts and cultural values?
  • Do animals have culture? If so, which ones?
  • What is cultural Invention and Innovation? Diffusion? Acculturation?
  • What is ethnocentrism and how is it related to cultural relativism and cultural ideals?
  • What is a meme?
  • What specific logic does memetics follow?


Discovering the Past with Archaeology (Chapter 2)

1. Archaelogical Methods

a. Types of Evidence
            iii. Fossils
            iv. Features

b. Finding the Evidence
            i. Finding Sites
Stratification and Taphonomy
            iii. Methods of discovery: Pedestrian survey; Remote Sensing techniques (ground penetrating radar, 3D laser scans)

c. Analyzing the Evidence
Conservation and Restoration (e.g. the Mayan temple at Yaxuna)
1. Formal measurement
                        2. Metric measurement

d. Dating the evidence
i. Relative (contextual) me thods:
              1. Stratigraphy ,
Indicator Artifacts
              2. F-U-N trio

Absolute (chronometric) methods:
              1.Writing (5kya)
              2.Dendrochronology (~10kya)
              3.Thermoluminescence/Electron Spin (100kya)
              4. Amino Acid Racemization (100kya)
5.Radiometric dating, principle of "half-life"
                           a. Radiocarbon: N-14 --> C-14 --> N-14 (50-80kya)
b. Potassium-Argon (1000kya)
                           c. Uranium-Thorium and Uranium-Lead
(500kya / 4.5bya)

The Rise of Domestication and Civilization (Chapter 8)

The Neolithic (Agricultural) Revolution: Food Production vs. Food Collection (Foraging/Hunting/ Gathering)

1. Domestication of Plants and Animals

a. In the Epi-paleolithic period of 12-15kya, ceramic pottery and early settlement was developed, particularly in the Near East (Mesopotamia).

   - Shortly thereafter came one of the most important revolutions in human history, the agricultural revolution, also known as the Neolithic revolution.

b. Food production technology (domestication) developed between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago after millions of years when hunting and gathering (or food collection) was the sole basis for human subsistence

  i. Sedentarism: living in permanent villages; domestication made this possible.  

  ii. Broad-spectrum collecting: the change from hunting big-game to relying on a wider   variety of food sources.

c. The first animals to be tamed were dogs.

     Dogs were domesticated about 12,000 years B.P. (before present) in the Near East. Wolves are the direct ancestors of all dog breeds in existence today. The DNA makeup of wolves and dogs is almost identical.   Other early domesticated animals include: 
- Sheep and Goats (9k BP, Near East)
- Cattle and pigs (8k BP, Near East) 
- Horses (6k BP, Central Asia/N. Africa) 
- Cats and Camels (5k BP, Near East / Arabia, Asia) 
- Chicken (4k BP, S. Asia)
(see Figure 8-1, p. 136 text)
Traits suitable for domestication were: docility, non-territoriality, hierarchical (humans co-opt leadership role), uninhibited breeding, fast growth

    MesoAmerican domestication:  Semi-nomadism (non-sedentary life) continued long after domestication.  Why?

Domesticated items included desirable items, but were not  necessary for survival:
- Bottle Gourds (used for carrying water)    
- Tomatoes     
- Cotton     
- Maize (corn)

  d. Why did domestication occur around the world at roughly the same time?

    Three theories:  
. Climate Change (wild resources were less available) (Childe) 
ii. Cultural Evolution
(the idea of domestication was ripe) (Braidwood)  
iii. Population Pressure
(desired food availability reduced by competition) (Binford-Flannery)

iv. Theories of Civilization

A recent theory based on a new archaeological discovery (Gobekli Tepe) suggests that symbolic ways of thinking might have given rise to farming.
         Religion ---> Domestication
  (not the other way around, which is what has always been supposed)

Monumental architecture of the Natufian cultures that date back earlier than known domestication provides evidence for this theory. GobekliTepe (BBC video – 10 min) 

  e. Consequences of domestication

i. Population growth   A sharp increase in population occurred when agriculture developed. 

ii. Decline in health  Tooth enamel and bone infusions show that domestication did not improve health – human stature (size) also decreased 

iii. Artificial selection  (Dogs, Heiki crabs, corn are examples)

2. The Rise of Civilization and States

  By 8,000 BCE (before common era, or BC), sedentarism led to the first towns and villages

a. ~ 6000 BCE: the origins of communities and towns    

            i.Evidence of political organization and status is apparent in houses were different sizes, economies emerged, and chiefdoms (separate communities organized by political authority) developed.   

            ii. The true end of the stone age: Copper smelting (metallurgy) became common in the Near East (Anatolia), though it took time to perfect;   Bronze Age = 3500BC - 1100BC 

b. ~ 3500 BCE: the rise of cities and civilization

    “Civilization” is a term meaning, literally, “citified”
. Urban development was underway

      Is the oldest city in India (7500 BCE)?
  or the Middle East (8,000 BCE)
(it depends on how you define city)
- Catalhoyuk (Turkey)    
Uruk / Babylon (Iraq) (2003 war destroys arch. evidence)     
Mohenjo-Daro (India)

      ii. As early cities were connected by trade routes and political alignments, city-states emerged.    

c. City-State development
. ~ 3500 BCE, city-state development occurred

  A city-state is a self-governing community consisting of an independent city and its surrounding territory.

Old World Civilizations:

Year -   Region  - City-State

      3500 BCE -   Mesopotamia  - Uruk
3000 BCE  - Mesopotamia  - Sumeria
2700 BCE  - Egypt  - Old Kingdom
2300 BCE  - India  Harappa
1600 BCE -
China  - Shang Dynasty
. New World Civilizations (developed after 1000 BCE)
Year -   Region  - City-State
800 BCE  - Mexico  - Monte Alban
200 BCE 
- N. America  - Hopewell Mounds
200 BCE  - S. America - Peru city-states
200 AD -
  Mexico - Teotihuacan empire
700 AD -  
Mexico  - Mayan city-states
700 AD  - Peru  - Wari empire

d. Why did city-states form?  
(labor and management led to political systems)  

ii. Population Growth and War
(resource competition led to incursions and the need for protection)  
iii. Trade
(local and long-distance)  

No one factor explains the rise of city states.

e. Civilizations have a cyclical nature
Without exception, all great civilizations of the past have fallen
due to political, economic or environmental collapse, and been replaced by new orders.

Cultural Anthropology (Chapter 9)

1. What is culture?
     Culture is learned, shared, ideas, behavior, and action

a. Culture is defined by Symbols & Language
                    Symbols are elements of meaning shared by a culture.

i. Language is uniquely human.                
ii. Symbolic interaction is defined by culture.
iii. Cultural transmission occurs with language.

b. Culture develops as a result of our natural human ability to imitate.
                                Q: Where does our ability to imitate and learn come from? A: It evolved.Mirror Neurons

c. Artifacts
are the wide range of material human creations. These artifacts always reflect underlying cultural values.

i. The tension between material and non-material culture is realized in the balance between form (design) and function (usefulness) of an artifact.                             

d. Is culture unique to humans? No!
    Chimps use tools!
    Great Ape Culture Finding Narrows Divide Between Humans
    Ancient chimps 'used stone tools'

e. Cultural Change: Invention, Diffusion and Acculturation

i. Invention can be accidental (unconscious) or deliberate Discovery and innovation are part of the inventive process.
ii. Diffusion happens when cultural elements move from one culture to another
iii. Acculturation is like diffusion, but cultural power is the force that creates adoption

2. Memetics – Explaining the Evolution of Culture?
Aka “Contagion Science” 

Cultural ideas are a deliberative and potent means of reinforcing social norms, roles and institutions. Culture is determined by the ideas people share and act upon. Today, the science of “memetics” investigates the nature of ideas in the context of cultural life. Nowhere better do “memes,” or units of information, inform culture than through the internet. The study of social contagion is the study of “memes”.

1. A “meme” is simply an idea that can reside within the human brain. Its analogy is the gene. Whereas the “gene” is the unit of transmission in biological evolution, the “meme” is the unit of transmission in cultural evolution.

2.   Memes are analogous to genes

Genes: instructions for making proteins
Memes: instructions for carrying out behavior
“Meme” is a shortened version of the Greek word   “mimeme”, which means “imitation” or “mimicry”.

What are the three principles of natural selection?

Principles of Natural Selection (the “evolutionary algorithm”)
•Inheritance = Invention: creation of new forms of culture
•Variation = Innovation: altering existing forms of culture
•Selection = Diffusion: spread of culture
What is a Meme?

a replicator that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation” --Richard Dawkins - or -
“an information pattern, held in an individual's memory, which is capable of being copied to another individual's memory.” -- F. Heylighen

3. A meme unit is the smallest ideas or (idea sets) that get copied completely.

Examples of memes or meme units:
–Technology (fire, paper clips, cars, etc.)
–The first four note of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (“ba-ba-ba-bummm”)
–Proverbs, aphorisms and advertising slogans
–Songs one can’t stop thinking of (“earworms”)
–Internet jokes that are passed around
–Social norms, including mythology and religion

4. Meme “vehicles” or “machines” are ways in which idea sets get copied from one brain to another.

Meme machines always rely on human transportation and communication technologies. Examples of meme machines are:

–Human signals
-Human speech
–Traditional Media: printing press, newspaper, radio
–New media: TV, the Internet, email, etc.

5.   Language (code) as cultural evolution

Some scientists believe that culture and language evolve along the same patterns and principles as genetic evolution. Genes are replicators that pass on DNA. Memes are replicators that pass on ideas. The best are all strong on:

  i. Fecundity –  speed of transmission (amount of transmitted material)
  ii. Fidelity – accuracy of transmission
  iii. Longevity – life-span of replicator

6. Questions about the “memeplex”:

“Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via ... imitation.” (Dawkins).

How do memes “leap from brain to brain”? Memes “compete … for space in our memories” (Blackmore, 1999) … and form ‘co-adapted memeplexes’ that sometimes act like parasites ‘by propagating themselves at the expense of their hosts’ (Dawkins). 

What is an example of a “self-destructive meme”? “Contagion” is another concept debated in this context …. (see A. Lynch).

Can you think of a meme you have been “infected” with, which you don’t want influencing   you (but nonetheless does?) What are the implications?