Review Questions - Anthropology
Human Variation and Adaptation (Chp 5)
Discovering the Past with Archaeology (Chp 6 & Module 2)
The Rise of Domestication and Civilization (Chp 7)
Cultural Anthropology (Chp 8 and Module 3)
Language and Myth (Chp 9 and Module 4)
Human Adaptation and Variation
a. Over time, biological and cultural means of adaptation have become increasingly important for human groups.
Adaptation is the process by which organisms cope with nature’s stress.
Adaptation explains variation.
b. Three types of human adaptation exist:
i. Genetic change (intergenerational biological change, as with mutation or genetic drift)
ii. Acclimatization (biological change, as with immune resistance to disease, within the life span)
iii. Cultural change (non-biological change, as with science, tools, weapons and other technology)
2. Aspects of Bio-Cultural Variation:
a. Body Build
i. Related to environmental temperature (climate)
ii. Bergmann's rule:
Hot climate, low body weight vs.
Cold climate, high body weight
iii. Allen's rule: extension of limbs
Hot climate, longer limbs
Cold climate, shorter limbs
b. Facial Construction
i. Related to climatic humidity
- Long, narrow noses are common to humans living in colder, less humid climates.
- Flat, broad noses are common to humans living in hotter,
more humid climates
i. Related to climate (but not directly: see Bergmann’s/Allen’s rules).
ii. Cultural differences: social class can influence height (due to nutritional factors)
iii. Infant Stress? (ex: circumcision,
branding, piercing, molding, vaccination)
d. Health and Disease
i. Infectious diseases
- Myxomatosis in rabbits
- Tuberculosis and Jews
- Measles and
Genetic Homogeniety increases susceptibility
ii. Sickle cell anemia
- HbS/HbA heterozygous
individuals are less susceptible to malaria infection
iii. Lactase deficiency
- Lactase 1 enzyme is related to Vit.D processing; both absorb calcium into the body; Less sun=More need for lactase 1.
iv. Types of Natural Selection
a. Stabilizing selection (ex: human birth weight)
b. Directional (positive) selection (ex: greyhound dog breed)
c. Disruptive (negative) selection (ex: fish size regulations)
d. Balanced Selection (sickle-cell anemia)
e. Artificial Selection: man's influence on genetic selection (breeding, transgenics, etc.)
e. Skin Color
i. Gloger's Rule: in birds and mammals, more melanin (pigment found in skin, feathers, or fur) exists in populations found in warmer climates.
ii. In humans, skin color is a function of the amount of melanin found in epidermal cells and by the amount of blood flow to the capillaries in the skin.
iii. Skin color may be a response to sunlight: Darker color avoids too much ultraviolet radiation, whereas light color ensures enough Vitamin D absorption.
Web: ~ Where does skin color come from?
~ On skin pigmentation
3. Race and Anthropology
a. Race” is typically defined by the biological differences that exist between individuals.
b. Race is categorical - it is an attempt to make some order out of the reality of biological difference.
c. Obvious differences in biology - skin color, facial structure, etc. - separate people from one another because they are obvious. But less obvious differences in biology - sickle-cells, e.g. - are not seen as indicators of race.
Eric Liu: “What maketh
a race is not God, but man. What maketh a race is only the sin
d. Definitions of Race and Ethnicity
Common biological traits deemed “socially significant” – they are genetically inherited.
Racial types that were once deemed significant:
– Caucasian: light skin, fine hair
– Negroid: darker skin, coarse hair
– Mongoloid: brown skin, distinctive eyes
The Reality: There are so
many different combinations of racial traits around the world that no simple
scheme of three major racial types can do justice to them.
Common cultural traits deemed socially significant – they are culturally inherited.
For example, common ancestry, language, religion, holidays, food, etc.
e. Contemporary Definitions of Race
i. Today, race is seen differently by anthropologists compared to the past.
Race, as we use the term in the veryday, is conceived of now as more of a socially constructed category, than an explicit representation of genetic heritage.
Discovering the Past with Archaeology (Chapter 6, Module 2)
1. Archaelogical Methodsa. Types of Evidence
b. Finding the Evidence
i. Finding Sites
ii. Stratification and Taphonomy
iii. Methods of discovery: Pedestrian survey; Remote Sensing techniques (ground penetrating radar, 3D laser scans)
c. Analyzing the Evidence
i. Conservation and Restoration (e.g. the Mayan temple at Yaxuna)
1. Formal measurement
2. Metric measurement
d. Dating the evidencei. Relative (contextual)
2. F-U-N trio
ii. Absolute (chronometric) methods:
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 7)
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.
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)
- Maize (corn)
d. Why did domestication occur around the world at roughly the same time?
i. 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)
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)
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.
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,
i. Urban development was underway
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)
early cities were connected by trade
routes and political alignments, city-states emerged.
c. City-State development
i. ~ 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
ii. 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?
i. Irrigation (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)
Note: 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.
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.
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. Studying Ethnography
a. Holistic Perspective
Characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.
b. Awareness of Ethnocentric Bias
Ethnocentric (adj.): to characterize by or base one’s viewpoint on the attitude that one's own group is superior.
i. Ethnography is the firsthand personal study of a local cultural setting. “Ethnographers try to understand the whole of a particular culture, not just fragments (e.g., only the economy, family or politics).” (Spradley 2008)
ii. Early ethnographers conducted research almost exclusively among small-scale, relatively isolated indigenous societies, with simple technologies, politics and economies. The cultures of indigenous peoples are increasingly threatened by modernization. (Global Response)
d. Ethnographic Fieldwork involves the researcher taking part in the activities being observed. Ethnographic goals:
i. Achieving Realism: The writer’s goal was to produce an accurate, objective, scientific account of the study community.iii. Fieldwork: Pros, Cons and Dangers
ii. Comparing Differences: The writer’s goal was to compare differences between culture in a non-biased way.
–Access the culture
–Determine actual behavior
-Culture shock (Maasai) (Mursi)
-Witness effect (cultural/individual bias)
-Heisenberg effect (you affect what you are observing)
Dangers and Difficulties
–Group Hostility/ Defense Reactions
–Health and Illness
e. Examples: Three Generations of “Fieldworkers”
i. Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942): is generally considered the father of ethnography. He did “salvage ethnography,” recording cultural diversity that was threatened by westernization. Trobriand Magic was one of his more well read ethnographies.
ii. Margaret Mead (1901-1978): Popularized the insights of fieldwork with a book titled Coming of Age in Samoa about culture and sexuality the peoples of the South Pacific islands.
iii. Napoleon Chagnon (living): Famous for his exposing the Yąnomamö natives of the Amazon rainforest in Venezuela to the modern world. Controversy has recently emerged.
Language and Communication
One way in which cultures and subcultures
vary between and within societies is in the form of language they use. Language
is necessary in EVERY culture for the purpose of cultural transmission. But
the form it takes depends on “local conditions”. Language is local.
What is Language?
Pronunciation: 'la[ng]-gwij, -wij
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from langue tongue, language, from Latin lingua -- more at TONGUE
1 a : the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a culture
1. Language and Linguistics
a. Language is a cultural universal: it is a common human characteristic across all cultures.
b. No current language is primitive or simple. All languages are a complex mix of symbols, meanings and interpretations, which are always evolving.
c. Where did different languages come from?
The connection between languages is what historical linguists study.
i. How many languages are there? Short answer: over 6,000
ii. Proto-language is the first in a language family, before it starts “breaking apart” due to the forces of cultural isolation.
iii. Main Language Families: Graphic
1. Niger-Congo (1514 languages) [formerly Niger-Kordofanian]
2. Austronesian (1268 languages)
3. Trans-New Guinea (564 languages) [disputed]
4. Indo-European (449 languages)
d. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis or “The Principle of Linguistic Relativity”
Our language determines our thought processes. Are there ideas that you are unable to think? How would you know?
The Hypothesis: We can know the world only in terms of our language (one’s culture determines one’s knowledge and one’s outlook and way of thinking)
Example: color perception or environmental condition
Example: Orwell says that if humans cannot form the words to express the ideas underlying a revolution, then they cannot revolt; thus the “thought police” are invented.
e. i. Early written languages emerged around 5500 years ago
- Ancient Scripts Timeline - Clay tokens and Cuneiform
- Egyptian Hieroglyphics - Theban Mapping Project
- The Rosetta Stone 1 | 2
ii. Can animals acquire language? Yes.
- Koko (gorilla); Kanzi (bonobo)
- Dolphins; Elephants
iii. Can languages be made up? Yes.
- Computer code is a good example.
- Even fictional languages exist.
iv. Will there ever be a “universal translator”?
- What are the social, political and economic repercussions of universal translation? Are we on our way?
v. Are languages going extinct? Yes.
- More than half the world’s languages won’t exist by 2100
- One language disappears about every 10 minutes
- “Killer Languages”
- Language preservation efforts are underway.
2. Linguistics and Myth
a. Sociolinguistics is the field that studies how language affects culture.
Cultural Myths are often studied by sociolinguists(like Joseph Campbell and Claude Levi-Strauss).
i. Myths concentrate meaning into powerful stories that are passed down within and between cultures – they help us understand the EXPERIENCE of LIFE.
ii. Myths most often present binary oppositions (such as good vs. evil, culture vs. nature, or individual vs. society), and then they resolve the opposites, often through metaphorical or allegorical storytelling (e.g., fables).
iii. Myths last for long periods of time, because of the relevance of these themes in all human culture.
For example, look at how Greek mythology is incorporated to the modern world.
iv. Legends are like myths, in that they convey stories relevant to widely-felt cultural experiences, but unlike myth they usually involve specific people or places. Urban legends are a good example of modern-day myths.