Anthropology 1150: Ancient Landscapes


Archaeology has focused traditionally on excavations of settlement sites.  However, no settlement existed as an island; ancient peoples moved within a larger environment which constrained their actions while it was simultaneously transformed by them.  This course investigates the relationship between ancient societies and their landscapes.  We review the ways in which ancient "off-site" activities are preserved in the landscape and how archaeologists identify and document them.  We discuss the exploitation of the landscape for agriculture, pastoralism, and industry (particularly in the context of the earliest complex societies).  We examine the relative roles of anthropogenic and climatic influences on the development of human societies.  Finally, we consider how ancient communities perceived their landscapes and imbued them with meaning.  The focus of the textbook is the Near East, as is the expertise of the instructor; however, examples will also be drawn from other parts of the world, especially areas of early social complexity such as the Maya lowlands, coastal Peru, and the Andes.