Humankind has had a revolutionary past-or so archaeology would lead us to believe.
The earliest evidence for language, ritual, and the arts, dating back to the extinction of the Neanderthals, is known as the "Human Revolution". The time when hunter-gatherers became farmers? The "Neolithic Revolution". And when people started living in cities? The "Urban Revolution". This course will explore the historical reasons for these revolutionary labels, and consider instead these "revolutions" as gradual processes (or evolutions).
Email: Suzanne_Birch at brown.edu
Phone: (401) 863-2306
Office Hours: M/W 1:00-2:00 and by appointment
Office: Rhode Island Hall 210
You will be expected to complete assigned readings before each class.
- Papers (2) 50%
- Blog posts (2) and comments 10%
- Attendance/participation (including in-class writing assignments and presentations) 20%
- Final exam 20%
Regular attendance and participation in class discussions are an important component of the class and you are expected to attend all classes unless you have a valid excuse.
Books and Course Materials
Two books are required. They are available at the campus bookstore and on 24-hour reserve in the Rock. All other readings will be available on the private forum of the course wiki:[link] (login required). Readings are bulleted in the schedule below and should be completed before the lecture.
- Gamble, C. 2007. Origins and Revolutions: Human Identity in Earliest Prehistory.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Trigger, B.G. 2006. A History of Archaeological Thought. Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Be sure to stop by and check out the class blog, too: http://blogs.brown.edu/arch-0740-2013-fall-s01/
Student and Employee Accessibility Services Please inform me if you have a disability or other condition that might require some modification of any of these course procedures. You may speak with me after class or during office hours. For more information contact Student and Employee Accessibility Services (SEAS) at 401-863-9588 or SEAS@brown.edu
Libraries Our subject librarian is Ian Straughn (Ian_Straughn@brown.edu). You can contact him with any research or library-related questions.
Week 1: An introduction to revolutions & evolution in archaeology
09/04 Lecture: Coming to terms: typologies, chronologies, and what really happened in prehistory
- Gamble (2007) Prologue, “The longest of long revolutions” pp. 3-7.
- Trigger (2006) Chapter 1, “Studying the history of archaeology” pp. 1-38.
09/06 Lecture: Thought, writing, argument and debate (in archaeology)
- Connah (2010) Chapter 1, “Writing About Archaeology” pp.1-10
Week 2: The long march of time: dating and scale in archaeology
09/09 Lecture: Relative dating and chronologies
- Renfrew & Bahn (2008) Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice pp.121-132.
- Trigger (2006) Chapter 4.1, “Relative dating” pp. 121-128.
09/11 Lecture: Scientific and absolute dating
- Hedges (1995) “Radiocarbon dating by accelerator mass spectrometry” American Journal of Archaeology 99:105-108.
- Renfrew & Bahn (2008) Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice pp.133-149.
09/13 Seminar: Time on a human scale
- Renfrew & Bahn (2008) Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice pp. 162-174
Week 3: A history of archaeology
09/16 Lecture: From antiquarianism to today
All in Trigger (2006)
- Chapter 2, pp. 40-77
- Chapter 3, pp. 110-118
- Chapter 4, pp.147-158
09/18 Lecture: Who needs theory, anyway?
- Chapter 6, pp. 241-278
- Chapter 7, pp.315-319
- Chapter 8, pp. 392-444
09/20 Seminar: Changing perspectives in archaeological thought
Week 4: Origins
09/23 Lecture: Our earliest ancestors
- Trigger (2006) pp. 147-156
09/25 Lecture: The Lower & Middle Paleolithic
- Wrangham (2009) Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human pp.83-147
09/27 Seminar: How do you define human?
Week 5: The “Human Revolution” part 1
09/30 Lecture: Movement and mobility
- Wolpoff (2004) “Multiregional origins of modern humans” pp.244-245 and Foley and Mirazon Lahr (2004) “Modern human origins-why it’s time to move on” pp. 249-250 in Jobling et al., Human Evolutionary Genetics: Origins, Peoples and Disease.
10/02 Lecture: Innovations in technology
- Renfrew & Bahn (2008) Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice pp. 317-344
10/04 Seminar: Becoming human
- Gamble (2007) “The Human Revolution” pp. 33-59 and pp. 157-205
Week 6: The “Human Revolution” part 2
10/07 Lecture: Innovations in art
- Farbstein (2011) “Technologies of Art” Current Anthropology 52:401-432.
10/09 Lecture: Symbolism and identity
- Gamble (2006) “The Material Basis of Identity” pp. 87-154.
10/11 Seminar: Challenges in interpretation of personhood
Week 7: The “Broad Spectrum Revolution”
10/14 NO CLASS-FALL WEEKEND
10/16 Lecture: You are what you eat: how diet defines peoples
- Flannery (1969) “Origins and ecological effects of early domestication in Iran and the Near East” in Ucko & Dimbleby (ed.) pp. 73-100.
- Stiner (2001) “Thirty years on the “Broad Spectrum Revolution and Paleolithic demography” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 98: 6993-6996.
10/18 **FIRST PAPER DUE IN CLASS**
Seminar: From environmental determinism to environmental management
- Zeder (2012) “The Broad Spectrum Revolution at 40: Resource diversity, intensification, and an alternative to optimal foraging explanations” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31:241-264.
Week 8: The “Neolithic Revolution” part 1
10/21 Lecture: What is the “Neolithic”?Advances in detecting domestication
- Diamond (1987) "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race," Discover Magazine pp. 64-66.
10/23 Lecture: The “Neolithic Package”and its spread
- Gamble (2007) Chapter 1.1, “The Neolithic Revolution” pp. 10-33 and Chapter 8, “Did agriculture change the world?” pp. 205-274
10/25 Seminar: Was it really a revolution?
Week 9: The “Neolithic Revolution” part 2
10/28 Lecture: The origins of agriculture around the world
- Trigger (2006) pp. 322-326, 344-360, 372-382.
10/30 Lecture: The elusive “Mesolithic-Neolithic transition”
- Robb & Miracle (2007) “Beyond ‘migration’ versus ‘acculturation’: new models for the spread of agriculture” Proceedings of the British Academy 144:99-115.
11/01 Seminar: A revolution of people or ideas?
Week 10: The “Urban Revolution”
11/04 Lecture: From caves to cities?
- Childe (1950) “The Urban Revolution” Town Planning Review21:3-17.
- Davis (1955) “The Origin and Growth of Urbanization in the World” American Journal of Sociology 60:429-437.
11/06 Lecture: The emergence of writing and “civilization”
- Renfrew (1980) “The Emergence of Civilization” in Cotterell (ed.), Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilizations pp. 12-22.
11/08 Seminar: From the profane to the urbane
- Smith (2009) “V. Gordon Childe and the Urban Revolution: a historical perspective on a revolution in urban studies” Town Planning Review 80:3-29.
Week 11: Another kind of revolution: crises and collapse
11/11 Lecture: Can we really talk about crisis in archaeology?
- Cameron (1996) “Abandonment and archaeological interpretation” in Cameron (ed.) The Abandonment of Settlements and Regions: Ethnoarchaeological and archaeological approaches pp. 3-8.
- Tainter (2006) “Archaeology of Overshoot and Collapse” Annual Review of Anthropology 35:59-74.
11/13 Lecture: Case studies from the Maya to the Romans
- Gerrard (2011) “Crisis, whose crisis? The fifth century in south-western Britain” in Pilaar Birch & Wallduck (ed.) Archaeology and Economic Crises, Archaeological Review from Cambridge26(1): 65-78.
- McAnany & Gallareta, “Bellicose rulers and climatological peril? Retrofitting 21st century woes on 8th century Maya society” in McAnany & Yoffee (2009) Questioning collapse: human resilience, ecological vulnerability, and the aftermath of empire pp. 152-186.
11/15 Seminar: Time(scales) of crisis and resilience
Week 12: A technological revolution: scientific archaeology
11/18 Lecture: Turning back the “molecular clock”: time and DNA
- Jones & Brown (2000) “Agricultural origins: the evidence of modern and ancient DNA” The Holocene 10:769-776.
- Heron & Evershed (1993) “The Analysis of Organic Residues and the Study of Pottery Use” Archaeological Method & Theory 5:247-284.
11/20 Lecture: Adding the details: chemical and residues analysis
- Richards & Hedges (1999) “A Neolithic Revolution? New evidence of diet in the British Neolithic” Antiquity73:891-897.
- Milner et al. (2004) “Something fishy in the Neolithic? A re-evaluation of stable isotope analysis of Mesolithic and Neolithic coastal populations” Antiquity78:9-22.
- Richards & Schulting (2006) “Touch not the fish: the Mesolithic-Neolithic change of diet and its significance.” Antiquity 80: 444-456.
11/22 Seminar: A revolutionary mindset for 21st century digital archaeology?
Week 13: Historical Archaeology: The Industrial Revolution
11/25 **SECOND PAPER DUE IN CLASS**
Lecture: The Industrial Revolution, Industrial Archaeology and the Anthropocene
- Palmer & Neaverson (1998) “Chapter 1. Scope of Industrial Archaeology” in Industrial Archaeology: Principles and Practice pp.1-15.
11/27 and 11/29 NO CLASS-THANKSGIVING BREAK
WEEK 14: Modern-Day Revolutions and Antiquity
12/2 Lecture: The cost of war
- Haglund et al. (2001) “The Archaeology of Contemporary Mass Graves” Historical Archaeology 35:57-69.
- Thompson (2004) “Digging up Stories: An Archaeology of Theatre in War” The Drama Review 48:150-164.
12/4 Lecture: Stewardship and cultural resource management
- Current news articles on effects of conflict in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Egypt
12/6 Seminar: The story so far…a review
WEEK 15: READING PERIOD