ANTH 227 - Prehistory of Mexico
First term of a two-term sequence of Anthropology courses which deal with the culture of Americans of Mexican descent. This term, the focus is on the archaeology and cultural anthropology of Mesoamerica. Olmec, Zapotec, Toltec, Mayan, and Aztec cultures are surveyed. This course draws upon a number of different resources: readings, videos, student presentations, and artwork, to obtain as accurate a knowledge and understanding of these cultures as is presently possible.
Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:
1. Apply analytical skills to social phenomena in order to understand human behavior: Analyze and identify the forces and factors contributing to the rise and transformation of civilizations from food foraging to state societies in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.
2. Apply knowledge and experience to foster personal growth and better appreciate the diverse social world in which we live: Compare and contrast ancient cultural forms with modern contemporary religious, political, economic, and social beliefs and practice; noting the cultural diversity within these two civilizational arcs.
3. Understand the role of individuals and institutions within the context of society: Compare and contrast the communal, collective socio-cultural patterns of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica with the individualistic, atomistic socio-cultural patterns of modern America. Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of both patterns.
4. Assess different theories and concepts, and understand the distinctions between empirical and other methods of inquiry: Introduction and discussion of competing theories for the origin of "civilization" in general and of civilizations in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica in particular. Introduction and discussion of theories of the Maya Collapse. Assessment of which theories are best supported by archaeological and ethnographic evidence.
5. Utilize appropriate information literacy skills in written and oral communication: In-class discussion and analysis of course readings; take-home essay exams based on evaluation and synthesis of archeological data and their cultural implications.
6. Understand the diversity of human experience and thought, individually and collectively: Identify and illustrate common human needs present in every culture but that are met in different ways at different times and in different places, as shown in the course of Mesoamerican prehistory. Identify cultural themes and patterns in mythologies, and their symbolization of differing world views.
7. Apply knowledge and skills to contemporary problems and issues: Links subsistence, economic, and ecological factors to the rise and collapse of civilizations in Mesoamerica and the relevance of these to modern cultural ecology.
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