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ANT 3141 Development of World Civilization

Dr. _____________

How did the modern world come to be the way it is today?  This course looks at the deep history and ecology of pre- or non-industrial urban societies.  Expanding on the questions, what makes us human, covered in ANT 2140 (Intro to Archaeology), this course tackles the question: what is civilization? The case materials begin with the major civilizations of the Old World through the lens of anthropological archaeology, such as Mesopotamia (Iraq), Egypt, Pakistan, China and the northern Mediterranean (the Global North), from the earliest underpinnings in the domestication of nature, including diverse interactions between humans and the natural world, and permanent communities. The class also addresses historical bias toward human civilizations known through Western (European) historical experience, disfavoring areas farther removed, in the Global South, particularly African, Pacific Island and Native American civilizations, such as the Maya, Andean civilizations, the eastern woodlands of North America and the Amazon, which often lack some of the harbingers of classical civilization, e.g., stone architecture, pyramids or intensive agricultural technologies.  Despite the ever-expanding variation apparent as archaeology slowly reveals its secrets if these regions, there is patterned change in urban societies, as they develop, respond to nature and natural disaster, such as climate change, and eventually collapse. Architecture, as the obvious footprint of human-environmental relations, is the point of departure for our comparisons, although in many situations, such as tropical and temperate forests, this footprint is subtle and only recoverable through archaeology. We close with a discussion of how the urban civilizations of the ancient world help us understand human societies today, including response to climate change, sustainability and cultural heritage.