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Signifance of Anthropology and Archaeology
“The Significance of”
“Anthropologists and Archaeologists”
Anthropologists and archaeologists have influenced our lives in so many ways.
They have taken us back to our most humble beginnings. They have given us an
awareness of just how far we have come through the centuries. Archaeology is the
investigating of life by unearthing and interpreting the objects left behind by earlier
peoples and cultures, dating back to prehistoric times. Anthropology is the scientific
study of hominids, their physical features, development, and behavior. Anthropology is
broken into two parts: physical and sociocultural. Physical is concerned with human
evolution and biology and the study of primates. Sociocultural anthropology investigates
fieldwork of food production, social organizations and religious beliefs, clothing,
language and other aspects of various cultures from the beginnings of our evolution to
present day times. Ethnology is another facet of anthropology that fine tunes these
cultural studies. Archaeology tells us how these people lived by examining the objects
they used. Anthropology tells us how we have changed and evolved from their
advancements. By examining their bones, we can determine their brain size and posture.
Their tools found tell us their ability to adapt to the environment ( their intelligence
levels) and provide for their basic needs. Archaeologists have discovered many artifacts
in the150 years that the field has been active. Anthropology has enlightened us to how
are minds and bodies have changed since the mid 19th century. Both archaeologists and
anthropologists are working towards the goal of discovering how and when man began.
To understand their significance we must look into what we once thought we knew and
what we think we know today.
. In the 19th century,anthropology emerged as a distinct field of study. Lewis
Henry Morgan, who did major research on the Iroquois, was the founder of this discipline
in North America.. The European founding figure was British scholar Edward B. Taylor,
who perfected a theory of human evolution with special concentration on the origins of
religion. Major foundations for scientific archaeology developed. Mostly by Danish
archaeologists at the Northern Antiquities Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. From
excavations they discovered development of tools from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age.
In Olduval Gorge in East Africal, Louis S.B. Leakey and his wife, Mary D. N.
Leakey and their son Richard, discovered a series of fossils in the 1960’s.Their findings
revised the understanding of human biological evolution. These paleoanthropologists
focused their work on Homo habilis. In the 1970’s and 80’s, fossil remains dug upin east
Africa, have provided more evidence that in the period from one million to three million
years ago, the genus-Homo(true Human) existed with other man-ape forms known as
australopithecines. Both the genus-homo and the Australopithecus are descendants of an
Ethiopian fossil, Australopithecus afarensis. This ethiopian fossil is 3 million to3.7
million years old. This time frame keeps him in the Homo habilis genus, though he had
the legs and body for walking bipedally. Homo erectus developed the use of fire. The
oldest evidence of such was excaveted at a site in Beijing, China called Zhoukoudian.
Homo erectus improved on his tools, clothing and shelter. Cave dwelling developed
under his advancement. Homo Sapeiens (Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon), after learning
how to survive, began caring for their community and developed art and spiritual
The 19th century anthropologists found that kinship relationships form the
substance of social relations in all premodern societies. The most important social
groups are the clan, lineages, and other kinship organizations, in earlier non-industrial
societies. A common ancester and his descendents make up a kinship based society.
Religious fraternities and secret societies are examples of non-kinship based,
non-industrial societies. Food is the source of life. How food was obtained determined
the settlement of a community,i.e.prehistoric man(cro-magnan) was nomadic Homo
Sapiens because he was a hunter of meat and gathererer of fruits and vegetables. Social
structure advances as leaders were established to organize big game hunts. Evolution of
thinking matured as reasons for happenings were sought. Magic rituals and burials for
their leades evolved. As they developed tools and joined forces with other groups to hunt,
they started early societies. When people, finally, learned to domesticate plants and
animals they lived in one place all of their lives. Soon cities came about; Jericho, in the
middles east is one of the first discovered villages found, dating back to 8000 B.C. The
village of Catak Huyuk, in present day Turkey, dates from 7000-6300B,C. Some of their
tools, that have archeologically been excavated from this neolithic period show their
advancement in civilization. There mud brick houses show their love of art as their walls
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