Courses Taught at Stony Brook University

ANT 270: Great Archaeological Discoveries

ANT 277: Origins of Art

ANT 307: Prehistoric Archaeology of Africa (with emphasis on the Turkana Basin)

ANT 377: Animal Tool Use

ANT 418: Lithic Analysis

King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt, the mountain city of Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Terracotta Army of the first Chinese Emperor still thrill and mystify the world, more than a century after discovery. This class will unlock the secrets of these and other famous archaeological sites, including the stone circles of Stonehenge, the ancient ruins of Pompeii and the recently uncovered grave of King Richard III. We will explore scientific methods and cutting-edge forensic techniques used today by archaeologists to reconstruct past events. The global perspective of this class will illuminate our shared past and cultural heritage (3 credits). Advisory Prerequisite: ANT 104.

Humans make art, and art is all around us. The magnificent prehistoric paintings of multicolored horses, bison, and humans at the Lascaux and Altamira caves were created by artists living 30,000 years ago – but what came before it, and why did humans or their ancestors start being artistic? We will explore this chronologically, examining cave art and other early creative works, including bird-bone musical instruments, carved ivory figurines, shell ornaments, and older more disputed symbolic artifacts. Placed in broader archaeological context, we will learn about prehistoric cultures and debate the shamanistic, ecological, and hunting theories advanced to account for early art (3 credits).

This course is taught in Kenya during the Turkana Basin Institute Field School Study Abroad program. Tools changed early humans from one among many African primates to the equivalent of a global geological force. Stone tools and other technologies enabled early hominins to become the first organisms that could purposefully change their environment to suit their needs. This course traces the development of human technology where it first appears, in Eastern Africa, more than 3 million years ago. Course topics include the cognitive abilities of early humans implied by their technologies, early human adaptation and social behavior, and the inter-relationships between stone tool technology, paleoecology, and hominin biological evolution. Lectures and practical exercises teach students how to document the archaeological record and how to use it to test hypotheses about early human behavior. Field excursions teach archaeological survey and excavation techniques. Students conduct research and report their findings in writing and in oral presentations. Evaluation is based on quizzes, a final exam, group projects, a research paper, and participation. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor/Study Abroad office.

Tool use and manufacture was once believed to be uniquely human and the distinctive hallmark of human cognitive advancement. The discovery that some non-human animals, including birds, are capable tool users and in some cases tool makers offers exciting opportunities to examine such behaviors in living species. It opens up important implications for understanding animal intelligence, the emergence of culture and the supposed uniqueness of our own species. This class provides an overview of animal tool use and manufacture to compare and contrast the behavior of humans and animals (3 credits).

A detailed overview of the methods archaeologists use to extract behavioral information from prehistoric stone tools. The course examines raw material economy, technological strategies, tool use, and discard behavior (3 credits). Prerequisite: ANP 120 or ANT 104 with grade of C or better and one other ANT/ANP/EBH course at 200 level or higher with grade of C or better.

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