Sophomore Inquiry: Archaeology

WTR 2004

T/TH ­­­­­9:30-10:45

Instructor : Dr. Virginia L. Butler, 503.725-3303

Office : Cramer Hall, Rm 141 L

Office Hrs : Tue/Wed 11:00-noon or by appointment e-mail:


Graduate Mentor : Tom Stanton



Course Description :

Archaeology is the only field of study that has as its subject the entire range of human technological, social, and cultural behavior over the past 2.5 million years and across the entire globe. Through study of the material remains of the human past, archaeology grapples with fundamental questions about what it means to be human, how we came to be the way we are, and what we might expect from the future. The field draws on research interests, methods, and explanatory approaches from multiple disciplines including anthropology, history, black studies, art history, geography, biology, and geology.

This course and mentor session have several goals: 1) to provide a general background to archaeology so that you will have a greater appreciation for the discipline and the kinds of issues and problems it addresses; 2) introduce archaeology as a science, with a particular way to ask and answer questions; 3) give you several opportunities for “hands on” experiences in the lab and the field; 4) improve your technical writing and oral communication skills; 5) increase your skills in the presentation of qualitative and quantitative information; 6) increase your critical thinking and problem solving skills; and 7) give you an appreciation of the ethics of archaeology (preservation issues, ownership issues).

Sometime during quarter, 2-3 PSU faculty that work as archaeologists, Drs. Ken Ames, Karen Carr, and Kofi Agorsah, will present their own recent research on archaeology to the class.

Required Texts : (from PSU bookstore)

Feder, Kenneth L.

2002 Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries. McGraw Hill, Mayfield Publishing. New York (4th edition).

Peregrine, Peter N.

2001 Archaeological Research: A Brief Introduction. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.


Course Requirements/Grading :

4 assignments

Class participation (in SINQ and mentor session): 10 pts. This grade will be based on your contribution to class discussion and attendance.

More information on these assignments will be handed out and discussed in class and mentor session. In order to satisfactorily complete these assignments, you must come to each class unless you are ill or have a family emergency. I will be taking role periodically (same in mentor session); absences will be noted and points subtracted from your final grade.

Course Schedule

Week Topics Readings

Jan 5 intro to archaeology; epistemology; science; Feder Ch 1& 2, Peregrine preface Ch 1 & 2

Jan 12 the archaeological record, how we extract information Peregrine Ch 2; through field and lab analysis Ch 3-6

Jan 19 how we extract information through lab work; Peregrine Ch. 8-10

Jan 26 dating methods Peregrine Ch. 11

Feb 2 Putting it together: Outside speakers-research tba

Feb 9 Putting it together: Outside speakers-research tba

Feb 16 oral presentations

Feb 17 Piltdown; Feder: Ch. 4

Feb 19- Europeans & Africans in Feder: Ch. 6 the New World before 1492

Feb 23 oral presentations

Feb 24- Moundbuilders; Feder: Ch. 7

Feb 26- Ancient Astronauts Feder: Ch. 9

Mar 1 oral presentations

Mar 2- Atlantis; Feder: Ch. 10

Mar 4- Shroud of Turin, Feder: Ch. 11

Mar 8 ethics and archaeology Peregrine Ch. 13