"The most important issue confronting the social sciences is the extent to which human behavior is shaped by factors that operate cross-culturally as opposed to factors that are unique to particular cultures." (Trigger 2003:3)
This course is designed to address several important and interesting archaeological and anthropological questions regarding the rise of civilization. These questions are:
- Why did human societies in very different and distant places chose to adopt such strikingly similar practices (e.g., agriculture, writing, metallurgy, urbanism, monumental architecture)?
- What factors influenced the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture?
- Why did civilizations emerge in the places they did?
- What factors influence the "collapse" of civilizations?
As a result of this course, you will be able to:
- Make empirically supported, valid generalizations about human behavior and culture using comparative research.
- Explain the factors that influenced the transition from hunting/gathering to state formation.
- Explain the sociocultural evolution of at least one region (e.g., Mesopotamia, Indus Valley etc.)
- Enhance your appreciation for your culture's place in time and space compared to the rise of other civilizations.
I also hope that as a result of this course you develop a life-long interest in prehistory and how we know what we know about the past.