El Camino College

Anthropology Department

Anthropology 12:  Ancient Civilizations
                           of the World       Dr. D. Blair Gibson

Anthropology 12
Dr. D. Blair Gibson

Class Information
Couse Policies
Course Material
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Class Information:

Anthropology 12, Section 2136 Room: ArtB 305
M, W 9:30 pm - 10:55 am

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Course Policies:

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Spring 2016              Ancient Civilizations of the World               Dr. Blair Gibson

Phone: (310) 532-3670 x 3580      email: dbgibson@elcamino.edu     Office: ArtB 330 D Faculty web page: www.elcamino.edu/faculty/dbgibson/index.html


Office hrs: Mon., Wed.:1:00 - 2:00 PM; Tues.,Thurs.: 8:45 – 9:15 AM; 3:30-4:00 PM


Textbooks: Ancient Civilizations; Christopher Scarre and Brian M. Fagan

   Course resources: Syllabi, handouts, and Powerpoint lectures can be viewed and downloaded on the class web page, accessed through my faculty index page. Copies of the textbook are on reserve in the library in the reserve reading area.


Course Description:


 This course traces the emergence of early states and ancient empires around the globe. The cultural achievements linked to state development are traced through a survey of evidence from both the archaeological and historical records. Students will be introduced to anthropological theories that seek to model and explain the appearance of state-level societies and empires.

Course Objectives



  1. Identify some of the shared features of state-level societies, and contrast these with the characteristics of complex chiefdoms.
  2. Compare and contrast theories of state origins advanced by scholars of the Marxian, cultural ecology, and political economy schools.
  3. Describe how the sites of Göbeckli Tepi, Abu Hureya, Çatal Höyük and Jericho illustrate the transition from hunting and gathering to sedentary agriculture and towns in the fertile crescent of the Middle East.
  4. Evaluate the material evidence from excavated Neolithic settlements of northern and southern Mesopotamia that points to emerging social complexity between 6000-4000 BCE.
  5. Analyse the cosmology, cosmography, and the rituals of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Relate these to Classical Greek mythology and the historic rituals of the cultures of the Mediterranean.
  6. Discuss the origins and evolution of cuneiform script. Explain how it came to be deciphered.
  7. Systematize the relationship between climate change, changing patterns of settlement and land use, and the introduction of agriculture to Egypt.
  8. Trace the process of the political unification of Egyptian chiefdoms into a state during the PreDynastic Period.
  9. Generalize what is known of the principal details of ancient Egyptian cosmology from the iconography of predynastic maceheads, temple statues, tomb paintings, and the relief carvings found at king Djoser’s temple complex.
  10. Appraise how the Egyptian state was administered and financed during the Old Kingdom. Discuss how workmen and overseers were compensated during the construction of the Ghiza pyramids.
  11. Explain how the evidence related to subsistence and trading recovered from the Neolithic site of Mehrgarh in Balochistan, Pakistan, supports Gregory Possehl’s concept of an expanded nuclear zone.
  12. Evaluate the contention that the principal gods of Hindu India have their origins in the Indus civilization.   
  13. Contrast the differences in climate and ecology between the regions surrounding the Yellow (Huang) and Yangtse rivers, and describe the impact of these differences to the agricultural systems of these regions.
  14. Judge the degree to which ethnohistorical sources describing the earliest Chinese dynasties of the Yellow River Valley can be verified by the archaeological record.
  15. Explain the functions of bronze vessels, stone chimes, bell sets, and inscribed turtle palastrons and ox scapula in rituals in Early Bronze Age China.
  16. Describe what is known of the religious, economic, and political functions of the Early Bronze Age “palace” complexes of Crete and Mycenean Greece.



Course Student Learning Objectives


SLO #1 Characteristics of Archaic States

Over five multiple choice questions a student will demonstrate that he/she is able to distinguish between those organizational characteristics that are invariably associated with archaic state-level societies, and those that often but not always occur in these contexts. Students should be able identify those characteristics that archaeologists use to recognize states in lieu of written records. Finally, students should be able to recognize the differences in organization, and in the amount of authority wielded by the leaders of complex chiefdoms and archaic states. 


SLO #2 Salient Features of the Epic of Gilgamesh 

Students will critically evaluate the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh by providing short written answers to nine questions. These questions concern the metaphors of the text, the identity and role of the goddess Ishtar, the cosmological significance of the cedar forest, Enkidu as a symbol of nature, the political system of Uruk, the significance of the rituals discussed by the text and the similarities of epsodes in the myth to Greek myths and biblical stories. Thirty points total will be assigned to the answers and the standard for success is a mean class score of 23.

SLO #3 The Earliest Writing Systems 

Over ten multiple-choice questions students will display a mastery of the key facts and issues concerning the origins and evolution of the world’s first written languages. The facts of the study of early written languages that the student will have to be aware of concern the conditions for a successful decipherment, the relation of written symbols to the sounds and morphemes of the language. Further the student will recognize the patterns in the evolution of written systems, and the earliest uses to which written language was put. Success will be a class average on these questions exceeding 72%.




ADA Statement: El Camino College is committed to providing educational accommodations for students with disabilities upon the timely request by the student to the instructor. A student with a disability, who would like to request an academic accommodation, is responsible for identifying herself/himself to the instructor and to the Special Resources Center. To make arrangements for academic accommodations, contact the Special Resources Center.

Course Requirements


Four equally weighted exams, five quizzes, and an assignment consisting of written answers to questions concerning the Gilgamesh epic.

The Exams: The exams are non-cumulative and involve multiple choice and matching type questions. Each exam will be 60 questions long, and each question will be worth 1 point. The grade scale for the tests will be based upon the highest grade that was achieved on the test. Grade boundaries will be 90%, 80%, 70% etc. of that score. The exams will cover lectures, readings, and films. The exams are worth 72% of the grade.

The quizzes: The syllabus quiz is intended to acquaint students with class policies. The remaining quizzes prepare students for the exams. The syllabus quiz is worth 15 points and each subsequent quiz will be worth 10 points. The quizzes are worth 16% of the grade.

The Epic of Gilgamesh – Brief written answers will be submitted in response to ten questions asked about the Gilgamesh epic. Translations of the Epic of Gilgamesh can be found online. This assignment will be worth 40 points and is worth 12% of the grade. The potential number of points achieved for the semester is c. 335.

Late Assignments: I drop a score by 10% of the total value of the assignment for every class meeting an assignment is late before it is graded.

  Make-ups: Quizzes cannot be made up under any conditions. A student will not be allowed to take a quiz if that student arrives to class after the quiz is finished. Exams, with the exception of the final exam, may only be made up under the following conditions: 1) the reason for missing the exam is very serious or a school-sanctioned or educational activity, and the absence is documentable, 2) the instructor has been contacted on the day of the crisis or before. 3) Documentation of the reason for the absence is furnished to me prior to taking the make-up. Make-ups may only be taken in my office during my office hours. I will not turn back test results until all make-ups have been completed.  I will only delay returning exams to students one class meeting to allow time for make-ups.

Extra credit: Students are encouraged to do extra-credit assignments up to a limit of 40 points. See guidelines for details. All extra credit work must be submitted or performed before the 15th week of classes. Students will be excluded from earning extra credit for excessive unexcused absences (2 weeks’ worth+) and tardies.

Student responsibilities: Full participation is expected from the participants in this course. This responsibility entails attending class meetings and reading the assigned materials. There are consequences for not living up to these responsibilities:

Attendance - I take attendance at the beginning of the period. I don't adjust attendance retroactively, so if a student is late and misses roll, it is the student's responsibility to seek a correction on the day of the tardy. A student who is absent on a given day is still responsible for what transpired in class on that day. The student is to come to the instructor's office during the office hour to obtain any handout or unclaimed work a student has missed due to an absence. Attendance will figure into my grading at the end of term if the grade is borderline. I will do an automatic review of the attendance record if a grade is within 3% of an upper grade boundary, and the student will receive the higher grade as long as tardies and absences don’t exceed one week’s worth.  Students whose total absences and tardies exceed two weeks will be barred from extra credit. A tardy counts as ½ unexcused absence.

Laptop computers and cell phones: these may not be used during the class period – no exceptions!

Unrighteous behavior - if you wish for me to waiting for you at grade time with vengeance in my heart, then do any of the following 1) leave the classroom while lecture is in progress, and for added effect, cross directly in front of me to make sure I lose my train of thought. If you do this I will record you as absent for the day. 2) talk to your neighbor, show off your laptop computer, or sleep while lecture is in progress. 3) take a cell phone call while class is in progress 4) use a cell phone in any manner while class is in progress. If a student leaves class while class is in session on a purported bathroom visit and has a cell phone, I will assume that the bathroom visit is a ruse and the student is intentionally disrupting class for personal reasons. A student found to engage in these latter two behaviors will be asked to leave the classroom for the day. These are all effective ways of communicating to me your interest level in the class, and your respect for me as a teacher.            

            Cheating: I don't fool around with those who cheat. Cheating includes copying off another's test or copying off of internet web pages. Learn the consequences at your peril!


  Drops - Generally speaking, I will automatically drop anyone with 1 ½ - 2 consecutive week's worth of absences. However, oversights occur, so ultimately it is the responsibility of the student to withdraw from the class if the student wishes to do so.  

 Incompletes - an incomplete will only be given to a student caught in the throes of a crisis not related to class performance. I will not give an incomplete if the student has missed or cannot take the final at the scheduled time except in cases of medical or family emergency.

 Grade Reporting – All scores and the final grade are posted on Gradebook as soon as I have calculated them. Disregard the Final Grade section of the webpage until the end of the semester as it will not be accurate until then.


*****If you have any special problems, circumstances, or pressures please discuss them with me as soon as you can, not at the end of the term!



Week    Topics                                                                                  Reading  

________________________________________________                       _____


1          Review of course policies.


2           Civilization and Archaic States: characteristics.                                Chpt. 1  

              The rediscovery of the ancient states of the Old World.                                     

3         Theories on the Origins of the State                                                    Chpt. 2


Syllabus Quiz Monday February 3rd


4-5        The Earliest Temples, Villages and Towns                                      Part II 

4           Quiz #2 Monday Feb. 8th

5           Test #1 Wednesday Feb. 17th


6-8       Temple, City, and State in Early Mesopotamia                                  Chpt. 3


7          Gilgamesh Epic Assignment due Mon. Feb. 29th


Quiz #3 Wednesday March 2nd

                                                                                                                (to pg. 131)

8          Test #2  Wednesday March 9th


9-10     From Chiefdom to State in Ancient Egypt                                        Chpt. 4

11-12   The Harrapan Civilization of the Indus Valley                                   Chpt. 5                       

11        Quiz #4 Wednesday April 6th                                                                      


12        Test #3 Wednesday April 13th


13-14   The Earliest Chinese States                                                                 Chpt. 6          

15        Mediterranean Kingdoms: Minoan Civilization                                 Chpt 9

Quiz #5 Monday May  2nd (instructor may be at a conference)                                                       

16        Final Exam Wednesday May 11th



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List assignments here.

40 pts.                                                                  Due: Tuesday, October 7th

Epic of Gilgamesh Assignment

There are several translations of the Epic of Gilgamesh to be found online. Read the epic, all eleven tablets, and then provide brief answers to the following questions. Please provide examples from the texts to back your assertions.

1. What does the wild bull (Aurochs) seem to personify or symbolize in the myth? Note: this question does not concern the Bull of Heaven. Instead I’m thinking of the bull metaphors that occur in the text as they apply to Gilgamesh.

2. Who and what is Ishtar/Innana? What are her powers and what role does she play in the epic’s narrative?

3. How does the epic view the act of sex, and by extension women?

4. What kinds of rituals are carried out in temples and on mountains? Cite specific examples to support your conclusions.

5. The killing of the Bull of Heaven resembles which modern sport? How? How should both this sport and the killing depicted in the epic be regarded in the context of early religion?

6. Echoes of the Epic of Gilgemesh are to be found in the Book of Genesis and in Greek mythology. Describe the details of one such correspondence.

7. What’s the deal with cedar? Why go to such lengths to obtain it? Why is it protected?

8. Describe Uruk’s political system. Was Gilgamesh’s power in Uruk absolute?

9. Beyond his relationship with Gilgamesh, what might the character Enkidu represent or symbolize in the story?

10. What belief concerning snakes does the story present?

Your submission must be typed.


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Course Material:


Extra Credit Guidelines     Dr. Gibson

As I value a strong work ethic, students are encouraged to improve their scores through
extra-credit work. I keep a running tally of extra credit points at the far column of my grade book. These are added to a student's point total after I have calculated the semester grade scale. I don't log extra credit submissions individually in my book or in Gradebook due to the large and varied forms that
they may take, so students should retain items that have been handed back to them in case there is a dispute concerning what the student has done. The effect that extra credit points have on a student's grade depends upon where they stand with respect to grade boundaries, and how much extra credit work has been done. There is an overall cap on extra credit of 50 points.

No presentations or any other submissions will be allowed during the final two weeks of class.

There are three ways to earn extra credit:

1) I believe that rather than being a purely solitary exercise - the
knowledge that the student gains should be shared with the class. Extra credit
can therefore take the form of a short (c. 5 min.) oral presentation
on something the student has come across in the media that is relevant to the
course material. This exercise benefits both the student (gaining confidence in
public speaking), and the class. Yes, this also means that written reports are not
. Any of the following may be turned to as a source: a recent
newspaper or magazine article, a book, a film or TV program, a relevant museum
exhibit, or a public lecture on a topic relevant to the class. Things culled
from internet media outlets are ok, too, except as noted below


It is not a term paper or research project. This means that reports on old books,
chapters from textbooks, or on a topic that you have researched will not be allowed
. Please don't go to the library and dig up something arcane or obscure from a scientific journal. It should be something that the class can easily relate to, and relevant to some aspect of the course material; e.g. in the case of physical anthropology, no dinosaurs, please. The article must
be from a publication that appeared this year, preferably within the last few months. Promotional internet press releases, internet summaries of full length articles appearing in print elsewhere, informational texts from institutional web sites, and Wikipedia or other online encyclopedia entries are not ok. Anything from the web should be about four pages long minimum. Finally, extra credit means doing extra work, so reports drawn from your life experiences, however interesting, are not allowed.

Please clear whatever it is you are considering with me prior to class, and give me an idea
what you are going to say or do. Please, no DVD's. The presentation should ideally be 5 minutes or under. Please retain a copy of the article you presented, initialed by myself, in case there is a question about your extra-credit points at the end of term

Points and limitations:  I will give 10 points per presentation. Students are limited to 1 presentation per class meeting, and no more than three presentations total will be allowed. Students may not duplicate the presentation of another student.

2) An officially sanctioned visit or excursion to a relevant museum exhibit, conference, symposium, ritual gathering, public lecture, collection of primates, or archaeological site. Trips made by the anthropology club often do fall into this category, and can earn the participant points.

Unless the visit is to an institution listed at the back of this handout or to a lecture
or conference announced in class, the visit must be sanctioned by myself before
points will be allocated. Do not go to something and expect it to be retroactively
sanctioned. Sanctioning depends upon its relevance to the class. The number of
points awarded is variable, depending upon the distance the student traveled in
order to participate, and the cost of the event to the student. Visits to most
museums are worth 10 pts.

Submit a one-page, typed description of the museum exhibit with the ticket attached. Your report must convince me that you viewed exhibits at the institution, and yes, I do check
their websites.

3) Attending a free department-sponsored lecture. As these are free and
occur on campus. 5 pts. are awarded per lecture. In order to gain credit, the
student must submit a 1 page typed summary of the lecture. This summary
must reach me within a week of the event.    

A word of advice: Don't wait until the last minute to do extra credit. The reasons are:
1) the instructor may be absent on the last day when presentations are allowed.
2) Many other people do this, and they may have the same article to read, and
only one person can present any one article. Finally, 3) articles don't always
conveniently present themselves in moments of desperation and 4) you may not
make it to the target institution in time for admittance.

Finally, extra credit is meant to be an assist to students who are otherwise making an effort to do well in the class, it is not meant to be a means of compensating for poor attendance. Therefore, students
with an excess of two week's worth of unexcused absences will be barred from acquiring additional extra credit points. Students will also be barred from earning extra credit if they disrupt class with tardies - arriving at class after role taking has ended. Each tardy will count as ½ unexcused

Relevant Institutions (by discipline). You may only visit an institution for credit that corresponds to the class that you are enrolled in.  

Physical Anthropology (Anthropology 1): San Diego Museum of Man (ticket is
absolutely required to obtain credit

Southern California Primate Research Forum (scprf.ucsc.edu)

Gibbon Conservation Center (gibboncenter.org). Note: You cannot visit this institution
for credit after the exam which concerns non-human primates

Cultural Anthropology (Anthropology 2):

Fowler Museum of Cultural History/ Fowler Museum at UCLA

Bowers Museum of Cultural Art (www.bowers.org). Address: 2002 N. Main St. Santa Ana

San Diego Museum of Man

Autry National Center (non-cowboy exhibits only).

Pacific Asia Museum

Japanese American Museum, Chinese American Museum - both in downtown LA.

California African American Museum (focus on cultural exhibits, especially those

concerning Africa).

Skirball Museum

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (Native American exhibits only)

Archaeology (Anthropology 3):

UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology   (www.ioa.ucla.edu).

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (archaeology exhibits only).

Bowers Museum of Cultural Art (call ahead to enquire about archaeology-themed exhibits).

Getty Center in Malibu (not the one in the Sepulveda pass, unless there is an archaeology


Pacific Asia Museum, Los Robles Ave, Pasadena.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (archaeological exhibits only - e.g the new Latin American Hall, exhibits on ancient SE Asian art)

Chen Art Gallery (in the Sunrider Corporate headquarters on Carson, you must call ahead for an appointment to see it (310) 781-3808).

Ancient Civilizations of the World/ of the Americas (Anthropology 12 & 8)

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), archaeological exhibits only. See their

website for relevant lectures as well.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (archaeology exhibits only).

Bowers Museum of Cultural Art (call ahead to enquire about archaeology-themed exhibits,
or go on to their website).

San Diego Museum of Man - Small permanent exhibit on the Maya.

Getty Center in Malibu (Anthro. 12 only, except for temporary exhibits).

Chen Art Gallery (Anthro. 12 only).

Mesoamerican Network - Now based at CSULA, visit their website for details on the
biannual conference.

Skirball Museum: mostly does exhibits on Jewish history, but has a small permanent archaeology exhibit. Thursday is their free day.

Mesoamerican Society - Also based at CSULA. Mesoamericansocietycsula.blogspot.com

New World Archaeology Council - sponsors occasional symposia.

Archaeological Institute of America - sponsors talks primarily on Old World Archaeology

around the southland, but occasionally on the New World as well. Check their website for

information under the Los Angeles or Orange Co. Chapters.

Study Guide
for Test #1 - Ancient Civilizations of the World

Chapter 1  Terms: civilization, city, civitas, ceremonial center, king, royal

Concepts: states (primary, secondary, pristine), ritual homicide, scale, ecclesiastical
religion, caste, endogamy, prestige goods.

Theoretical schools: Marxism, multilinear evolutionism

Scholars: Vere Gordon Childe, Julian Steward, Eli Sagan

Works: Man Makes Himself, At the Birth of Tyranny

How does a dictionary define civilization? What was Childe's conceptualization of
civilization? What impact did Marxism have on his thinking? What were the
defects in his thinking? What did he get right? What are the characteristics of
a city?

What are the characteristics of a state? How may an archaeologist identify a state?
How is a primary or pristine state different from a secondary state? Are the
differences really significant?

Have an idea of the general stages of the development of archaeology in respect to
the investigation of ancient civilizations.

Chapter 2

Scholars: V. Gordon Childe, Julian Steward, Elman Service, Alan Johnson and Timothy
Earle,  Norman Yoffee, Karl Wittfogel, Susan Frankenstein and Michael Rowlands, Ester Boserup, Mark Nathan Cohen,  Robert Carneiro, Marshall Sahlins, Richard Blanton, Gary Feinman, Robert Netting, Joyce Marcus, Jared Diamond, Friederich Engles, Kent Flannery, Henry Wright.

Concepts: levels of sociocultural integration, Neolithic revolution, oasis theory, urban
revolution, hydraulic hypothesis, prestige goods system, systems theory,
geographical  and social circumscription, dual-processual theory, chiefdoms, ideology, latent and active power.

What are the features of Neoevolutionism, and Julian Steward's thinking in
particular (see also Chpt. 1 in the book)?

Terms: conflict and managerial theories, coercive and voluntaristic theories, agency,
power, settlement hierarchies, cycling, pre-state societies, scale,
redistribution, ramage or conical clan, ancestor veneration, staple finance,
Neolithic, exchange, political economy, sumptuary consumption/prestige goods,
fixed capital resources

What are the attributes of a complex chiefdom? How is a chiefdom different from a
state? How many tiers to the settlement hierarchies are there in each kind of
polity? Do all scholars agree that chiefdoms always existed prior to the
emergence of states?

Why did Childe place such an emphasis on the role played by craft specialization in
social evolution? What were the key processes in Childe's theory of social
evolution? Were all archaic states urban?

Why might Wittfogel think that irrigation might lead to the origin of the state and
determine its' character?

What relationship did Boserup posit between population growth and agricultural

Which scholars thought that trade played a determinative role in social evolution?
Trade in which kinds of goods? How can trade lead to status differences and
social hierarchies?

What are the key components of Caneiro's theory? What part of the world inspired his

What are the hallmarks of systems theory? Are ecological theories still popular?

What is a weakness of dual-processual theory?

What were the sources of early leaders' power? Why did chiefdoms exist? Were they
inherently instable? What led to some states being unstable? What are some of
the common processes leading to the collapse of states? Were early states
sustainable over the long term?

What were the features of 19th century archaeology? Why were people
motivated to excavate sites? What was the significance of Pompeii and
Napoleon's invasion of Egypt? What did the discovery of the Rosetta stone

Which sites did Arthur Evans and Heinrich Schliemann excavate? What were their
motivations? How good were their techniques? What linguistic evidence came to

Part II

Terms: fertile crescent, Epipaleolithic, Pre-pottery Neolithic, broad spectrum
foraging, totem, sedentism, tell, clan

Sites: Abu Hureyra, Göbekli Tepe

Excavators: Klaus Schmidt, Andrew Moore

Which theories of social evolution were examined at Abu Hureyra? Did Childe's oasis
theory have a bearing, or Carneiro's ideas concerning circumscription? How was
it that so much preserved grain was found there? What was the pace of the
transition to food production? At what point did the residents of Abu Hureyra
become sedentary?

How old is Göbeckli Tepe? Why is it so well preserved? What are the various ways
the animals depicted at Göbeckli Tepe could be interpreted? Is any final answer
as to symbolism and the use of the site possible? What does the excavator think
that the ultimate significance of the site was? What kind of people in terms of
political complexity and economic adaptation does Schmidt think built the site?
What evidence does he refer to? Why was it located where it was?

Anthropology 12                Study Guide #2               Ancient Civilizations of the World

Movies: Iraq: Cradle of Civilization

Chapter 2: Part II

James Mellaart, Ian Hodder, Charles Warren, John Garstang, Carl Watzinger, Kathleen Kenyon

Sites: Çatal Höyük; Jericho

Time periods: PPNA, PPNB

Concepts: history house, mother goddess, excarnation, moiety, egalitarian society

Texts: Exodus

Biblical figures: Joshua

What were Mellaart’s interpretations of the art and other religious features found at Çatal Höyük? Why was he banned from Turkey? How did Hodder’s approach to the excavation of the site differ from Melaart’s? What are the drawbacks of Hodder’s approach? What was the ecological setting of the site? What were the features of the houses? What are the new interpretations and findings that Ian Hodder’s work has produced? How does he regard the “goddess” figurines? How was the population of Çatal Höyük organized according to Hodder? Why was it so remarkable that a town was located there?

What motivated people to investigate Jericho? What did the history of the exploration of Jericho say about the evolution of archaeological techniques? Why did humans settle at Jericho? Did the excavations prove the historicity of the Bible? Was Carl Watzinger right about the site? What periods of time did Kenyon’s excavations at Jericho illuminate? What differences between PPNA and PPNB houses did Kenyon’s work reveal? How have interpretations of Neolithic features that she found such as the wall and tower changed over time? What do people presently believe that the plastered skulls that she found signify, especially in light of recent discoveries at Çatal Höyük?

Chapter 3

Scholars: Gill Stein, Robert McC. Adams, Hans Nissen, Georg Grotefend, Henry Rawlinson

Excavators: Leonard Woolley

Terms: Mesopotamia, Hassuna, Halaf, Samaria, Ubaid, kiln, phalanx, cylinder seal, bullae, proto-cuneiform, cuneiform, lyre, ziggurat, proto-state, chiefdom confederacy, stem family.

Concepts: interaction sphere, ritual homicide, tutelary god, linguistic isolate, language family, proto-language, logogram, phonogram, ideogram, political economy, staple finance, prestige goods.

Sites: Yarim Tepe, Agaide, Ur, Uruk, Kish, Eridu, Nippur, Bisutun, Lagash, Agade, Susa, Tell al-Raqa’i

Features: Uruk’s walls and canals, Grave of Pu-Abi, the Stone Cone Temple, Eanna district.

Artifacts: Standard of Ur, Stele of the Vultures, Stele of Naram Sin, lyres, early inscribed maceheads and pot sherd, stone vessels.

Written and spoken Languages: Sumerian, Elamite, Akkadian, Old Persian, proto-cuneiform and cuneiform.

Figures from the past: Naram Sin, Gilgemesh, Enkidu, Sargon, (En)Me-baraga-si, Me-salim, Ur-Nammu.

Heros, Gods and Goddesses: Ishtar/Inanna, Anu, Enkidu, Humbaba, Utnapishtem, Shamash (Sumerian: Utu), Ninsun, Ushabi.

Rituals: lustration, libation, bull sacrifice.

Texts: Sumerian King List, Gilgamesh Epic

What are the differences between Northern and Southern Mesopotamia in terms of the distribution of resources? Which region developed socially first?  What was the significance of circular structures in Hassuna villages? What kind of family unit lived in the Hassuna houses at Yarim Tepe? How was the Halaf pottery tradition distinct from the earlier two Neolithic pottery traditions? What are the signs that an elite social stratum was emerging in the Halaf period? Where were Ubaid developments concentrated? What does it mean from a social standpoint if pottery traditions are found to be distributed over a wide area? What was the typical family structure during the Ubaid period, and how do we know this? What evidence does Gill Stein put forward to support his claim for the existence of chiefdoms during the Ubaid Period? From what source does Stein believe chieftains derived their power? Can we identify linguistic communities during the Ubaid Period?

 Why is southern Mesopotamia no longer habitable? What was it like 6,000 years ago? What special status did Eridu have? How long have archaeologists been investigating Uruk? What was the character of urban settlement in the city? The temples in Uruk were characteristic of Mesopotamian temples in what way? How were they decorated? What distinction does Uruk have? Did Adam’s survey work support or weaken Wittfogel’s hydraulic hypothesis? Did Uruk develop first as a city or a state? What is the evidence for state origins during Late Uruk times at Uruk? Is it universally accepted that Uruk period Uruk was a state? What might the consolidation of settlement during Early Dynastic times signify?

How was cuneiform writing deciphered? When did writing appear? What was the concern of most Sumerian texts? What is the prevailing theory concerning the evolution of writing? What was the prevailing function of cuneiform writing?  At what point in time can we identify the Sumerian language through cuneiform? What kind of language was Sumerian? Akkadian? Are the linguistic distinctions between Sumerian and Akkadian the same as ethnic distinctions? Where were Akkadian and Elamite speakers concentrated?

What are the problems that confront the scholar when working with ancient texts? At what point can we be certain that the kings on the Sumerian king list are real? What does the Gilgemesh epic and the Stele of the Vultures tell us about the organization of Sumerian society and Sumerian political systems? Is the Gilgemesh epic a historical text? What were Sumerian chariots like and how and by whom were they used? What did early cities of Sumer fight over? How were gods and kings depicted artistically? What was typical Sumerian men’s dress?

How were Sumerian workers compensated? How was the safe shipment of goods ensured?

How does the landscape of Ur of Early Dynastic times differ from today? Where did the gold and lapis lazuli found at Ur come from? How did Wooley recover wooden artifacts that had already decayed?

What did Sargon achieve? Where did he locate his capital? What does the Stele of Naram Sin say about the changed nature of Mesopotamian kingship? How were the political economies of the states of Uruk, Sargon and Ur-Nammu structured?

Anthropology 12     Study Guide #3

Chapter 4

Anthropological concepts: chiefdom confederacy, cycling, entrepôt.

Archaeological terms: foundation deposit.

Terms: mastaba, nome, nomarch,  serekh, cartouche, vizier, ankh.

Language terms: Afro-asiatic, Egyptian, cursive, hieratic, demotic, Coptic.

Regions: Upper and Lower Egypt, Nubia, Caanan.

Chronology: Naqada Culture (I &II), Predynastic Period, Dynasty 0, Early Dynastic Period, Old Kingdom Egypt.


Scholars: Manetho(s), W.M. Flinders Petrie, Gertrude Caton-Thompson, Fred Wendorf, Günther Dreyer, Barry Kemp, Willeke Wendrich, David Jeffreys

Gods: Horus, Set(h), Osiris, Min, Nekhbet


Towns and sites: Nabta Playa, Buto (aka Pe, Wadjet), Naqada (Nubt), Coptos, Hierakonpolis/Nekhen, This/Thinis, Abydos, Memphis, Elephantine Island, Saqqara, Meidum, Giza.

Sites and Features: temple at Coptos, Faiyum depression, Tomb 100, HK29A, temple of Horus and the Main Deposit at Hierakonpolis, Tomb U-J at Abydos, Tomb V at Abydos, Ka’a’s tomb at Abydos, Khasekhemwy’s enclosure at Abydos, Djoser’s step pyramid, Meidum pyramid.

Artifacts: ceramic cone, pots of lower and upper Egypt and Canaan, Narmer palate, Scorpion macehead, Narmer macehead, Abydos labels, beer jugs, bread molds, crook, flail, palates, chiefdom standards, ceramic cones, crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Symbols: boat, ibis on a temple, bulls, star, mounds, serekh

Kings: “Scorpion (I &II)”, Qa’a, Narmer, Aha, Khasekhemwy, Khufu, Kheops

Egyptian concepts: maat, ka

Rituls: sed, pr wr

Be familiar with the common written forms of ancient Egyptian. A town may be known by as many as three names. Why? Why are many words of Greek derivation? Why are we not sure how many Egyptian words were pronounced? Why are we not certain about the identities of kings?

Neolithic Egypt 

    What significance was given to the features and sites found at Nabta Playa? Why were people dwelling in the desert before and during the Neolithic? What was their lifestyle? How and where did the Neolithic start in Egypt? What was the nature of settlement in the Fayum? Why was the Fayum abandoned?


Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt

What are the problems with the writings of Manetho(s)? What historical scheme did he leave behind? What did he consider to be a dynasty? How does the archaeological evidence square with later history about Egypt’s beginnings?

What role did the Nile play in Egyptian agriculture? What were the seasons in ancient Egypt? When did agriculture begin in Egypt? What were the earliest houses and temple buildings like at Buto and Hierakonpolis?

What are the problems with excavation in the Delta? What technology is being used to discover sites like Buto/Pe and Memphis? Where did the pottery found at Buto come from? Can a conquest of the Delta be proven with pottery? What is the significance of the ceramic cones found at Buto. What were Chalcolithic houses like?

Which god became associated with kingship? Which animal served as a metaphor for the king in Early Dynastic Art? Which religious concepts did the wall painting of tomb 100 at Naqada depict? What were Predynastic temples like, as represented by examples at Coptos and Hierakonpolis? What kinds of rituals were carried out at them? What do these temples and Scorpion’s tomb suggest about Egypt’s trade connections? From where did Egypt’s exotic goods come from?

What does the iconography of the Narmer palate and macehead suggest about the political significance of Narmer? Are these proof of a conquest? What are the typical poses of the king? What does his crook and flail symbolize? How does Barry Kemp think that the Egyptian state came about? How were the Predynastic tombs at Abydos built? Through which artifacts found at Abydos can we track the evolution of the Egyptian hieroglyphic script? What does the location of a royal cemetery at Abydos suggest? What is the evidence for trade with Palestine and Lebanon? What was the significance of Khasekhemwy’s enclosure?

Which features of the Egyptian state are on view at Elephantine Island? How did this settlement signal a changed relationship with Nubia? What does the location of the Saqqara cemetery complex signal?     

Old Kingdom Egypt

Terms: sed, ankh, territorial cairn, cartouch, vizier, ka, maat, Re/Ra

People: Djoser, Imhotep, Khafre, Kheops, Khufu, Rahotep, Nofret

Sites: Step pyramid complex at Saqqara, pyramid at Meidum, Giza

Who built Djoser’s step pyramid complex? What did a vizier do? What does the step pyramid symbolize? Was the original intention to build a step pyramid? What do the buildings in the complex represent? Which rituals are depicted at the complex and what did they symbolize? What is the symbolism of the ankh and flail?     

What change to the quality of kingship, and the king’s interpretation of Egyptian religion, did the pyramid at Meidum signal? Why does it look the way it does today? How were the temple complexes associated with pyramids supported? What was the arrangement of temples associated with pyramids.

How was the political economy of Egypt organized? How were workers and officials paid? How were pyramids constructed? What role did scribes play? Why did Khufu bury entire ships?

First Intermediate Period

Why did the Egyptian state collapse? What type of individuals rose to prominence after the monarchy disappeared? Which chiefdoms were the power players? What do we know of advances in military technology?     


Anthropology 12                           Final Study Guide


Indus Civilization  Chapter 5

Sites: Mehrgarh, Kot Diji, Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, Dholavira, Lothal

People: John Marshall, Mortimer Wheeler, Asko Parpola, Yuri Konorozof

Language Families: Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Indo-Iranian, Indo-European

Language: Sanskrit

Symbols: chakra, conch shell, fish, trefoil, linga(m)

Gods: S(h)iva, Durga

Rituals: lustration, libation

Theory: expanded nuclear zone

Artifacts: signboard at Dholavira; priest-king bust, dancer statue, seals.

Concepts: caste, agglutinative language

      What was the initial ecology of the Indus plain? In what part of Pakistan does the Neolithic economy begin? What is the evidence for Mehrgarh’s contacts with the west? How did plant and animal domestication proceed at Mehrgarh? Which domesticates were unique to the site? Did the inhabitants live at the site full-time? What were the buildings used for?

What new features did Early Harappan sites acquire during the Kot Diji phase? What was the fate of many Early Harappan settlements of the Kot Diji phase?

What is the sole source of historical information concerning the Indus civilization? How was trade with Mesopotamia conducted?


When were the most extensive excavations on Mohenjo Dara and Harappa carried out? How did Wheeler’s approach to excavation differ from prior approaches? What did Wheeler come to believe about the features of the citadels, and how are they now interpreted? What did Wheeler come to believe about the Indus civilization and the fate of Harappan cities?


Which features lay at the heart of Mohenjo Daro? What is the controversy surrounding the function of its walls? The Indus civilization saw technical advances in which crafts?


In which ways was the Indus civilization anomalous? What is a caste? How do castes relate to the political system?


What kind of sites were Lothal and Dholavira? Where were they situated? What do their ground plans reflect? How did the inhabitants of Dholavira manage to overcome the challenges of their environment?


What are the difficulties involved with translating the Indus script? On what kinds of objects is it found? What have been the conclusions of the most recent attempts to decipher the texts? Is much faith vested in these conclusions by other scholars? Which signs have scholars linked to historical symbols of the Indian sub-continent?


Some scholars claim to have identified gods and goddesses from Hinduism in the images and cult objects from the Indus sites. What is the evidence that is marshaled to support of these identifications, and how certain are they?

Chapter 6  The First Chinese Civilizations

Scholars:  J. Gunnar Anderson, Richard “Scotty” MacNeish, Sima Qian, Peter Bellwood, Gary Feinman


Religions: Taoism, Shamanism

God: Shangdi aka Ti.

Cultures: Cishan-Peiligang, Longshan, Yanshao, Langzhiu

Sites: Cishan, Diantonghuan, Hemdu, Banpo, Niuheliang, Taosi, Wangchengang,  Erlitou, Yanshi,

 Zhengzhou, Anyang, Sanxingdui

Texts: Shiji – Records of the Grand Historian.

Symbols: shaotie mask, tiger, bird, dragon, spirit tree

Terms: shaman, ritual homicide, ancestor veneration, primitive valuable/prestige object

Be aware of the differences in approaches and attitudes between scholars in the West and East

 taken towards the study of the Chinese past.

Be aware of the ecological differences between Southern and Northern China, and how this affected the course taken in the domestication of plants.

How did the Early Neolithic cultures of the North and South differ? How was the community of Banpo village organized and what was its subsistence economy like? Which technological innovation shows up for the first time at this village?

How do we recognize shamanism in the Chinese archaeological record? What forms of sacrifice were practiced?

What craft specialties and ritual objects set the Langzhiu culture apart? What interpretations have been advanced for these objects?

What are the arguments in favor of recognizing the site of Erlitou as the center of a state?

What was the conventional layout of a Chinese aristocratic compound? How far back in time can we recognize these compounds? What kind of ritual consecrated ruler’s buildings and burials?

From which aspect of Chinese religion did leaders derive their authority?

How was the Shang state organized? How did the leaders of early Chinese states secure the loyalty of subordinates? What kinds of rituals were carried out by Shang kings? Why were they carried out?

How far back do written symbols go in Chinese prehistory? How was the first oracle bones discovered?

What was the most common usage of early Chinese writing? What kind of symbols are they? To what extent can they be read? What kinds of information are contained in the inscriptions? To which period of the Shang dynasty do they date?

Be familiar with Peter Bellwood’s theory of language dispersal in what is now China.

What has recent archaeological work revealed about early state development in China?


Chapter 9

Places: Crete, Santorini, Greece

Culture: Minoan, Mycenean

Sites: Knossos, Akrotiri (Santorini), Mycenae.

Scholars: Arthur Evans, Michael Ventris, Homer.

Written Languages: Minoan A and B

Artifacts: Phystos disk

Artwork: palace murals and seal images.

Mycenean terms: warnax, basileus

What are the first indications of cultural complexity on Crete? What were the bases of political power on Crete?  Did Cretans exert economic or political influence outside of their island? What could they trade?

What do we know of Minoan religion? From where does it seem to derive? What are the different kinds of cultic sites that were found on Crete? What kinds of rituals were carried out at them? Who might the Minoan “snake goddess” be?

     What were the functions of the Minoan palaces? What is depicted in the murals at the palace at Knossos? What is the underlying language of the linear B script? What are the theories concerning the ethnic/linguistic background of the indigenous Cretan inhabitants? What were the functions of Mycenean palaces that we can determine from the texts? How were Mycenean kingdoms organized? Can the Phystos disk be read?

How was the Mycenean state at Pylos organized? What rituals did the elite conduct?


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Online Resources: (list related websites as links)

Lecture 1 Definitions and Theories

Lecture 2 Theories on the Origin of the State

Lecture 3 The Transition to Settled Life in the Middle East I

Lecture 4 The Transition to Settled Life in the Middle East II

Lecture 5 Early Mesopotamia

Lecture 6 Early Egypt

Lecture 7 Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt 

Lecture 8 Indus Plains Civilization

Lecture 9 Neolithic China

Lecture 10 Bronze Age China 

Lecture 11  Minoan Crete and the Mycenean Greeks

Weak States and Chiefdom Confederacies 


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 Last Published 7/14/16