Anthropology 224 






FALL 1998

Department of Anthropology

University of Pennsylvania


Professor Clark L. Erickson





The early cultures of the moist tropical regions of the Americas have played an important seminal role in the development of precolumbian civilizations of the Andean and Mesoamerican culture areas. This course examines the prehistory of the Amazon basin (including the upper Amazon regions of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, and French Guiana), and to a lesser extent the Caribbean, and lower Central American (Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua). The major foci of the course will be 1) the historical ecology of these regions and how long-term human occupation and land use as transformed and shaped the environment, 2) the archaeological record for initial settlement, early domestication of food crops, ceremonial life, artistic expression, and population dynamics through time, and 3) the contribution of archaeology to the development of an appropriate and sustainable development of the Neotropics. Lectures and readings draw heavily on recent research results from ethnography, economic botany, geography, history, agronomy, and ecology of the region.


This course is intended to be a brief introductory survey of the archaeology of the Neotropics (tropics of Central and South America) for undergraduate students. There are no prerequisites for this course. Because of the massive amount of material relating to the archaeology of the Neotropics and the limited amount of time available during the semester, the course coverage will be selective, not exhaustive.


The format of the course will be primarily lecture. At times, invited guest lecturers may join us to speak on their specialties. Because Neotropical archaeology is highly visual, I use slides of maps, sites, architecture, and artifacts to illustrate the lectures. You will be responsible for material presented during slide-illustrated lectures, so you might want to seat yourself where you can see your notebook when the main room lights are off. We will also study artifacts from the vast collections of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. I generally do not stop the lecture to spell terminology, although you will be provided with lists of important term lists periodically. I highly recommend including maps and sketches of architecture and artifacts in your notes based on the slides. Questions may be asked before, during, or after lectures, time permitting. Time will be set aside during the class sessions for general discussion of the lecture and the assigned readings. Participation in these discussions of the readings is required.


OFFICE: Room 435, University Museum


OFFICE HOURS: Thursdays 3:00 - 5:00 pm; I will be available during office hours and after class if you have any questions regarding the course material, the department's program in anthropology, or archaeology in general. You can also see me after class and by appointment if office hours conflict with your schedule. Messages can be left in my mailbox in Department of Anthropology Office or contact me by email.


TELEPHONE: 898-2282 (voice); 898-7462 (fax)


EMAIL: I strongly encourage all the students in the course to obtain an E-mail account and to learn how to use electronic mail for communication with your professors and other students.


LECTURE CLASSES: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00 - 1:20pm, Room 329, University Museum.


REQUIRED TEXTBOOK: available at House of Our Own Bookstore, 3920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, tel.(215) 222-1576.


Moran, Emilio

1993 Through Amazonian Eyes: The Human Ecology of Amazonian Populations. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City. [Paper ISBN 0-87745-418-3]



BULK PACK READER OF REQUIRED READINGS: available for purchase at the Copy Center, basement of the Towne Building (Engineering) 220 South 33rd Street.


1998 Anthropology 224: Archaeology of the Neotropics. Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania.





National Geographic Society Map(s) --obtain at least one (1) of the following from family or relative's collection of National Geographic [other detailed atlas maps may be used if these are not available].


1972 Map "South America" National Geographic 142(4) Oct.

1982 May "Indians/Archaeology of South America" National Geographic 161(3) March.

1992 Map "South America" National Geographic 182(2) August.



EXAMS: October 22 (12:00 - 1:20pm) December 15 (8:30 - 10:30am); Room 329, University Museum.





A reading syllabus will be provided and will be periodically updated throughout the semester. You should read the required readings before the lectures on the topic so that you will understand the lecture (which generally builds on the readings and doesn't repeat them) and to be able to discuss these materials during class. I strongly suggest taking notes while doing the readings. In addition, it wouldn't hurt to re-read the materials after the lecture and integrate these materials into your notes.





Grading will be based on one 1.5 hour in-class Midterm Exam (50%), one 2 hour Final Exam (50%). Your participation in class discussion (or lack thereof) will be taken into account in determining the final grade.


Exams will cover material from lectures, class discussion, and required reading assignments. The exams will include short essays, long essays and identifications of terms. I strongly suggest that the students form informal study groups to help cover and understand the readings and lectures more efficiently, as this has been an effective strategy in the past. Exams are not cumulative although the introductory lectures and readings will provide a basis for understanding materials presented later in the semester. For each exam, you will be responsible for the materials presented in lecture, readings, and discussion. Exams will be held October 22 (12:00 - 1:20pm) and December 15 (8:30-10:30am) in Room 329, University Museum.





Students will be expected to show up for all classes, although this is not compulsory. Missing a class or two could negatively affect student performance. Please get the notes from other students if you have to miss a class. The professor will not provide copies of his lecture notes to students. Makeup exams will only be given for officially excused absences.




I will be available during office hours, Thursdays 3:00 - 5:00pm, if you have any questions regarding the course material, or archaeology in general. I also would appreciate your comments, and will be happy to make appointments for other times if my office hours conflict with your schedule. I regularly read and answer E-mail.