Anthropology 325 - World Prehistory S 2000

Midterm Study Guide

The midterm will cover material from class and from both textbooks. Some of the questions on the midterm will be from this list; others may not, but will be similar. Answers should be clear and specific, but should not take more than about 10 minutes to write. Some may take less.

  1. Describe two different methods archaeologists use determine the age and/or order of archaeological evidence, including how they work, roughly how precise and accurate they are, and some advantages and disadvantages of each. (Please discuss specific methods, not the general categories of "relative" and "absolute" methods.)
  2. Discuss some limitations and advantages of the archaeological record as evidence for reconstructing the past.
  3. Describe the kinds of archaeological sites where evidence of tools and behavior of Australopithecines and/or Homo habilis have been found. What conclusions are drawn from them about how these creatures lived, and what major debates surround these interpretations?
  4. Here are some traits of humans and our ancestors. Indicate the order in which they appeared as hominids evolved, and comment briefly on the evidence relevant to each. Large brains compared to other primates; bipedal walking; burying the dead; using fire; making stone handaxes. (You don't need to give much detail about the fossil evidence for brain size.)
  5. How did Homo erectus differ, both physically and culturally, from the hominids that preceded it, and how did it differ from those that followed?
  6. Describe the sites of Zhoukoudian, Terra Amata, and Torralba and Ambrona (you can lump these last two together), including the reconstructions or conclusions about Homo erectus lifestyles based on them, and alternative interpretations of the evidence.
  7. Describe the major ways in which the Pleistocene world differed geographically and ecologically from the world today.
  8. What was the Piltdown hoax, and how did it fit into the debate about human origins?
  9. Describe the major physical and cultural features of Neanderthals. Where is evidence of Neanderthals found, and why is their geographic location significant?
  10. How did aged and disabled people fare in Neanderthal society, and how do we know?
  11. Discuss the two major theories of where modern Homo sapiens sapiens evolved.
  12. What is the debate about what happened to the Neanderthals, and what does evidence from Europe and the Near East tell us about this issue? You may want to distinguish carefully between physical types and culture as implied by stone tools.
  13. What innovations in material culture occurred as Homo sapiens sapiens replaced Homo sapiens neanderthalensis in Europe?
  14. What kind of hominids lived at Dolni Vestonice, and what was their lifestyle like? Don't overlook evidence of ritual activities.
  15. Describe the traditions of portable and mural "art" (also called cave art or "parietal" art) in the Upper Paleolithic, and some theories about what it may have been for or have meant to the people who made it.
  16. Discuss the factors that could have affected when people moved into the New World, and some of the theories about how that occurred.
  17. What is the debate that surrounds the Clovis style of points, and what does it have to do with the peopling of the New World?
  18. Describe the site of Monte Verde and some of the conclusions that can be drawn from it concerning when people arrived in the New World and how they lived.
  19. Discuss the two major theories that try to explain the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna in the New World, giving arguments for and against each.
  20. Discuss the evidence for, and validity of, claims that Europeans visited the New World in historical times before Columbus.
  21. Discuss the effects that adopting agriculture might have on a society.
  22. When and where was agriculture apparently first practiced? With which crops? When, where, and with which crops did agriculture develop later in any two other regions?
  23. Who were the Natufians? How, where, and when did they live, and why are they particularly significant?
  24. Describe the process that is thought to have led to the domestication of wheat.
  25. Do the practices of plant domestication, sedentism, pottery making, and animal domestication tend to develop in a particular order? What does this suggest about the processes that lead up to complex societies in different parts of the world?
  26. Describe the famous and unexpected features of Neolithic Jericho, two theories of the function of the unusual constructions, and some arguments for and against each.
  27. Contrast Jericho with Çatal Hüyük. How were they similar and different? What is the evidence for social complexity at each?
  28. Describe at least three kinds of megalithic constructions from neolithic and/or bronze age Europe. What kind of societies built them, and what was each apparently used for?