Syllabus for Anthropology 124A
Archaeology and Prehistory of the Pacific Islands
Time: Tu/Th 3:30-5:00 pm
Place: 155 Kroeber Hall
Office hours: Tuesdays 1:00-3:30 pm, or by appointment
Office: Room 206, ARF Building (2251 College); Phone 643-8346;
Anthro 124A is an intensive review of the archaeology and prehistory of
the region known as Oceania, including the classically defined Melanesian,
Micronesian, and Polynesian culture areas. (Australia and Tasmania will
be covered only with reference to the Pleistocene settlement of Sahul.
Island Southeast Asia will be considered peripherally, as the ultimate
source area for human settlement of the inner Pacific.) For the Oceanic
islands and archipelagoes we will systematically review current evidence
as to their settlement histories, as well as what is known of the development
of their distinctive patterns of technology, economy, sociopolitical organization,
and ideology as indicated by the archaeological record. I work within
an explicitly holistic anthropological approach, in which secondary evidence
from linguistics, comparative ethnography, and human biology is also drawn
upon whenever relevant. Particular emphasis will be placed on the controlled
comparison of different island cultures, for insights this provides to
general patterns of cultural change and transformation.
Anthro 2 (Introduction to Archaeology), or the equivalent. If you have
not had Anthro 2, I strongly urge that you quickly read one of the basic
introductory textbooks to anthropological archaeology, as background.
Please note that lectures are mandatory. Much material provided in lectures
is not repeated in the assigned text, and may not be available elsewhere.
Therefore, to satisfactorily pass the exams you will need to attend the
lectures, unless you are already an expert in this field. As a matter
of policy I do not provide copies of my personal lecture notes to students,
and I do not post lecture notes on a web site, so if you miss a lecture,
you are advised to obtain a copy of the notes taken by one of your fellow
students. You may tape-record my lectures if you wish; however, such tapes
are for your personal use only and may not be re-recorded, transcribed,
published, or otherwise distributed without my written consent.
The principal text is On the Road of the Winds, P. V. Kirch, University
of California Press, 2000 (paperback edition 2001). Chapter readings are
assigned on a weekly basis (see weekly outline below). Although my lectures
will chronologically follow the text, there is a great deal in lectures
not reviewed in the text, and exams will cover materials from both lectures
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The requirements for this course are straight-forward: attend the lectures,
read the required text, sit the two mid-term exams, and the final exam.
Grades are determined on a cumulative point system, in which each mid-term
is worth 25% and the final exam is worth 50%. You must also pass a map-quiz
in order to pass the course (see below), but this does not contribute
to your grade.
The mid-term and final exams will both be a combination of short-answer,
and medium-length essays. I am more interested in your ability to intelligently
discuss and synthesize data in relation to general concepts, rather than
your ability to mindlessly regurgitate facts and figures. Requests for
a reconsideration (re-grading) of your mid-term exam must be submitted
to me in writing (specifying why a reconsideration is in order) no later
than 2 weeks after the exam is returned to you. Requests for a reconsideration
of your final exam must be submitted to me in writing no later than one
month after the beginning of the next semester. This is a fixed rule to
which I make no exceptions! The only valid excuses for not sitting an
exam at the specified time are for serious circumstances such as medical
reasons or extreme personal emergencies, which I expect to be justified
by written documentation.
An understanding of Oceanic geography is essential to the issues and problems
we will deal with in this course. Therefore, you will need to be able
to pass an in-class map quiz by identifying a range of locations (see
attached list) on a blank map of the Pacific. You must pass this quiz
to pass the course; no exceptions. You may take the quiz as many times
as necessary to pass, but no one passes the course without passing the
map quiz. If you fail to pass the map quiz during the semester, you will
receive a grade of Incomplete.
I hold 2.5 hrs of scheduled office hours each week; additional times can
be arranged by appointment if you cannot meet during the scheduled hours.
I prefer that you use the sign-up sheet system; sign-up sheets are posted
on my office door. Oceanic archaeology is my specialty and my passion--I
enjoy nothing more than discussing its intellectual issues in detail with
inquiring undergraduates. If there is anything arising from the class
that you would like to discuss in greater detail, my office hours provide
and Special Situations:
If you have a disability or other personal situation which affects your
ability to take notes, perform in the classroom, or requires special testing
circumstances, etc., it is your responsibility to inform me of this fact
at the beginning of the semester, so that special arrangements may be
made. In particular, I must be advised in advance of any special testing
In addition to the exams and map quiz, you are expected to research and
write a short (8-10 pages) essay on a topic of your choosing (within,
of course, the broad subject matter of this course). The essay must be
submitted to me by the specified due date of December 5, in clean word-processed
format. I will return hand-written essays unread. The essay should be
accompanied by a bibliography of references, and all quoted matter should
be properly attributed to sources. I strongly encourage you to discuss
your proposed topic with me during office hours as soon as possible. In
any event, a one-paragraph summary of your proposed research essay topic
must be submitted in class on September 19. I will comment on this proposal
in writing and return it to you the following week. Late essays will be
graded down a grade (e.g., A to A-) for each day they are late. Take special
note, should I discover that your essay has wholly or substantially derived
from a plagiarized source, such as a commercial web site providing “canned”
term papers, you will receive a grade of F for the entire course, regardless
of your performance on the exams.
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Schedule of Lectures and Exams
1 (31 Aug., 2 Sept.): Introduction to the course; Oceania as an area with
tremendous variation in culture, language, biology—necessity of
applying a holistic approach within Anthropology. Reading: ORW, pp. 1-11.
2 (7, 9 Sept.): Discovering the Oceanic past: The history of archaeological
research in Oceania. Reading: ORW, pp. 12-41.
3 (10, 12 Sept.): The Pacific Islands as a human environment. Origins
and types of islands; island ecosystems and human adaptation to them;
human impacts on island environments. Reading: ORW, pp. 42-62.
4 (14, 16 Sept.): Near Oceania and “Old Melanesia”: The Pleistocene
settlement of Sahul and Near Oceania. Reading: ORW, pp. 63-84.
5 (21, 23 Sept.): The Austronesian diaspora: Southeast Asian origins;
linguistic and other lines of evidence. Reading: ORW, pp. 85-93. 23 September:
First Mid-Term Exam (in class).
6 (28, 30 Sept.): The Lapita Cultural Complex: the Lapita ceramic series;
dating and dispersal; subsistence economies; exchange systems. Mussau
Islands case study. Reading: ORW, pp. 93-116
7 (5, 7 Oct.): Lapita transformations; Lapita to Polynesian transition;
Niuatoputapu case study.
8 (12, 14 Oct.): The prehistory of “New Melanesia”: post-Lapita
in the Bismarcks and Solomons; developments in mainland New Guinea; the
Motu coast and the Gulf. Reading: ORW, pp. 117-135.
Week 9 (19, 21 Oct.): Post-Lapita prehistory in Vanuatu, New Caledonia,
and Fiji. Reading: ORW, pp. 135-164.
10 (26, 28 Oct.): The prehistory of Micronesia; colonization and early
settlement; cultural sequences; atoll adaptation; development of complex
societies. Reading: ORW, pp. 165-206. 26 October: Second Mid-Term Exam
11 (2, 4 Nov.): The Polynesians: origins, phylogeny, and history; Western
Polynesian prehistory. Reading: ORW, pp. 207-230.
12 (9 Nov.): The Polynesian Outliers (Anuta and Tikopia case studies).
Reading: ORW, pp. 142-147, 179-181. (Nov. 11 is a holiday.)
13 (16, 18 Nov.): Central Eastern Polynesia (Cooks, Societies, Marquesas).
Reading: ORW, pp. 230-267.
14 (23 Nov.): Marginal Eastern Polynesia: Easter Island.
Reading: ORW, pp. 267-301.
Week 15 (30 Nov., 2 Dec.): Marginal Eastern Polynesia: Hawaii.
16 (7, 9 Dec.): Big structures and large processes in Oceanic prehistory:
synthesis. Review in preparation for final exam. Reading: ORW, pp. 302-325.
The Map Quiz: List of Islands and Archipelagoes:
stated in the Requirements section of the syllabus, a map quiz will be
given sometime after the third week of the course. The quiz will ask you
to attach a selected list of geographic names to their correct positions
on a map of the Pacific. You may also be asked to answer some general
questions about geographical relationships. In preparation for this quiz,
you should become familiar with the following islands and archipelagoes.
One of the best maps to use for this purpose is the National Geographic
Atlas map of the Pacific region. As you study this or another map of the
Pacific, do not just try to memorize names. THINK about what you are looking
at. Ask yourself what implications the patterns of island distribution
might have for understanding the human colonization of this vast region.
(St. Matthias Is.)
Nui (Easter Is.)
New Guinea Island and Adjacent Region
Niuatoputapu (Keppel's Is.)
Caledonia (Grande Terre)
for Anthropology 132
Analysis of Archaeological Materials
(last taught Spring 2001)
Anthro 132 is an upper-division laboratory course designed for advanced
Anthropology majors in order to provide an intensive, in-depth understanding
of the laboratory analysis of archaeological materials. This course satisfies
the methods requirement for the Anthropology major.
classes of archaeological materials will be covered: ceramics, lithics,
worked shell, worked bone, and unmodified faunal materials (vertebrate
and invertebrate). Analytical approaches to these material classes will
be reviewed through lectures, readings, and laboratory exercises. After
the first few weeks, students will join together in teams of three, with
each team being assigned an archaeological assemblage from one of the
New Caledonian sites excavated by E. W. Gifford in 1952 (curated in the
Hearst Museum of Anthropology). Working together as a team, you will design
an appropriate laboratory analytical procedure (protocol) and data base
recording system, with a goal of reanalyzing your site in order to reinterpret
it in the context of current knowledge of New Caledonian prehistory. Your
team will acquire the necessary data through intensive work with your
site assemblage, will perform the qualitative and quantitative analysis
of data necessary, and will prepare a professional-quality report, complete
with illustrations, and supported by the back-up data. At various scheduled
times, your team will report to the entire class on its progress, and
each team will make a final oral presentation to the class as a whole.
is demanding of your time; in addition to the required 6 hours of lecture
and laboratory per week, you will need to spend additional laboratory
hours on your research project. If you are not totally committed to this
class, please do not waste your time or mine!
also requires a commitment to a team-based approach. I stress this pproach
because modern archaeological work is almost always carried out by groups
of individuals who cooperate in the field and laboratory. Learning to
work together as an effective team is thus an important aspect of becoming
a professional archaeologist. In your team, you will discover that certain
team members have various strengths and weaknesses; the challenge is to
draw on each person’s strengths to make an effective team.
Anthro 2 and permission of instructor
All students are expected to attend all lecture and laboratory sessions;
attendance will be taken, and any absences will seriously affect your
is also expected to assist in maintaining the Hearst 16 laboratory in
a clean and responsible manner. Negative points will be given to anyone
who mishandles equipment or specimens, does not clean up after themselves,
quizzes based on the readings and on the lectures at various times; these
will also count toward your final grade.
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requirement for this course is the design, implementation, and completion
of a research project based upon an archaeological collection which will
be assigned to you as part of a team. This will entail preparation of
work for evaluation by the instructors at various stages during the course,
1: Selection of appropriate research methods/techniques and development
of specific laboratory research protocol. The specific methods you plan
to use will be outlined in writing, and the protocol prepared, including
all variables and attribute states to be recorded, and data recording
forms. These will be presented orally by your team on March 20. Your
team may be asked to revise these and resubmit as necessary until they
are judged adequate by the instructors.
2: Data recording. In this stage, you will actually work with a collection
of archaeological materials, applying the methods and protocol you have
developed in Stages 1-2. You will be expected to record your data and
to enter these into a computer database system for numeric analysis.
On April 10, the teams will orally describe their results to date, including
any problems arising. This must include a sample printout of your database
3: Data Reduction and Analysis. Once your team’s data are fully
recorded and entered into a database, you will analyze these using appropriate
statistical procedures. Your team’s progress in this analytical
phase will be presented orally to the group on April 24.
4a: Report Preparation. Once your analyses are completed, your team
will prepare a written report of your research project. Your will be
expected to divide the tasks of writing equally among team members.
This report should be between 20-40 pages in length, and must follow
the editorial standards of the journal American Antiquity. The paper
should be accompanied by such illustrations, charts, diagrams, and tables
as are necessary to fully convey the results of your analysis. The paper
should also discuss these results in relation to similar studies published
in the archaeological literature, and these should be fully referenced
in the proper American Antiquity style. Illustrations, charts, etc.
should be prepared so that they are suitable for camera-ready publication.
In short, I expect a professional level presentation, one that would
be acceptable for publication in a scholarly journal. Your team’s
report, which must be submitted in hard copy, as well as in electronic
disk format, is due on May 14. There will be no late exceptions.
4b: Verbal presentation. Your team will also make a 20-minute verbal
presentation of your research results. This should be well prepared
and practiced beforehand, as if you were delivering this presentation
at the Annual Meetings of the Society for American Archaeology. You
will be held to 20 minutes, and will be expected to complete your presentation
within that time. Each member of the team must participate. If appropriate,
you may illustrate your presentation with slides or overhead projections.
There will be a discussion following each team’s presentation.
grade will be based on all of the requirements listed above, as follows:
quizzes and evaluation of individual laboratory exercises, 33%; materials
presented in stages 1-3, 33%; final paper and verbal presentation, 33%.
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Orientation to the Course:
addition to serving a didactic function, this course is designed to make
a substantive contribution to the archaeology and prehistory of Oceania,
through the reanalysis of a significant collection of archaeological materials
excavated by Prof. E. W. Gifford in New Caledonia in 1952. This collection
is a part of the Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which is making it available
for use in Anthro 132.
pioneered stratigraphic excavations in Oceania, beginning in Fiji in 1947
and continuing in New Caledonia in 1952. During this 1952 expedition,
Gifford excavated several key sites, including the type site of the Lapita
culture (Site 13, named “Lapita”). Gifford's results were
published in the Anthropological Records of the University of California,
Vol. 18(1), 1956.
Gifford's publication was quite thorough and up to the standards of the
times, our knowledge of Oceanic prehistory, as well as the methods of
archaeological analysis of materials, have advanced greatly since the
early 1950s. Thus, a reanalysis of the collections from these key sites
can be expected to yield new insights into Oceanic prehistory; this will
be the aim of Anthro 132 for the spring semester. The specific Gifford
sites to be chosen for reanalysis (because they have the largest and most
diverse collections) are:
Baye (E coast)
Site 19, Anse Vata (W coast)
Site 20, Anse Longue (W coast)
Site 44, Nôwé (E coast)
Site 50, Dowalwoué (E coast)
projects to be assigned in this course are designed to produce results
of significance to Oceanic prehistory. It is my hope that your research
projects will be of sufficient merit and professional quality to be publishable.
Such a volume of student papers was published from an earlier class of
Anthro 132, which provides a model for you to emulate (in the Kroeber
Anthropological Society Papers). If the same high standards are met in
this class, we will also endeavor to publish the results.
E. B. Banning, 2000. The Archaeologist’s Laboratory: The Analysis
of Archaeological Data. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
readings, especially those pertaining to New Caledonian prehistory, will
be distributed in class.
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Sschedule of lecutres and exercises:
Jan. 16: Orientation to the course
Jan. 18: Lecture: Systematics and Classification in Archaeology
Jan. 23: Lecture: Measurement, Data, Sampling, and Quantification
Jan. 25: Laboratory Exercise: Capturing and Reporting Data
Jan. 30: Lecture: Introduction to the New Caledonian Collections
Feb. 1: Lecture: Ceramics--An Overview
Feb. 6: Lecture: The Analysis of Archaeological Ceramics
Feb. 8: Laboratory Exercise: Ceramic Analysis
Feb. 13: Lecture: Lithics--An Overview
Feb. 15: Laboratory Exercise: Lithic Analysis
Feb. 20: Lecture: Worked Bone and Shell Artifacts
Feb. 22: Laboratory Exercise: Bone and Shell Artifacts
Feb. 27: Lecture: Floral and Faunal Materials
Mar. 1: Laboratory Exercise: Floral and Faunal Materials
Mar. 6: Lecture: Basic Geoarchaeological Analysis
Mar. 8: Laboratory Exercise: Geoarchaeology
Note: Research Teams and Assignments Decided by March 8
Mar. 13: Group Discussion: Protocols, Data Recording, Databases
Mar. 15: Lecture: New Caledonian Prehistory in Regional Context
Mar. 20: Team Presentations: Preliminary Protocols and Research Design
Mar. 22: Laboratory Section (teams at work on analysis)
Apr. 3: Laboratory Section
Apr. 5: Laboratory Section
Apr. 10: Laboratory Section: Oral Presentations by Teams on their Progress
Apr. 12: Laboratory Section
Apr. 17: Laboratory Section
Apr. 19: Laboratory Section
Apr. 24: Laboratory Section: Oral Presentations by Teams on their Progress
Apr. 26: Laboratory Section
May 1: Laboratory Section
May 3: Team Presentations of Final Results
May 8: Team Presentations of Final Results
May 14: Written Final Reports Due (no exceptions)