Introduction to Physical Anthropology


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Provdes an Overview of Anthropology, describes culture, and introduces physical anthropology

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Introduction to Physical Anthropology

  1. 1. Introduction to Anthropology and Physical Anthropology Anthropology 101 Online
  2. 2. What is Anthropology? <ul><li>Derived from the Greek Anthropos (“man” or “human”) and </li></ul><ul><li>Logos (“logic of” or “science of”) </li></ul><ul><li>What distinguishes anthropology from other disciplines involving humankind (medicine, sociology, psychology) </li></ul><ul><li>The definition sums up the difference: the comparative and holistic study of humankind </li></ul>
  3. 3. Anthropology is Comparative <ul><li>It involves comparison: </li></ul><ul><li>between today’s cultures in the “ethnographic present,” whereby cultures are described as if they still existed—like these !Kung Bushmen in the 1950s (the job of ethnographers or cultural anthropologists) </li></ul><ul><li>Between cultures that existed through time unrecorded by history—the job of archaeologists </li></ul><ul><li>Between related species of the hominid family and hominin subfamily—Like “Lucy” according to this artist’s conception (the job of paleoanthropologists) </li></ul><ul><li>It asks the question: “Can what we learn from other cultures or related species be used to understand our own?” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Anthropology is Holistic <ul><li>It involves “The Big Picture” </li></ul><ul><li>It integrates all aspects of a culture </li></ul><ul><li>How do hunting, social organization, art, and religion all fit together? </li></ul><ul><li>It also involves subfields of anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>How does human biology relate to culture? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we understand ourselves from behavior of other primates? </li></ul><ul><li>What can we learn from fossil humans? Or fossil relatives of humans? </li></ul><ul><li>That involves quite a lot of juggling between subfields and specialized disciplines. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Fields of Anthropology <ul><li>Cultural Anthropology , comprising: </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistics, the study of spoken language </li></ul><ul><li>Sociocultural Anthropology , the study of cultures and their social organization </li></ul><ul><li>Archaeology , the study of past cultures by excavating and analyzing their remains </li></ul><ul><li>Physical Anthropology, which comprises </li></ul><ul><li>Paleoanthropology , the study of past human lifeforms </li></ul><ul><li>Primatology , the comparative study of nonhuman primate anatomy and behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Population Analysis , the study of human variation (“races”) </li></ul><ul><li>Forensics, the analysis of evidence related to criminal activity. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Linguistics <ul><li>Comparative study of spoken language </li></ul><ul><li>Foundation of all culture </li></ul><ul><li>Reason: We learn all things by language </li></ul><ul><li>Language is based on symbols </li></ul><ul><li>Symbols: Use of one thing or event </li></ul><ul><li>To understand another thing and event </li></ul><ul><li>That are intrinsically unrelated </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning is conveyed by symbols in language </li></ul>
  7. 7. Sociocultural Anthropology <ul><li>Comparative study of contemporary cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Comparison involves human individual and group behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Societies that govern human relations in an village (above) or other geographical space </li></ul><ul><li>Products of human behavior: tools, artifacts, housing </li></ul><ul><li>Several subfields: kinship and family, subsistence, economic, political et al; this group is an extended family. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Archaeology <ul><li>Comparative study of cultural remains of human societies as excavated (left) and analyzed </li></ul><ul><li>Also involves human and prehuman physical remains where they are related to the artifacts and structures they left behind. </li></ul><ul><li>Comparison involves past cultures similar to each other </li></ul><ul><li>It also involves comparisons of past cultures that are similar to present ones </li></ul>
  9. 9. Physical Anthropology <ul><li>Comparative study of humankind’s physical attributes </li></ul><ul><li>Comparison of Homo (sapiens) sapiens </li></ul><ul><li>Among today’s breeding populations (“races”) </li></ul><ul><li>With apes and monkeys (primatology) </li></ul><ul><li>With fossil hominids (paleoanthropology) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Culture: Focus of All Anthropology <ul><li>What is Culture? </li></ul><ul><li>Tylor : “that complex whole which includes </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, law, custom </li></ul><ul><li>And any other capabilities and habits </li></ul><ul><li>Acquired by man (both genders) </li></ul><ul><li>As a member of society </li></ul><ul><li>Generally accepted definition </li></ul><ul><li>Learned human behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Shared by a group </li></ul><ul><li>As members of society </li></ul>
  11. 11. Culture is Learned <ul><li>All we do, say, or believe is learned </li></ul><ul><li>Bee behavior, such as this scout bee using a dance to tell the others where the pollen is located, is genetically transmitted </li></ul><ul><li>Our behavior is not genetically transmitted </li></ul><ul><li>Dogs, like this one carrying the remote, learn by conditioning (repeated training with rewards) </li></ul><ul><li>We learn partly by imitation but mostly through language </li></ul><ul><li>Enculturation: transmission of culture from generation to generation </li></ul>
  12. 12. Culture is Based on Symbolism <ul><li>Culture is learned through language </li></ul><ul><li>Symbols: Use of one thing or event to refer to another thing and event that are intrinsically unrelated </li></ul><ul><li>Exercise: speech sounds c, a, and t </li></ul><ul><li>Or in IPA [k], [ æ], and [t] to make [kæt] </li></ul><ul><li>If we switch them around, we have new meaning: “act” [ækt] or “tack” [tæk] </li></ul><ul><li>We have an open system of communication </li></ul>
  13. 13. Sign or Signal <ul><li>A sign or signal is used </li></ul><ul><li>To refer to another thing or event </li></ul><ul><li>That is intrinsically related to the first </li></ul><ul><li>Example: goose mating call has one sound pattern while a warning call has another </li></ul><ul><li>The two patterns cannot be combined to produce a third meaning </li></ul><ul><li>So their communication system is closed </li></ul>
  14. 14. Culture is Shared <ul><li>A group with common language and custom shares a culture </li></ul><ul><li>Groups may be as small as 50 (!Kung band) </li></ul><ul><li>They may comprise nation of millions (e.g. Japan) </li></ul><ul><li>There may be subcultures in a culture (e.g. Hutterites in Saskatchewan) who use technology but retain traditional clothing and religious beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>Culture versus subculture is ambiguous </li></ul>
  15. 15. Culture is Patterned/Integrated <ul><li>One aspect of culture reflects other aspects </li></ul><ul><li>They all fit into a pattern as a whole </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of integration: </li></ul><ul><li>Extreme example: Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Sun probably wasn’t built by this !Kung band—construction required the coordinated efforts of hundreds </li></ul><ul><li>But the !Kung have their own pattern: meat sharing elicited by arduous hunts, crude hunting gear, and game scarcity </li></ul>
  16. 16. Conclusion: All Four Fields are Linked by the Culture Concept <ul><li>Sociocultural Anthropology : All aspects of human are learned, symbolic, shared, and integrated from language to technology to kinship (in most societies) </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistics involves the study of language, the medium of culture </li></ul><ul><li>Archaeology constructs the cultures of the past </li></ul><ul><li>Biological/Physical Anthropology asks how we humans have the capacity for culture in the first place. </li></ul>
  17. 17. The Science of Culture: The Role of Physical Anthropology’ <ul><li>The most basic science in anthropology rests in physical anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>We first look at what determines the biological capacity for culture </li></ul><ul><li>Then we examine the basics of scientific method. </li></ul>
  18. 18. What Does Physical Anthropology Have to Do With Culture? <ul><li>Biologically, we have a capacity for culture through language, tool making and use, and bipedalism </li></ul><ul><li>We acquired those abilities over millions of year—therefore fossil hominins may give us a clue as to how and when. </li></ul><ul><li>There is no indication that any one “race” has a greater capacity for culture than any other “race.” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Physical Anthropology: Biological Capacity for Culture <ul><li>How can we speak a language? </li></ul><ul><li>We have a brain structure for speech production and reception (both pictures) </li></ul><ul><li>Certain parts of the brain control our oral tract: tongue, vocal cords, lungs. </li></ul><ul><li>How about our tool making and use? </li></ul><ul><li>Upper part of the motor cortex in brain (lower left) controls our ability to make and use tools </li></ul><ul><li>Prehensile fingers, hands, and arms also enable tool making and use </li></ul><ul><li>Even ability to stand on our two feet and walk frees our hands for such purposes </li></ul>
  20. 20. Humankind: Present and Past <ul><li>Today , Homo sapiens only occupies the planet </li></ul><ul><li>Millennia ago, there were many species: </li></ul><ul><li>Homo neanderthalensis, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo erectus, and Homo habilis </li></ul><ul><li>Millions of years ago, there was Australopithecus with several species </li></ul><ul><li>Other hominoids evolved with us: </li></ul><ul><li>Great apes of today (e.g. chimps, gorillas) arose from such fossil apes as Dryopithecus ) </li></ul>
  21. 21. Contemporary Human Populations <ul><li>Breeding populations or </li></ul><ul><li>“ Races” or polytypic groups with regional distinctions capable of interbreeding </li></ul><ul><li>Serology : Blood Types & Their Distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Genetic-Linked Diseases : (Tay-Sachs, Sickle-Cell Anemia) </li></ul><ul><li>Epidemiology: AIDS (acquired from chimps’ SIV) </li></ul><ul><li>Forensics: Crime scene reconstruction </li></ul>
  22. 22. Past Human/Fossil Hominid Populations <ul><li>Genetics and Natural Selection: studies in biological human evolution </li></ul><ul><li>Paleoanthropology: comparative study of fossil primates, including hominids </li></ul><ul><li>Primatology: comparative study of monkeys and apes, their morphology and their behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Biodiversity: how polytypic populations came to be </li></ul><ul><li>Human ecology: interaction between human/prehuman populations and their environments </li></ul>
  23. 23. Physical Anthropology as Science <ul><li>Science is a body of knowledge gained through </li></ul><ul><li>observation and experimentation </li></ul><ul><li>Latin Derivation: Scientia or knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific Method is a mode of inquiry that requires the (a) generation, (b) testing, and (c) acceptance or rejection of hypotheses or explanations of a phenomenon. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry <ul><li>Hypothesis: An educated guess to explain the existence of a thing, lifeform, or event. </li></ul><ul><li>Theory: A hypothesis confirmed by repeated observation of a thing, lifeform, or event </li></ul><ul><li>Theories are always probabilistic </li></ul><ul><li>A new theory that better explains facts can replace an existing theory. </li></ul><ul><li>Theories are never “proven” once and for all </li></ul><ul><li>Generating and testing hypotheses involve Induction and Deduction </li></ul><ul><li>Use the following diagram and explanations to understand how the process works </li></ul>
  25. 25. A Diagram of Scientific Method
  26. 26. Induction <ul><li>Induction involves making observation of things and events in the field. </li></ul><ul><li>One then searches for certain attributes of things and events observed to find </li></ul><ul><li>Patterns: Do things or events fit together in some way </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a connection between one thing or event and another </li></ul><ul><li>Associations: do thing and events appear together under some condition. </li></ul><ul><li>If we find these attributes, we arrive at a hypothesis, which entails an explanation of the pattern, connection, or association </li></ul>
  27. 27. Deduction <ul><li>Deduction works the other way </li></ul><ul><li>We assume or have found a pattern, connection, or association between things and/or events. </li></ul><ul><li>Now, how well does the general explanation predict the specific thing or event in a new situation or area of inquiry. </li></ul><ul><li>Repetition: Does the phenomenon occur again and again? </li></ul><ul><li>Universality: Is the phenomenon found everywhere, under all circumstances? </li></ul><ul><li>Can exceptions be explained? </li></ul><ul><li>Does new information confirm or contradict the hypothesis generated by the theory? </li></ul>
  28. 28. Belief Systems <ul><li>Some matters are outside the scope of science </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning of life is a philosophical or theological question </li></ul><ul><li>Behavioral norms in society often defy scientific questions. </li></ul><ul><li>What are we here for? Science can’t help us here. </li></ul><ul><li>Belief Systems: Ideas that are taken on faith cannot be scientifically tested </li></ul>
  29. 29. Scientific Method: Sometimes Research Involves Political Fudging
  30. 30. Conclusion I <ul><li>Anthropology emphasizes </li></ul><ul><li>Holism: How does everything fit into a pattern? </li></ul><ul><li>Comparison: In what way are biological organism the same? How are they different? </li></ul><ul><li>The same can be said about groups, whether human or nonhuman (baboons, chimps, many others) </li></ul>
  31. 31. Conclusion II <ul><li>Biological/Physical Anthropology is </li></ul><ul><li>Based on scientific inquiry: controlled tests and observations </li></ul><ul><li>Relies on established scientific theory, of which evolutionary models are one. </li></ul><ul><li>Involves study of contemporary populations: varieties of human groups and their characteristics </li></ul><ul><li>Are applied to practical uses (medicine, genetic disorders, forensics) </li></ul>