Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Anthropology and Archaeology

Simply put, archaeology is the science of digging things up, trying to figure out what they are and using an educated guess to decide what they meant to the culture you are studying. Anthropology is the study of cultures. In this unit, students will learn a little about the art and science of studying the past—tools, methods and resource—in preparation, of course, for their own explorations. Of particular focus is evaluation of source materials to determine their usefulness for a given area of research. For more information on archaeology, check out this website hosted by the BBC. You can learn more about excavation techniques and something about archaeolgy worldwide, though it focusses mainly on the British Isles. There's even a challenging activity that puts you at the helm of an archaeological dig. Smithsonian Institution K-12 Anthropology Site It may take a little reading and cyber navigation, but if you're interested in learning more about what's going on in anthropology and archaeology, this site will get you there. I've been warning students for years now about the dangers of the internet as a research tool, primarily because any kook with a computer can put something on the web. (I mean, really, you're reading this aren't you?) You could be out surfing and land on some site talking about how some people found some mystery item in the mountains of California (that, described, sounds suspiciously like a spark plug). That's where your friendly, neighborhood Smithsonian Institution comes in. This link leads to a site that does a great job covering the spectrum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The Smithsonian is a top-shelf organization and they've done all the hard work for you—kept you safe from the looney fake sites. And that's a good thing. Another Anthropology site, the National Geographic Society hosts an interactive site chronicling the work of Dr. Spencer Wells. This site outlines the spread of Homo sapiens sapiens around the globe. Check out the Interactive Atlas of the Human Journey.

Easter Island

Easter Island is a vehicle I use a lot during our archaeology/anthropology unit. Rapa Nui, as Easter Island is known to its inhabitants, helps students learn to identify fact, judgement and opinion. Thor Heyerdahl's work on the islands help students explore the value of oral tradition in studying other cultures. They'll also see the difficulties that even anthropologist, who are trained to be open-minded, have when studying foreign cultures. All our talk is interesting, but I'm sure it can't hold a candle to being there. The link below is the next best thing. For those who want to see some 360º views of Easter Island, check out this site.

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BBC World News

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  • An outbreak of plague in Madagascar has killed 40 people and infected dozens of others, the World Health Organization says.
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  • A judge in the Netherlands agrees to extend the period police can hold a Dutch teenager who travelled to Syria to marry an Islamist fighter.