Summaries of Courses Taught as Primary Instructor

In this course, you will be introduced to the perspectives and methods of cultural anthropology, the study of cultural variation among humans. You will learn about the practical difficulties and ethical dilemmas of doing ethnographic fieldwork. By comparing different societies and cultures with you own, you will acquire conceptual tools for understanding social and cultural change and current domestic and global issues. The writing component focuses on individual development in style, content, and most importantly, the process of revision. In an increasingly globalized world, the topics addressed in this class are useful for students in all disciplines. By the end of the course, students should be able to: demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture, as it applies to anthropology; understand cultural relativism and be able to recognize its importance; describe the research methods used by cultural anthropologists; identify, describe, and compare the major structural types of human society; recognize the importance of religion, gender, social inequality, colonization, and globalization using a cross-cultural perspective; apply anthropological perspectives to contemporary problems; and demonstrate improvement in writing over the course of the semester including developed written expression of critical thinking skills and research methods.
In this class, students learn about humans and our place in the animal kingdom. Lessons include human origins and the human fossil record, with an emphasis on mechanisms of evolution. Students also consider human variation from an evolutionary perspective and biological variability among modern populations. By the end of the course students should be able to: know the history of evolutionary thought and its major scholars; demonstrate understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of evolutionary change such as natural selection, sexual selection, gene flow, and mutation; describe the research methods used to study human evolution and the fossil record; understand the general trajectory of human evolution from our last common ancestor with chimpanzees to the appearance of anatomically modern humans; identify, describe, and compare major finds in the primate and hominin fossil record; identify physiological and behavioral traits of major primates and hominins; and demonstrate understanding of the major questions and debates on the evolution of bipedalism and locomotion, language and thought, first stone tools, the genus Homo, timing of the appearance of symbolic behavior, human expansion out of Africa, and human-Neanderthal interactions.

Summaries of Courses Taught as Teaching Assistant

This course takes a “four-field” approach (physical/biological, linguistics, archaeology, cultural) to the study of Anthropology, an integrated discipline with academic and applied dimensions. This course is concerned with the biological and cultural development of humans from their origin to the present. A brief survey of human evolution and the archaeological record is followed by a comparative study of behavior and beliefs of our own and other societies. In this class students will: learn the fundamentals of evolutionary theory; gain knowledge of key events in human evolutionary history; be introduced to the methods and techniques of archaeology; learn how fundamental cultural institutions such as the family, kinship, political organization, and settlement patterns differ cross culturally; learn to apply an anthropological perspective to current global events and; gain experience with oral presentations and group leadership. Syllabi are available upon request.
The goals of this course are to: 1) introduce students to a wide range of important archaeological discoveries that document human evolution, peopling of the world, the origins of agriculture, the development of writing, and the development of civilizations across the globe; 2) present these finds in the context of archaeological theory; 3) introduce students to the methods used by archaeologists, the history of and current themes within the discipline; 4) encourage critical thinking with respect to interpretations of the past; and 5) stimulate a heightened sensitivity to ethical concerns. A broad view of “great” discoveries is adopted to include scientific discoveries that have furthered archaeology as a discipline (e.g. the notion of deep time, dating techniques, etc.) and archaeological discoveries that mark important events throughout the course of human prehistory. Important events include human evolution, the timing and nature of peopling of the world, the radical shift to dependence upon agriculture, the invention of writing, and development of urban societies. Sites from Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Australasia highlight the diversity of finds across the globe. Recurrent themes include varying interpretations of the past, ethics and looting, and cultural heritage management. Syllabi are available upon request.

Summaries of Courses under Development

This survey course explores the archaeological record of the Caucasus as a narrative in three acts. We begin with the arrival of the first hominids, Neanderthal-human interactions, and the appearance of the first farming villages (Act I). We then shift our focus to post-Neolithic cultural dynamics in Act II, where we examine conditions surrounding human expansion into the mountains and the rise of metallurgy in the Chalcolithic period, as well as large-scale mobilities and migrations in the Bronze Age. This act will also examine the rise of horse culture, social stratification, and “the Indo-European question” of the Middle and Late Bronze Age. We conclude with a study of the Caucasus in the age of states and empires (Act III), from the Scythians and Hittites in the Iron Age to confrontations between Europe and Persia in Antiquity. In each act, we will discuss pressing questions and debates in scholarship and will assess periods of major cultural change from various relevant social, political, economic, and environmental perspectives. Whenever appropriate, we will ground our discussions by comparing the archaeological record in the Caucasus with the record from adjacent areas, including Anatolia, the Levant, and eastern Europe. Click HERE for a sample syllabus with a preliminary weekly reading schedule.
This course uses a global perspective to investigate the role of pastoralism in the development of human societies. We will begin by first studying various definitions and classifications of pastoralism and the strengths and weaknesses of predominant archaeological methods utilized in the study of pastoralism. We then shift our focus and interrogate primary historical sources, including the earliest written documents, early Greek sources, the Bible, and the writings of the first Muslim travelers to explore how their skewed portrayals of transhumant and nomadic peoples have informed urbancentric attitudes in archaeology and archaeological studies of pastoralism. In the third part of the course we will investigate exactly how pastoralists shaped ancient societies; topics include, pastoral production and the rise of social complexity, pastoralists as agents of environmental change, pastoralists and warfare, and religion and cosmology among pastoralists.
The Bronze Age was a dynamic period in the (pre)history of West Asia, from the golden age of urbanism in the Early Bronze Age, to a period of significant unrest and upheaval in the Late Bronze Age. In this course we will take a comparative approach to explore the Bronze Age in four areas: Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, the South Caucasus, and the Levant. We ask how is the trajectory of development different between these regions, and what processes connect them? What do these cross-regional similarities and differences reveal about the primary agents of cultural change in the Bronze Age? Topics include classification and periodization issues, material culture and ceramic typologies, farming and animal husbandry practices, political dynamics and collapse, the rise of social complexity, craft production and metallurgy, long-distance exchange and trade, migrations, worldviews and ritual practices.
Our humanity and the trajectory of our developments and innovations are inextricably linked with the history and the fate of our planet. How do we reconstruct the human footprint on the environment? How has climate change shaped the course of our history? Addressing these questions is the purview of environmental archaeology. This course begins by defining environmental archaeology and exploring the prominent ecological concepts and theoretical approaches of the field. We then shift our focus to examine the fundamental field methods, laboratory procedures, and applications of various disciplines of environmental archaeology, including paleoethnobotany, geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, paleopathology, and stable isotope studies.