Syllabus (Anth 164, Winter 2007)

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The Origins of Complex Societies

Anthropology 164, UC Santa Barbara

Nicholas Tripcevich Email:
Winter Quarter 2007 Office: HSSB 2049
Class: M-W-F 10-11 AM, HSSB 2001a Office Hours: M, W 11-12 or by appt
Class website:

Course overview: This course combines archaeological theory and data in an examination of the origins of complex societies. We will look at different anthropological and archaeological approaches to the study of early civilizations. This course specifically focuses on theoretical models for the origins of agriculture and for socio-political changes that led up to the emergence of state-level society. The course employs a comparative method and we will examine the circumstances surrounding state-level organization in a number of regions including Egypt, Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, and the Andes.

Evaluation format: Grades will be determined based on the following criteria. Written responses/participation: 30%, midterm: 30%, final paper: 40%.

Written responses are 400 word (1-2 page) responses to the reading questions in essay form. Reading Questions are posted online. These will be due at the beginning of each day of class. There will be 26 sets of questions assigned, and you can drop two of them so that 24 of these will count towards your grade.

The midterm exam will be an in-class exam, short and long answer questions. The final paper will be a 15 page research paper covering the emergence of the state in one of the regions covered in the course. You’ll need to find at least 20 bibliographical references for this paper (from the published literature, not from the Web) and an outline will be due several weeks before the end of the quarter.

Required Texts: Wenke, Robert J. and Deborah L. Olszewski (2007). Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind’s First Three Million Years. Oxford University Press, New York.

Additional readings will be posted to the web in PDF format. Printing these articles out (rather than reading online) is highly recommended and it can be done in a UCSB computer lab.

Plagiarism note: All students are expected to follow the university’s standards of academic honesty; there will be no tolerance for plagiarism. Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty that occurs when you present work belonging to someone else, either from a book, from the web, or from a classmate, as your own work. If you have questions about the proper way to cite another author’s work we can discuss it in class or during office hours.

Course schedule and reading assignments for Anth 164. Responses totaling at least 400 words will be due before class that day.

Wk 1, Mon, Jan 8 – Outline of the course, syllabus, readings, grading, introductions.

Wed, Jan 10 – Archaeological approaches: Wenke and Olszewski, Ch 1

Fri, Jan 12 – Archaeological data and inference: Wenke and Olszewski, Ch 2. Movie shown in class.

Wk 2, Mon, Jan 15 – UCSB Holiday, Martin Luther King day

Wed, Jan 17 – Civilization and its boosters, Patterson 1997 article.

Fri, Jan 19 – Typological approaches: Fried, 1960 article. Wenke and Olszewski, 279-292

Wk 3, Mon, Jan 22 – Theories concerning the origins of agriculture: Wenke and Olszewski 228-246

Wed, Jan 24 – Origins of Agriculture in Mesopotamia: Wenke and Olszewski 247-261

Fri, Jan 26 – Origins of Agriculture in the New World: Wenke and Olszewski 262-270.

Wk 4, Mon, Jan 29 – Political centralization: Haas 2001 chapter in From Leaders to Rulers

Wed, Jan 31 – Regional polities in North America: Wenke and Olszewski 565-583

Fri, Feb 2 – Regional polities in North America: Wenke and Olszewski 583 – 595. Movie

Wk 5, Mon, Feb 5 – Early complexity in Mesoamerica (Olmec): Wenke and Olszewski 481 - 495

Wed, Feb 7 – Early complexity in the Andes: Wenke and Olszewski 533-549

Fri, Feb 9 – Midterm Exam

Wk 6, Mon, Feb 12 – The evolution of complex societies: Wenke and Olszewski 292-316

Wed, Feb 14 – Mesopotamia: Wenke and Olszewski 325 - 341

Fri, Feb 16 – Mesopotamia: Wenke and Olszewski 341 – 362, Movie (Archaeology in Mesopotamia)

Wk 7, Mon, Feb 19 – UCSB Holiday, President’s Day

Wed, Feb 21 – Uruk states in Southwestern Iran, Wright 1998

Fri, Feb 23 – Egypt: Wenke and Olszewski 369 - 384

Wk 8, Mon, Feb 26 – Egypt : Wenke and Olszewski 384 - 397

Wed, Feb 28 – Ideology in Egyptian complex society: Bard 1992 article

Fri, Mar 2 – Mesoamerica: Wenke 495 – 524. Outline for Final Paper and draft of bibliography is due

Wk 9, Mon, Mar 5 – Monte Alban, Joyce 2000 article.

Wed, Mar 7 – Aztec state-making, Brumfiel 1983 article.

Fri, Mar 9 – Andean South America: Wenke and Olszewski 549 – 559, Stanish 2001 article

Wk 10, Mon, Mar 12 – Ideology, materialization, and power. Demarrais, Castillo, Earle 1996 article

Wed, Mar 14 – Long distance contact, Helms 1992 article.

Fri, Mar 16 – Process and agency in early states: Flannery 1999 article

Tues, Mar 20 –FINAL PAPER DUE before 10AM!