This page is part of the Introduction to Anthropology 2020 course. It was the beginning of a unit on archaeology. Muckle and González, in Through the Lens of Anthropology (note: link is to the 3rd edition, but page numbers and quotes for this class are to the 2nd edition), choose to start the section on archaeology with material on stone tools, or at approximately 2.5 million years ago. I attempt through the readings to introduce the idea of “Archaeology Tools” broadly considered, encompassing both the literal material for an archaeology tool kit, but also thinking about archaeological ethics and approaches.

There were three readings:

  • Muckle and González, “Diversity: 2.5 million to 20,000 Years Ago.”
  • April Nowell and Melanie Chang, “Science, the Media, and Interpretations of Upper Paleolithic Figurines.” American Anthropologist (2014)
  • Fuentes on the “Human niche” (5-8)

The next class began discussing the trade-offs of plant and animal domestication.

This material was for Introduction to Anthropology 2020. For related material from 2021, see Gender Archaeology using the textbook Anthropology: What Does it Mean to Be Human?

For the next time I teach this material, I would consider using Archaeologists Should Be Activists Too by Allison Mickel and Kyle Olson. Again, although this article may sound a bit distant from the page title of “archaeology tools,” the material in Muckle and González is also about the ethics of archaeology and an archaeology tool kit broadly considered.


I have attempted to cover this material on figurines and archaeological interpretations several times:

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