ANTHRO 1150. Ancient Landscapes


  • Professor: Jason Ur
  • Term: Spring
  • School: Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  • Course ID: 120579
  • Subject Area: Anthropology

Archaeology has focused traditionally on excavations of settlement sites. However, no settlement existed as an island; ancient peoples moved within a larger environment which constrained their actions while it was simultaneously transformed by them. In addition to the modification of physical spaces, communities also imposed meaning upon them, and were affected to varying degrees by the meanings of landscapes imposed by their ancestors. This course will investigate the relationship between ancient societies and their landscapes. We will review the ways in which ancient "off-site" activities are preserved in the landscape and how archaeologists identify and document them. We will discuss the exploitation of the landscape for agriculture, pastoralism, and industry (particularly in the context of the earliest complex societies). We will examine the relative roles of anthropogenic and climatic influences on the development of human societies. Throughout, we will consider how ancient communities perceived their landscapes and imbued them with meaning. In the process, we will review and critique a variety of theoretical approaches to landscape.