Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ATH 102
Course Title:
Introduction to Archaeology and Prehistory
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces methods and techniques used by archaeologists to study the development of human culture. Provides a survey of world prehistory, while emphasizing the development of social complexity and the origins of agriculture that precede both new and old world civilizations. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This is an introduction to prehistoric archaeology - the anthropological study of humans before the advent of written history. The course traces the evolution of human behavior from lower Paleolithic beginnings some two to three million years ago to European contact and conquest of Quechuan (Inca) Civilization in 1532. In addition to prehistory itself"," the methodology of prehistoric archaeology is detailed from site location to excavation techniques to laboratory analysis and the dating of archaeological materials. A synthesis of the trends of prehistory is presented as the course proceeds.

Intended Outcomes for the course

 1. Master basic concepts and methods in archaeology in order to prepare for more advanced coursework at the upper division level.

2. Use an understanding of archaeological methods and theories to evaluate artifacts and other data.

3. Evaluate the impact of human beings on the environment over time and in different ecological settings.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies may include any of the following:

* exams (in class or take home)

* term papers 

* quizzes

* short papers or reports

* student presentations

* experiential exercises

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Physical and Cultural Evolution
  • Archaeology versus Prehistory
  • Material Culture
  • Non-material Culture


  • Monogenesis versus Polygenesis
  • Cultural Diffusion
  • Cultural Variation versus Diversity


  • Time
  • Cultural Evolution
  • Cultural Ecology
  • Chaos Theory
  • Random Variation
  • Language and Culture
  • Race as a Racist Concept


  • Study Prehistory at a College level
  • Learn Human Cultural Evolution as exhibited through archaeology

Texts", monographs, films or other materials are at the discretion of the instructor with prior approval of the Anthropology Subject Area Curriculum Committee.