CCOG for ATH 235 Spring 2024

Course Number:
ATH 235
Course Title:
Archaeology of the Americas
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Discusses the archaeology of ancient societies in the Americas. Covers topics such as past migrations into the Americas, the archaic period, archaeology of the Great Basin, the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest or the development of pre-Columbian cultures and civilizations such as the Olmec, the Maya, the Aztec, the Inca or their predecessors from an archaeological perspective. Compares the geographies, values, beliefs, social customs, politics, technologies, and resources of past cultures in the Americas. Examines systems of power and social inequality in past societies of the Americas. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This class will cover the time period from first appearance of people in the Americas through the time of European contact and colonialism. Students should read and write at a collegiate level.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Describe the history and cultural development of societies in the Americas from the past through the time of European contact as revealed in the archeological record.
  2. Identify and compare the ideologies, languages, social organization, economics and technological development of different past societies in the Americas from an archaeological perspective.
  3. Describe systems of power associated with past societies in the Americas.
  4. Examine the impact of culture contact and colonialism on societies in the Americas from an archaeological perspective.

Social Inquiry and Analysis

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to apply methods of inquiry and analysis to examine social contexts and the diversity of human thought and experience.

General education philosophy statement

This course complements information taught in introductory anthropology classes and focuses on past and historical Native cultures of the Americas. The origin and cultural development of civilizations such as the Folsom and Clovis cultures, Mound builders the Maya, the Aztecs or the Inca will be studied from an anthropological and cross-cultural perspective utilizing archaeological theories and methods. This course also examines the impact of European contact and colonialism on the Native peoples of the Americas. Students taking this course will develop critical thinking and analytical skills by making comparisons of different past cultures of the Americas. They will also apply their knowledge of anthropological concepts, theories and methods to their analysis of the origin and development of the Clovis and Folsom traditions, early Pueblo Peoples, the Mound builders, Aztec, Maya, Inca or other past societies of the Americas. Another important aspect of the course is the study of the domestication and cultivation of maize in the Americas and the impact of this development on religion, social organization, and economic systems of the Americas. Students will also examine systems of power or ethical issues related to racism, colonialism, gender bias, economic class as revealed in the archeological record. By making comparisons of the art, architecture, ideologies, social institutions, technology and economic systems of different past societies of the Americas from an anthropological perspective, students will develop more cultural awareness and appreciation for the diversity of human thought and experience in the past as well as in the present.

Course Activities and Design

Class activities may include any of the following:

  • lectures
  • class discussions
  • small group activities
  • videos and films
  • artifact analysis
  • guest speakers
  • museum visits

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies may include any of the following:

  •  exams  (take home and in class)
  • quizzes
  • presentations
  • short papers
  • term papers
  • projects

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • geography of the Americas
  • Indigenous American food resources and life ways
  • archaeology of the Great Basin
  • archaeology of the Pacific Northwest
  • archaeology of the Southwest
  • the past of Central and South American cultures
  • culture areas and regions of the Americas
  • the Archaic period
  • State formation in the Americas
  • Impact of European contact and Colonialism


  • Cultural Origins
  • Cultural Expansion
  • Cultural Collapse


  • Cultural Evolution
  •  Culture Area
  • Colonialism
  • Clovis and Folsom
  • Pueblos
  • Mound Building cultures
  • State formation and expansion
  • "CBS" Crops
  • domestication of corn
  • Slash and Burn/Chinampa Agriculture
  •  Incipient, Pre-Classic, Classic, Post-Classic
  • Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacano, Toltec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Mixica, Inca civilization


  • read and write at a college level
  • apply an understanding of archaeological theories and methods
  • use and evaluate sources of information accurately