Blog 1: American Association of Physical Anthropologists

I chose to explore the website for the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. I do not have a very in-depth background of physical or biological anthropology so a lot of the information presented on this website was very new to me. I do, however, have a very good background in both biology and chemistry, studying both for several years, so it was extremely interesting to me to find connections with the work that physical anthropologists do and the types of natural science I have already seen.

The website, in its introduction, mentioned that physical anthropology deals with the adaptations, variability, and evolution of human beings and their living and fossil relatives. I think this is interesting to highlight because physical anthropology coers a much larger span of topics than I originally thought. The fact that it looks at, not only biological issues today, but throughout history makes it much more comprehensive than I imagined it to be.

As I explored the website, I chose to look at the “News” section. One of the articles that caught my eye talked about pathology and osteology in Medieval Transylvania. The article detailed how human remains from a medieval funerary mound were uncovered and in what ways they were being looked at. The remains in the article were actually separated from the rest of the community and the research workshop was looking to understand why. The workshop was going to look at pathogens in the skeletal material, bone remodeling and infections diseases. I found really interesting the extent to which biological anthropology seems to be inter-disciplinary. In the short article biology, chemistry, archeology, biological anthropology, pathology and evolutionary biology were all mentioned.

Another article I looked at talked about workshop on Dental Wear. It mentioned that it would focus on understanding process contributing to dental wear, the relationship between macro and micro wear on teeth and general trends in tooth wear between diets and behaviors. This article was actually really interesting because, personally, I usually assume that biological anthropology studies are more historical than modern. This article struck me because it mentioned that it was looking at both historical dental wear but also dental wear of people today. I also honestly did not really realize that dental wear would be worth studying or that it was part of human culture but after reading the article I understand more of why researchers would maybe want to study this part of human culture.

Through looking at these and many other different articles on the website for the AAPA, it is more obvious for me to see how biological anthropology can be connected to anthropology as a whole. Before exploring this website, I did not really understand why or how biological anthropology actually could be connected to discussions about culture because I assumed it was more connected to the natural sciences, like biology. However, after looking at these articles I can see that the way in which people’s biology changes or adapts in a certain way can force them to have to change culturally as well. This can also be said vice versa where cultural changes might affect biology of a certain group. Through looking at biological anthropology I do think we can gain a greater understanding of how culture works throughout the world.

4 thoughts on “Blog 1: American Association of Physical Anthropologists

  1. That is very cool that you could connect your background in chemistry and biology to the work of physical anthropologists. I agree that it is very interesting that physical anthropology’s range of topics spans very wide with concentrations in adaptions, variability, and evolution of living and fossilized humans. This range of topics is perfectly illustrated through the News article that you mentioned talking about disease and bone research in Medieval Transylvania skeletons. I think the way Physical Anthropologists can use pathology as a means of uncovering the history of human remains is incredibly interesting. It is also very interesting that teeth can reveal so many facts. It was clear through your paragraph on the Dental Wear that there is a direct correlation between odontology and human behavior and health. Teeth can expose many unique secrets about a human’s life. I like how you ended your essay by tying together the correlation between culture and physical anthropology. Great job!

  2. Hello,
    I also didn’t know much about physical or biological anthropology before taking this course . I choose to look at a paleoanthropology page so I appreciated your post about Physical Anthropology because it compounded on the knowledge that I got from lecture, I found your post to be very entertaining, I liked that you talked about the different articles within the news section because I think that it highlights how large this field really is. In just one subset of anthropology people are discussing topics as vast as how a body is being examined in Transylvania, to a dental workshop. I particularly liked the dental workshop part because it’s so untypical for anthropology. . In addition to the content I appreciated the structure of your blog, it was well organized and each paragraph was clearly separated making it easier to read.

  3. That is incredible that they uncovered medieval funerary ground and used all those different time of technology in order to obtain the information they needed to successfully find what they wanted. When talking about the study of dental wear it was very interesting because based on what they find they can detect the behavior of an individual. Even what type of diet they had. This to me is crazy because it can tell you about cultures in the past and how they spent their days and or lives. It can tell you even how their lifestyles affected their bodies and their teeth and what we need to not do in order to make sure our teeth stay as white as possible and healthy. It can tell us if our teeth have become stronger because of the way people lived in the past.

  4. I agree that Physical Anthropologists cover more area than we thought. My post is also about Physical Anthropology, and similar to you I thought Physical Anthropology is only about human and natural science. However, after deeply explore the website of Physical Anthropology, it actually covers a lot of area, such as human culture,behavior and origin by studying nonhuman primates and hominid forebears. It is interesting that Physical Anthropologists also deal with dental wear, and studying dental wear can help them understand human culture, but I still can’t imagine how studying this can enrich knowledge about culture of human. I know that Physical Anthropologists can look at diet from the past to understand human culture.

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