Here, you will find all the basics about the site and the course, with the exception of ‘Assignments and Grading’ and the ‘Schedule’


This course explores many of the great discoveries and mysteries of the archaeological past that have shaped both scientific and popular Western thought. Through an investigation of case studies that examine the science and pseudoscience of archaeological research, students will critically examine how a Great Discovery is made and why it is important to know in today’s world. Think of it as the Discovery Channel or History Channel without Ancient Aliens.   Ancient Aliens will come up but this class is looking at them for what the belief in them really is – pseudoscience.


I am Dr. John Norder, associate professor in the Anthropology Department at Michigan State University.  I am one of a little over half a dozen faculty in the department that have a focus and experience in archaeology.  The other faculty in the department including Dr. Lynne Goldstein, Dr. Jodie O’Gorman, Dr. Ken Lewis, Dr. Ethan Watrall, Dr. Gabe Wrobel, and Dr. Bill Lovis.  All of us work on different topics, but most of work in the Americas, and the Great Lakes region, in particular.

I got my degree in anthropology from our lesser known  neighbor down the road, the University of Michigan, back in 2003, but I have been teaching at Michigan State since they felt pity on me back in 2000.   My original focus was on a topic that we will be looking at a bit later in the semester: rock art.  Very cool stuff.  It’s kind of like graffiti, but its old, often found in caves, ranges in style and talent from a two-year old fingerpainting (also my skill level) to naturalistic depictions that rival Da Vinci, and you don’t get arrested by the police for doing it.

My work has evolved since then, and while I still study and publish on my rock art research, my more current work has been looking at how communities, typically Native American ones, preserve, conserve, and develop their heritage and environmental resources in today’s global/political world and economy.


This is an online class, which for some of you is great, since you can work at your own pace and don’t need to feel that pressure of performing in class when the instructor starts pointing fingers and asking questions or when you are grouped together and have to intelligently discuss an assigned topic when you are in your mid-afternoon, low blood sugar, food coma time.  You can pace yourself and work on the material anytime.

In general, you can expect to spend about 6 to 8 hours a week on the class as it involves watching lectures and documentary videos, visiting website for assigned reading tasks, writing blog posts and responding to them, searching for websites and doing the required assignments. As you would in a regular class, you should take notes on video lectures and documentaries. This is just like a regular class except you get to pause the prof when your phone rings or a text comes to your phone! 🙂

This class operates on two websites: ANGEL and WordPress. ANGEL is where non-blog assignments will be located, as well as grade information. WordPress is where all of the course materials (videos, readings, links, etc.) are posted. This is also where you will be posting and responding to blogs.  Most importantly, all course announcements are posted on this site (WordPress), which means you need to log into this site regularly, if not daily Monday through Friday.  You should consider setting the announcements or schedule page as your home page for the duration of the class, check it in the morning, or before you go to bed to make sure you catch updates as they occur. This is an interactive course, so make sure you are interacting!

So here is what you can expect during any given week.

Everyday: log on to WordPress (WP), check for course announcements, work through course materials, read other student’s blog posts, etc.

Monday (or late Sunday): a new schedule for each week is released under the “schedule” tab on WPI will generally have a quick video about what we are doing this week and tips and guidelines for what you should you should be learning from the material for that week.  I am about as photogenic as a turnip, so don’t be surprised if the video is artfully touched up, but remember that it is the content that is important.

Wednesday: blog post assignment is due by 11:59pm EST on WP (EST = Eastern Standard

Mondays:  I will have office hours on Skype- from 1-4 pm. My address on Skype is ‘lowarchy’.  This will be a time for questions or anything you want to talk about concerning the class. You can see this on the homepage if I am online or not.  Also you can e-mail outside of that time at In person meetings may also be scheduled with a couple of days advanced notice, or a skype call can be arranged, also.  In person talking is generally faster than typing if you have a lot of questions.

Friday: blog comments on other people’s blogs are due by 11:59pm EST.

Sunday:  Comprehensive Essay assignments will be due by 11:59 pm EST on Sunday.   These are formally graded assignments.


To take this class, all you need is a browser (Mozilla FirefoxApple Safari, and Google Chrome are preferred) and a high speed internet connection.  While you can connect to many of the course materials using a slower internet connection, there are some things that you will have difficulty accessing otherwise (such as the course videos or lecture videos).


A lot of the content of this class is delivered using video.  Some of the videos are embedded into the schedule (most course lectures) while others are linked to outside websites (screencast, youtube, etc.)

In order to ensure that you have the best experience with this video material, make sure you are using an up-to-date version of a modern browser (such as Mozilla FirefoxApple Safari, and Google Chrome) and are accessing the course materials over a high speed internet connection. Note that lecture videos are downloadable, too.

In order to access the lecture videos, you will be provided with a username and pas.

Email Policy:

Check the website first: I work meticulously hard to keep this site up to date and full of information to make sure you always know whats going on. Make sure you check the site before you email me – chances are the answer is on the site either on the announcements page or in the schedule.

Be clear and courteous: Make sure you follow the format below when sending emails.  I may not respond otherwise, particularly if I need to decipher your email or need to figure if you are actually enrolled in my class.

  1. Put “ANP 264″ in the subject line
  2. Start the email with “Hi Dr. Norder” or something polite. “yo”, “Hey”, or “old dude”  is not polite…
  3. Use full sentences, proper grammar, as this is not a text to your buddy.
  4. Sign with your full name, PID number and email address

E-mail availability: e-mails that arrive between 9 and 6 pm on weekdays will generally be answered the same day, emails outside of these hours or on holidays or weekends will be answered the following business day or sooner if I am available.   Please do not expect instantaneous responses to e-mails.  I will typically be on and checking regularly from 9 to 6, but things do come up and it may be an hour or more before you get a response.  If you have a question during office hours, of course use Skype.

Check Announcements Page: It is very unlikely that I will send out many mass emails in this course, after the first few. If I have anything to tell the class, I will post it on this site under the “ANNOUNCEMENTS” page. This means you need to log in regularly to keep up to date on any class announcements.

Don’t email the entire class: This function will be disabled in ANGEL, but please respect other people, in general.  If there are any questions or issues regarding the class, you should contact me about them.


Assignments are posted on a weekly basis and are typically due by Wednesdays at 11:59 PM EST and Fridays at 11:59 unless otherwise noted in the weekly assignments.  If you miss an assignment or need to miss an assignment, you MUST provide me with a documentable excuse no later than one week after the date of the missed assignment (so a Wednesday, Friday or Sunday).  If you do not contact me within one week of the assignment deadline, you will receive a zero for that assignment. Period. More details on late assignments are under the  ‘Assignments and Grading’ tab.


In accordance with Michigan State University’s policies on “Protection of Scholarship and Grades” and “Integrity of Scholarship and Grades,” students are expected to honor principles of truth and honesty in their academic work. Academic integrity means, amongst other things, not plagiarizing. Plagiarism includes submitting someone else’s work (words, ideas, web page text, etc.) as their own, nor will they knowingly permit another student to copy and submit their work for the same or separate assignment in another course. Additional discussion of academic integrity is available on the Ombudsman’s website:


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc). Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.  If you have a visa, please get it to me either in person (we can schedule a meeting) or provide a copy via e-mail.


Extra Credit: It is not available.  My guiding principles regarding extra credit are the following

  1. it is usually more work than it is worth for you and me in the end.
  2. the course is designed to reward you for the effort you put in.  Extra credit becomes a reward for not making an honest effort to begin with.
  3. to maintain fair and consistent grading, if it is offered to one student it must be offered to everyone, which can affect the final grading balance if the course grades are curved, often negating its effect.

Honors Options: The anthropology department offers several honors sections for courses.  As a result, no honors options are available for this course.

Distribution of Course Lecture Videos: The course lecture videos are for enrolled students at MSU and, while downloadable, are not to be distributed to individuals or sites outside of MSU, as it is considered a copyright infringement.

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