Week 4 Schedule

Life and Death/Trial and Error on the Path to Civilization

Week 4 | Lectures:

  • Lecture 1: Stonehenge and the Megaliths [watch]
  • Lecture 2: Of Bogs… [watch]
  • Lecture 3: …and Ice [watch]
  • Lecture 4: How to Grow Your Own Food [watch]

Week 4 | Videos:

Week 4 | Web Readings:
  • None.  Focus on the video, Stories from the Stone Age which traces societal and technological developments from Hunter-gatherers to the earliest farmers. Note the linkages between the video and Lecture 4.
Week 4 |Blog:
  • For this week’s blog, in 300 to 400 discuss the differences between the circumstances of death of the bog bodies and that of the Iceman.  In particular, focus on the theories of how the bog bodies came to be where they were and also that of the Iceman.  Both are often discussed as murder mysteries, but is this really the case?  Do both represent murder victims or is it more complicated?  What do these bodies tell us about societies in the past in terms of social organization and religion, if anything?  In doing this week’s response do some additional online research – at least one web site for the bog bodies and one for the iceman – that adds to or challenges the course material.  Site the web pages in your blog as noted under the Assignments and Grading tab.

Week 4 | Blog Response

  • In your blog response – in 250 to 300 words –  check out the web pages cited by the person you are commenting on and evaluate the way that they use it in comparison to the course material.  Do you agree with the way that they interpret these external websites?  If so, why do you agree.  If not, then why not?

Week 4 | Comprehensive Essay:

In this weeks 3 to 5 page essay, examine the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers.  The video ‘Stories from the Stone Age: Daily Bread‘ provides a narrative that works to explain the ways in which people began to shift towards food production rather than hunting and gathering.  I want you to focus on two key questions in your essay.  In answering these questions, you will need to do extra research on the web. Use citations as outlined under the Assignments and  Grading tab.

  • First, hunter-gatherer lifestyles are often described as short, brutish and filled with hardships.  Is this really the case?  Find at least two web resources (not a wiki page, but serious academic pages with real data from real archaeological and ethnographic sources) that argue against this idea of hunter gatherers.  Explain the arguments that are made, but keep in mind the environmental setting of the hunter gatherer societies that these academic sources are talking about.  In particular, note the difference between hunter-gatherers who live in relatively marginal environments where resources fluctuate due to seasonal change or scarcity (i.e.  deserts and the arctic) versus those who live in resource rich areas like rainforests and temperate areas like the southern US and California.  Where do  Mesolithic  constructions like the  Mesolithic  tombs of Europe fit into this?  What  type of hunting and gathering society produced them? 
  • Second, the list of theories presented in the video and in lecture 4 of this week present theories concerning how plant domestication occurred.  Once again turning to the web, search out two additional theories not mentioned in the lecture/film and explain how those theories work.
  • Last, in your conclusion provide an education perspective on the pluses and minuses of growing your own food versus maintaining a hunter-gather lifestyle, and note the  significance  of monumental  architecture  such as Stonehenge in the shift to the Neolithic.

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