Schedule

WEEK 1 (9/3)

  • Introduction to the Class

WEEK 2 (9/8 & 9/10)

  • Introduction to the Class
  • What is Science Anyway?
  • What is Archaeology?
  • What is Pseudoarchaeology?
  • Motivations for Making a Pseudoarchaeology Claim?
  • Opinion vs. Fact, Theory vs. Opinion, Idea vs. Theory
  • When archaeologists say “we don’t know,” it doesn’t mean that the pseudoarchaeological idea is validated.
Readings
  • Cornelius Holtorf, Beyond Crusades: How (Not) to Engage with Alternative Archaeologies, World Archaeology (2005) [read]
  • Garrett G. Fagan and Kenneth L. Feder, Crusading against Straw Men: An Alternative View of Alternative Archaeologies: Response to Holtorf, World Archaeology (2005) [read]
  • Kenneth L. Feder, Irrationality and Popular Archaeology, American Antiquity (1984) [read]
  • Michael G. Michlovic, Folk Archaeology in Anthropological Perspective, Current Anthropology (1990) [read]
  • John R. Cole, Kenneth L. Feder, Francis B. Harrold, Raymond A. Eve, Alice B. Kehoe, On Folk Archaeology in Anthropological Perspective, Current Anthropology (1990) [read]
Assignments
  • Blog Post #1 Due by 5pm on Friday (9/11)
  • Blog Response #1 Due by 5pm on Sunday (9/13)
  • Blog Post Prompt: What’s the harm in believing pseudoscientific or non-scientific claims about the world (in general) and the human past/archaeology (in particular)

WEEK 3 (9/15 & 9/17)

  • The Crdiff Giant: Anatomy of an Archaeological Hoax
  • The Piltdown Man Hoax
  • Giants!
Readings
  • The Discovery of Ancient Man in Sussex, The British Medical Journal (1912) [read)
  • George Grant MacCurdy, The Man of Piltdown, American Anthropologist (1914) [read]
  • William L. Straus, The Great Piltdown Hoax, Science (1954) [read]
  • E. A. Hooton, Comments on the Piltdown Affair, American Anthropologist (1954) [read]
Assignments
  • Blog Post #2 Due by 5pm on Friday (9/18)
  • Blog Response #2 Due by 5pm on Sunday (9/20)
  • Blog Post Prompt: The Crdiff Giant and the Piltdown Man hoaxes were similar in that both related to archaeology and the study of human prehistory. However, they were quite different in temrs of motives, the reasons for their success, and their impacts. Compare the motives for these two hoaxes. What were the goals of the hoaxers? Compare the reasons each was successful. Why did people want to believe them? Compare the impacts of the Cardiff Giant and Piltdown hoaxes on the scientific understanding of the human past. In terms of both hoaxes, which of these two implications do you agree with, and why: (1) both hoaxes show that even “objective” scientists cannot be trusted to apply a skeptical eye to data when those data fulfill their expectations and desires; (2) both hoaxes exemplify the self-corrective nature of science.

WEEK 4 (9/22 & 9/24)

  • Pre-columbian Contact and Settlement of North America
  • The Case of Lanse-Aux-Medows
  • Television: America Unearthed (Stonehenge in America)
Readings
Optional Readings

WEEK 5 (9/29 & 10/1)

  • Myth of the Moundbuilders
  • Television: Ancient Aliens
Readings

WEEK 6 (10/6 & 10/8)

  • This week you’re going to have a workshop on the digital tools and techniques you will use to build your Digital Pseudoarchaeology.  These tutorials will take place in LEADR (Old Hort 112) – http://leadr.msu.edu/.  The workshop will be during the regular class time.  Because you won’t all fit into the lab at the same time, I’m going to split you up into two groups.  So, if your last name starts with A-L, come during Tuesday’s class.  If your last name starts with M-Z, come during Thursday’s class.  Please be sure to come on your assigned day.

WEEK 7 (10/13 & 10/15)

  • Setting the Stage for Ancient Astronauts
  • Henri Lhote, Matest Agrest, and the Early Believers
  • Erich von Däniken and his Chariots
  • Ancient Astronauts Post von Däniken
Readings
Assignments
  • Blog Post #3 Due by 5pm on Friday (10/16)
  • Blog Response #3 Due by 5pm on Sunday (10/18)
  • Blog Post Prompt: Using a deductive approach, how would you test the following hypothesis: The prehistoric record contains evidence of enormous and unexpected leaps forwars in science and technology (agriculture, pyramid building writing, and so on). These leaps are evidence of the introduction of such innovations by extra terrestrial aliens. In addition, deconstruct one of the cases outlined in either Ancient Astronautsor Chariots of the Gods. Are there archaeological, cultural, or historic explanations (Occams Razor) for them (as opposed to the extraterretrial explanations advanced by von Daniken et al.)

WEEK 8 (10/20 & 10/22)

  • 10/20 – Midterm Exam
  • Film: Chariots of the Gods

WEEK 9 (10/27 & 10/29)

  • Film: Chariots of the Gods
  • Lost Continents & Sunken Civilizations: The Origins of Atlantis
  • Ignatius Donnelly and the Modern Origins in the Atlantis Myth
  • Atlantis after Donnelly: Edgar Cayce
  • Atlantis and the Theosophists

Readings

WEEK 10 (11/3 & 11/5)

  • Television: The Hunt for Atlantis
  • November 5 – Open lab time in LEADR.  These will take place during regular class times on 11/5.  So, if you need help working on your project, you need to take advantage of this time.  Someone will be there specifically to help out with any problems.  Even if you don’t have any significant issues, it would be really strategic to take advantage of this time to work on your portion of the project

WEEK 11 (11/10 & 11/12)

  • The Pyramidiots
  • Faber, Wilson, Taylor, and Smyth: The 19th Century Pyramidiots
  • The Atlantean Pyramidiots
  • The Age of the Sphinx: Geology and the Orion Correlation “Theory”
  • Pyramids in the Arctic, Pyramids on Mars, Pyramids in Bosnia

Readings

Assignments

  • Blog Post #4 Due by 5pm on Friday (11/13)
  • Blog Response #4 Due by 5pm on Sunday (11/15)
  • Blog Post Prompt: Test the following hypothesis: Pyramid building was introduced into Egypt either by aliens or citizens of Atlantis. What should the archaeological record look like if this hypothesis is an accurate description of Egyptian history. What does the archaeologicl record actually show regrding the history of pyramid construction in Egypt.  Apply the same hypothesis testing process to Atlantis: Atlantis was a super advanced civilization that existed ca. 10,000 years ago from which the Maya and ancient Egyptians defused.  What should the archaeological record look like if this is indeed the case? What does the historical and archaeological record shout about the rise and development of these iconic state level civilizations?

 WEEK 12 (11/17 & 11/19)

  • the lost week – rebooting after Thanksgiving

WEEK 13 (11/24 & 11/26)

  • Classes cancelled for Thanksgiving break

WEEK 14 (12/1 & 12/3)

  • December 12/1 – Open lab time in LEADR.  These will take place during regular class times on 12/1.  So, if you need help working on your project, you need to take advantage of this time.  Someone will be there specifically to help out with any problems.  Even if you don’t have any significant issues, it would be really strategic to take advantage of this time to work on your portion of the project.
  • Pseudoarchaeology & Religion

Readings

  • Mary Lefkowitz, Archaeology and the Politics of Origins: the search for pyramids in Greece  [read]
  • Bettina Arnold,Pseudoarchaeology and Nationalism: Essentializing Difference  [read]
  • Arnold, Bettina “The past as propaganda: How Hitler’s archaeologists distorted European prehistory to justify racist and territorial goals.” Archaeology July/Aug 1992: 30-37 [read]
  • Hale, Christopher. Himmler’s Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2003, p. 200 [read]
Assignments
  • Digital Pseudoarchaeology Project due (Friday by 5pm)

WEEK 15 (12/8 & 12/10)

  • Pseudoarchaeolkogy & Nationalism
  • Why should we care about pseudoarchaeology (revisited)
  • Pseudoarchaeology and professional archaeological ethics
Readings
Assignments
  • Blog Post #5 Due by 5pm on Friday (12/10)
  • Blog Response #5 Due by 5pm on Sunday (12/12)
  • Blog Prompt: Open

FINAL EXAM WEEK

  • Take-home Final Exam Due December 16th before 5pm.
  • Bonus BlogDue December 17th before 5pm (no reply required)
  • Blog Prompt: Is it the professional responsibility of all archaeologists to confront and counteract pseudoarchaeology and pseudoarchaeologists (either generally or in their particular area)?  If yes, why?  If no, why not?  If yes, how should the archaeological community (and individual archaeologists) go about confronting and counteracting pseudoarchaeology and pseudoarchaeoloigsts?

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