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Anthropology and Archaeology

Welcome to the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology

Anthropology and Archaeology are disciplines that are interested in studying people and all aspects of their lives. Anthropology studies living societies and Archaeology studies those in the past. If you want to know how humans evolved and how people lived in the past: what they ate, what they wore and what their environment was like, you ask an archaeologist. Archaeologists use the material remains of the past: tools, architectural remains, plant and animal remains, pollen, shells and other evidence that they dig up in excavations to try and understand the people who lived in the past. Objects of study include all material culture from the stone tools discarded 3 million years ago in East Africa to the cooldrink tin that you threw away yesterday.

Anthropologists in contrast study the culture of living people. If you want to know why people cross the road at the zebra-crossing, or why they believe in witchcraft, or why some groups sanction marriage between cousins and others not, you ask an anthropologist. They study how people adapt to their environment (or adapt their environment to them), how they organise their societies, and the shared systems of meaning and belief that they develop. Anthropologists gather this information by observing and talking to people.