Physical Anthropology and Archaeology

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9780130658760: Physical Anthropology and Archaeology
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This comprehensive and scientific introduction to physical anthropology and archaeology is the only book to give balanced treatment to both biological and cultural evolution and the interaction between them to help students understand what humans are and were like and why they got to be that way.

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About the Author:

Carol R. Ember
Carol R. Ember started at Antioch College as a chemistry major. She began taking social science courses because some were required, but she soon found herself intrigued. There were lots of questions without answers, and she became excited about the possibility of a research career in social science. She spent a year in graduate school at Cornell studying sociology before continuing on to Harvard, where she studied anthropology primarily with John and Beatrice Whiting.

For her Ph.D. dissertation she worked among the Luo of Kenya. While there she noticed that many boys were assigned "girls' work," such as babysitting and household chores, because their mothers (who did most of the agriculture) did not have enough girls to help out. She decided to study the possible effects of task assignment on the social behavior of boys. Using systematic behavior observations, she compared girls, boys who did a great deal of girls' work, and boys who did little such work. She found that boys assigned girls' work were intermediate in many social behaviors, compared with the other boys and girls. Later, she did cross-cultural research on variation in marriage, family, descent groups, and war and peace, mainly in collaboration with Melvin Ember, whom she married in 1970. All of these cross-cultural studies tested theories on data for worldwide samples of societies.

From 1970 to 1996, she taught at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She has also served as president of the Society of Cross-Cultural Research and was one of the directors of the Summer Institutes in Comparative Anthropological Research, which were funded by the National Science Foundation. She is now executive director at the Human Relations Area Files, Inc., a nonprofit research agency at Yale University.

Melvin Ember
After graduating from Columbia College, Melvin Ember went to Yale University for his Ph.D. His mentor at Yale was George Peter Murdock, an anthropologist who was instrumental in promoting cross-cultural research and building a full-text database on the cultures of the world to facilitate cross-cultural hypothesis testing. This database came to be known as the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) because it was originally sponsored by the Institute of Human Relations at Yale. Growing in annual installments and now distributed in electronic format, the HRAF database currently covers more than 370 cultures, past and present, all over the world.

Melvin Ember did fieldwork for his dissertation in American Samoa, where he conducted a comparison of three villages to study the effects of commercialization on political life. In addition, he did research on descent groups and how they changed with the increase of buying and selling. His cross-cultural studies focused originally on variation in marital residence and descent groups. He has also done cross-cultural research on the relationship between economic and political development, the origin and extension of the incest taboo, the causes of polygyny, and how archaeological correlates of social customs can help us draw inferences about the past.

After four years of research at the National Institute of Mental Health, he taught at Antioch College and then Hunter College of the City University of New York. He has served as president of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research and has been president since 1987 of the Human Relations Area Files, Inc., a nonprofit research agency of Yale University.

Peter N. Peregrine
Peter N. Peregrine came to anthropology after completing an undergraduate degree in English. He found anthropology's social scientific approach to understanding humans more appealing than the humanistic approach he had learned as an English major. He undertook an ethnohistorical study of the relationship between Jesuit missionaries and Native American peoples for his master's degree and realized that he needed to study archaeology to understand the cultural interactions experienced by Native Americans prior to contact with the Jesuits.

While working on his Ph.D. at Purdue University, Peter Peregrine did research on the prehistoric Mississippian cultures of the eastern United States. He found that interactions between groups were common and had been shaping Native American cultures for centuries. Native Americans approached contact with the Jesuits simply as another in a long string of intercultural exchanges. He also found that relatively little research had been done on Native American interactions and decided that comparative research was a good place to begin examining the topic. In 1990 he participated in the Summer Institute in Comparative Anthropological Research, where he met Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember.

Peter Peregrine taught at Juniata College and is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the anthropology department at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. He serves as research associate for the HRAF Collection of Archaeology and is co-editor with Melvin Ember of the Encyclopedia of Prehistory. He continues to do archaeological research, and he recently celebrated his first decade of teaching anthropology and archaeology to undergraduate students.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The challenge of writing a textbook for an introductory course in physical anthropology and archaeology is finding the right balance between the details of human evolution and prehistory and conveying the larger picture so that students can understand where humans came from, where we might be going, and how knowledge about the past may be useful. This first edition of Physical Anthropology and Archaeology is a much expanded and revised version of the physical and archaeology sections of Ember and Ember's Anthropology. As always, we try to go beyond descriptions. We are interested not only in what humans are and were like; we are also interested in why they got to be that way, in all their variety. When there are alternative explanations, we try to communicate the necessity to evaluate them both logically and on the basis of the available evidence. Throughout the book, we try to communicate that no idea, including ideas put forward in textbooks, should be accepted even tentatively without supporting tests that could have gone the other way.

This book has four foci. First, we focus on the physical evidence of human evolution—not only the fossils but also the genetics and evolutionary processes that help us make sense of the fossils. Second, we focus on the major "revolutions" in human cultural evolution—the emergence of patterned stone tools, the elaboration of complex culture, the development of domesticated plants and animals, and the rise of cities and states. Third, we explore contemporary variation in humans, and particularly the concept of "race:' Finally, we consider how physical anthropologists and archaeologists apply their knowledge to problems and issues of practical importance today.

Part 1: Introduction


Chapter 1 introduces the student to anthropology. We discuss what we think is special and distinctive about anthropology in general, and about each of its subfields in particular. We outline how each of the subfields is related to other disciplines such as biology, psychology, and sociology. We direct attention to the increasing importance of applied anthropology. There are four boxes, each focusing on an individual anthropologist and her or his work.


Chapter 2 gives an overview of archaeological research. We discuss the types of evidence archaeologists and paleoanthropologists use to reconstruct the past, the methods they use to collect the evidence, and how they go about analyzing and interpreting the evidence of the past. We also describe the many techniques used by archaeologists and paleoanthropologists to determine the age of archaeological materials and fossils. There are two boxes, one examining evidence for unilinear trends in cultural evolution, the other considering how gender is studied by archaeologists.

Part II: Human Evolution: Biological and Cultural


Chapter 3 discusses evolutionary theory as it applies to all forms of life, including humans. Following an extensive review of genetics and the processes of evolution, including natural selection and what it means, we discuss how natural selection may operate on behavioral traits and how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution. We consider ethical issues posed by the possibility of genetic engineering. The first box examines the evidence suggesting that evolution proceeds abruptly rather than slowly and steadily. The second box discusses whether genetic engineering should be feared.


Chapter 4 describes the living nonhuman primates and their variable adaptations as background for understanding the evolution of primates in general and humans in particular. After describing the various kinds of primate, we discuss some possible explanations of how the primates differ—in body and brain size, size of social group, and female sexuality. The chapter ends with a discussion of the distinctive features of humans in comparison with the other primates. The first box deals with how and why many primates are endangered and how they might be protected. The second box describes a primatologist and some of her work.


Chapter 5 begins with the emergence of the early primates and ends with what we know or suspect about the Miocene apes, one of whom (known or unknown) was ancestral to bipedal hominids. We link major trends in primate evolution to broader environmental changes that may have caused natural selection to favor new traits. To highlight how theory is generated and revised, the first box explains how a paleoanthropologist has reexamined his own theory of primate origins. The second box describes a giant ape that lived at the same time as the first humans, and why that ape became extinct.


Chapter 6 discusses the evolution of bipedal locomotion—the most distinctive feature of the group that includes our genus and those of our direct ancestors, the australopithecines. We discuss the various types of australopithecines and how they might have evolved. The first two boxes discuss new australopithecine finds and how they appear to fit into our current understanding of human evolution. The third box describes the technique of cladistic analysis, widely used by paleoanthropologists to chart evolutionary relationships.


Chapter 7 examines the first clear evidences of cultural behavior—stone tools—and other clues suggesting that early hominids had begun to develop culture about 2.5 million years ago. We discuss what culture is and how it may have evolved. We then discuss the hominids—the first members of our genus, Homo—who are most likely responsible for the early signs of cultural behavior. The first box discusses hunting behavior by chimpanzees as a model for early human hunting. The second box examines the evolution of the brain and the physical changes in early humans that allowed the brain to increase in size. The third box explains how archaeologists and paleoanthropologists distinguish stone tools from ordinary rocks.


This chapter focuses on Homo erectus, the first hominid to leave Africa and the first to demonstrate complex cultural behavior. We examine Homo erectus culture through stone tools, hunting and butchering of large game, and campsites. We then consider whether Homo erectus may have developed language. After describing language and its evolution, we conclude that Homo erectus did not likely have language as we know it today. The first box discusses research evaluating the claim that Homo erectus should be divided into two species. The second box describes how paleoanthropologists and artists work together to reconstruct the faces of early humans. The third box considers whether mother-infant communication may have led to the development of language.

Part III: Modern Humans


Chapter 9 examines the transition between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens and the emergence of modern-looking humans. In keeping with our global orientation, we discuss fossil and archaeological evidence from many areas of the world, not just from Europe and the Near East. We give special consideration to the Neandertals and the question of their relationship to modern humans. One box feature examines patterns of growth and development among Neandertals as a way of evaluating how long their period of infancy was. The other box describes the evidence from mitochondrial DNA regarding the "Out-of-Africa" theory of modern human origins.


Chapter 10 considers the cultures of modern humans in the period before agriculture developed, roughly 40,000 to 10,000 years ago. We examine their tools, their economies, and their art—the first art made by humans. We also discuss human colonization of North and South America and the impact of humans on the new environments they encountered. The first box examines the possible routes humans may have taken to enter the Americas. The second box considers how women are depicted in Upper Paleolithic art.


Chapter 11 deals with the emergence of broad-spectrum collecting and settled life, and then the domestication of plants and animals in various parts of the world. Our discussion focuses mainly on the possible causes and consequences of these developments in Mesoamerica and the Near East, but we also consider Southeast Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Europe. The first box examines the domestication of dogs and cats; the second box describes how researchers are finding out about ancient diets from chemical analysis of bones and teeth.


Chapter 12 deals with the rise of civilizations in various parts of the world and the theories that have been offered to explain the development of state-type political systems. Our focus is on the evolution of cities and states in Mesoamerica and the Near East, but we also discuss the rise of cities and states in South America, South Asia, China, and Africa. How states affect people living in them and their environments is examined. We conclude with a discussion of the decline and collapse of states. One box considers the links between imperialism, colonialism, and the state. The other box discusses the consequences of ancient imperialism for women's status.


Chapter 13 brings the discussion of human biological and cultural evolution into the present by dealing with physical variation in living human populations and how physical anthropologists study and explain su...

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