ANTH3980-02.Tpics: Ancn Civ of S. America.J14.Messenger,Lewis

Faculty Name

Lewis Messenger

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Course Section


Course Title

Tpics: Ancn Civ of S. America

Academic Term and Year

Winter 2014



Hamline Plan Letter


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Course Description

Ancient Civilizations of South America is designed as a course to familiarize students with the ancient, archaeologically reconstructed, cultural developments of South America - an area not considered integral to the mainstream of the Western Tradition, but nonetheless one that has provided a rich cultural tradition that has become a major source of ethnic pride to many people from the region. In this course, students learn of the prehistoric background of the rich cultural traditions from which modern nation-states such as Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil (to name a few). Given the nature of this subject matter it is clear that students in Ancient Civilizations of South America will "expose students to unfamiliar cultures" - both ancient and modern. While places such as Machu Picchu are familiar as cultural and national icons for countries like Peru, few, except for specialists, are aware that the Inca are but the last of a long trajectory of ancient civilizations that preceded them. Likewise, recent archaeological work in Amazonia - a region thought to have been incapable of supporting ancient complex societies - we are beginning to realize that it supported vast numbers of people, living in what must be considered ?cities,? and yet practicing subsistence systems that not only supported them nutritionally, but that has left us areas of ?artificial? and regenerative soil, as extensive as nations such as France! Such accomplishments by ancient indigenous peoples of South America not only leave us in awe, but can provide sources of information and practices that may prove to be pivotal in achieving agricultural sustainability in the future - without having to be energetically underwritten by petrochemicals, and significantly, without having to depend upon slash-and-burn gardening (thus helping countries like Brazil to lessen their carbon footprint). This course clearly will reduce student cultural insularity by allowing them to appreciate ancient indigenous American Indian achievements seldom-mentioned in mainstream archaeological survey courses.

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