Anth 346 - Archaeological Theory
SUNY College at Geneseo
Fall 2012


Instructor: Dr. Paul J. Pacheco
Office:  13 D Sturges Hall    Phone: #245-5275
Office Hours:  M 1:30-3:30  P.M. &  T. 9:00-11:00 A.M.; or by appointment
e-mail address:

Course Outline

Description and Objectives:


    This course is an intensive investigation of archaeological theory.   We will concentrate our reading on the complex mix of theoretical perspectives in archaeology generated since the 1960’s and focus on one major example, drawn from the Hopewell literature.   The course is designed to provide anthropology majors a strong, well-grounded, theoretical background in archaeology in order to promote critical thinking skills relative to historical issues of archaeological significance.


Learning Outcomes:


1)    Students will become familiar with some of the major theoretical orientations of archaeology  and the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.   This skill will be assessed through the writing of daily questions designed to allow students to explore critically the arguments of some of archaeology’s greatest thinkers in the context of their original writings.


2)    Students will develop critical thinking skills relative to the development and history of archaeological ideas.  These thinking skills will be developed and tested each class day through intensive discussion sessions in which the students are prompted to participate utilizing the Socratic Method. 


3)    Students will learn to identify and critique theoretical arguments in archaeology

      from a variety of  different perspectives.  This skill will allow them to evaluate and

      deconstruct the approaches and arguments that they encounter as students of

      anthropology.  This skill will be assessed through the writing of two essay exams.


Required Readings:


All listed readings will be made available weekly through the webpage. 


Class Requirements:


                        There will be three major requirements in the course, weekly participation in class discussion, an in-class essay midterm, and a take-home essay final.   Exams explore your understanding of the course content and your ability to synthesize and clearly express your understanding in writing.   


                        The participation grade is measured by your coming to class prepared and your contributions to daily class discussions.   A set of questions or objectives will typically be assigned for each day’s reading material.  These questions will guide our class discussions and help to maintain the intellectual rigor of the course. On three randomly chosen days during the semester, your responses will be collected and graded directly. You are expected to come to each class with typed and edited responses for the day’s assignment.  On all other days, answers will not be collected and your class participation in the discussion, exhibiting your preparation for class, will be used to determine points for that day. 


                        Your answers should be thoughtful, but concise.  Emphasize quality over quantity and take to heart that there are no wrong answers when discussing theory.   Effort and critical thinking is the key to class success.   If you will miss a class day for any reason, your answers to the day’s questions are due to me by 12:30 P.M. the day of the class you will miss.  Besides hard copies placed in my hands or my department mailbox, you may e-mail me attachments as .doc  or .docx Word files.  Late responses will not be accepted.       


Course Grades:


Daily Class Participation/Responses                         200 points

Midterm                                                                     100 points

Final                                                                           200 points


Grades will be assigned on a percentage basis out of  500 possible as follows. 


A   =  93% +                        B   =  86.99 – 83 %       C   =  76.99 – 73%      E = 57.99 –0 %

A- =  90 - 92.99%                B-  =  82.99 – 80 %      C - =  72.99 – 68 %

B+ =  89.99 – 87%              C+ =  79.99 – 77%       D   =   67.99 – 58 %         


Class Schedule

Week                           Topic                                                              Reading    


One                            Introduction                                  Binford “Arch. as Anthropology”


Two                     Process & History                   Hempel “Function of …Laws of History”

                                                                                        Binford “Hist. vs. Processual …”


                            Practice & Reality                      Flannery “Archaeology w/ a Capital S”

                                                                                          Lyman et al “Chapter 1”

                                                                                    Flannery “Golden Marshalltown …”


Three          Understanding Arch. Record-           Binford “Willow Smoke and …”   

                                                                                          Binford  “Archaeology of Place”   

                                                                                    Weissner “Response to Binford”

                                                                                     Kelly “Mobility & Sedentism”


Four            Understanding Arch. Record-                  Kent “Mobility Patterns”

                                                                                         Murray “Discard Locations”

                                                                                     Binford “Dimensional Analysis …”

                                                                                  Binford  “Alywara Men’s Camp”


Five           Scale Issues & Style/Function       Flannery & Winter “Analyzing House …”

                                                       Peterson and Drennan “Communities, Settlements, …”

                                                                                    Sackett “Approaches to Style”

                                                                                        Dunnell “Style and Function …”


Six              Post-Processualism                          Hodder “Non-dichotmous Thinking”

                   Semiotics and Structuralism                       McGhee “ Ivory for the Sea Woman”

                   Structural Marxism                                   McGuirre and Saitta “Petty Chiefs”

                   Hermeneutics                      Johnsen & Olsen “Hermeneutics & Archaeology”


Seven             Phenomenology                                          Bruck “Experiencing the Past”

                      Agency and Life History                                  Gardner “Agency”

                           Critique                                     Watson and Fotaidis “Razor’s Edge”



Eight                Midterm



Hopewell Archaeology – a detailed example of theory in practice. 


Nine              Ohio Hopewell Introduction                   1) Dancey, 2) Pacheco                   

                         A Post-Processual View                               3) DeBoer



Ten              Interpreting Hopewell                                  4) W. Cowan, 5) Seeman and Branch

                       Settlement Patterns                                        6) Prufer, 7) Prufer


Eleven              Broadening the Model                                  8) Smith

                           Refining the Model                      9) Dancey and Pacheco, 10) Wymer


Twelve        Alternatives to the Model                    11) Griffin, 12) Yerkes

                       Testing/Defending the Model            13) Pacheco, 14) Pacheco


Thirteen        Hopewell Communities Reconsidered      15) Ruby, Charles, and Carr

                                                                                                    16) Bernardini


Fourteen                Revisiting Sedentism                          17) F Cowan, 18) Pacheco

                         The End of Hopewell                                    19) Dancey


Fifteen                 Integrating Hopewell                 20) Greber , 21) Pacheco and Dancey


*numbers correspond to numbers on articles in mycourses Hopewell folder