ARCY2001 Archaeology of Human Origins and Symbolic Thought

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Archaeology major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Arts students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 2 elective
This unit shows where, when, and how we originated and why we became 'human'. We analyse the biological and cultural factors in the archaeological and palaeoanthropological record from 14 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, when all continents (apart from Antarctica) were settled by people. We examine the global archaeological evidence of relationships between cultural and biological processes that produce the diversity of humanity we experience today. This is an exciting topic and Unit content is regularly updated as new archaeological discoveries are made. Students also reflect on where evolution will take us in the future and on how we might help ensure a just and cultured world.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of the arguments about what constitutes 'modern human behaviour'; (2) demonstrate detailed knowledge of the major theoretical themes discussed in the unit and how the archaeological evidence for human origins and symbolism has been identified and interpreted; (3) evaluate how evidence is used in archaeological research; (4) demonstrate comprehension of archaeological literature, specialised terminology and data, and communicate this in an appropriate manner; and (5) demonstrate an understanding of the ethical issues relevant to archaeological practice.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) essay; (2) quizzes; and (3) tutorial assignments. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Martin Porr
Unit rules
12 points of Level 1 study
Contact hours
Lectures: 1 x 1 hour per week
Tutorials: 1 x 1 hour per week
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  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.