Exploring Human History

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Anthropology is divided into four areas of study: archaeology, physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics. In this activity you will explore each of these areas to understand how anthropologists go about scientific inquiry.


Go to and read What is Anthropology? so you have a general understanding of the four subdivisions. When you have finished reading this page, discuss these four divisions in class

Now you will have the chance to learn more about each of the four main areas of study. Read each resource provided and take notes on the questions as you read. You will discuss them later with the whole class.

Physical Anthropology

Discuss in class:

  • What methods do scientists use to classify the human race?
  • How do the typological, populational, and clinal models of classification differ?

Cultural Anthropology

Discuss in class:

  • What are some survival skills that Americans use today that their ancestors probably did not have?
  • What survival skills do you use today that you think will still be used in 50 years? What evidence do you have for that?


Discuss in class:

  • Why do you think it is important to uncover ancient societies?
  • Aside from excavation, what might be some other methods for obtaining data about ancient cultures?


Discuss in class:

  • Why do you think the English language is one of the hardest languages to learn?
  • How and why do you think different dialects within a society distinguish social status?

What is it like to be an anthropologist?
Read the following profiles of anthropologists working in the field today. Go to the first link listed below, click on Three Easy Steps, and listen to the videos about the work of Constance Ceruti. Then compare the kind of exploration she is conducting at high altitude to the kind of exploration the other anthropologists are doing.

Use the above resources to answer the questions on the What It’s Like to be an Anthropologist student sheet. Discuss in class how the work these anthropologists do is similar and how it is different.

Knowledge Check

Next go to Kira Salak and read about this explorer, who is a writer and adventurer. Discuss in class how what she does as an “adventurer” differs from the explorations of the anthropologists you just read about.

This esheet is a part of the Exploring Human History lesson.

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