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Prehistory of Americas

Course Code: ANTH 2210
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Anthropology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course applies the principles and concepts of archaeology to a survey of the indigenous cultures of the Americas prior to European contact. It deals with the earliest occupation of North America to the time of European arrival, and from small hunting and gathering societies to the complex civilization of Mesoamerica.

Course Content

  1.  Introduction
    • Approaches to the study of prehistory
    • Examination of key concepts
  2. Human Arrival in the Americas
    • Archaeological evidence for early sites
    • The Paleo-Indian tradition
  3. The High Civilizations 
    • The pre-classic, classic and post-classic civilizations of Mesoamerica
    • Examination of parallel developments in South America
  4. The Southwest
    • Anasazi, Hohokam, and Mogollon cultural traditions
  5. The Plains
    • Early, middle and late prehistoric periods - from the Paleo-Indians to the early historic bison hunters
  6. Eastern Woodlands
    • Archaic and Woodland periods in the Northeast and Southeast and  Mississippian period in the Southeast
  7. Western North America
    • Great Basin, Plateau and  Northwest Coast Cultures
  8. Northern North America
    • The Arctic and Sub-arctic.

Methods of Instruction

The course content will be presented through lectures.  Slide presentations and videos will be used to illustrate course materials.  Artifact casts and other archaeological material will also be used in class.  In addition, each student is responsible for one in-class presentation, from a list of thematic topics not covered in the lectures.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific criteria during the first week of classes.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

3 exams:
each on 1/3 of the course material - 25% each 
In-class oral presentation   20%
Attendance and participation    5%
Total 100%


Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:    

  1. Assess the contributions of various sub-fields of anthropology (archaeology, linguistics, physical anthropology) to understanding the human past in North and South America.
  2. Assess the evidence and interpretations for the dates of arrival and migration routes of the earliest human occupants in the Americas.
  3. Discuss the cultural and linguistic diversity of aboriginal peoples in the Americas prior to European arrival.
  4. Discuss, in broad outline, the major archaeological features of selected geographic regions of North and South America.
  5. Discuss the basic cultural historical sequence for each of these regions, from early occupation until European contact.
  6. Place specific archaeological discoveries within that region into the cultural historical sequence of events.

course prerequisites

ANTH 1100 OR 1101 OR ANTH 1111 OR ANTH 1112, or permission of instructor

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.