Anthropology (ANTH) 318

Ancient Civilizations of the Americas (Revision 2)

ANTH 318 Course website

Permanently closed, effective June 12, 2015.

View previous syllabus

Delivery Mode: Individualized study

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: ANTH 272 or ANTH 277 or permission of the course coordinator.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Anthropology Studies home page

Course website

ANTH 318 has a Challenge for Credit option.

check availability


ANTH 318 will provide you with an extensive overview of the archaeological record of prehistoric civilizations in the Americas, from the first origins of agriculture to European contact.


ANTH 318 is produced as a telecourse. Each unit contains an overview, a list of learning objectives, instructions about reading viewing assignments, and commentary on these assignments.

Part 1: What is Archaeology?

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Anthropology and Archaeology
  • Unit 2: In Search of Ourselves: The Development of Anthropology and Archaeology

Part II: Doing Archaeology

  • Unit 3: Learning about the Past: The Case of the Copan Maya
  • Unit 4: Archaeological Methods
  • Unit 5: Conceptual Framework
  • Unit 6: Human Habitats

Part III: Reconstructing the Past

  • Unit 7: Family and Household, Community and Society
  • Unit 8: Artisans and Traders
  • Unit 9: Signs and Symbols
  • Unit 10: Power, Prestige, and Wealth
  • Unit 11: Realms
  • Unit 12: The Spirit World: Religion and Ideology

Part IV: The Archaeology of Ancient Civilizations

  • Unit 13: The Rise of Civilization in the New World
  • Unit 14: The Ceren Site: Case Study of a Maya Village

Part V: Explaining the Past

  • Unit 15: The Fall of Civilizations: Another Lesson from Copan
  • Unit 16: Explanation and Archaeology


To receive credit for ANTH 318 you are required to take three quizzes, complete an essay assignment, a research paper outline, and a research paper assignment, and write a midterm and a final examination and you must obtain a minimum of D (50 percent) on both the midterm and final examination, and an overall grade of “D” (50 percent) for the entire course. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Tele. Quizzes Essay Assign Research Paper Outline Research Paper Midterm Exam Final Exam Total
10% 20% 5% 35% 15% 15% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Sheets, Payson. The Ceren Site: An Ancient Village Buried by Volcanic Ash in Central America, 2nd ed. Case Studies in Archaeology Series. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006.

Webster, David L., Susan T. Evans, and William T. Sanders. Out of the Past: An Introduction to Archaeology. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1993.

Other materials

The course materials also include a student manual, study guide, and a assignment manual.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the ANTH 318 challenge registration, students must complete a short essay assignment, a research paper assignment, a midterm exam and a final exam and receive at least a “D” (50 per cent) on the each of the exams and an overall course grade of "D" (50 per cent). The weightings of each activity are listed below:

Assignment 1 (5 short essays) Assignment 2 (research paper) Midterm exam Final exam Total
20% 40% 20% 20% 100%

Midterm and final exams are each 3 hours long and written at an invigilation Centre.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, May 9, 2008.

View previous syllabus

Updated March 16 2016 by Student & Academic Services