Anthropology (ANTH) 277

The Archaeology of Ancient Peoples (Revision 5)

ANTH 277

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: ANTH 277 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for ANTH 276 or ANTH 207.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Anthropology Studies home page

ANTH 277 has a Challenge for Credit option.


ANTH 277: The Archaeology of Ancient Peoples is an introductory-level anthropology course designed to provide students with an understanding of world prehistory, from the time of the earliest humans to the development of the first states and civilizations. The course is divided into five parts and begins with an introduction to archaeology as the study of the cultural evolution of humankind, based on the material remains of past human behaviour. Part II documents the spread of anatomically modern hunter-gatherers and their diverse lifeways throughout much of the Old and New Worlds. Part III covers the development of farming and discusses the archaeological explanations for its success. Part IV examines theories that explain the rise of complex states and urban civilizations and documents their emergence in Asia, Africa, and Europe. The course concludes with an overview of early states and civilizations in the Americas.


The course consists of the following 22 units:

  • Unit 1: Introducing World Prehistory

Part I: Beginnings

  • Unit 2: Human Origins
  • Unit 3: Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens

Part II: The Great Diaspora: The Spread of Modern Humans

  • Unit 4: Europe and Eurasia
  • Unit 5: The First Americans
  • Unit 6: Africans and Australians
  • Unit 7: Intensification and Complexity

Part III: First Farmers

  • Unit 8: Agriculture and Animal Domestication
  • Unit 9: The Origins of Food Production in Southwest Asia
  • Unit 10: The First European Farmers
  • Unit 11: First Farmers in Egypt and Tropical Africa
  • Unit 12: Asia and the Pacific
  • Unit 13: The Story of Maize

Part IV: Old World Civilizations

  • Unit 14: The Development of Civilization
  • Unit 15: Early Civilizations in Southwest Asia
  • Unit 16: Egypt, Nubia, and Africa
  • Unit 17: Early States in South and Southeast Asia
  • Unit 18: Early Chinese Civilization
  • Unit 19: Hittites, Minoans, and Mycenaeans
  • Unit 20: Europe Before the Romans

Part V: Native American Civilizations

  • Unit 21: Mesoamerican Civilizations
  • Unit 22: Andean Civilizations


To receive credit for ANTH 277, you must complete two assignments (an essay; and a research paper outline followed by the research paper itself), and you must write the mid-term examination and the final examination. You are also required to complete three quizzes. You must achieve a minimum of D (50 percent) on both the mid-term and final examinations, and an overall grade of D (50 percent) for the entire course. The weightings for the course activities are as follows:

Activity Weighting
Quiz 1 3%
Assignment 1: Essay 15%
Assignment 2, Part A: Research Paper Outline 10%
Quiz 2 3%
Midterm Exam 20%
Assignment 2, Part B: Research Paper 25%
Quiz 3 4%
Final exam 20%
Total 100%

The midterm and final examinations 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


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Fagan, Brian M. 2010. People of the Earth: An Introduction to World Prehistory. 13th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Other Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you 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 about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the Anth 277 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:

Activity Weighting
Assignment #1 (3 Short essays) 20%
Assignment #2 (2 research papers) 30%
Midterm 25%
Final Exam 25%
Total 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 5, December 23, 2013.

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