Archaeologists study material remains, or the things that a culture leaves behind after they have left or disappeared. Think of the items in your own home that may still be around in a few hundred or a few thousand years. Archaeologists find these kinds of items from past cultures, from weapons and tools, to bones from slaughtered animals and fossilized seeds and plants. They study each artifact in context, and use that information to determine things about the culture that left them behind. What kind of food did they eat? What kind of tools did they make, and how did they make them? What sort of structures did they build? What did their artwork and symbols mean? Archaeologists study the remains of cultures from the earliest hominids, all the way into the recent past.
Incorporating skills from anthropological disciplines to solve practical problems in fields such as development, healthcare, medical anthropology, education, business and advertising.
Biological anthropologists study human biology and evolution and work in very diverse fields. One field, primatology, studies that huge world of nonhuman primates (including lemurs, monkeys, and apes) to learn about their behavior and evolution, to place human evolution in context, and to aid conservation efforts. Paleoanthropologists study the fossil record of humans and other bipedal primates (“hominins”) like Neanderthals and “Lucy” to understand how humans evolved. Forensic anthropologists apply their knowledge of anatomy to help identify human skeletal remains. Forensic anthropologists work on murder cases, but they also work internationally in human rights cases, helping the give justice to the victims and closure to their families. A relatively new field within physical anthropology is evolutionary medicine – it seeks to answer questions about why we get the diseases we get, what health issues are more common in certain areas, and what health/nutritional/medical strategies are used in different cultures.
Cultural anthropology is the study of human cultures all over the world. Cultural anthropologists study exotic cultures, such as those of hunter gatherers, as well as the cultures that exist in our own back yard. Like language, human cultures are dynamic, constantly changing in response to the environment, the people, and other cultures. Whether studying the culture of indigenous people in Australia or online gaming enthusiasts, cultural anthropology examines everything from a group’s rituals, rules and traditions to their eating habits and modes of communications. More importantly, cultural anthropology seeks to promote an understanding of cultural differences and similarities. This understanding is applicable in a wide variety of fields, from business to international diplomacy.
Did you know that words like “Doh!”, “bling-bling” and “baby daddy” are added to the Oxford English Dictionary every year? Have you ever wondered what effect online abbreviations or text-messaging will have on the English language over the next decade or so? If so, you might want to consider studying linguistics.
Linguistics is the dynamic study of language. Where did our modern languages come from? How and why do languages change over time? How does a person’s language or dialect relate to their culture? What happens when multiple languages meet? How can understanding language differences help one to operate more successfully in a very global society? These questions, and many others, all fall within the field of linguistics.