Anthropological Sciences 103

ANSC 103: Ancient Worlds of the Maya, the Aztec, and the Inka

Prerequisites: None

Credit Hours: (3)

This course will be an introduction to the archaeology of three of the most important prehistoric societies in the Americas: the Maya, the Aztec, and Inka. The course will take a comparative approach, emphasizing the natural, geographic, cultural, and historical processes that contributed to development of each of these indigenous American states. Contributions of these societies to the modern world will also be considered.


Detailed Description of Course

I. Overview of the Prehistory of the Americas

·         The Encounter of 1492

·         Peopling of the Americas

·         First Farmers of the Americas

·         Complex Societies of the Americas

II. Geography, Biomes, and Climates of the Americas

·         Mesoamerica and Central America

·         South America and the Central Andes

III. Prehistory of Mesoamerica and the Maya

·         Human Ecology of the Maya Area

·         Forerunners: Early Farming and the First Maya People

·         The Preclassic/Formative Period Maya

·         The Classic and Postclassic Period Maya

·         The Maya Collapse

IV. Prehistory of Central Mexico and Aztec Culture

·         Human Ecology of Central Mexico

·         Physical and Cultural Evidence for the Early Aztec

·         Rise and Expansion of the Aztec Empire

·         Collapse and Aftermath of the 1500’s



V. Prehistory of the Central Andes and the Inka

·         Human Ecology of the Andes

·         Forerunners: Early Farmers, Fishers, and Herders of the Andes

·         The Rise and Expansion of the Inka Empire

·         Collapse and Aftermath of the 1500’s

VI. Comparative Studies of Archaic States: Experiments in Adaptation and Political Ecology


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

As an introductory class in the archaeology and prehistory of three major civilizations, course content will feature lectures, films, and in-class discussion of readings.


Student Goals and Objectives of the Course

Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to:

1. Describe the major contours of prehistory in Mesoamerica and the Andes, including initial peopling, the development of farming, and the first complex societies of those regions.

2. Discuss hypotheses and theories that have been used to explain the rise and collapse of these three indigenous American states.

3. Describe the major bio-geographic and cultural variation extant in Mesoamerica and the Andes today.

4. Describe and explain how the prehistoric past has contributed to the modern social, economic, and political conditions of Mesoamerica and Andean South America.


Assessment Measures

Assessment measures in ANSC 103 may include in-class exams, quizzes, and short writing assignments.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

April 13, 2012