Who are we, how did we get here... and how far back in time do we have to go to start asking the question?
When does history begin? To judge by the typical history textbook, the answer is straightforward: six thousand years ago. So what about the tens of thousands of years of human existence described by archaeology and related disciplines? Is that history too?
This introduction to human history offers a framework for joining the entirety of the human past, from the long ago to the present day, in a single narrative that stretches across many disciplines. We will explore a series of interrelated themes each of which invites questions that travel across time and space. The material presented through lectures, discussions, and activities will not only guide students through a collaborative exploration of human experience, but will also encourage them to contemplate how such experiences mirror and contrast with their own. To help anchor ourselves in the timeline of past and present, we will engage with the world-class collection of artifacts in Harvard’s museums, giving students a unique, hands-on opportunity to experience human history through material remains.
Course notes: No prior college-level course in archaeology, history, or a related field is required or assumed, and First-year students are welcome. Because the course touches on ideas in many disciplines beyond history and archaeology, including art, economics, human evolutionary biology, psychology, and religion, we welcome a range of students who can bring unique perspectives and expertise to class discussion.