An Un-Boas Opinion On Humanity

“It is our task to inquire into the causes that have brought about the observed differentiation, and to investigate the sequence of events that have led to the establishment of the multifarious forms of human life.” 
-Franz Boas

Anthropology and archaeology take on similar but different forms all around the world. The type of anthropological/archaeological practices you’d see in the United States would be a bit different than what you would see in say Egypt or England. In the United States, archaeology falls under the sort of umbrella subject of anthropology. The Four Fields of Anthropology, as they are known, include linguistics, biological/physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, and archaeology. In college/university departments, these subject all usually fall within the Anthropology Department, although some colleges/universities do not offer a specifically archaeology based degree, often specializing on a certain type of cultural anthropology with a background of archaeology and other subjects. It is believed, and rightly so, that in order to even start to understand a culture, you cannot simply rely on one study to get the full picture. You can excavate a site, find artifacts, features, and even remains, to your heart’s content, you can interpret it all as much as you want, but what of the language left behind (If language is present in writing.)? What about the biological components? What of the culture, since faded away or still going on in a different location? Artifacts and features can only tell a person so much. It was of this thought process that a physicist/geographer from Minden, Westphalia, Germany who fell in love with the study of humanity in the United States, founded the Four Fields of Anthropology, Franz Boas.

franzBoas-hilo

Boas in 1895.

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