What is Anthropology?

Derived from the Greek word "anthropos" meaning "man" and "logia" meaning, "study", Anthropology is the study of human race, origin and its behavior to the environment. For a person to know what is anthropology, it is a very compound subject as it tackles almost all aspect of human life. It is a combination of natural science, humanities and social science.

Anthropology has been divided into four categories; each has its own unique techniques and methods in studying human life. These four categories are archeology, social or cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, physical anthropology and cultural anthropology. All of this is a key component in obtaining information from the history of evolution up to the modern times of culture and society.

Archeology is mainly the study of human origins. It pertains to the study of how humans behave and what was their society and culture like in the past. This is obtained through numerous research studies, excavation and recoveries of fossils, landscape, architecture and artifacts. Archeology is most important when studying prehistoric society, which goes way back to Paleolithic era, where there are no written records for historians to study. The other periods through the study of archeology are Neolithic age and Bronze Age.

They would only rely on their discoveries and artifacts to tell how humans live in the past and what was their society and culture like. With today's development in technology, it is much easier to recreate the conditions and the environment of the past with the pictures or evidence taken from the excavation site by using computer graphics. With this they can recreate the architecture and landscape of how the past supposed to look like.

Cultural Anthropology is the study of cultures. They also focus on the study of values, myths, beliefs, practices and even economy and technology. It is any information that could explain the present behavior and discipline of man. Cultural anthropology can be mainly based on ethnography, which is the study of ethnic formations or ethnic groups.

Ethnology, being a branch of Anthropology deals with the analyzing and comparing of ethnicity and the different religions and culture of human origin. The main focuses of cultural anthropology are social organization and kinship. It also tackles law and politics and how conflicts are being resolved during the past era.

Linguistic anthropology on the other hand is the study of language, its structure and the use of it in the society. It covers the study on how human communicates before without the use of any modern technology. It can include both verbal and non-verbal communication and is divided into two parts, which are the historical linguistics, which is recreating the past language and how it is related to our language today and the descriptive linguistics, which is the creation of lexicons and grammars.

Linguistic anthropology would help us understand the origin of any given word. It also would help on the understanding in grammar and language structure, and also how speech sounds were produced and perceived. From this study, a person would also be able to obtain he difference between semantics and pragmatics. It would also include the evolution of language that is historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics and language acquisition and discourse analysis.

Biological or physical anthropology is the study of human evolution. It includes the study of human origins, which is the Paleoanthropology and forensic anthropology, which deals with the identification and analysis of human structure through human remains. It theorizes on how human has populated the earth and how the formation of land came about. It also covers geography and human ecology, which can be related to sociobiology. Through this a person would have a better understanding of what is anthropology.

Websites For Learning All About Anthropology

  1. African Primates at Home
  2. Fossil Hominids: The Evidence for Human Evolution
  3. Geological Time Machine
  4. NOVA Online: Odyssey of Life
  5. Talk.Origins Archive
  6. The Piltdown Plot