Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Anthropology 298. Experimental Courses

Archaeology of the Southwest

This course will investigate the history of native peoples in the American Southwest. Students will discover how, through archaeological theory and method, material culture is used to reconstruct the chronology and way of life in the prehistoric desert Southwest, from the arrival of the first humans (Paleoindians) onto the North American continent

The majority of the course will be an exploration of the three main prehistoric cultures that developed and thrived in the Southwestern deserts and plateau regions of the Four Corner states of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.

The course will focus on the three major culture groups and regions of the Southwest – the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi), Mogollon, and Hohokam. We will explore how these ancient people managed to flourish in some of the harshest environments in the US, and created impressive settlements with unique and complicated ways of life.

Students will be introduced to many of the major archaeological sites in the Southwest and their significance: the Anasazi sites of Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, the Mimbres area of the Mogollon region, and the skilled Hohokam farming sites of Arizona’s Sonoran desert.

The conclusion of the course will consider the ramifications of the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Alex Trayford


Environmental Anthropology: Ecology, Politics, and Culture

This course examines contemporary ecological issues from a social scientific perspective. In particular we will draw on interdisciplinary perspectives from political ecology to look at some of the most pressing environmental problems in the contemporary world, including: climate change, environmental justice, habitat destruction, biodiversity, food production and distribution, energy sources, and the nexus between capitalism, consumerism, and ecological crisis. A central theme of the course is to analyze and understand how these issues have been produced and reproduced through the interaction between human behavior and the natural environment. We will seek to put these issues in deep historical, political, and socio-cultural context in order to adequately understand the bounds of the problem and to begin to imagine and implement alternative ways of being in the world that would address these pressing concerns.