Archaeologists & Anthropologists
Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society, Places and Regions, Physical Geography
Overview: Anthropologists and archeologists study the origin, development, and behavior of humans. They examine the cultures, languages, archeological remains, and physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world. By drawing and building on knowledge from the humanities and the social, physical, and biological sciences, anthropologists and archeologists examine the ways of life, languages, archeological remains, and physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world. They also examine the customs, values, and social patterns of different cultures. Although the equipment used by anthropologists and archeologists varies by task and specialty, it often includes excavation and measurement tools, laboratory and recording equipment, statistical and database software, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Many people with a Ph.D. in anthropology or archeology become professors or museum curators.
Archeologists examine, recover, and preserve evidence of human activity from past cultures. They analyze human remains and artifacts, such as tools, pottery, cave paintings, and ruins of buildings. They connect their findings with information about past environments to learn about the history, customs, and living habits of people in earlier eras. They also manage and protect archeological sites. Some work in national parks or at historical sites, providing site protection and educating the public. Others assess building sites to ensure that construction plans comply with federal regulations related to site preservation. Archeologists often specialize in a particular geographic area, period, or object of study, such as animal remains or underwater sites.
Anthropology is divided into three primary fields: biological or physical anthropology, cultural or social anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. Biological and physical anthropologists study the changing nature of the biology of humans and closely related primates. Cultural anthropologists study the social and cultural consequences of various human-related issues, such as overpopulation, natural disasters, warfare, and poverty. Linguistic anthropology studies the history and development of languages. A growing number of anthropologists perform market research for businesses, studying the demand for products by a particular culture or social group. Using their anthropological background and a variety of techniques—including interviews, surveys, and observations—they may collect data on how a product is used by specific demographic groups.
Geography is very important for both archaeologists and anthropologists. They need to understand how the locational patterns of landscapes, climate, cultures, economies, and other characteristics all interact, and how the variations in these attributes by location influenced the subjects of their research.
Geographers at work: Cultural geographer, historical geographer, human geographer
Recommended College Courses: Historical geography, human geography, cultural geography, physical geography, economic geography, urban geography
Skills: Understanding of human behavior, history, prehistory, cultures, and physical landscapes, and especially how they are influenced by geography; geographic information systems; database systems; critical thinking
Occupation Group: Life, Physical, and Social Sciences
Learn more about Archaeologists and Anthropologists from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/anthropologists-and-archeologists.htm#tab-2
Written by Christopher Anderson