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What is Anthropology?

Updated on February 27, 2012

At it’s core anthropology is a holistic, all encompassing study of humans. The word originates from “anthrops” - meaning humans, and “-ology” or “the study of”.

Within the broad title of anthropology there are 4 sub-disciplines:

  • cultural
  • linguistic
  • archaeology
  • physical

Cultural Anthropology

"the study of living people"

  • Cultural Anthropology first began in the 1920’s when people began to study “primitive and savage” societies.
  • The reports and papers that cultural anthropologists write are called ethnography's. They are considered a snapshot of a culture at a specific time
  • Today cultural anthropologists work for governments and militaries giving insight to other nations and groups that their country is either working with or fighting.

Important Cultural Anthropologists

  • Franz Boas
  • Margaret Mead
  • Claude Levi-Strauss

Linguistic Anthropology

"the study of languages"

  • Linguistic Anthropology studies speech and languages
  • Saving and recording dyeing languages is and important aspect of this field
  • Linguistic Anthropologists work to decipher both current and daed languages

Important Linguistic Anthropologists

  • Edward Sapir


"the study of past cultures"

  • Archaeology focuses on exaction and material culture
  • Many archeologists work for CRM firms or cultural resource management firms
  • Archeology has nothing to do with dinosaurs that is paleontology

Famous Archaeologists

  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Donald Johanson
  • The Leakey Family

Physical Anthropology

"The study of human biology and culture"

  • These anthropologists study pre-human ancestors and archaeology.
  • Physical Anthropology looks at primates and studies them as they relate to humans as they are the animal most closely related to humans
  • Forensic anthropology and the study of bones id a sub-field of physical anthropology

Famous Physical Anthropologists

  • Jane Goodall
  • Charles Darwin


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    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg OSC 6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Nice hub, short and to the point! Voted up and thanks for SHARING!