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This review is for Anthropology 116P Archaeology of Prehistoric China. I really enjoyed this class. Archaeology in china is interesting because there is so much to it. Professor Brantingham is an enthusiastic speaking and great presenter.He also is happy to help his students at any time. His class is based on a midterm and a final with an optional paper. The class is only hard if you do not study. Like all Archaeology classes you have to memorize dates, names, etc... If you study hard enough though you can get a good grade, it really was not that difficult. The names are in Chinese and are a bit challenging to memorize but it is nothing to complain about. I recommend this class to anyone who has an interest in Archaeology in general. You will be presented with fascinating new ideas about the evolution of culture in China.
This class is the last Archaeology class I'll ever have to take to fulfill my Major requirements & I had hoped that it would be slightly interesting, but I also had a feeling I'd be using the internet to waste time too. Archaeology of Prehistoric China was incredibly dull. The material is dull. There is nothing exciting about this class & it's not that I dislike Archaeology, it's that China & some of its neighbors aren't nearly as interesting as the cave paintings in France.
P. Brantingham reminds me of an aged Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother as his enthusiasm for Prehistoric China is equivalent to Ted's enthusiasm for Architecture. However, this course's materials were incredibly dry. The readings worked better than a shot of Nyquil & all of the site names got incredibly confusing after a while. I don't mean to be racist against the Chinese as I'm Asian myself, but Longshan, Yangzi, Yangshao, Dawenkou, Rhenzidong, Bashidong, Mao Zedong, Dapengkeng, Majabang, Hemudu seriously start to sound like "chingchongdong", "chongchongdingdong", & likewise.
He changes the spelling of the main river that runs through China called Yangzi. One slide he'll call it Yanzte & another he'll call it Yangzi. Since I am unfamiliar with any dialect of Chinese, for some time, I didn't know if there was a difference between the two or if they were the same & he was just messin' with us. He also left out the "g" in Dapengkeng for the first 5 or so slides which also threw me off a bit.
If you plan on taking this class, here are my tips:
-Dates & sites. Make flashcards, whatever, study the dates, sites, & what was found there. Memorize it.
-The term "big picture" is such a load of dung. He specifically asks you what were found at certain sites.
-Record his lectures. He doesn't have podcasts & his powerpoints may outline everything, but they lack great detail. There will be pictures of up Einstein or Trinity from The Matrix in his slides & if you didn't attend lecture, you'll be scratching your head on the relevance.
-Pay attention in class so you can ask questions.
-Skip the readings & save yourself some time. His midterm asked 1 question from the reading & he already discussed the answer in class. The final had 0 questions on the reading.
-Do the optional paper if you fail the midterm. His exams are so detailed.
-Memorize the location of the sites on a map.
-Pottery is more than symbolic, you'll need to pay close attention to them.
Two grades split 50%-%50%. Midterm grade & final grade. He doesn't curve the class at all so every point counts. This class's high points were the discoveries of H. erectus in the caves & the discussion of modern human origins. The low points were pretty much everything else. Sure I learned some interesting things about China, the evolution of Homo, monsoons, & how cultivation of rice was only possible in the Holocene, but this isn't a class I'd recommend.
P. Brantingham is a really nice guy & he seems to be very helpful if you go to his office hours. He's more than meets the eye. Your immediate thoughts are, "Oh another dirt guy..." but you'd be dead wrong! He has developed a system with some mathematicians at UCLA to come up with a projection of possible criminal activity before it happens based on patterns.
The material is boring, professor is really cool, but I wouldn't recommend this class. Brantingham is a very objective Archaeologist which allows you to get a different point of view other than those of Chinese Archaeologists.
This review is for Anthro 116P: Archaeology of Prehistoric China.
This was the first anthro class I have taken that I did not enjoy, probably because it felt like a history class instead of an anthro class. Brantingham is a nice guy and a great speaker--he just presents the material as a list of facts. And that's all you're tested on. Cold, hard, facts. You end up having to memorize hundreds and hundreds of dates, archaeological sites, their names, locations, what was discovered there, etc. It is a LOT of material. I've never been good at memorizing--I'm a conceptual learning, hence why I'm an anthropology major. However, with this class, it doesn't matter if you understand the concepts because that'll only get you through about 10% of his tests. What makes it harder is that all the archaeological sites have Chinese names, so it's not what we're used to seeing therefore extremely difficult to remember when they all look the same. I'm not being ignorant: I am fluent in Chinese, but seeing 40 multiple choice questions all containing names like Shuidonghou, Zhoukoudian, Dawenkou, Duonguoluo, etc... it all really just looks the same after a while. It's fine learning it lecture by lecture, but when you go to take a cumulative final exam, it's extremely difficult to keep straight, regardless of how much you study.
Also, the tests would be much less stressful if he gave some guidance on what topics and sites to focus on. He tells you nothing. So, you're pretty much expected to remember every fact and figure he mentions in class. The class is also not curved. The mean on the midterm was 75%, which isn't failing, but not the grade the majority of the class should be getting.
He's also extremely unaccessible. He says he will be in his office, and I've stopped by several times within a two week period of time to pick up the midterm, and he was not there. Definitely would have helped to have that for the final... also, he pretty much never answers e-mails, so you literally have to wait in line after or before class to talk to him.
Also, he does post his lecture slides online, but they're not that great. It's one of those things where if you missed an important definition he gave out in class, you would have to find someone else in the class for it because his lecture slide would only have the word, probably some dates, and a picture. His summary slides also don't tell you much either. His lecture slides pretty much are a skeleton of his lectures, presented as if there were just notes to himself on what to say.
I wish he had more resources, such as a discussion board where students can ask and answer questions. Also, I would have appreciated it if he never said "just focus on the big picture" because that is certainly not the case on his exams. It's extremely misleading.
What I thought would be a fairly easy, enjoyable class, turned out to be my worst nightmare. His tests were harder than the tests I took for a Life Science class on genetics this quarter. Unless you're really good at memorizing mundane facts, don't take Brantingham. I loved anthro 8 with a different professor, so it's not that I don't like archaeology. It's just that this class, as I said, did not feel like an anthro class at all.
That's just my two cents.