Prehistoric Diet and Nutrition

ANTH-P 380 — Fall 2022

A large batch of fresh sardines.
Course Description

"Plants form the base of the food chain, yet within mainstream U.S. diets, our food choices are many steps removed from the land. How did we get here, and how does it shape our bodies and society? In this course we will explore the relationship between humans and their food sources, starting from the evolution of the human diet and expanding to culturally-defined concepts of what is "edible" and "healthy", with examples from around the world. Traveling through deep time prehistory, you will learn to use the tools of human evolutionary biology (e.g. genetics, fossil anatomy and bone chemistry) and prehistoric culture (e.g. technology, archaeology, food remains) to reconstruct human foodways from the ancient past to present, and explore how food structures our sociopolitical, cultural, and biological worlds. Our semester will conclude with a critical analysis of contemporary issues of food security and sustainability, turning to indigenous models that draw from ancient ecological knowledge to create responsible and reciprocal relationships between humans and their environments."