What is anthropology? (with photos)

The anthropologist uses fossil and genetic evidence to reconstruct extinct human lineages such as the Neanderthals.

Anthropology is the scientific study and analysis of human beings and humanity. Anthropologists seek to understand all cultures, customs, artifacts, knowledge, habits, history, etc. of the world, &c. Anthropology emerged as a distinct academic discipline in England and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Anthropology grew primarily out of natural history initially and has since come to rely on archeology, paleontology, biology, psychology , humanities , social sciences and other areas. Since World War II, anthropology has increasingly modeled itself after the natural sciences, relying more on empirical evidence and less on subjective analyses.

Subjects such as the development of art and religion are of interest to cultural anthropologists.

Anthropology is made up of four closely related fields. The first is biological or physical anthropology, which simply tries to understand the human being as a living organism. Population genetics and primatology are useful here. The second, and largest, field is sociocultural anthropology, involving field studies comparing or recording any number of thousands of social or cultural patterns. The distinction between sociocultural anthropology and certain parts of psychology and sociology can be confusing. The third field is linguistic anthropology, which focuses on language, including its history and many complex branches. The fourth field is archeology, which seeks to excavate artifacts, bones, and other clues to shed light on how people lived in earlier cultures.

Cultural anthropologists study artifacts such as the Aztec calendar to understand how concepts of time vary across societies.

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Anthropology examines the entire history of mankind, starting when modern humans first evolved in Africa, about 200,000 years ago. About 50,000 years ago, humans began to roam outside the borders of Africa across the Sinai Peninsula. Human bones dating from this time have been found in Israel. From there, humanity spread westward into Europe and eastward into Asia and Australia, where fossils dated to 46,000 years ago have been found. Across Eurasia, humanity displaced other homonids, such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus. 46,000 years ago in Australia, most land animals weighing over 100 kg (220 lb) went extinct abruptly, indicating the arrival of humanity. 30,000 years ago, Neanderthals were extinct; one of the last colonies was located near the Straits of Gibraltar.

A subject of interest to anthropologists is whether Homo erectus evolved into regional hominid species that may have contributed to the modern human genome.

30,000 or about 14,000 years ago, humans crossed the land bridge from the Bering Strait to the Americas, arriving in New Mexico 13,000 years ago, then spreading south to reach Tierro del Fuego around 8,000 BC, certainly, but possibly much earlier.

In thousands of years of relative isolation since our dispersion, humanity has developed thousands of distinct cultures, languages, traditions and tools. The aim of anthropology is to make sense of everything.

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