Anthropology is the scientific study of the human condition. In the Brandeis University department of Anthropology there are 4 concentrated areas of study: sociocultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, biological anthropology, and archaeology. Students benefit from the opportunity to engage in fieldwork and to develop original research projects.

Brandeis Associate Professor of Anthropology, Javier Urcid teaches archaeology and studies ancient complex societies in Mesoamerica: the origin and societal functions of early writing, meaning and material culture, and the social and ideological dimensions of mortuary practices.

In this year’s first summer session he’ll be teaching Human Osteology, a lab based course in which students apply forensic techniques to archaeological problems, and Human Origins, a seminar that explores human evolution, from the beginnings of the hominid clade to the inception of complex societies.


Prof. Urcid will spend the balance of his summer in Mexico continuing regional surveys over a large expanse of southwestern Mesoamerica, the modern Mexican states of Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz, searching for monuments with hieroglyphic inscriptions.
ANTH 116a – Human Osteology

Summer Session I: June 1 to July 3, 2015
This experiential learning course counts toward the HSSP Major or Minor. The course focuses on the study of skeletal anatomy and the application of forensic techniques to archaeological problems. Hands-on laboratory sessions allow students to practice methods of estimating age at the time of death, determining sex, assessing skeletal variability, detecting instances of bone remodeling, and identifying cultural and natural modifications to bony tissue. Case studies are used to exemplify bioarchaeological approaches.

ANTH 5a – Human Origins

Summer Session I: June 1 to July 3, 2015
This course studies major evolutionary transformations of humanity from early hominins to anatomically modern Homo sapiens, and offers an introduction to the theoretical framework and the biological processes that explain these transformations. Casts of fossils and archaeological evidence serve to highlight the origins of bipedalism, of symbolic practices including language and art, and the shift from foraging to agricultural and pastoral economies.