In this assignment, you are asked to write a 2-3 page paper (double-spaced) discussing a scholarly article that documents the use of one of the archaeological methods or techniques that we have learned about in class. Your paper will include a short summary of main ideas from the article, but it will also reflect your opinion. Your own reaction to this article, and thoughtful consideration of the use of the archaeological method, will be the most important part of this writing assignment.
Choosing a Research Topic
Choose a topic that you are interested in! Think about the archaeological methods and analytical techniques that we have covered this semester. Try searching for an article by using keywords. Make sure that the article you find is archaeological (and not from cultural anthropology or another related discipline) and that it is scholarly, and not from popular media.
Here are some examples of key words or techniques you could search for: ground penetrating radar, thermal infrared multispectral scanning, archaeological survey, global information systems, bioarchaeology, zooarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, palynology, radiocarbon dating, stable isotope analysis, dendrochronology, thermoluminescence.
Finding a Scholarly Journal Article
To find a scholarly journal article, I suggest using one of the online search engines offered by the College Library. For example, from our school’s website, you can access electronic databases. JSTOR is an excellent database for finding anthropological journals.
Writing Your Paper
A strong paper will be well organized and have a coherent thesis. Here are some ways you can develop a strong thesis: Think about the conclusions made in the article. Do you agree or disagree? Are there problems with the methods or their application? Do you think that something was overlooked in this study? Or did this article help you understand archaeological field or lab research in a new way? Form a thesis statement around the main idea that you have about this article. A strong thesis statement will do more than repeat the conclusions of the article – make sure your own opinion comes through clearly.
Your thesis should appear in your introduction paragraph, where you also state the title and author(s) of the article that you are reviewing or critiquing. Since this is an opinion paper, it is OK to state “In this paper I argue…” and to write your paper in the first person.
Following the introduction, include a 1-2 page summary of the article. The summary should focus on the parts of the article that are most relevant to your thesis. In this paper you should focus on the methods and leave out detailed information about the culture – a 1-2 sentence description is fine. While you need to briefly state what was being studied, you should include more description about how the study was conducted.
Then you should write about your opinion on this article. This is where you elaborate on your thesis idea, in about a page of text. Make sure to draw upon specific statements or examples from the article to explain why you hold this opinion.
At the end of your paper, be sure to include a complete citation so that I can find the article. For this class, we will be using the standard APA citation style.
This paper will be graded based on content and clarity of writing. Be sure to submit a carefully planned and thoughtful paper. Present your ideas in an organized way and be careful to have a clear thesis or main point. Lastly, be sure to proof read. Submissions should be in .doc, .docx, or .pdf form