Mythbusting in Archaeology

Cameron Gokee
Day/Time Taught: 
MWF 9:00 – 9:50 am; MWF 10:00 – 10:50am; MWF 12:00-1:00pm
Course Number: 

This course takes a critical look at some of the fantastic interpretations of archaeological remains that make popular subjects for television shows, magazine articles, books, and the web—interpretations typically described as “pseudoscience.” Specifically, we consider how and why archaeologists use scientific methods to evaluate evidence put forth to explain historical events and cultural achievements around the world. To this end, we explore a series of questions that often attract pseudoscientific claims: Who were the First Americans? Who built the large earthen mounds found across the eastern US? Were the people of Atlantis the source of civilizations around the world? Did ancient astronauts help the Egyptians and Mayans build their pyramids? As a student, you will leave this course armed with the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate these and other claims—that is, the archaeological myth buster’s toolkit.

Instructor Bio: 

Cameron Gokee (PhD, University of Michigan) is an anthropological archaeologist interested in how societies past and present engage with the material world—including tools, cultural media, buildings, and landscapes. Over the past decade, he has worked at a number of archaeological sites in West Africa to study medieval states, especially the Empire of Mali, and the impacts of globalization on rural villages over the past two thousand years. He also collaborates on a project that explores the “contemporary archaeology” of material culture and camp sites made and used by undocumented migrants today crossing from Mexico into southern Arizona. In his First Year Seminar courses, Cameron strives to bring the excitement of “the field” to campus through inquiry-based and experiential learning that gets students first asking critical questions about relations among people, things, and places, and then moving to address these questions through hands-on activities, field trips, and in-class debate.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Rick Klima

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