Science History

History of Anthropology

An anthropologist with indigenous American people

If we take a closer look at the history of humans, we would see an incredible process that helped our development over the years. During prehistoric times, people have no access to the technology that we have today, and science was not yet a thing. Years later came in the ancient civilizations, wherein people are starting to create studies and observations of our world, as well as other planets. Despite the lack of a concrete scientific basis, people were close to building the foundations of our modern world.

These factors would make us sit back and wonder about the great minds who contributed to the advancement of our society. Studying our history will make us appreciate the scientific knowledge and technology that are present in our world today.

Interestingly, science also has its way to study humans, not just in our present time but also during the past. This scientific study of humans is called anthropology, and it gives us a deeper understanding of the development of our society throughout the years. The study of human behavior and society is not a simple task; that is why it led to the creation of different branches of science to pursue a more extensive study of the subject.

In this article, we are going to look into the properties of anthropology and how it developedover the years.

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the branch of science devoted to the study of the origin, behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans. It gives us a clearer understanding of the changes in our culture from the past up to the present. This branch of science covers a wide range of topics, which aims to build knowledge of the different aspects of human life.

The science of anthropology shows a discipline involving humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Each of these scientific disciplines contributes to the development of anthropology. The different fields of study related to anthropology include:

  • Sociocultural –also known as sociocultural anthropology, is a field of study that showcase the combined principles of cultural anthropology and social anthropology. It focuses on the study of culture, including literature and arts, as well as the relationship among individuals and groups.
  • Biological –is the branch of anthropology devoted to the study of the different biological and social factors involved in the development of humans and non-human primates.
  • Archaeological –is the field of study that focuses on the understanding of the human past through the help of material remains. Such remains include various factors, including artifacts, faunal remains, and human-altered landscapes, which all provide evidence of past societies. These materials provide great insights and help build knowledge of past human behavior and cultural practices.
  • Linguistic–also known as linguistic anthropology, is a field of study that aims to understand the processes of human communications. It explores a broader study of the variation in language across time and space, the social uses of language, as well as the relationship between language and culture.

What is the origin of anthropology?

The founder of modern anthropology – Bernardino de Sahagun

The science of anthropology started hundreds of years ago. Furthermore, the earliest accounts related to the study of humans and history began during the 18th and 19th century when scientists took an interest in understanding the history of our society.

During the 18th century, a breakthrough in the study of human behavior was made, and historians consider this period as the Age of Enlightenment, which was an intellectual and philosophical movement in Europe. This period provides a broader understanding of several fields of science, including anthropology, since it started a systematic study of human behaviors.

One of the most significant philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment was the German philosopher named Immanuel Kant. He was responsible for writing one of the first major treatises on anthropology, which took him twenty-five years to finish.

Despite the remarkable works of Kant, a Franciscan friar missionary priest named Bernardino de Sahagun was considered as the founder of modern anthropology.  His works made a significant impact on the development of anthropology, which consists of numerous documents of indigenous worldview and culture. His incredible works earned him the title as the first anthropologist and were soon regarded as the founder of modern anthropology.

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