My minor in college was Anthropology. For a while I was actually a double major in history and anthropology, but I wanted to graduate a semester early. Within anthropology my favorite section was physical anthropology. If you know me, you know I find human skeletons incredibly fascinating and beautiful. The first anthropology class I ever took was actually Human Osteology. It was an incredible class that then led to taking Biological Anthropology. I also got to go behind the scenes at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in DC twice and handle their skeletal samples. Over the years I’ve gathered a few resources, so I’m going to share them.
Several universities have created glossaries of anthropological terms. You can find a bunch by googling, but I’ve listed a handful below. It’s always good to consult a couple of these because one glossary may not have the definition you need, and you may find nuances by reading two or three different definitions.
Anthrobase Dictionary | http://www.anthrobase.com/Dic/eng/
This site, run by a freelance anthropologist from Norway, has a great wide-ranging dictionary. Not only can you look up anthropological terms, but anthropologists as well.
Glossary of Terms from the University of Alabama | http://anthropology.ua.edu/glossary.htm
This glossary is a searchable one, which is different from all the others I’ve found. You can search single terms, or use boolean operators to get closer to what you need.
Anthropological Terms from Oregon State University | http://dft.ba/-ae-o
The definitions here are quite simple, written in short sentences. It boils the complex terms down to the most concise meanings.
Cultural Anthropology Terms from Palomar College | http://dft.ba/-aevW
This glossary also uses short definitions, and links terms together with cross-references. If you don’t know how to pronounce a term, don’t fret. Beside the words is a little button to help you out with that.
Biological Anthropology Terms from Palomar College | http://dft.ba/-aeKP
This site has a cultural anthropology twin, which is linked above. Here you’ll find lots of terms that are useful for biological anthropology classes. This site also has audio links to help you pronounce the terms.
Kinship Glossary from the University of Alabama | http://dft.ba/-afyS
For a lot of anthropology classes and topics, family and kinship groups are important. Family shapes the human experience after all. So when you need to write a paper about kinship groups, but just can’t think of the right term, here’s your life saver.
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | http://www.iep.utm.edu/
A lot of anthropology includes philosophy and theory. Maybe you need to find some data about Karl Marx or Emile Durkheim. Maybe you need to understand a topic quickly. This is your spot for that. It’s provided by the University of Tennessee, so it’s credible.
Encyclopedia Mythica | http://www.pantheon.org/
Here you’ll find comprehensive information about mythology from all over the world. It includes everything from Native American myths, to Greek epics, to Arthurian romances, to Chinese fables. Need a source for your folklore discussion? This is it.
eSkeletons | http://www.eskeletons.org/
The eSkeletons project is maintained by the University of Texas at Austin. I stumbled across it a couple of years ago while researching primate anatomy relating to bipedalism. They have digitized the skeletons of 13 species of primates. You can look at different individual bones, different angles, and even compare skeletons. Bonus: the same team created eLucy and eFossils.
eLucy | http://elucy.org/
The eLucy project was created by the same people who created the aforementioned eSkeletons project. On the site you can check out different aspects of Lucy’s anatomy, and compare each bone or joint to that of a modern human or chimpanzee. What’s really great about this site is that because it’s maintained by a university, it’s a credible source.
eFossils | http://efossils.org/
The eFossils project is the last of the three projects on this list by the University of Texas at Austin, and is related to eSkeletons and eLucy. On eFossils you can look at the fossil remains of hominin species from many genera, not just the genus homo.
Becoming Human | http://www.becominghuman.org/
Maintained by the Institute for Human Origins, this site focuses on human ancestors. Click on a fossil human, and you can learn all about them. There’s even an interactive timeline. This is the best source I’ve found for human ancestry study.
The Skull Practical Exam | http://dft.ba/-skpe
Loyola University Chicago supplies the internet with a great source to test your knowledge of the human skull. Complete with images, arrows, and labels. Need to study for your osteology exam? This site has your back.
FREE OPEN COURSES
MIT Open Courseware | http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/anthropology/
While MIT also has other departments, their open courseware offerings in anthropology are excellent.
Coursera | https://www.coursera.org/
Coursera allows people all over the world to take courses in all different departments from many different universities. Totally free. The courses in anthropology are currently a bit light, but let’s keep hoping for more. On Coursera you can even get a verified certificate that you completed the course, though you have to pay for it. (I wrote about Coursera here).
edX | https://www.edx.org/
edX is similar to Coursera, but different in that many of the courses on edX are at-your-own-pace. While there are some courses that are on a schedule, these courses are more free form. This is great for if you just want to learn about a topic on your own for your own enrichment.
Directory of Open Access Journals | http://doaj.org/
Many scholars want their research to be available to all. If only five people read your article, you’re not going to get much discussion out of it. So some journals have made their contents freely available through the Directory of Open Access Journals. You will have to search, but nothing is behind a paywall.
Academia.edu | https://www.academia.edu/
Here you can search for papers that have been made accessible by the authors. This is great, because so much academic research is behind a paywall, which blocks anyone who doesn’t have the database access from the research. But with a search on Academia.edu you can find plenty of possibilities!
Google Scholar | scholar.google.com
When searching for academic articles without a university database, Google Scholar is your best friend. While your results will sometimes be met with paywalls, you can also find some freely available sources here.
Australopithecine Morphology Song | http://youtu.be/HrfT5q6oUUY
A fellow anthropology student made this song a few years ago. Teachers always say to create a memory device, and songs are great memory devices. While not everything in this song is perfect, and it may not have everything you need for a human origins exam, it’s a great starting point. Additionally, there are lots of other videos on YouTube about anthropology.
Human Origins at the Smithsonian | http://humanorigins.si.edu/
The Smithsonian Institution consists of 19 museums, and one of those is the National Museum of Natural History. In the NMNH there is an entire section devoted to human origins. They even have a website with lots of information and plenty of links. It’s a great resource.
Anthropology Toolbox on YouTube | http://dft.ba/-anthrotoolbox
In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube channel. I make anthropology videos, and they include short lessons on anthropology topics. These usually take the form of “term + definition” -> “history of term” -> “discussion + context”. Sometimes they’re even mini biographies of anthropologists.
Thanks for checking this guide out. I hope it’s helpful for your anthropological needs. Check back to my website (JeanniFloyd.wordpress.com) for more guides.
Download this guide as a PDF here.