Derived from the greek anthropos (human) and logia (study), anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. Ideally, the perspective ofanthropology is expansive, comparative, and holistic, tackling questions such as why people behave as they do and what accounts for human diversity. Two basic foci—cultural and biological variation—have preoccupied proto-anthropologists for millennia and continue to drive the discipline today. Anthropologist Eric Wolf described anthropology as “both the most scientific of the humanities and the most humanistic of the sciences.”

Development of the Discipline

During the 15th century, Europeans set sail in search of additional trade routes, and they encountered peoples and places, flora and fauna previously unknown to them. Developments in maritime technologies and the invention of the rifle aided European influence and imperial expansion, facilitating ...

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