Anthropology is the study of humans. The word comes from the Greek Anthropos (humanity or mankind) and the ending logia (study of). Anthropologists study all aspects of humanity, from our earliest origins, biological variation, earliest cultures, the rise of civilization, the evolution of language, to the nature of families, gender roles, economy and religion around the world historically and today.
There are four main branches of Anthropology: Physical Anthropology, Archaeology, Linguistics, and Cultural Anthropology. Physical Anthropologists investigate questions such as: Where do humans come from? Why are there so many skin colors, hair types, shapes and sizes of humans? How are we similar to, and different from, other primates? Cultural anthropologists study people from around the world: what they eat, how they marry, arrange families, and organize households, what they wear, what they believe and so forth. Archaeologists study the human past, linking physical and cultural anthropology, by investigating the origins and evolution of society and civilization. Linking history and culture, archaeologists use the remains of past communities to reveal how we have developed into our modern world. Linguistic anthropologists look at language, symbols and human communication. Historical linguists search for the roots of language in antiquity and trace connections between languages through history; descriptive linguists investigate how humans use language to create and transmit their own ‘reality.’
A wide number of anthropologists work in such professions as industry, government, schools, law enforcement, hospitals and social work, to name a few. Applied anthropology is now seen as a ‘fifth field’ of anthropology and it incorporates members of subfields in different applications of their disciplines. Forensic Anthropology, for instance, has become widely popular in recent years as physical anthropologists are employed by medical examiners, to identify human crime scene victims. Forensic Archaeology has emerged as a separate specialty, employing strategies for gathering evidence at crime scenes.