What is Anthropology?
The word anthropology itself tells the basic story--from the Greek anthropos ("human") and logia ("study")--it is the study of humankind, from its beginnings millions of years ago to the present day.
Nothing human is alien to anthropology. Indeed, of the many disciplines that study our species, Homo sapiens, only anthropology seeks to understand the whole panorama--in geographic space and evolutionary time--of human existence.
Though easy to define, anthropology is difficult to describe. Its subject matter is both exotic (e.g., star lore of the Australian aborigines) and commonplace (anatomy of the foot). And its focus is both sweeping (the evolution of language) and microscopic (the use-wear of obsidian tools). Anthropologists may study ancient Mayan hieroglyphics, the music of African Pygmies, and the corporate culture of a U.S. car manufacturer.
But always, the common goal links these vastly different projects: to advance knowledge of who we are, how we came to be that way--and where we may go in the future. (from the American Anthropological Association website)