Anthro 1010

Activity Area
An area in an archaeological site associated with a specific activity. An example would be a part of a site dedicated to pottery, cooking, butchery or flint-knapping. Usually denoted by artifacts associated with said activity such as flakes or sherds. Soil chemistry is another method.
Antiquities/Art Market
Two facets. First is archaeological forgery where fabricated “artifacts” are sold in antiquities markets. This raises questions of authenticity and is detrimental to understanding the material record. Second, these markets represent a threat to archaeology because they are a motivation for removing archaeological artifacts from their context, which causes them to lose much of their meaning.
Archaeological culture
A constantly recurring assemblage of artifacts assumed to be representative of a particular set of behavioral activities carried out at a particular time and place
Archaeology and Popular Culture
We all wrote essays on this reacting to Indiana Jones and have experienced archaeology in popular culture. Key areas of discussion are that archaeology may or may not benefit on the whole from the exposure it gets from films and media such as the Indy films or Discovery Channel series. In addition, the question of why some portions of archaeology as a field appeal to some populations more than others is interesting (as in the Britain vs. USA case).
Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA)
A federal US law that was enacted in order to protect the archaeological sites of federal and Indian lands. An upgrade to the original Antiquities Act, it provides more detailed descriptions of the penalties of violating laws around protected sites, as well as more governance over the selling, purchasing and trafficking activities around artifacts.
the production, processing, marketing, and use of foods, fibers and byproducts from plant crops and animals.[1] Agriculture was the key development that led to the rise of human civilization, with the husbandry of domesticated animals and plants (i.e. crops) creating food surpluses that enabled the development of more densely populated and stratified societies. It led to sedentary settlements and brought an end to nomadic travelers and groups as there was no need or impetus to find food for survival.
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Axis Mundi
also known as the cosmic axis, world axis, world pillar and center of the world is a symbol representing the center of the world where the heaven (sky) connects with the earth. Different cultures represent the axis mundi by varied symbols such as a natural object (a mountain, a tree, a vine, a stalk, a column of smoke or fire) or of a product of human manufacture (a staff, a tower, a ladder, a staircase, a maypole, a cross, a steeple, a rope, a totem pole, a pillar, a spire). Its proximity to heaven may carry implications that are chiefly religious (pagoda, temple mount, church) or secular (obelisk, minaret, lighthouse, rocket, skyscraper). Additionally, the axis mundi may be feminine (an umbilical providing nourishment), masculine (a phallus providing insemination into a uterus).
the largest town in the region of Hazarajat, central Afghanistan and the capital of Bamiyan Province. It lies approximately 240 kilometres north-west of Kabul, the national capital. Bamiyan was the site of an early Hindu Buddhist monastery from which Bamiyan takes its name (Sanskrit varmayana, “coloured”). Many statues of Buddha are carved into the sides of cliffs facing Bamiyan city. In 2008, Bamiyan was found to be the home of some of the world’s oldest oil paintings.
Bone Modification
any form of alteration to individual bones, including cracking, surface marks, abrasion, polishing, gnawing, weathering and breakage. Damage to bone—both natural and human—may occur at various stages throughout the taphonomic history: Pathological and traumatic: damage sustained during life, including diseased bone and natural fractures. Post-mortem damage: this might be due to predation, scavenging, trampling, or transport. Post-burial damage: sustained due to compaction, cracking or dissolution. Pathological and traumatic damage can help us understand more about the deceased’s lifestyle. Cut marks may also indicate that the animal bone was a consumed food.
C3 / C4 Plants
C4 plants are those that are subject to long growing seasons with lots of access to sun. They usually originate in subtropical areas and include maize and sugar cane. C3 plants are those that convert carbon to a compound containing three carbon atoms. They are found in a far broader range of environments and include rice, wheat, and potatoes. In dietary analysis, based on the carbon fixation of a plant, archaeologists can determine the likely foods eaten in the past. C3 plants tend to be older plants, while C4 plants are a more recent adapted plant type, which helps us to understand the transition in diet, including the advent of agriculture.
Calendar Stone
Carved by the Aztecs in the late 1400s, the calendar stone was discovered buried beneath the Zócalo in 1790. It was originally thought to be a calendar, and for a brief time, a sacrificial altar. In the stone’s center is the sun god Tonatiuh. The rest of the carvings illustrate Aztec cosmology. It is one of the most striking examples of Aztec culture.
Cayonu Tepe
is an Early Neolithic settlement in southern Turkey, inhabited around 7200 to 6600 BC. The first excavation was done by Robert Braidwood in the early 1960s. The site includes rooms built of mudbrick wall with entrances through the roof. Excavations suggest the residents raised sheep and goats, and in later stages pigs. This site is important because of it’s Neolithic age and the fact that it spanned a time when humans moved form hunting and gathering to more domestication of animals and plants.
are barley and wheat, found in the archaeological record as macrobotanical remains, can indicate what types of crops societies exploited when samples are found in abundance. Remains also indicate what methods ancient peoples used to grow, process, store, and cook their crops. Well preserved remains can also indicate domestication.
inorganic material that most commonly survives in the archaeological record, when fired is virtually indestructible and can be studied for shape of pots, surface decoration, mineral content, and food or other remaining residues. Type of clay can be indicative of region of origin.
Climate Change
is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average, for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events. Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole earth.- archaeology can be used to discover this history of past climate change and use these trends to make predictive hypotheses
Coiling / Slab Building / Wheel Throwing
different manners of production for pots- coiling involves rolling clay into long coils and layering the coils to form a pot; slab building involves rolling out the clay into a long slab, cutting desired shapes from the slab, and fusing them together to create a clay product; wheel throwing involves clay being pulled up into a pot on a wheel, has distinctive spiral ridges—wheel throwing indicates a more sophisticated system of production because it requires a master craftsman and it is much more time consuming; coiling and slab building are better for mass production (style of production directly related to function of pottery)
Collective Memory
Shared, constructed, and passed on the by group rather than the individual; perhaps in referring to the use of the archaeological past to justify things like nationalism.
Colonialist Archaeology
Fueled by the belief of a pre-existent “Golden Age” that is now gone. Contemporary indigenous people could not possibly be related to great earlier civilizations, and must have wiped them out; thus archaeology becomes a justification for imperialism because the indigenous peoples are the enemy of civilization. Example of Great Zimbabwe.
Commensal Animals
One organism benefits but the other is unaffected (like barnacles on whales). In contrast to communal (mutual) relationships in which both organisms benefit.
Community Archaeology
Not sure what this relates to specifically from class but: Archaeology for the people, by the people, aka public archaeology. The design, goals, involved communities, and methods in community archaeology projects vary, but 2 main aspects of community archaeology are: 1) community involvement in planning and researching projects that relate to or are of interest to them, and 2) idea of making a positive difference in that community.
Comparative Collection
Used in zooarchaeology; collection of different bones of known animals to compare a find with and try to figure out which species it belongs to, and to determine age/sex. Useful for identifying changes over time in organisms and attempting to ID signs of domestication.
Contact Period
A time of interaction between Europeans and natives of the Americas. Simply said “contact” means any interaction between the New and Old world.
A major Maya archaeological site that has many stelae with calendrical inscriptions that can often be used to date the buildings with which they are associated. The artifacts associated with the buildings can then be dated.
iconography and material culture to archaeological assemblages on a micro- and macro-scale and their integration with provenance studies
process of growing plants on arable land. usually associated with large scale agriculture, and requires fertile soil, water (from irrigation or precipitation), and seeds. Also requires farmer to sow seeds during right season, till field beforehand, control weeds, and harvest crops. Process of cultivation marks a sedentary civilization with increasing infrastructure because it necessitates a form of planned irrigation, as well as an ability to depend on other people for other types of goods since they spend all day farming.
Cultural Property
Sites, artifacts, collections or structures identified as having artistic, historic, scientific, religious, or social significance. There have been great efforts, including international conventions, to increase the awareness and protection of cultural property. An example of controversy surrounding cultural property is the Elgin Marbles – the Greeks think the Marbles are the cultural property of Greece and therefore should be located there.
Cultural resource management (CRM)
A complex of laws, regulations, and professional practice designed to manage historic buildings, sites and cultural landscapes. A two step process, firstly the locating of archaeological sites, and secondly the recording of them, often by excavation, before they are destroyed by development, such as new roads and buildings or the drainage of wetlands. CRM accounts for 90% of the field archaeology carried out in the USA today.
Cyprus (Fauna at Shillourokambos)
Shillourokambos was a Neolithic village in Cyprus inhabited around 10,000 years ago. The study of animal bones in Shillourokambos, for example by looking at their teeth, epiphysial fusion and bone size, showed that dogs, pigs, and cats were domesticated, whilst sheep, goat, cattle, and deer were hunted. Evidence of the oldest known domesticated cat was discovered at Shillourokambos.
Dolni vestonice
the site of the earliest evidence of ceramic production, (ca. 26 ka); most likely created by the Pavlovian Culture in Moravia during the upper Paleolithic. kilns were found in the area. Known for its Venus figurines, which seem to be some of the earliest evidence of a cognitive, spiritual culture and portray women with large breasts and hips, possibly alluding to childbirth; pottery and ceramics production may have shown social advantage
Domestication(of animals and plants)
when the state of affairs that occurs when the selective conditions that effect reproduction are altered by human activity such that a symbiotic relationship develops between the plants and animals.; Food acquired through direct production amounts to more that half of the diet of a community; Domesticates are no longer bound to their habitat; Includes cultivation, the planting and harvesting of wild species, and agriculture, a system of crop production that incorporates at least some domesticated plants and requires systematic tillage; cereals=most popular crop; allows for change from hunter-gatherer lifestyle to sedentism (mobile to settled); one criterion of animal domestication is human interference with the natural breeding habits of certain species, which has led to changes in the physical characteristics of those species from the wild state; occurred at different times across the world; tools like plows, yokes, horse trappings indicate domestication
a plant or animal whose behavior, morphology, and/or genetics have been modified to make them more beneficial to humans
Down-the-Line trade
Repeated exchanges of a reciprocal nature, so that a commodity travels across successive territories through successive exchanges. This transaction of material goods leaves unmistakable indications in the archeological record, unlike “Freelance (middleman)” trading or “Emissary” trading. This evidence is revealed through “fall-off analysis” – where the quantity of a traded material usually declines as the distance from the source increases – and exponential “fall-off curves”, produced when there is regularity in how the fall-off occurs. An example is the obsidian trade at Neolithic sites in the Near East, where both “supply zones” and “contact zones” have been clearly determined by fall-off analysis.
Pottery making dates back some 16,000 years ago in Japan, and 9,000 years in the Near East and parts of South America. It is the archeologist’s main source of evidence, due to its durability when properly fired. Earthenware can be studied for its shape, surface decoration, mineral content, even food or other residues left inside it. Even disintegrated mud brick can help to assess rebuilding phases in, for instance, Peruvian villages or Near Eastern tells.
a form of social complexity. It is a measure of differentiation and specialization in social roles/degree of authority. In this society, there are no sharp divisions in rank, status, or wealth.
Elgin Marbles
collection of classical greek marble sculptures removed from the Parthenon by the 7th Earl of Elgin in the early 19th century. The marbles were purchased by the British government in 1816 and put in the British Museum. There is an ongoing debate as to whether Britain should return the marbles to Greece, who has been demanding their return. This argument hinges on the legitimacy of the original acquisition of the marbles and whether cultures have a right to artifacts from their past.
Emic vs. Etic
The Amerian linguist Kenneth Pike introduced the terms emic and etic . Etic is an observable continuous phenomena and from the word phonetic. Emic is a discrete, culturally significant unit from the word phonemic. These terms were modeled ont eh succes of linguists in distillin grules from the chaos of actual speech. Anthropologists aim to analyze behavior (etic) to get at the underlying systems which govern it (emic). Pike’s distinction between etic and emic is useful for an understanding of the classic debate between objectivist and subjectivist views of ethnicity. Objectivists have an etic perspective that ethniciteis are based on socio cultural differences. Subjectivists have an emic perspective that ethnicities are based on self categorizations of the people studied.
the existence of ethnic groups, incluidng tribal groups. Though these are difficult to recognize from the archaeological record, the study of language and linguistic boundaries shows that ethnic groups are often correlated with language areas. Ethnicity is a consciousness or identity used by archaeologists to contrast groups agains one another for comparison and is useful in classifying groups of people.
the attempt to piece together a picture of how a society functioned by examining its material remains. For example, remains of religious structures and iconography tell scholars about a culture’s beliefs, and an analysis of a society’s manufactured goods may tell us about its economic structure and trade relationships
Experimental Archaeology
Experimental archaeology is the practice of attempting to recreate the processes used by ancient cultures to create the artifacts found during archaeological survey. Archaeologists make hypotheses about how an object may have been created, then test that hypothesis by attempting to create a similar object by using the process as hypothesized.
Extensive Resource Exploitation
Over a broad area of land without fully exhausting the resources, often like hunter-gatherer cultures or impermanent settlements.
Intensive Resource Exploitation
Extracting as much from a given segment of land as possible via farming or livestock rearing, mining, etc. Can at times lead to over- exhaustion of resource. Seen more in modern times and developed countries.
Fertile Crescent
Refers to an ancient area of fertile soil and important rivers stretching in an arc from the Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates. It covers modern-day Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, and was where many early civilizations developed as well as writing (cuneiform) and the wheel. Extremely important in the study of Old World flora and fauna and documenting the spread of human civilization.
A method of screening (sieving) excavated matrix (the physical material in which artifacts are embedded or supported) in water so as to separate and recover small ecofacts (non-artifactual organic and environmental remains which have cultural relevance) and artifacts. Samples of soil are poured into an overflowing tank, the lighter organic material floating over the top to be caught in sieves of various sizes. Often, a process used to separate plant remains from soil. Used in the study of plant domestication, among other things (float out plant remains and then dry them and identify or study morphology to determine domestication).
Great Zimbabwe
A monument (probably built between 13th and 15th centuries AD) near Masvingo in modern Zimbabwe of great sophistication and impressive stonework. Early scholars in then-Rhodesia ascribed it to people from “more civilized” lands of the North (a migrationist view), backed by Cecil Rhodes. Surveyed and excavated in 1929-31 by Gertrude Caton-Thompson (under British Government), who unearthed datable artifacts from a stratified context and confirmed that the site represented a major culture (Bantu) of African origin. Others still refused to agree (following diffusionist explanation), citing the possible creators as Portuguese traders, but subsequent research has proved Caton-Thompson right.
Guilá Naquitz
A small cave in Oaxaca, Mexico that was occupied multiple times between 8,000 and 6,500 BC containing plant remains that indicate not only early signs of domestication of gourd, squash and beans, but also the oldest record of domesticated teosinte (maize), dating to about 5,400 years ago.
Historical Archaeology
A form of archaeology that focuses on written texts and existing historical records about archaeological sites; these records can complement or conflict with data acquired through archaeological excavations. These records are considered a vital part of the tangible remains of the culture or cultures being studied, and critical to understanding the broader historical development of said society.
“The description or illustration of any subject by means of drawings or figures; any book or work in which this is done; also, the branch of knowledge which deals with the representation of persons or objects by any application of the arts of design.” (OED). In archaeology, iconography can refer to artistic themes of artifacts and artwork, and also to religious symbols or icons. Through common iconographic themes in artwork, on ceramics, etc., archaeologists can gather information about the culture they study. In Early Modern Europe, for instance, many Catholic icons were destroyed through iconoclasm, which leaves an unfortunate dent in the archaeological record.
imperialist archaeology
This refers to archaeology that has been conducted with a specific purpose, especially with the intention of proving one culture’s ownership of or superiority over another. For example, Britain and France cited archaeological finds in Turkey leading back to ancient Greece as rationalizing a reason for them to take parts of the Ottoman Empire, since they saw their own heritage as being based on the ancient Greeks.
Information-based media content or programming that also includes entertainment content in an effort to enhance popularity with audiences and consumers. For instance, Time Team or the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park.
Isla Ceritos
A unique ancient Maya site (an island in the Gulf of Mexico off the Yucatan Peninsula) with 13 separate habitation layers and nearly 50,000 recovered artifacts. Some say it may have been the main shipping outpost for Chichen Itza.
The most efficient and flexible firing technique with a long firing cycle. Three types: (1) Pit with walls, (2) Updraft kiln, and (3) Downdraft kiln. “A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, or oven, in which a controlled temperature regime is produced. Kilns are used to harden, burn, or dry materials” (Wiki.)
A step in producing workable clay; a potting practice. “In that case, potters mix clay with water in order to get a colloidal solution, retrieve the larger particles at the bottom of the container and let the water evaporate”
when individuals dig up a site searching for rich finds. In addition to removing valuable items, looting can destroy the layers of a site which can tell archaeologists about the dates of items. Example of looting might be the Mimbre culture in the American Southwest, in which archaeological remains have been destroyed through looters ransacking sites for the valuable painted bowls left behind.
Macrobotanical remains
pollen (tells climate fluctuations), phytoliths (can help define the environment of a sedimentary layer), diatoms (useful for analysis of past marine environments), or other plant remains are defined as macrobotanical remains and can help archaeologists determine different aspects of the archaeological site. Can be dessicated (in dry environments), waterlogged (wet environments), or preserved by charring. Can reveal information about plant evolution.
Magdalena de Cao
A Spanish colonial town and church on the north coast of Peru, being excavated in part by Jeff Quilter: the site of an ancient huaca, considered sacred by the Incas, and in which Spanish friars built a church, right in the center. Archaeological finds like decoratively-cut papers (which had once had writing on them) and church burials bring up all kinds of interesting resistance v. accommodation questions about how the two cultures reacted to being forced together. This is also the site where excavators recently found a piece of paper with a numbering system written in a previously unknown language!
An archaeological site in Israel. Initially the palace of Herod the Great, the Romans had a really hard time reconquering it. Eventually, they built a siege ramp to attack it, but all the noble Jewish inhabitants of Masada made a suicide pact and killed themselves rather than be captured. An alternative narrative says that the people of Masada were not actually noble, but heartless raiders of surrounding Jewish communities. The two versions bring up questions of national identity in archaeology for Israel.
Mayan hieroglyphs
the only Mesoamerican writing system that has been successfully translated. Dates to the 3rd cent. BC and was present in Mayan culture up until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. Texts were generally written by the wealthy and elite.
Megafauna extinction
Also known as the Holocene extinction. Occurred at the end of the last Ice Age and was caused by human activity (such as overhunting and pollution) as well as disease and climate change. Extinction has accelerated in the last few centuries due primarily to human activity.
Millet (Setaria/Panicum)
A group of small-seeded species of cereal crops or grains grown around the world for food and fodder. The domestication of common millet from East Asia is at least 10,000 years old, providing evidence for domestication of plants and the advancement of civilization in that part of the world. The aspect of this that remains in question, however, is whether or not the setaria (foxtail millet) or panicum (common millet) was domesticated first. We do know that the common millet was the earliest dry farming crop in East Asia, probably because it has a great resistance to drought.
Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI)
the fewest number of people or animals in a skeletal assemblage. This is used to determine how many people or animals are buried in a particular place based upon the bones that are present.
The Moche (or Mochica) were a central American culture that existed from around AD100 to AD800. The Moche culture was centered on the North coast of Peru, where they produced a rich elite culture and monumental architecture, including Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna.
Modes of Exchange
A society’s primary Mode of Exchange is the way by which goods are transferred between individuals and other market entities. In economic theory there are three primary modes, reciprocity (gift-giving), redistribution (the forced distribution of goods or wealth from one part of the economy to another) and exchange (barter or, in a monetized economy, cash payments). Studying a past society’s mode(s) of exchange can lead to a better understanding of how it saw the role of goods in its material culture as well as provide insight into how past societies interacted.
Monuments are structures surviving from a past age, regarded as of historical or archaeological importance. More specifically, the defining characteristic of monuments is their public nature. Built by many people for use by many people, monuments were ceremonial centers whose existence implies a high degree of social organization for the society that built them. Segmentary societies were capable of building burial mounds and shrines. More complex, chiefdoms and states were capable of building larger scale monuments.
NAGPRA (1990)
Enacted into law in 1990 by George H.W. Bush, NAPRA stands for the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, which gives Native American lineal descendants, culturally affiliated tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations the opportunity to reclaim their ancient dead and grave goods from archaeological sites and museums. Proponents of NAGPRA argue its value as human rights legislation, giving Native Americans the right to rebury their dead. Opponents of NAGPRA fear repatriation of rare ancient remains like the skeleton of Kennewick Man will result in the loss of valuable knowledge about the genome sequences of early Native Americans.
Nationalist Archaeology
From (Renfrew and Bahn 271) “use of archaeology and images recovered from the past to focus and enhance national identity.” Doing so can lead to conflict, and one example involved the new newly independent Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedon, and Greece. The use of Macedon, kingdom of Alexander the Great and the use of the star on Philip of Macedon’s casket found in Greek territory created an affront that aggravated Greece to think that the FYR Macedonia wanted to assume the glorious history of Macedon.
Neolithic Revolution
Term coined by VG Childe to describe the origin and consequences of farming (ie the development of stock raising and agriculture), allowing widespread development of life,” (Renfrew and Bahn glossary, 293). It was a significant event because it catalyzed the rise of civilization, but in Jared Diamond’s article,”Man’s Greatest Mistake,”he contends that the neolithic revolution was the beginning of social inequality as the few developed a surplus of resources and used necessities for survival to create a social hierarchy.
Number of Individual Specimens (NISP)
term used in archaeology and paleontology when counting bones from a site. NISP counts each bone and fragment as one unit. The NISP is an estimate of the number of individuals at that location.
Oxidizing vs. Reducing Atmosphere
Terms used to describe methods of firing pottery. Pottery fired in an oxidizing atmosphere with abundant oxygen available forms red color from the iron in the clay or in the pigments. In a reducing atmosphere, the kiln is deprived of oxygen, resulting in a darker/blackish color of the glazes because it allows the metals in the glaze to be seen in an unoxidized form.
Paleoethnobotany (archaeobotany)
(text 178, 183) study of past human use of plants in hunting and gathering economies and in agriculture; related to domestication of plants and which plants were important in diet; includes understanding the different stages of traditional plant processing (how plants were gathered or grown, processed, stored, and cooked), recognizing the effect of different processes on remains, identifying the different contexts in the archaeological record ; gives us information about early subsistence based on the remains of what was eaten
(Lecture 12 slide 21, text 167-171) study of pollen grains; developed by Norwegian geologist, Lennart von Post, at the beginning of the 20th century; used to study vegetation changes associated with the beginning of agriculture; advantageous since most plants produce large quantities of pollen, which is easily preserved and can be identified to family, genus, and species, but disadvantageous in that pollen is easily transported through air, so often difficult to localize; can be applied to a wide range of sites and provides information on chronology as well as environment and forest clearance; can supply important information for ancient environments (eg. reduction of tree pollen in favor of more grasses showed that the Hadar sediments and the Omo valley in Ethiopia were much wetter and greener between 3.5 and 2.5 mya than they are now, and even had some tropical plants present)
This is a subsistence system based primarily on domesticated animal production (including meat, milk, hides and blood). However, this definition generally excludes groups specializing on wild herd animals, such as Native American bison hunters. Pastoral animals are husbanded animals that graze and browse on grasses, leaves and twigs. There are still many issues related to fully understanding pastoralism, including the location and time of the domestication of ungulates, socio-economic contexts for pastoralism, and the spread of pastoralism to different continents.
These are silica bodies produced by plants. These micro botanical remains are used to date plants in the archaeological record. Although in theory the use of phytoliths is specific to the genus/species in question, little work has been done on identifying species. Other disadvantages include phytoliths’ high contamination potential, they are only identifiable to a plant part, and they can’t be directly dated.
Political uses of the past
Legitimize claims to territory, Sanction socio-political and economic activities, Military conquest, Economic imperialism, Ethnic cleansing, Reinforce current political configurations
Pollen Profile
Palynology is the science that studies contemporary and fossil palynomorphs (Palynomorph is the geological term used to describe a particle of a size between five and 500 micrometres, found in rock deposits (sedimentary rocks) and composed of organic material such as chitin, pseudochitin and sporopollenin), including pollen…PALYNOLOGY is used to identify vegetation changes associated with the beginning of agriculture. Advantages- Most plants produce large quantities of pollen, Can be identified to family, genus, or species, Is preserved in waterlogged sediments (bogs, springs, lake sediments). Disadvantages: Is readily transported through the air (pollen rain), so sometimes difficult to understand local signal Pollen Diagram for Ireland Decrease in Elm associated with increase in grass pollen after 5000 BP (see diagram lecture 12 slide 22)
Porosity vs. Permeability
Porosity and permeability are two factors which control the movement and storage of fluids in rocks, soils, or other materials. Porosity refers to the ratio of openings in a material to the total volume. Permeability refers to the ease with which fluids will flow through a porous substance. A substance with high porosity will not necessarily have high permeability if the voids are not interconnected. These geological concepts are applicable in a variety of ways to archeology, namely in the taphonomy of a site.
Prehistoric vs. Historic
Prehistoric and Historic are the names that historians and archeologists use to separate human history. Prehistoric refers to any culture, site, or people for whom we do not have written historical records. Historic, conversely, refers to all cultures, sites, and people who left written historic record of themselves. Archeology is equally applicable with both historic and prehistoric sites, but is especially vital for prehistoric sites, where it is one of the only manners in which we can learn about a people.
Public Archaeology
Also known as community archaeology, is an archaeological approach that engages the public in archaeological research. Knowledge gained through research in “academic” archaeology is passed along to people outside of the profession through pamphlets, museum exhibits, and by other means. It becomes complicated to communicate research with all of the ethical considerations that arise.
Push / Pull / Social Models
These models are common explanations for the development of agriculture. Push models stress that population pressure, food crises, etc pushed early peoples to exploit resources more intensively. Pull models or “Readiness Hypothesis” aka “Natural Habitat Hypothesis” claim that an abundance of resources led people to an agricultural lifestyle. Social Models focus on competition with agricultural developing as a means to allow people to gain prestige and social status.
The rachis is what holds wheat, and other cereal, seeds to the stalk. The rachis is dealt with when considering the domestication of plants. A brittle rachis means that the seeds are dispersed too easily and are not desirable for storage; the development of a tough rachis is often touted as one of the earliest examples of human domestication of plants.
(Definition from Renfrew and Bahn) Sometimes referred to as conjoining, this entails attempting to put some stone tools and flakes back together again, and provides important information on the processes involved in the knappers’ craft.
Replication Studies
These studies involve attempting to reproduce the processes involved in producing such objects as stone stools or pottery. It is very important to experimental archaeology.
Rice (Oryza Sp.)
Essentially, Oryza is the scientific name for domesticated rice, Sp. just stands for species. It is important because phytoliths, plant fossils, of this rice are studied to understand the process of rice cultivation in the Yangtze River Valley, it grows on every continent but Antarctica, and is responsible for 20% of the world’s total calorie intake. (
Salvage Archaeology
(Lecture 21)- also known as “rescue archaeology”, it is archaeological survey and excavation carried out in areas threatened by or revealed by construction or development. An example is if a dam is about to be built which would flood an archaeological site. Salvage archaeology is often more extensive than other types, because there is usually no need to sample (i.e., save it all before its flooded). Ex: before building Rome subway.
the cyclic variation in any process, often corresponding to the changing of environmental seasons. In zooarchaeology (Lecture 13), there is seasonality of feeding, social structure, and breeding activities that may be discovered. It is also part of environmental archaeology (like the examination of tree rings. )
Secondary products vs. primary products
both of these terms deal with zooarchaeology and the types of animal products that can be found. Secondary (ante-mortem) products are products of the living animal, such as feces, eggshells, uprooting, scratchmarks. Primary (post-mortem) products of the dead animal, such as bones, teeth, hides, etc. Lecture 13.
Settlement patterns
“Settlement pattern” is the distribution of sites across the landscape within a given region. Archaeologists no longer identify an individual site and survey it in isolation, but, through the study of settlement pattern, understand the site in its broader context by exploring an entire region, and thus better understand the relationshp between varioius “isolated” sites. Settlement pattern pertains to social archaeology. Studying settlement pattern helps to answer the questions “what was the scale of the largest social unit, and what kind of society, in a very broad sense, was it?” It investigates the scale and nature of individual sites and relationships between them. Other techniques accompanying studying settlement pattern to understand the nature and scale of the studied society are investigations of oral tradition, written records, and ethnoarchaeology. Settlement patterns are studied through survey. Studying settlement pattern typically begins by identifying the center or centers of settlement along with smaller sites. Incorporates survey, sampling and remote sensing techniques. The archaeologist typically then forms a “site hierarchy,” classifying the sites based on their relative imporance. Possible categories for these sites include: Regional center, Local center, nucleated village, dispersed vilage and hamlet. Generally, the more hierachical the settlement pattern, the more hierarchical the society. The size of sites is most commonly the basis for the site heirarchy, archaeologists often dividing the various sites into five categories: large towns, towns, large villages, small villages, and hamlets.
One linguistic method of determining ethnic groups. A shibboleth is a linguistic password; a way of speaking (a pronunciation, or the use of a particular expression) that identifies the members of an ‘in’ group. Shibboleths are both exclusive and inclusive: they function to keep ‘strangers’ out while at the same time operating to help build and maintain group solidarity. Ethnicity is a consciousness of identity in contrast to other groups: an “us/them” distinction. An example of a shibboleth is Harvard’s pronunciation of “The Coop” rather than the “Co-op.” This shibboleth, as all shibboleths, distnguishes an in-group from an out-group, in this case Harvard people from non-Harvard individuals. Other shibboleths include “unionized,” “Z,” and “nuclear.”
“site Report”
a document that reports and explains the results of an archaeological excavation or survey. It is the culmination of many different survey and reconnaissance techniques. In a site report, an archaeologist must look at the overall landscape, relationships to other sites, as well as to the features of the individual site. Archaeologists often use a combination of different methods based on their research design, incorporating aerial photography and site surface survey, as well as, perhaps, subsurface detection or ground-based remote sensing.
Site hierarchy
Sites in a settlement system are ranked in order of size. You can then compare those sizes with a histogram to find something about the society. Generally, the more hierarchical the society, the more so the site hierarchy (e.g. band societies have much less site hierarchy).
Slack farm
This was an archaeological site of the Mississippian culture. In the 1980s, some looters paid the current property owners for permission to dig there, and then completely ravaged the site, destroying dozens of Native American gravesites. This being pre-NAGPRA, it was difficult to prosecute for this, but the controversy helped inspire stronger laws to be made.
This is the watery-clay that results from certain production techniques, like throwing pots. It is also used decoratively, as colored slips can be painted or layered onto clay objects, so it is both a by-product and a material in ceramic production.
Spondylus Shell
Shells that were very important to the Moche people. They were considered sacred and were used in religious ceremonies, as well as art.
Starch Grain Analysis
Can tell us about plants that don’t normally survive in the archeological record (like tubers), and is direct evidence for food consumption, as it is found on tools, clothing and pottery. It can thus tell us which tools and potteries were associated with certain foods, as well as who would have been eating the foods. Disadvantages include: starch can’t be directly dated, and it can’t tell us about plant domestication, we also aren’t sure if we can identify starch to the genus or species.
Not Stone. It is a type of ceramic that has been fired above the “sinter point.” so the clay particles have fused together, and the ceramic is dense and impervious. It has been fired at such a high temperature that it has lost its structural water. It was produced a lot in China.
Taxonomy is the basis of organization of material cultural remains, the system of classification based on specific artifacts’ characteristics. Taxonomy is used as a way to better categorize the artifacts archaeologists find and makes putting material remains into context more efficient.
Tell Brak
Tell Brak is a tell (settlement mound) located in northeastern Syria. It was occupied between the 6th and 7th millennia BCE. It was 40 meters high and had an area of 320 acres, making it one of the biggest archaeological sites in northern Mesopotamia. It was excavated by British archaeologists in 1937 and 1938.
Temper refers to when foreign materials such as sand, plant fibers, shells, grit, crushed rocks, brocken pottery pieces etc are added to clay to improve the firing qualities (reduce/prevent cracking) in ceramics. Temper helps reduce plasticity and thus prevents shrinkage and cracking during the drying processes of firing. Studying the temper of a piece helps us learn about its manufacturing origins (where/how it was made).
Tenochtitlan was the capital city of the Aztec civilization in Mexico, founded in 1325. Surrounded by Lake Texcoco, the city used the chinampa system for agriculture and to dry and expand the island. A complex culture developed and the Aztecs came to dominate all other Mexican tribes and became the most powerful city in Mesoamerica. Commercial routes have been found linking Tenochtitlan with the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, and perhaps the Inca Empire.
a large Mayan monument in Mexico – it was missed by archaeologists surveying the area on first pass, because they had prior assumptions and used selective intensive surveying, rather than a random distribution through extensive searches. The Teotihuacan effect is that of being able to miss very important portions of a field survey if it is not carried out correctly.
the crop that was later developed into maiz, then corn. It is far simpler and much less robust than the corn we know today. The best thing to do would be to look at a picture of it. If this is a term, elaborate more with information about the cultivation/domestication process in general. Teosinte is a great example of the stark differences between a domesticated plant (corn) and a wild plant (teosinte) where you can directly see the changes and the traits that humans favored.
a clay-based unglazed ceramic. Its uses include pottery, sculptures, and roof shingles. The unglazed color after firing can vary widely, but most common clays contain enough iron to cause an orange-red or brownish-orange color. One example of a significant use is Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army of China, built in 210-209 BC.
Tourism and archaeology
Tourism can be a great way to promote interest in archaeology and the conservation of historical sites. At the same time, tourism plays an important factor in determining how archaeological information is presented. Sometimes archaeological exhibits conform to foreign tourists conceptions of the past, distorting the truth (such as omitting the mention of ritual sacrifice). Often the economy of an area can revolve around tourism.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. For archaeology, it seeks to protect archaeological sites, protect archaeological heritage, and educate the public.
the state of being urban (city-like) versus not city-like; (variables) categorized or measured in scale of size and density, economic specialization, concentrated social surplus, residency over kinship/organic solidarity, and other factors including writing, science, public buildings, and arts.
Uruk Expansion “Walking Larder
” the theory that sheep and goats (walking food and wool sources) helped make possible the major transition of humans from small groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers to permanent, sedentary, larger agricultural population centers, specifically as relating to Fertile Crescent domestication and urbanization.
A Mayan port city located on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo, most active during the post-Classical period. Because of its position as a port, and its location at the very north of the Mayan empire, it has become an important archaeological site in modern times. It is also the site of an Eco-archaeology theme park showcasing the ruins, complete with live reenactments of Mayan lifestyle and ritual, as well as zoo/resort-like attractions. As the park is clearly geared more towards the tourist trade than sound education about the site or historical accuracy, and parts of the ancient site were destroyed during construction, the park raises questions about the relationship between archaeology and the public, and the ethics of exploiting culture for entertainment purposes.
A cave in Hunan province, China, which contains an important late Paleolithic site. Shards of ceramics found there in June, 2009 have been dated as far back as 18,300 BP, making them the oldest examples of pottery known to man. In 2005, the cave also yielded the oldest grains of rice yet discovered.