69 terms

Chapter 1: History of Archaeology


Terms in this set (...)

Speculative Phase
-Most cultures have foundation myths to explain why society was the way it is, and the societies that preceded them
-During Renaissance (14th-17th century), ancient artifacts were displayed with other natural history specimens in "cabinets of curiosity."
-Scholars began to study/collect relics of ancient Greece or Rome, as well as local relics (i.e. stonehenge)
First Excavations
-In 18th century, sites like Pompeii were uncovered in motivation to find valuable masterpieces
-However, this lit the fire for well-recorded excavations
First Scientific Excavation
The blank in archaeology was conducted by Thomas Jefferson, who dug a trench in 1784 across a burial mound on his property in 1784. Marks the end of the speculative phase.
People thought a mythical presence made the mounds, but through looking at stratigraphy, Jefferson deduced that the human bones were less preserved in lower layers because this site had been used for burial, and that present day Native-Americans had been responsible.
A process of reasoning by which more specific consequences are inferred by rigorous argument from more general propositions.
The layering down or deposition of strata or layers (also called deposits) one above the other. A succession of layers should provide relative chronological sequence, with earliest at the bottom and latest at the top. The early study of this demonstrated that blank of rocks was still occurring in seas, rivers, and lakes.
The study and validation of stratification; the analysis in the vertical time dimension as a series of layers in the horizontal space dimension.. Is often used as relative dating technique to assess the temporal sequence of artifact deposition.
The idea that the stratification of rocks is due to processes still ongoing in seas, rivers, and lakes, or the ideas that geologically ancient conditions were in essence similar or "uniform" with those of our time. Is cornerstone of archaeology.
Antiquity of Humankind
One of the most significant events in the intellectual history of the 19th century, and vital for archaeology as a discipline. It became widely agreed that earth's origins extended past biblical time, and the biblical notion of creation couldn't be accepted. This established a possibility of a prehistory of humankind. One of the four cornerstones of modern archaeology.
The systematic study of human past through its material remains.
Systematic study
Interest in looking at many different elements of human past while drawing upon scientific method. We rely on series of methods to create best interpretation of human past.
Advances leading to Modern Archaeology
1) Establishment of Human Antiquity
2) Theory of Evolution
3) Three-Age System
4) Ethnography as related to archaeology
Charles Darwin established this concept, which explained the origin and development of all plants and animals. He demonstrated how this occurred through natural selection. He suggested that humans came from similar ancient origins. This concept could also be applied to social organization and culture. Was one of the 4 cornerstones of modern archaeology.
Three Age System
Danish scholar CJ Thomsen proposed that prehistoric artifacts could be divided into those coming from a Stone Age, a Bronze Age, and an Iron Age. Later the Stone Age was further divided into the Paleolithic and Neolithic Stone Age.
-Didn't apply to Africa, or Americas, but was conceptually important due to establishing principle of studying/classifying artifacts to order them chronologically.
-Moved Archaeology as discipline past speculation and into systematic study
-One of four cornerstones of modern Archaeology.
Ethnography (and Archaeology)
The realization that the study by ethnographers of living communities in different parts of the world could be a good starting point for archaeologists seeking to understand lifestyles of ancient humans. Gave a framework for archaeologists to study the past with.
-Archaeologists suggest societies "evolved" from savagery to barbarism (simple farming), to civilization
-One of the four cornerstones of modern Archaeology.
James Hutton
Was the originator of uniformitarianism. Referred to as the "Father of Modern Geology."
-Through observation and careful records, he came to conclusion that earth was constantly being formed
Sir Charles Lyell
Popular geologist who popularized Hutton's ideas about uniformitarianism in his book "Principles of Geology."
-One of first to believe that earth is older than 300 million years
-Was close friends with Darwin and contributed to theory of evolution
CJ Thomsen
Proposed that prehistoric artifacts could be divided into those coming from a Stone Age, a Bronze Age, and an Iron Age.
-Because of this was first to establish evidence based division of prehistory into periods
General Pitt-Rivers
Late 19th century
-Was a soldier most of his life
-Made, plans, sections, and models in order to precisely excavate on his estates in southern england
-Exact position of all artifacts were recorded
-Pioneer of total recording
-Used artifacts to support his views on cultural evolution.
Sir William Flinders Petrie
-An english Egyptologist and pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology
-Excavated many of most important sites in Egypt
-Developed system of dating layers based on ceramics and pottery found
-Insisted on collection/description of everything found
Sir Mortimer Wheeler
-Fought in British army in both World Wars
-Brought military precision to his excavations, through techniques like grid-square method of dividing/digging site.
-Known for work at British Hillforts like Maiden Castle.
-Was Director General of Archaeology in India, where he held training schools in modern field methods, and excavated many important sites.
Alfred Kidder
-Was one of first leading Americanist (those who studied anthropological past of Americas)
-Was major figure in Maya archaeology
-Put Southwest United States on map for excavations at Pecos Ruin
-His book about it, "An Introduction to the Study of Southwestern Archaeology" became a classic
-Was first to use team of specialists to analyze artifacts and human remains
-His strategy became blueprint for studying regions:
1) Reconnaissance
2)Selection of Criteria for ranking remains of sites chronologically
3) Stratigraphic Excavation
5) Detailed regional survey and dating
Classificatory-Historical Period
Period that lasted up until 1960 that had a central concern of chronology. Lots of effort went into regional chronologies, and description of development of culture in each area. Scholars studying prehistoric societies in Europe and North America made most significant contributions.
Direct Historical Approach
The idea that we need to look at the descendants of a culture, and can only understand the past culture through their current descendants.
-Franz Boas championed this idea, and he demanded more close attention to collection/classification of information to build up huge inventories of cultural traits.
-Aimed to trace "styles" directly into the past
Midwestern Taxonomic System
The number of separate regional styles and sequences of artifacts became so great that scholars devised this system which correlated styles/sequences in the Midwest by identifying similarities between artifact collections.
Gordon Childe
-An Australian archaeologist and phi logist who specialized in European pre-history
-Had been making the same comparisons between prehistoric sequences in Europe that Franz Boas had been doing in America
-Proposed the idea that an assemblage of artifacts could be attributed to a particular group of people.
-Was influenced by Marxist ideals
-He proposed there had been a Neolithic Revolution that gave rise to the development of farming, and later an Urban Revolution which gave rise to cities and towns.
-Was one of the few archaeologists brave enough to address the brand issue of why things happened or changed in the past while most of his contemporaries were concerned with chronologies.
A group of artifacts recurring together at a particular time and place, and representing the sum of human activities at that time.
Any portable object used, modified, or made by humans. (stone tools, weapons, pottery, etc.)
Neolithic Revolution
A term introduced by Gordon Childe in 1941 to describe the origin and consequences of farming (the development of stock raising and agriculture), allowing the widespread development of settled village life.
Julian Steward
-Pioneered the concept of cultural ecology
-Was interested in explaining cultural change
-Hilighted the fact that cultures interact with each other AND the environment
Cultural Ecology
A term coined by Julian Steward to account for the dynamic relationship between human society and its environment, in which culture is viewed as the primary adaptive mechanism.
-Archaeologists often formed alliances with specialists from other disciplines.
A term used by anthropologists when referring to non-biological characteristics unique to a particular society.
Archaeological Culture
An assemblage of artifacts assumed to representative of a particular set of behavioural activities carried out at a particular time and place.
Willard Libbey
-A physical chemist who invented radiocarbon dating in 1949. for which he would win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960
-This allowed archaeologists to have a means of directly determining the age of undated sites and finds anywhere in the world without the need for complicated cultural comparisons.
-Eliminated dating as one of the end goals of archaeology
New Archaeology
A new approach advocated in 1960s led by Lewis Binford that argued for an explicitly scientific framework of archaeological method and theory, with hypotheses rigorously tested as proper basis for explanation.
-Conclusions should be based on framework of logical argument rather than one scholar's conclusion
-Turned towards science and away from historical approaches
Lewis Binford
-Changed the field of anthropology with New archaeology and Processual Archaeology
-Felt that culture history at the time of his studies reflected "stamp collecting"
-Conclusions could only be considered valid if they were open to testing
-Sought to explain rather than simply by description
-Tried to avoid talk of influences of culture upon another, but rather to analyze culture as a system that could be broken down into subsystems
-Focused less on artifact typology.
Processual Archaeology
-Formed in early days of New Archaeology
-Archaeology's role was to explain past change, not to reconstruct past
-Think in terms of cultural process, how changes in economic/social systems take place.
-To formulate hypotheses, construct models, and deduce consequences
-Hypotheses were to be tested, and conclusions shouldn't be accepted due to authority
-Research should be designed to answer specific questions rather than generate more irrelevant information
-Quantitative data should be used to allow statistical treatment.
- Approach with optimistic view that we can unlock reconstruction of ancient social, economic, and cognitive systems.
-Took a "broad lens" approach
Ian Hodder
A British archaeologist who pioneered the postprocessual archaeology movement.
-Argued that there is no single correct way to undertake archaeological influence, and that the goal of objectivity is unattainable
-Brings in the central focus of the actions and thoughts of individuals in the past
Postprocessual Archaeology
A collective term for a number of approaches to the past, which all have roots in post-modernist culture of thought that developed in 1980s-1990s.
Includes neo-marxist element, post-positivist approach, phenomenological approach, praxis approach, and the hermeneutic view.
Neo-Marxist Approach
An postprocessual archaeology approach to the past. Has strong commitment to social awareness.
-Archaeologists have duty to describe past, but also use these insights to change present
-Contrasts strikingly with aspirations of objectivity of processual archaeologists
Post-Positivist Approach
An postprocessual archaeology approach to the past. Rejects the emphasis on systematic procedures of scientific method that are the main feature of processual archaeology.
-Sometimes sees modern science as hostile to individual, and that it forms an integral part of systems of domination by which the forces of capitalism exert their hegemony.
Phenomenological Approach
An postprocessual archaeology approach to the past. Lays stress on the personal experiences of the individual and on the way in which encounters with the material world and the objects in it shape our understanding of the world.
Praxis Approach
An postprocessual archaeology approach to the past. Lays stress on the central role of the human "agent" and upon the primary significance of human actions (praxis) in shaping social structure. Social norms and structures are established and shaped by habitual experience. The role of the individual as a significant agent is emphasized.
The notion referring to the unspoken strategy generating principles employed by the individual, which mediate between social structure and practice.
Hermeneutic Approach
An postprocessual archaeology approach to the past. Also known as interpretive view. Rejects the generalization (another aspect of processual archaeology). Emphasis is laid on the uniqueness of society and culture, and on the need to study the full context of each in its full diversity. There is no single correct interpretation.
Feminist Archaeology
Emerged out of protest against processual schools of thought in late 1970s.
-Argued against superimposing western gender norms onto prehistorical societies.
Public Archaeology
The idea that the material remains of the past is a resource of public importance. This idea occurred in the late 20th century, and came with the wish that destruction of the past without adequate record be prevented.
-Caused the widespread acceptance that the material remains of the past should be conserved and protected.
Three main principles:
1) Material record of past is public resource that must be managed for public good
2) When practical circumstances make damage to this record, steps must be taken to lessen impact by appropriate survey, excavation, and research
3) The developer pays
Cultural Resource Management
Idea that came out of Public Archaeology. Is the safeguarding of archaeological heritage through protection of sites and through rescue archaeology generally within framework of legislation designed to safeguard the past.
Harriet Boyd Hawes
-spent several seasons riding on a mule in Crete looking for prehistoric sites
-In 1901 she discovered Bronze Age site of Gournia (first Minoan town ever unearthed), which she excavated for three years.
-Was fluent in Greek
Gertrude Caton-Thompson
A wealthy British researcher who followed courses in prehistory/anthropology.
-Became well known for pioneering interdisciplinary project of survey and excavation in the Faiyum of Egypt, and Great Zimbabwe, where her excavations unearthed datable artifacts in a stratified context, and confirmed that the site represented a major culture of African origin.
Dorothy Garrod
-Became the first female professor at Cambridge
-Her excavation sat Marzi in Iraq and Mount Carmel in Palestine provided the key to a large section of the Near East from Middle Palaeolithic to Mesolithic, and found fossil human remains crucial to our knowledge of relationship between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.
-Also discovered Natufian culture, the predecessor of the world's first farming societies.
Anna O. Shepard
-An american who studied archaeology as well as other sciences
-Became specialist in ceramics, as well as Mesoamerican and Southwestern archaeology.
-She was pioneer of petrographic analysis or archeological pottery
-Wrote book "Ceramics for the Archaeologist"
Kathleen Kenyon
-Trained on Roman sites in Britain under Sir Mortimer Wheeler, and adopted his method with its close control over stratigraphy.
-Applied this method to Near East at Jericho and Jerusalem
-At Jericho, she found evidence that pushed back date of occupation to end of Ice Age
-Uncovered walled village of Neolithic farming community referred to as "earliest town in the world."
Tatiana Proskouriakoff
-Born in Siberia, moved to Pennsylvania in 1916.
-Graduated as architect but worked as museum artist at University of Pennsylvania
-She visited Mayan site of Piers Negras and devoted the rest of her life to Mayan archaeology
Mary Leaky
-A tough British archaeologist who together with husband Louis transformed their field
-Worked together for 50 years at sites throughout East Africa, carrying out meticulous excavations
-Found early human ancestor skulls at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
-Found famous trails of fossilized hominin footprints made 3.7 million years ago at Laetoli
Tree Ring Dating (Dendrochronology)
Developed by A.E Douglas.
Range: 0-11,500 years
Is used as:
`1) Successful way of calibrating/correcting radiocarbon dates
2) Works as independent dating method

Rings vary in size due increasing age of tree (narrower) and fluctuations in climate. The ring sizes are measured and plotted to produce thickness of successive rings in an individual tree. Trees of the same species growing in the same area will generally show the same pattern of rings so that growth sequence will be matched between successively older timbers to build up a chronology for that area.
-Only applies to trees growing in temperate areas
-Direct tree ring dates are restricted to wood from species that have yielded a master sequence back from the present, wood that people actually used in the past. and whether the sample has a long enough record to give unique match.
-Timber may be older or younger than the ancient structure. This just gives date of tree fell
Radiocarbon Dating
Developed by Willard Libbey:
Range: 400-50,000 years ago
-C14 has a half life of 5730+/-40 years. Is created by UV rays in atmosphere
-Assumes that amount of carbon stays constant in the atmosphere throughout history
-When animal dies, the carbon inside begins to decay
-In conventional methods, 10 grams of sample is needed for wood and 100 grams for bone
-In Accelerator Mass Spectrometry method, as little as 5-10mg is needed
-Dates must be calibrated because atmosphere C14 does not stay constant. Dates are calibrated by plotting radiation ages in comparison to tree ring ages in calendar years, and a calibration curve is used to correct the dates to calendar years
-For dates beyond 11,500 years ago, dated coral and varves calibrate back to 50,000 years ago
-Dates are measured in BP (Before Present, which is 1950)
-The calibration
-Samples can be easily contaminated and change the level of C14
-Usually only dates how old something is when it burned. This is why short life samples are preferred (burnt cereal grains,etc.)
-Several dates are needed to verify relevance, and be checked against stratigraphy (i.e. they should all come out older than each other. If they come out younger, something is wrong).
-Beyond 50,000, amounts of C14 are too small to measure
Potassium Argon Dating
Range: 8000 years and older
Used to date volcanic rocks hundreds and thousands and millions of years old. Based on slow steady decay of radioactive isotope K40 into argon gas (Ar40).
-K40 has decay rate of 1.3 billion years
-quantity of Ar40 in sample gives clue to how old the rock is
-Effectively geological dates for eruptions leading to formation of volcanic strata.
-Can only be used to date sites buried by volcanic rock
Uranium Series Dating
Range: 10,000-500,000 years ago
This dating method is based on radioactive decay of isotopes of uranium. Lies outside of scope of radiocarbon dating.
-In Europe, where there isn't much volcanic rock, this is useful.
-You can date anything that contains calcium carbonate. Measures ratio of uranium to calcium carbonate
-This means teeth, bones, shell, or anything that has calcium carbonate deposits on it (this occurs in caves).
Fission Track Dating
Range: 100,000 to 2 billion years ago
Depends on spontaneous fission of radioactive uranium, which is present in large array of rocks and minerals. This causes damage to the structure of the minerals.
-Based on microscopic pathways in rock created by fission
-We know rate of fission
-We can count the tracks, and set a date
-For rock formation, this dates when mineral was formed. For things like manufactured glass this also works
-Gives very wide range of approximate dates (i.e.. tells when stone used in tool was formed and not when tool was made.)
Thermoluminescence Dating
Dating method that is used to date minerals buried in the ground, which have been fired.
Depends on radioactivity received by specimen since the start date that is of interest. When atoms located in structures of mineral are exposed to radiation from decay of radioactive material, some of that energy is "trapped."
When the object is heated to over 500C, the clock is "reset." and the radioactivity leaves via thermoluminescence. This resets the clock for something like pottery when it was originally fired, and by reheating samples in lab, you can find the date of firing.
-Difficult to measure and get precise dates
-Must heat samples
-Background radiation that a sample is exposed to is not uniform. Varies by site.
Optical Dating
A dating method that is used to date minerals exposed to light. Most minerals contain some trapped energy that will be released by several minutes exposure to sunlight. Once buried they begin to accumulate electrons again as result of radioactivity in soil.
-Optically stimulated luminescence can be produced in lab by directing visible wavelength light at sample and resulting luminescence can be measured.
-Non constant rates of radioactivity between sites
-Light exposure could reset artifact and make date inaccurate
Electron Spin Resonance Dating
This dating method is similar to TL Dating, but is less sensitive. Used for materials that decompose when heated. Measures effect of radiation on crystal lattice structure.
-Used to date human tooth enamel
Oldowan Tools
The earliest stone tools. Were choppers and flakes. Made by knocking off pieces of pebble to obtain fine edges. Dates back to 2.6 millions years.
Acheulian Tools
Stone tool that evolved over hundreds and thousands of years in to symmetrical shape with sharp edges achieved by using a bone hammer.
Levallois Tools
Stone tools introduced 100,000 years ago involved in careful preparation of tortoise shaped core so that one useable flake can be struck by it
Upper Palaeolithic Tools
Later technology made it possible to create these tools by using numerous parallel sided blades from a single core by using a punch and hammerstone. The blades are then specialized for different functions.
Waste product of tool production
Process of putting stone tools back together in shape of core.
People respond to each other in similar levels.