181 terms

Archaeology Down to Earth

Terms from Thomas And Kelly's Archaeology: Down to Earth
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absolute date
A date expressed as specific units of scientific measurement, such as days, years, centuries, or millennia; absolute determinations attempting to pinpoint a discrete, known, interval in time
accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS)
A method of radiocarbon dating that counts the proportion of carbon isotopes directly (rather than using the indirect Geiger counter method), thereby dramatically reducing the quantity of datable material required
achieved status
Rights, duties, and obligations that accrue to a person, by virtue of what they accomplished in their life
adaptive perspective
A research perspective that emphasizes technology, ecology, demography, and economics in the definition of human behavior
analogy
Noting similarities between two entities and inferring from the similarity that an additional tribute of one is also true of the other
androcentric
A perspective that focuses on what men do in a society, to the exclusion of women
anthropology
The study of all aspects of humankind - biological, cultural, and linguistic; extant and extinct - employing a holistic, comparative approach and the concept of culture
antiquarian
Originally, someone who studies antiquities largely for the sake of the objects themselves - not to understand the people or culture that produced them
Antiquities Act
Passed in 1906, this act requires (1) federal permits before excavating or collecting artifacts on federal land, (2) established a permitting process and (3) gave the president the authority to create national monuments
appendicular skeleton
all parts of an animal excluding the axial skeleton
applied science
research to acquire the knowledge necessary to solve and specific, recognized problem
arbitrary level
The basic vertical subdivision of an excavation square; used only when easily recognizable "natural" strata are lacking and when natural strata are more than 10 cm thick
archaeological context
Once artifacts enter the ground, they are part of the this, where they can continue to be affected by human action, but where they are also affected by natural processes
Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA)
Passed in 1979, this act (1) prohibits the excavation or removal of artifacts from federal property without a permit, (2) prohibits the sale, exchange or transport of artifacts acquired illegally from federal property, and (3) increased the penalties for violations of the act over those of the Antiquities Act
archaeological site
Any place where material evidence exists about the human past. Usually, "site" refers to a concentration of such evidence
archaeology
The study of the past through the systematic recovery and analysis of material remains
argilliturbation
A natural formation process in which wet/dry cycles push artifacts upwards as the sediments wells and then moves them down as cracks form during dry cycles
argon-argon dating
A high precision method for estimating the relative quantity of argon-39 to argon-40 gas; used to date volcanic ashes that are between 500,00 and several million years old
artifact
Any movable object that has been used, modified, or manufactured by humans; artifacts include stone, bone, and metal tools; beads and other ornaments; pottery; artwork; religious and sacred items
ascribed status
Rights, duties, and obligations that accrue to a person by virtue of his or her parentage; is inhereted
assemblage
A collection of artifacts of one or several classes of material that comes from a defined context, such as a site, feature, or stratum
attribute
An individual characteristic that distinguised one artifact from another on the basis of its size, surface texture, form, material, method of manufacture, or design pattern
axial skeleton
The head, mandibles, vertebrae, ribs, sacrum, and tail of an animal skeleton
bilateral descent
A kinship system in which relatives are traced equally on both their mother's and father's sides
bioarcheology
The study of the human biological component evident in the archaeological record
biological anthropology
A sub-discipline of anthropology that views humans as biological organisms; also known as physical anthropology
bonebed
Archaeological and paleontological sites consisting of the remains of a large number of animals, often of the same species, and often representing a single moment in time - a mass kill or mass death
bundle burial
Burial of a person's bones, bundled together, after the flesh has been removed or allowed to decay off the bones
burial population
A set of human burials that come from a limited region and a limited time period. The more limited the region and time period, the more accurate will be inferences drawn from analysis of the burials
channel flake
The longitudinal flake removed from the faces of Folsom and Clovis projectile points to create the flute
chiefdom
A regional polity in which two or more local groups are organized under a single chief. Unlike autonomous bands and villages, these consist of several more or less permanently aligned communities or settlements
clan
A group of matri- or patrilineages who see themselves as descended from a common ansestor
classical archaeology
The branch of archaeology that studies the "classical" civilizations of the Mediterranean, such as Greece and Rome, and the Near East
Clovis
The earliest well-established Native American culture, distributed throughout much of North America and dating 13,300 to 12,900 BP
cognitive archaeology
The study of all those aspects of ancient culture that are the product of the human mind: the perception, description, and classification of the universe; the nature of the supernatural; the principles, philosophies, ethics, and values by which human societies are governed; and the ways in which the aspects of the world, the supernatural , or human values are conveyed through art
collagen
The organic component of bone
comparative collection
A skeletal collection of modern fauna of both sexes and different ages used to make identifications of bones in faunal assemblages
component
An archaeological construct consisting of a stratum or set of strata that are presumed to be culturally homogeneous. A set of these from various sites in a region will make up a phase
coprolite
Desiccated feces, often containing macrobotanical remains, pollen, and the remains of small animals
core
A piece of stone that is worked. Cores sometimes serve merely as sources for raw materials; they can also serve as functional tools
cosmology
the study of the origin, large-scale structure, and future of the universe. A cosmological explanation demonstrates how the universe developed - both the totality and its constituent parts - and also describes what principles keep it together
critical theory
A critique of the modern social order that emphasizes exploitative class interests; it aims to change and not simply to understand society
cryoturbation
A natural formation process in which freeze/thaw activity in a soil selectively pushes larger artifacts to the surface of a site
cultural affiliation
In NAGPRA, "a relationship of a shared group identity which can be reasonably traced historically or prehistorically between a present day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and an identifiable earlier group"
cultural anthropology
A subdiscipline of anthropology that emphasizes nonbiological aspects: the learned social, linguistic, techonological, and familial behaviors of humans
cultural depositional processes
The ways in which artifacts enter the archaeological context through human action, primarily discard, loss, caching, and ritual interment
cultural disturbance processes
Human behaviors that modify artifacts in their archaeological contexts - for instance, digging pits, hearths, canals, and houses
cultural resource management (CRM)
A professional field that conducts activities, including archaeology, related to compliance with legislation aimed at conserving cultural resources
cultural resources
Physical features, both natural and artificial, associated with human activity, including sites, structures, and objects possessing significance in history, architecture, or human development. They are unique and nonrenewable
culture
A system of beliefs, traditions, and customs that govern or influence a person's behavior. It is learned, shared by members of a group, and based on the ability to think in terms of symbols
data
Relevant observations made on objects that then serve as the basis for study and discussion
datum point
The zero point, a fixed reference used to keep control on a dig; usually controls both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of provenience
deconstruction
Efforts to expose the assumptions behind the alleged objective and systematic search for knowledge
deductive reasoning
Reasoning from theory to account for specific observational or experimental results
direct acqusition
A form of trade in which a person or group goes to the source area of an item to procure the raw material directly or to trade it for finished products
down-the-line trade
An exchange system in which goods are traded outward from a source area from group to group, resulting in a steady decline in the item's abundance in archaeological sites farther from the site
ecofact
plant or animal remains found at an archaeological site
egalitarian societies
Social systems that contain roughly as many valued positions as there are persons capable of filling them; in these societies, all people have nearly equal access to the resources necessary to live
electron spin resonance (ESR)
A trapped charge technique used to date tooth enamel and burnt stone tools; it can date teeth that are beyond the range of radiocarbon dating
element
In faunal analysis, a specific skeletal part of the body - for example, humerus or sternum
energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (XRF)
An analytical technique that uses obsidian's trace elements to fingerprint an artifact and trace it to its geologic source
epiphyses
The ends of bones that fuse to the main shaft or portion of bone at various ages; most bones are fused by age 25. This fact can be used to age skeletons of younger individuals
ethnoarchaeology
The study of contemporary peoples to determine how human behavior is translated into the archaeological record
exotics
material culture that was not produced locally and/or whose raw material is not found locally
experimental archaeology
Experiments designed to determine the archaeological correlates of ancient behavior; may overlap with both ethnoarchaeology and taphonomy
faunal
In archaeology, animal bones in archaeological sites
faunal analysis
Identification and interpretation of animal remains from an archaeological site
faunal assemblage
The animal remains recovered from an archaeological site
faunalturbation
A natural formation process in which animals affect the distribution of material within an archaeological site
feature
The nonportable evidence of technology, such as fire hearths, architectural elements, artifact clusters, garbage pits, and soil stains
flake
A thin, sharp sliver of stone removed from a core during the knapping process
floralturbation
A natural formation process in which trees and other plants affect the distribution of artifacts within an archaeological site
flotation
The use of fluid suspension to recover tiny burned plant remains and bone fragments from archaeological sites
flute
Distinctive channel on the faces of Folsom and Clovis projectile points formed by the removal of one or more flakes from the point's base
forensic archaeology
The application of archaeological and bioarchaeological knowledge for legal purposes
formal analogies
Analogies justified by similarities in the formal attributes of archaeological and ethnographic objects and features
formation prcoesses
The ways in which human behaviors and natural actions operate to produce the archaeological record
functional types
A class of artifacts that performed the same functions; these may or may not be temporal and/or morphological types
gender ideology
The culturally prescribed values assigned to the task and status of men and women; values can vary from society to society
gender role
The culturally prescribed behavior associated with men and women; roles can vary from society to society
gene
A unit of the chromosomes that controls inheritance of particular traits
general systems theory
An effort to describe the properties by which all systems, including human societies, allegedly operate. Popular in processual archaeology of the late 1960s and 1970s
geographic information system (GIS)
A computer program for storing, retrieving, analyzing, and displaying cartographic data
Georgian Order
A worldview arising in the European Age of Reason and implying that the world has a single, basic immutable order. Using the powers of reason, people can discover that that order is and can thereby control the environment as they wish. It is informed by the rise of scientific thought and by the balance and order in Renaissance architecture and art
global positioning system (GPS)
Handheld devices that use triangulation from radio waves received from satellites to determine your current position in terms of either the UTM grid of latitude and longitude
graviturbation
A natural formation process in which artifacts are moved down slope through gravity, sometimes assisted by precipitation runoff
ground-penetrating radar (GPR)
A remote sensing technique in which radar pulses directed into the ground reflect back to the surface when they strike features or interfaces with in the ground, showing the presence and depth of possible buried features
half-life
The time required for half of the carbon-14 in an organic sample at any one time to decay, or 5730 years
haplogroup
Genetic lineages defined by similar genes at a locus on a chromosome
Harris lines
Horizontal lines near the ends of long bones indicating episodes of physiological stress
heat treatment
A process whereby the flintknapping properties of stone tool raw material are improved by subjecting the material to heat
high-level theory
Theory that seeks to answer large "why" questions
historical archaeology
The study of human behavior through material remains whose interpretation is in some way affected by written history
Hopewell
A cultural tradition found primarily in the Ohio River Valley and its tributaries, dating from 2200 to 1600 BP. Hopewell societies engaged in hunting and gathering and in some horticulture of indigenous plants. They are known for their mortuary rituals, which included charnel houses and burial mounds; some central tombs contained exotics. They also constructed geometric earthworks as ceremonial enclosures and effigy mounds
Hopewell Interaction Sphere
The common set of symbols found in the midwestern United States between 2200 and 1600 BP
hypothesis
A proposition proposed as an explanation of some phenomenon
iconography
Art forms or writing systems that symbolically represent ideas about religion or cosmology
in situ
From latin, meaning "in position"; the place where an artifact, ecofact, or feature was found during excavation of survey
inductive reasoning
Working from specific observations to more general hypotheses
kill sites
Places where animals were kills in the past
kinship
Socially recognized network of relationships through which individuals are related to one another by ties of descent and marriage
kiva
A Pueblo ceremonial structure that is usually round and semi-subterranean. They appear in early Pueblo sites and perhaps even in the earlier pithouse villages
landscape archaeology
The study of ancient human modification of the environment
law of superposition
The geological principle that in any pile of sedimentary rocks that have not been disturbed by folding or overturning, each bed is older than the layers above and younger than the layers below
linguistic anthropology
A subdiscipline of anthropology that focuses on human languages: its diversity in grammar, syntax, and lexicon; its historical development; and its relation to a culture's perception of the world
living floors
A distinct buried surface on which people lived
low-level theory
The observations and interpretations that emerge from hands-on archaeological field and lab work
macrobotanical remains
Nonmicroscopic plant remains recovered from an archaeological site
mano
A fist-sized round, flat, handheld stone used with a metate for grinding foods
matrilineage
Individuals who share a line of matrilineal descent
matrilineal descent
A unilineal descent system in which ancestry is traced through the female line
metate
A large, flat stone used as a stationary surface upon which seeds, tubers, and nuts are ground with a mano
midden
Refuse deposit resulting from human activities, generally consisting of sediment, food remains such as charred seeds, animal bone, and shell, and discarded artifacts
minimum number of individuals (MNI)
The smallest number of individuals necessary to account for all identified bones
Mississippian
A widespread cultural tradition across much of the eastern US from 1200 to 500 BP. Mississippian societies engaged in intensive village-based maize horticulture and constructed large, eathern platform mounds that serves as substructures for temples, residences, and council buildings
morphological type
The descriptive and abstract grouping of individual artifacts whose focus is on an overall similarity rather than function or chronological significance
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)
Passed in 1966, this act created (1) the National Register of Historic Places, (2) the advisory council on historic preservation, and (3) State historic preservation offices, as well as (4) a process to mitigate that impact of development; it also requires that government agencies provide good stewardship of their cultural resources
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)
Passed in 1990, this act (1) protects Indian graves on federal and tribal lands, (2) recognizes tribal authority over treatment of unmarked graves, (3) prohibits the commercial selling of native dead bodies, (4) requires an inventory and repatriation of human remains held by the federal gov't and institutions that receive federal funding, (5) requires these same institutions to return inappropriately acquired sacred objects and other important communally owned property to native owners, and (6) sets up a process to determine ownership of human remains found on federal and tribal property after 1990
natural level
A vertical subdivision of an excavation square that is based on natural breaks in the sediments (in terms of color, grain size, texture, hardness, or other characteristics)
new archaeology
An approach to archaeology that arose in the 1960s emphasizing the understanding of underlying cultural processes and the use of the scientific method; today is is sometimes called processual archaeology
number of identified specimens (NISP)
The raw number of identified bones per species
paleoethnobotanist
An archaeologist who analyzes and interprets plant remains from archaeological sites in order to understand the past interactions between human populations and plants
palynology
The technique through which the fossil pollen grains and spore from archaeological sites are studied
patrilineage
Individuals who share a line of patrilineal descent
patrilineal descent
A unilineal descent system in which ancestry is traced through the male line
period
A length of the time distinguished by particular items of material culture, such as house form, pottery, or subsistence
phytoliths
Tiny silica particles contained in plants
postprocessual paradigm
A paradigm that focuses on humanistic approaches and rejects scientific objectivity. It sees archaeology as inherently political and is more concerned with interpreting the past rather than testing hypotheses. It sees change as arising largely from interactions between individuals operating within a symbolic and/or competitive system
potsherd
Fragment of pottery
principle of uniformitarianism
The principle asserting that processes now operating to modify the Earth's surface are the same processes that operated long ago in the geological past
processual paradigm
The paradigm that explains social, economic, and cultural change as primarily the result of adaptation to material conditions. External conditions are assumed to take casual priority over ideational factors in explaining change
projectile points
arrowheads, dart points, or spear points
provenience
An artifact's location relative to a system of spatial data collection
pure science
Systematic research directed toward acquisition of knowledge for its own sake
random sample
A sample drawn from a statistical population such that every member if the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample
ranked societies
Social systems in which a hierarchy of social status has been established, with a restricted number of valued positions available; in these societies not everyone has the same access to the critical resources of life
reclamation processes
Human behaviors that result in artifacts moving from the archaeological context - for example, scavenging beams from an abandoned structure to use them in a new one
relational analogies
Analogies justified on the basis of close cultural continuity between the archaeological and ethnographic cases or similarity in general cultural form
relative dates
dates expressed relative to one another instead of in absolute terms
religion
A specific set of beliefs about one's relation to the supernatural; a society's mechanism for relating supernatural phenomena to the everyday world
remote sensing
The application of methods that employ some form of electromagnetic energy to detect and measure characteristics of an archaeological target
reuse processes
Human behaviors that recycle and reuse artifacts before the artifact enters archaeological context
ritual
A succession of discrete behaviors that must be performed in a particular order under particular cicumstances
sample units
Survey units of a standard size and shape, determined by the research question and practical considerations, used to obtain the sample
sample universe
The region that contains the statistical population and that will be sampled. Its size and shape are determined by the research question and practical considerations
science
The search for universals by means of established scientific methods of inquiry
seasonality
An estimate of the part of the year a particular archaeological sit was occupied
seriation
A relative dating method that orders artifacts based on assumption that one cultural style slowly replaces an earlier style over time; with a master seriation diagram, sites can be dated based on their frequency of several artifact styles
sipapu
A Hopi word that loosely translates as "place of emergence." The original sipapu is the place where the Hopi are said to have emerged from the underworld into this world. Sipapus are also small pits in kivas through which communication with the supernatural world takes places
status
The rights, duties, privileges, powers, liabilities, and immunities that accrue to a recognized and named social position.
stelae
Stone monuments erected by Maya rulers to record their history in rich images and hieroglyphic symbols. These symbols can be read and dated
strata
More or less homogeneous material, visually separable from other levels by a discrete change in the character of the material
stratified random sample
A survey universe divided into several sub-universes that are then sampled at potentially different sample fractions
stratigraphy
A site's physical structure produced by the deposition of geological and/or cultural sediments into layers, or strata
symbol
An object or act that, by cultural convention, stands for something else with which it has no necessary connection
sympathetic magic
Rituals in which doing something to an image of an object produces the desired effect on the real object
systemic context
A living behavioral system in which artifacts were originally manufactured, used, reused, and discarded
taxon
In faunal analysis, the classification of a skeletal element to a taxonomic category - species, genus, family, or order
temporal type
A morphological type that has temporal significance; also known as a time marker or index fossil
test excavation
A small initial excavation to determine a site's potential for answering a research question
theory
An explanation for observed, empirical phenomena. It is an answer to a why question
Middle level theory
hypothesis that links archaeological observations with the human behavior or natural processes that produced them
totem
A natural object, often an animal, from which a lineage or clan believes itself to be descended and/or with which lineage or clan members have special relations
dendochronology
The use of annual growth rings in trees to assign calendar ages to ancient wood samples
type
A class of archaeological artifacts defines by consistent clustering of attributes
typology
The systematic arrangement of material culture into types
zooarchaeologist
An individual who studies the faunal remains from archaeological sites
families
basic social and economic unit of production and reproduction in societies
households
the spatial dimensions of families
ideology
broad systems of rationalizations for common human problems and experiences
identity
ways individuals and groups are taxonomically categorized through socially constructed relationships of difference
sensory archaeology
the study of the past through the senses, the study of senses in the past
action research
a type of systematic research where the subjects of study are also the objects of action
praxis
Process of gaining knowledge of the world, critiquing the word, and taking action in the world
phase
similar components as manifested at multiple sites in a region
systematic sampling
spacing sample units evenly
diachronic
examines changes through time
synchronic
snapshot of activities and associations at one point in time
law of association
Thing found together in the same context were used together and record a discrete pattern of human behavior
taphonomy
the study of processes affecting remains from death to recovery
judgmental sampling
based on prior knowledge of the area by means of oral traditions/oral histories or ideas of the area