48 terms

Ancient History Archaeology


Terms in this set (...)

The systematic, scientific recovery and analysis of artifacts in order to answer questions about past human culture and behaviour.
Any object that has been made or adapted by humans for human use.
A section of earth left standing between trenches in an excavation
A sequence of events placed in the order of which they occurred
Latin for approximate. In history circa refers to an appropriate date. e.g. Circa 16th century. I can be represented thus:
Any learned behaviour that is shared with others
Datum Point
Is the point on a dig site from which all measurements are taken
De-contextualised Artefact
When an artefact is found in a strata level and it is not the same as other artefacts in that level.
· Reasons for not being in 'use context'
o Natural Events
o Manmade - Purposefully Buried, War/Destruction, Robbery (Tombs)
Carbon Dating
Can only be used on once living things - highly scientific and expensive
The process of recovering collecting and recording information
In Situ
In the place it was found - remaining in its original place or location. e.g. an artefact that has not moved since it was last used, perhaps a body with an arrow through it lying where it fell
In archaeological terms an intrusion is when an artefact has moved from one strata level to another, in other words no longer in situ.
Reasons for this are:
• Natural Disaster; Volcanic Eruptions, Earthquakes etc.
• Human Interference; Tomb Robberies etc.
• Warfare
• Animal Interference; Digging, burrowing, Scavenging
Invisible Archaeology
Artefacts that once were there but no longer remain.
· Organic Artefacts rot over time (e.g. Leather, Wood, Textiles, Perishables)
· Stolen (melted down)
Image built using small glass tiles, used often in Roman Villas.
Archaeologists study human cultures that are no longer living
Primary Sources
These are sources of information that are from the time period being investigated. e.g. letters, records, maps, artefacts - such as pots or buildings.
Roman army headquarters
The area or country of the artefacts place of origin
Question Based
Archaeologist study artifacts in order to answer questions about how humans lived.
Any item resulting from human activity
Recreating Artefacts
To determine how they were made
Rescue Archaeology
When a site is going to be destroyed (Development, Environment) and an archaeological dig occurs to uncover what might be lost
Methods and knowledge of studying anything
Secondary Source
These are sources of information written after the period being studied that often use primary for their interpretation.
Shards / Sherds
Fragments of pottery
Specialist Historians
Anglo Saxons, Romans, Pottery, etc.
Levels/Layers in a dig site (Plural: Stratum), chronologically ordered
Strata or layers of soil, rock sediment
A drawing/ image of the strata in an archaeological dig site
'Pen' used to inscribe on either clay tablets or with ink on parchment.
A consistent way of studying anything
Civilian settlement
Problems in historical interpretation
○ Fragmentary evidence - existing evidence in archaeology is fragmentary so it is easy to construct a distorted picture of past evidence. We don't know the importance a piece of evidence is to the culture.
○ Value judgements - In choosing what we consider today to be an important event or achievement we are making value judgements; an example of this being in the Babylonian society - they developed both mathematics and liver divination; we dismiss the liver divination and focus on the mathematics as we consider it to be more important but did the Babylonians see in that way?
○ Bias, inaccuracy and omissions:
○ Literary evidence - Authors throughout the ancient world were prone to inaccuracy and bias so their writing have to be crosschecked. Many were written years after the events described occurred.
○ Documentary evidence - Often exaggerated
○ Fact or opinion? - Hard to distinguish between fact and opinion in ancient writings.
Methods for locating archaeological sites
Written documents
Aerial photography
Rich vegetation
Magnetic surveying
Sound wave surveying
Photographic probe
Trial trench
Knowledge of criteria for settlement
Obvious remains
Absolute Dating
Has the approximate date on the artifact.
○ Coins
○ Inscriptions (heads stones) - inscribed on metal, stone, terracotta, etc.
○ Monuments - historical events
○ Written documents - ledgers, military documents, letters, diaries, journals, legends, etc.
Relative dating
Gives an approximent or general idea of a date.
○ Pottery - shape and style, art, etc.
Sequence dating
Changes in design to find what approximant era it was from - Sir Flinders Petrie
Pollen analysis
Found bogs and marches, gives an indication of the history of the vegetation of the area and therefore an outline of the climate.
Can be used on non-organic materials, measures the energy stored - only things that have been fired.
○ Used in pottery particularly shards.
○ Very useful to identify fakes
Counting tree rings - gives an idea of how the climate was for that year
○ Used for wooden objects such as beams in a house or ship.
Strata levels - similar to sequence dating
- a producer of maps.
- expert in animals and animal behaviour.
- expert on inscriptions.
- expert on plant life.
- scientist who studies the origins and cultural development of humans.
- expert on coins and medals.
- expert on the origin, nature and course of human disease.
- expert on building, design and construction.