L6 - ANTHROPOLOGY 202(500 INTRODUCTION TO ARCHAEOLOGY...

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1 ANTHROPOLOGY 202 (500): INTRODUCTION TO ARCHAEOLOGY Lecture 6, 09/17/09: Understanding Archeological Records I. Middle-Range Research: A reliable means by which archaeologists relate the archaeological record to human behavior via middle-range theory—hypotheses that link archaeological observations with human behavior or natural processes that produced the A. Grounded in the Principal of Uniformitarianism , a la. James Hutton (a Scottish doctor with a penchant for geology, 1726-1797): The processes now operating to modify the Earth’s surface are the same processes that operate long ago in the geologic past B. For archaeologists: Observation of the contemporary world provides the information necessary to infer past human behavior and natural processes from observations on archaeological objects C. Middle-range research can be seen as particularly rigorous form of ethnographic analogy : noting similarities between two entities and inferring from that similarity that an additional attribute of the one (the ethnographic case) is also true of the other (the archaeological case): The case of kivas and sipapus 1. Formal analogies : analogies justified by similarities in the formal attributes of archaeological and ethnographic objects and features 2. Relational analogies: Analogies justified on the basis of close cultural continuity between the archaeological and ethnographic cases or similarity in general cultural form D. Middle-range research is conducted within the context of middle-range theory II. Taphonomy: Study of the role(s) natural processes play in shaping the archaeological record A. It aids in weeding out (i.e., filter) patterns that result from natural processes and, hence, facilitates interpretation of human roles in shaping the archaeological record; as in Hudson-Meng bison site story: 1.
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