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ANTHROPOLOGY 202 (500): INTRODUCTION TO ARCHAEOLOGY Why archaeological evidence appears as it does? The archaeological record: documentation of artifacts and other remains, along with their contexts recovered from archaeological sites 1. Its known and yet to be discovered elements represent the material evidence about the past; i.e., the surviving physical remains of past human activities 2. It is nonrenewable and fragile 3. It is the only material representation of 99% + of our human heritage, the remaining 1% being covered by written records 4. Because of the monetary and aesthetic values of artifacts can be high, archaeological sites are often looted and graves are robbed by thieves of human time and space 5. Accordingly, toward protecting human heritage there are laws and procedures at local, state, national, international, and global levels Seldom is archaeological evidence “perfectly” preserved for archeologists to find 1. Lewis Binford's "Pompeii premise" refers to a usually futile tendency by many archaeologists to search for well preserved site and forego studying the more typical sites 2. L. Binford also called attention to the fact that many sites are “palimpsests” of human activities and patterned behavior at the time of occupation(s) a. Frequent re-occupation of the same space for the same or different purposes lessens the probability that artifacts and ecofacts in proximity are “behaviorally” related b. Hence, the trail to the most detailed behaviors is usually a very cold one; archaeologists must make the best of the surviving evidence 3. All sites are effected by sit-formation processes (Michael Schiffer’s popularized the concept) a. Cultural transformations: when people move or alter once-used things from ne place to another b. Natural transformations: when “nature” moves or alters artifacts, ecofacts, and features; for example as a result of wind and water action, earthquakes, tsunami, forest fires, tree growth, animal
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This note was uploaded on 11/03/2009 for the course ANTH 202 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Texas A&M.

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