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Unformatted text preview: Lecture 17 ARCHAEOLOGY: How we know the past Plants, animals and people that lived in the remote past all have one thing in common They are all dead We cannot directly observe them or their lifeways We base our knowledge of how things were in the past on observations of physical remains of plants, animals, and their environments The difference between paleontology and archaeology Paleontology: Study of skeletal and other remains of plants and animals Fossils, associated sediments Archeology: Study of remains of human activity in the past Artifacts, ecofacts, features, sites Fossils are the preserved forms of plants and animals Impressions or casts of plant or animal tissues Hardened, mineralized remains of plant or animal remains Fossils are usually formed when plants or animals that have died are buried by flood sediments, volcanic ash, or similar geological events Factors that promote preservation of fossils and ancient remains Rapid burial Freezing conditions Dry conditions Anaerobic conditions (no oxygen) Submersion in stagnant water Factors that promote rapid decay and disappearance of remains Exposure to oxygen Exposure to sunlight Warm, moist conditions with oxygen Disturbance and movement of remains By trampling, burrowing animals, root action (bioturbation) Movement by water and wind In some cases, the actual organic remains of plants and animals are preserved intact Organic refers to carbon containing remains of actual tissues of plants and animals Freezing, extreme dryness, submersion in stagnant water Example: Egtved woman. Approx. 18 years old woman buried 1370 BC. The Egtved girl is one of a series of remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age burials in earthen mounds in Denmark. Tannic acid in the soil and a perfect balance of temperature and moisture in the burials helped to preserve organic remains such as the clothes, skin, hair, and wooden objects in the graves. Such preservation of organic matter is very rare, however. preservation of organic matter is very rare, however....
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This note was uploaded on 03/24/2010 for the course ANTHRO 101 taught by Professor Osbjorn during the Fall '09 term at New Mexico.
- Fall '09