Chapter 7 - Chapter 7: Learning about the past. The...

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Chapter 7: Learning about the past. The Material Record 1. The anthropology of the past: Archaeology and physical anthropology. a. Archaeology is simply that branch of anthropology focusing on the human cultural past. i. Study a people through analysis of what they left behind. ii. Aim to understand how ancient people lived, not simply to collect interesting antiques b. Paleoanthropologists: deal with the skeletal remains of people. i. Interested in how and why human biology changed over the more than 6million years we and our upright-walking ancestors have been around. 2. Where? The process of finding sites a. To know where prehistoric people settled it is necessary to find the material remnants of their existence. i. Archaeological sites 1. Locations where humans once lived or worked and where their traces were left behind and have been preserved. a. These traces are in the form of artifacts i. Any object made by humans b. Features i. A nonportable element of a site, composed of artifacts 1. Ex: grave or a fireplace b. Archaeological site survey, the actual process of finding sites i. Many important archaeological sites were found by accidentally by people engaged in nonarchaeological pursuits. c. The archaeologist must consider a constellation of environmental variables to isolate the kinds of areas were sites are most likely to be found i. Background research paves the way for the field survey 1. The process of discovering archaeological sites ii. Archeologists can apply techniques of
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1. Remote sensing a. Noninvasive examination of sites where no soil is removed. iii. Electrical resistivity survey 1. A noninvasive procedure used in archaeological prospecting in which an electrical current is passed through the ground. Variations in resistance to the current may signal the location of archaeological artifacts or features. iv. Proton magnetometry 1. A noninvasive procedure used in archaeological prospecting in which a proton magnetometer measures the strength of the earth’s magnetic field at the surface. Variations in that magnetic field may signal the location of buried remains, including walls and foundations. v. Ground penetrating radar (GPG) 1. A noninvasive procedure used in archaeological prospecting in which an electromagnetic pulse is passed through soil. Variations in the pulse as it reflects off buried objects may signal the location of archaeological remains. a. Above ground use of radar vi. Where prehistoric people have left above ground structures of relatively resilient material can be discovered simply by visual inspection of the surface. d. Nature itself has conducted its own kind of excavation through erosion i. Olduvai gorge, Africa e. Most prehistoric sites have been buried by natural processes of deposition. f.
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This note was uploaded on 05/02/2010 for the course ISS 220 taught by Professor Bailey during the Spring '08 term at Michigan State University.

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Chapter 7 - Chapter 7: Learning about the past. The...

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