Archaeological Method and Theory
Goals of Archaeology
culture, history, and chronology: Who, what, when, where? Description and dating of
sites and their contents, identifying prehistoric cultures and their distribution in time and space, and
the development of regional sequences of prehistoric cultures through time.
past lifeways and environments. How did they live?
Explain patterns in the past by determining the underlying processes. Why?
Middle Range Theory
Includes much experimental or action archaeology
The study of the way in which specific processes such as butchering and eating an animal affects
the patterning of bone fragmentation, survival and spatial patterning.
Another example of MRT involves experiments to determine how making and using stone tools
leads to specific patterns of stone tool manufacturing byproducts.
: things made or modified by people (ex: arrowheads, pots, beads)
: Items of biological origin that are found in association with artifacts (ex: shells, bones,
seeds, wood, pollen)
: the geological setting and sediments in which artifacts and ecofacts are found (ex: rock
shelters, caves, beaches, streams)
types: descriptive (shape, size, color), attributes, may be any or all of the other
types: potential or actual use (knife, arrowhead, pot)
Temporal types: morphological types with specific time ranges. Limited to a narrow time range
types: morphological types that reflect the perceptions of the makers
: inferred idea form of artifact maker
: meanings recognized by makers, meaningful symbols
Cultural vs. Natural transformations
Primary discard at activity location
Secondary discard away from activities
Activity organization and occupation duration
Decay of structures