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32402f08 - Introduction to Archaeology Class 8 Types...

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Introduction to Archaeology: Class 8 Types, seriation, components, and culture history Copyright Bruce Owen 2002 Types, or typology Necessary for basic description of what was found (often before you know anything else) For artifacts: Morphological types Oval-shaped bifacial point, triangular point, etc. Tumilaca style ceramic sherd; sherd with two or more paint colors; etc. For plants or animals: Species, genus, bird vs. large mammal vs. small mammal vs. reptile; body or plant part (femur, seed, leaf, etc.) Why do we have to categorize things? that is, why do we need typologies? because they allow us to see patterns in masses of data say you have 1000 whole and broken points from each of 3 layers at each of 5 sites you can't look at them all at once even if you could, you would be overwhelmed by all the variation in size, details of the shapes, material, etc., but if you sort them into piles of similar types, then you start to see the patterns: say the lowest level at site A has 20% triangular points, the middle level has 40% triangular points, and the top has 60% triangular points now you have a pattern you can begin to think about There are usually many ways of categorizing any collection of things different categorizations may reflect different aspects of the same artifacts example with lithic (stone) points (arrowheads, spearheads, knife blades, etc.) we could categorize the points by forms (shapes) which might be used for different functions so hunting camps might have different forms of points than permanent settlements of the same culture at the same time we could categorize the points by the material (kind of stone) used which might change over time as relations with neighboring groups that control the quarries change so red chert points might be earlier and black obsidian points might be later regardless of form we could categorize the points by size size of certain forms might vary with economic status of the family that owned them maybe better-off families could have larger stone knives, while poorer families had to make do with the smaller, resharpened dregs of the same form and material but in another region or time period, these same categories might reflect completely different causes form might change over time with shifting fashion, without affecting the function
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Introduction to Archaeology F 2002 / Owen: Types, seriation, components… p. 2 material might reflect socioeconomic status if some materials were more rare and prized than others size, rather than shape, might be the most important variable for determining function there is often no way to know in advance what the significance of any categorization scheme is you just have to try it out and see what the distribution of the types in time and space suggests often you start with a hypothesis that justifies a certain typology frequently based on ethnographic analogy (hints from living people) say, different shapes of points might be made by different ethnic groups, so you choose to use form categories
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