Intro. Archaeology Flashcards

Terms Definitions
4.6 bya
The earth formed
discoursive object
obj of meaning
noting similarities between two entities and concluding from that similar that an additional attribute of one (the ethnographic case) is also true of the other (the archaeological case)
-each sign represents a syllable
-Script that preserves language but not meaning
-60-200 characters
-few signs, but takes up more space
Have to know language & script to decipher
 Harder to decipher meaning of texts
o But possible to know what language sounded like
o Script preserves language not meaning
o Syllabic ~60-200 individual signs
lewis binford
revolutionized settlement pattern archaeology. categorized settlements into types
Universal Transverse Mercator; breaks globe up into zones
- non-artifactual organic remains at sites
- plant and animal remains
Homo sapiens
Species name for modern humans
Stepped pyramid found in many Mesopotamian temple precincts
Camelid animals domesticated in the Andean highlands: vicunas are the ancewsstral species
Archaeological theory
Ideas that archaeologists have developed about the past and about the ways we come to know the past
Jesse Figgins
- Culture Historical Period (1914-1940)
- excavated Blackwater Draw, NM in 1927
- found giant bison bones with Folsom point embedded
- gave long antiquity to Native American occupation in the New World
a. relationship between humans and plants/animals.
b. New technologies for farming/herding/plants that can be stored for long periods of time
Bottom Line
older skeletal material statistically matches Southern Asian population while more recent materials are related to Northeast Asian population
Monk's Mound
Cahokia. Largest Earthen construction in N. America. 30-40m above ground level. Flat-top and surfaced in colored clay.
chichen itza
post classic maya, highlands mexico
The search for archaeological sites in the landscape through excavation
Law of Superposition
Older things lower down
- Latin "in position"
- the place where an artifact, ecofact or feature was found during excavation or survey; original "primary" depositional context
- allows us to maximize behavioral information
Prehistoric Archaeology
95% of human existence; mostly excavation and survey
Kebaran site in northern Israel with excellent preservation of organic remains
Concept that compines the virtues of balance and justice; central impotance in Egyptian society
Geological era that began 1.8 million years ago, characterized by the frequent buildup and retreat of continental ice sheets
Location in Tanzania where tracks of autralopithecine footprints were found showing that australopithecines walked upright
Olduvai Gorge
Most impressive and important location in the East African Rift Valley for the study of human evolution
A large settlement in the Yi-Luo Valley that appears to be slightly later than Erlitou
-Any artifact or natural object that is transported, but not necessarily modified, and deposited by humans. Examples would include seashells found inland or water-rolled pebbles away from any river.
-In which the picture, commonly cave art, has a direct meaning. Ex: a man with a spear chasing a mammoth= a man hunting a mammoth.
-It is a basis of cuneiform and, to some extent, hieroglyphic writing (meaning they evolved from it into syllabic)
Pictographic & Ideographic/Logographic
o Easy to decipher meaning of text
o But can never know how language actually sounded
o Script preserves meaning not language
o Usually contain 500-1000s of individual signs (lots to memorize)
o Writing takes less space
Australopithecus General Characteristics
a. habitual bipeds (broad/short pelvis, slender femora, angled knee joints, arched feet)
b. Cranial Capacity: 500 cm
c. Height 1.2-1.4m
d. Thick enamel
e. Sexual dimorphism
Advantages Over Landsites
1. outstanding preservation; 2. assemblage is more representative; 3. lack of disturbance
Christian Thompson
Established the 3-Age system by organizing museum artifacts by material in 1809
the preserving of human remains to forestall decomposition and to make them suitable for a funeral.
city state
o Mesoamerica city-state was a center or collection of peoples, in which they were supported by the hinterlands, they were provided or offered other services that the towns did not. These societies were lead by leads and are marked by hierarchy, political and economic differentiation. City states are territorial and use military acquisition that is not seen in chiefdoms. An empire is a union of dispersed territories, colonies, states, and unrelated peoples under one soverign rule.
o E-group structures
an arrangement of buildings designed to mark the position of the rising sun during important solar events, such as equinoxes and solstices in Mesoamerica
Activities of plants and animals in the earth, causing disturbance of archaeological materials
Michael Schiffer
Charles Redman
spatial scales of project; regional scale to smaller area of investigation; each phase of field work incorporated into next; collecting baseline information
Primary vs. Secondary Deposit
- Primary: "in-situ"
- Secondary: sediments picked up and moved with artifact (agents: water, gravity, wind, animals, people)
- (refers to artifacts or sites & human behavior, different from geologic primary deposit); the older an artifact is the higher the chance things were moved into secondary context
- How can you tell?
Alignment of materials (water flow will align them in the same way: imbercation)
a piece of stone that is worked ("knapped"). cores sometimes serve merely as sources for raw materials; they also can serve as functional tools.
The oldest known city in teh world, located in southern Iraq
Pastoral societies
Mobile societies with an economy based on herds of domesticated animals
A ring of massive standing stones on the Salisbury Plain, England, that was constructed beginning in the Early Neolithic and ending in the Early Bronze Age
Objects such as ground stone axes that poeple in medieval Europe believed were formed in spots where lightening struck the earth
Templo Mayor
Double pyramid at the center of Tenochtitlan that was teh core of the Aztec World
A quality or status achieved when the right of a centralized authority to have power is accepted. Letigimacy can be based on consensus or on coersion
Mound 72
A mound at Cahokia where excavation uncovered an individual buried ona bird-shaped platform made of shells, as well as mass burials of apparently sacrificed victims.
Home-base/food-sharing model
Model developed by Glynn Isaac that sees the sharing of meat at base camps as a fundamental part of the lives of early hominis
Along with Abydos, one of the two centers of Egypt during the late Predynastic period and teh First Dynasty
Relative vs. Absolute Dating
Relative - Older/younger than
• Stratigraphy
• Tephra (tephrachronology): volcanic ash
• Seriation
o Based on idea that styles come and go in popularity
o Allows you to organize by time:
o Assumes units are "single" component
o Two types
o Assumes unimodal distribution through time
o Steps
 Eliminate gaps (rearrange sites)
 Rearrange to get battleship shaped order
 Can't tell based on seriation itself which way time goes
Absolute - calender date
Three essential issues to know:
1. How does some "attribute" (e.g., element, property, characteristic, rings) change over time
2. How much was there at some point in the past (often starts at 0 but not always)
3. How much is there today (quantity today = f(t0 + age)
- the study of how organisms become part of the fossil record; in archaeology it primarily refers to the study of how natural processes produce patterning in archaeological data
Mesoamerica shared cultural practices
a. cultivation of corn/beans/squash
b. sedentary communities
c. calendrical systems
d. writing systems
e. ballgame
f. polytheistic (many deities, cosmos has 3+ levels & connected by the world tree
g. sacrificial rituals of animals/others/self
Prevailing Theory
big game hunters in Siberia followed the Pleistocene megafauna-mammoth, mastodon, and extinct basin across a land bridge
territorial state
1. ruler governs large region 2. Multilevel hierarchy of provincial and local adm. centers 3. Egypt, China, Inca
rancho labrea
land lived on by the Hancock family
• Importance of agricultural surplus in state formation
o The cultivation and exploitations of agricultural surpluses is related to the formation of states. Chiefs were generally associated with agricultural societies. With agriculture it was easy to produce a storable surplus and with domesticated plants, one could produce an even greater return per unit of land. The chiefs could and did, extract or control these food surpless and they could encourage their peoples to work to produce beyond their immeditate needs.
Conjunctive Approach/Walter Taylor
Putting fragments back together, think about how types relate to each other; trained as historian, study spatial relationships of artifacts, activity areas, context/provenience, behavioral approach
Photography & Notes
- when acquiring data observation is necessary to record the context of artifacts
- also especially used during data processing and analysis as well.
- essential because archaeology is a destructive science
- associated with artifact preservation
Early Dynastic period
The period that follows the Uruk period, during which southern Mesopotamia was home to a series of city states
Las Capas
A site near Tucson, Arizona where an Archaic village and canal system have been discovered
A Bronze age town on teh island of Thera that was buried by a catastrophic volcanic eruption
New Archaeology/ Processual archaeology
An approach to archaeology based firmly on scientific method and supported by a concerted effort aimed at the development of theory
Advantages vs. disadvantages of pottery
Disadvantages of pottery
o Require large amount of fuel during firing
o Fragile (more than other containers: baskets, gourds, wooden, stomachs)
o Heavy
o Can only be made during dry season (which is also the best time to father lots of foods, seeds etc.)
o Have to be in one place for many days to see production cycle through
• Advantages of pottery
o Clay, temper, and water generally available
o Not complicated technology (doesn't take too long to be able to figure it out)
o Once have pot, requires less fuel to boil water
o Can stick pot right over fire and simmer food
o Economy of scale in production (same energy to fire 1 pot as 15)
Pack Rat Midden
- Any collection of artifacts or objects concealed at some point by a pack rat (also woodor trade rat) and remaining in an assemblage at that location. They are so-called because they collect various bits of material to deposit in their dens. They sometimes pick up shiny objects in camps and may at the same time leave something they were carrying, thus giving the impression that they are trading" one item for the other."
New World Animal Domesticates
a. Llama, Guinea Pig, Turkey, Dog
Homo neanderthalensis technology
a. Tech. Initially partook in the Acheulean technological tradition. developed the Mousterian tech. tradition
b. Not known if they had complex language or how complex it was (presence of anatomical structures for speech0
c. Engaged in symbolic activity (burials/figurines)
Excavations @ Pompeii
First attempted by looters in 1738; legitimate excavations began in the later 18th century
new world food crops
tomatoes, corn, squash. turkey, okra, cherries. popular dishes were hybrids of NA, euro, african s/a brunswick stew, succtash, spoon bread
A measure of the rate of decay in radioactive materials; half the radioactive material will disappear within the period of one half-life
Settlement Pattern Survey
PROCESSUAL; macro of looking at broad regions; can also be intra-site, so micro; impacts sampling strategy and field methods
Sangiran and Perning
Sites on teh island of Java where fossils of Homo erectus dating to 1.8 mya were found
Giza Plateau
- The site of the pyramid complexes of the Egyptian kings Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure on the west bank of the Nile opposite modern Cairo. It is most famous for the Great Pyramid of Khufu, two only slightly smaller pyramids, the Great Sphinx.
Cultural Chronology
a. Old World
2mya - 11, 000 ya: Paleolithic
11,000 - 5,500 ya: Neolithic
b. New world
Paleo-indian: 20k - 8k
Archaic: 8k - 2k ya
Late Prehistoric: 2k - 500 ya
primary / secondary contexts
relating to if the artifacts were altered before or after deposition with the primary ones as more valuable
Why are archaeologists interested in palynology?
The examination of their production, dispersal, and applications is an aid to the reconstruction of past vegetation and climates and developing relative chronologies.Palynology helps archaeologists find out what plant resources were available to ancient peoples and what the climate was at those times.
Seasonality & Zooarchaeology
- study of animal remains found in an archaeological context
- answers questions like:
what was the prehistoric diet? how were animals used as
which animals were eaten and in what quantities?
who procured the animals? (differences in gender, age,
class, etc.)
what technologies were involved in hunting?
were animals used for things other than food?
how does subsistence interact with other parts of culture?
- use bones to identify species/# of specimen
- use frass (insect dung) to gain info about climate
- use shell middens to gain info about water conditions
- gain info about environment and human cultures from packrat middens (unbiased collection)
By studying the animal remains, various occupation patterns may be studied. The exploitation of different environments at different times of the year by the same group of people; an estimate of when during the year a particular archaeological site was occupied. Transhumance is one instance of this practice, where high pastureland is grazed in the summer. There was also exploitation of water resources for fish or water birds; the following of wild herds by hunter-gatherers. The people usually moved back to their original starting place each year.
Disadvantages Compared to Landsites
1. most are ships and cargoes, so interpretive potential is limited; 2. tell lots about trade/economics, less about culture or daily life; 3. are "point in time" assemblage
What are the tools archaeologists use to excavate?
brush, dental pick, trowels, shovel, screen, backhoe
pyramids in Egypt and Mesoamerica
pyramids in Egypt are for the dead, burial. Pyramids for Mesoamerica are for temples, worship
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