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ARCH 201 Week 13 Lecture

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Course Code
ARCH 201
David Maxwell

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ARCH 201 Week 13 Lecture Applied Archaeology The Garbage Project •Used arch principles to look at modern material culture •Unique as a research project •Brought in a HUGE amount of money •Many private contractors, so not all info could be published •Study modern stuff as if arch site •Very little context - digging up landfills, or collecting daily garbage samples •Go to census tracks, collect garbage - individual houses did not know if their garbage was going to be collected •Materials sorted, then thrown back out •Gives us insight into human behaviour in late 20th century •Big diff between but what people do and what they say they do •People said they changed own oil, little evidence of this found •70s beef shortage - big breakthrough. Expected people to be careful not to waste food. Instead, the amount of edible meat in garbage tripled at this time. •Reason: buying meat not accustomed to, no idea how to prepare, didn't taste right, throw away. Also, hording - bought lots when they could, stored it poorly, threw it away •Also looked at landfills •Assumed garbage broke down in landfills over time - not the case. Things do not break down in landfills. Almost no biodegredation. Food items don't necessarily break down. •Landfills are sanitary - nothing there to break them down. No oxygen, very little moisture •Stick sterile soil on top every certain amount of feet - reduce smell •Paper does not break down in landfills - newspapers, for example •Interesting diff between public perception of what goes into landfills, and what is actually in •People believe most common items: diapers, styrofoam, plastic •Styrofoam < 1/3 of 1% of landfills - most not older fast food packaging, but electronics packaging •Plastic: 3/2% total volume of landfill •Diapers: 2% •Biggest items? •Paper: >40% •Construction debris: 20-30% •Rest: yard waste, tires, toxic chemicals, food debris •Toxic chemicals found in huge quantities - mostly nail polish. Liquid is absolute worst - toxins can get into ground water - leave top off over night before throwing away. •Tires catch fire all the time, also float through landfills - migrate up to surface, even from really deep Material Culture and Social Information •Things that we carry, wear •Clothing has obvious function (warmth, modesty) •Also carries and contains important social information - tell peo
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