ANT200 (Sept 6).docx

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26 Apr 2012
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First term: Archaeology, techniques, methods, theories
Second term: World Prehistory (presenting the archaeology finds)
Topic 1: Intro
- Prehistory is the times before written histories was recorded. Ex. Incas
- What is archaeology?
o Anthropological archaeology
The set of theories, methods and techniques used by archaeologists
Methods: how you organized yourself
o Prehistory: body of knowledge produced by archaeology study of material remains of
societies that existed prior to development of written records
o Most archaeologists never find spectacular tombs or lost civilizations...more typical of
them doing spectacularly tedious research...rewarded by dramatically uncomfortable
living conditions, bad food, pests (black flies), diseases; the actual reward is finding lost
parts of history
- Why do they do this? Why should we be interested in archaeology?
o Entertainment (Indiana Jones movie, not real example though)
o Exploitation
Looting. Ex. Slack farm, Kentucky
Chariot of the gods, testifying about aliens
o Scientific understanding of the human past
Science because it employs scientific methods, with indirect empirical data
- Approaches to archaeology
o Classical archaeology: been around for 2-4 hundred years, focus on classic civilizations
such as Mediterranean, Greece and Rome
o Historical archaeology: concentrate on societies that are more modern with written
histories. So why do we need archaeologists to study it? They are train to decipher the
historical records and correlate with the materials found through excavation because
the written histories are often bias.
o Forensic archaeology: used in legal systems
o Prehistoric archaeology:
- Scientific method
o Collect data (material remains, evidences, artifacts on sites
o Formulate hypothesis about data (making up a story)
o Check hypothesis using other data (gather more data, to confirm/disconfirm the
o Confirm/disconfirm hypothesis (reject or build on it)
o Used confirmed hypotheses to generate and test other hypotheses