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Lecture 1

Archaeology Lecture One + Readings

12 Pages
140 Views

Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT100Y1
Professor
Christopher Watts

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What is Archaeology?
Homo sapiens: the biological species category in which humans fall into; the first Homo
sapiens may have emerged 200 000 years ago.
Human variation: study of how and why contemporary human populations vary
biologically
Physical anthropologists use the principles, concepts, and techniques of at least
three disciplines to further their understanding of human biological diversity:
oHuman genetics study of human traits that are inherited
oPopulation biology study of environmental effects on and interaction
with population characteristics
oEpidemiology study of how and why diseases affect different populations
in different ways
Physical anthropologists are concerned most with human populations and how they
vary biologically
If some human societies lack a written record of their past, archaeologists
reconstruct the history of those societies from the remains of human culture
Historical archaeology: study of material remains of recent peoples who left
written records
Uncovering the Past: Tools and Techniques
Specialized methods have been used to locate archaeological sites (areas of human
habitation or where fossil remains are found)
oSites usually consist of a collection of activity areas containing either:
oArtifacts
any portable object whose form has been shaped by way of human
activity (e.g., clay pots, stone figurines)
Examples are Acheulian axe from Gilan, Iran; funerary mask of
Tutankhamen
Most common artifacts are lithics (stone tools); display evidence of
reduction
Can be further subdivided into:
www.notesolution.com
oChipped or flaked lithic tools
flintknapping one of the earliest industrial
arts
Emerged with Homo habilis some 2.5 mya
Involves removing flakes from cores in a
controlled manner
Core the block of raw material from which
flakes are struck
Flake the relatively thin fragment of lithic
material removed from a core
Debitage the by-products of core reduction,
includes flakes and exhausted cores
oGround stone tools
Produced by pecking, abrading, and polishing
macrocrystalline materials
Usually have smooth durable edges and surfaces
(e.g, manos, mutates, axes)
Decorative items can also be made from ground
stone tools
oEcofacts
Natural objects that have been used or affected by humans (e.g.,
animal bones, seeds)
oFeatures
non-portable material evidence of human activity (e.g., hearths,
shortage pits)
Examples are rock art, pyramids of Giza
Archaeological techniques are used for excavation of remains to maximize and
preserve the information that can be derived from the excavation of a site
Provenience: physical location of an artifact or feature within a site in a 3-D space
www.notesolution.com
oRemains are the most valuable source of data when the information about
where they were buried in relation to all other relations is preserved
oWithout controlled provenience, archaeological data are of little value
Reconstruction of past requires careful analysis of the environment in which the
materials are found
Material Culture: the objects that people have and make
oDirect reflection of human culture and behaviour
oCan have functional, social and aesthetic purposes
oEXAMPLE
Consider the number of items that were once utilitarian in your home
that serves no functional purpose today (IE pottery)
Old glass and earthenware containers were used as everyday items in
homes in the past might be used as decorative items within modern
households
Fine ceramics may not be used for food processing, storage, or service
but they do serve important social functions (can be heirlooms or
expensive icons of social prestige)
Ceramics can be divided into the following: hand-forming (e.g.,
pinch, coil construction), moulding and wheel-throwing
A number of factors (e.g., environment, population numbers, culture etc.) affect
where the remains of material culture are found and the patterns of deposition
SITE FORMATION PROCESSES
Site Formation Process: environmental and cultural factors that affect how and
where materials are deposited at an archaeological site or fossil locale.
Midden: a pile of refuse, often shells, in an archaeological site
oAffected by human agencies (curating/discarding of objects) and natural
agencies (environment)
How a community is constructed its dwellings may indicate whether the people were
nomadic or lived a more sedentary (permanent home) life
Locations of where a community lived continuously for a long period of time have
layers of accumulated material left behind by successive occupants
oExamining the layers of this material can see how communities progressed
www.notesolution.com

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Description
What is Archaeology? Homo sapiens: the biological species category in which humans fall into; the first Homo sapiens may have emerged 200 000 years ago. Human variation: study of how and why contemporary human populations vary biologically Physical anthropologists use the principles, concepts, and techniques of at least three disciplines to further their understanding of human biological diversity: o Human genetics study of human traits that are inherited o Population biology study of environmental effects on and interaction with population characteristics o Epidemiology study of how and why diseases affect different populations in different ways Physical anthropologists are concerned most with human populations and how they vary biologically If some human societies lack a written record of their past, archaeologists reconstruct the history of those societies from the remains of human culture Historical archaeology: study of material remains of recent peoples who left written records Uncovering the Past: Tools and Techniques Specialized methods have been used to locate archaeological sites (areas of human habitation or where fossil remains are found) o Sites usually consist of a collection of activity areas containing either: o Artifacts any portable object whose form has been shaped by way of human activity (e.g., clay pots, stone figurines) Examples are Acheulian axe from Gilan, Iran; funerary mask of Tutankhamen Most common artifacts are lithics (stone tools); display evidence of reduction Can be further subdivided into: www.notesolution.com o Chipped or flaked lithic tools flintknapping one of the earliest industrial arts Emerged with Homo habilis some 2.5 mya Involves removing flakes from cores in a controlled manner Core the block of raw material from which flakes are struck Flake the relatively thin fragment of lithic material removed from a core Debitage the by-products of core reduction, includes flakes and exhausted cores o Ground stone tools Produced by pecking, abrading, and polishing macrocrystalline materials Usually have smooth durable edges and surfaces (e.g, manos, mutates, axes) Decorative items can also be made from ground stone tools o Ecofacts Natural objects that have been used or affected by humans (e.g., animal bones, seeds) o Features non-portable material evidence of human activity (e.g., hearths, shortage pits) Examples are rock art, pyramids of Giza Archaeological techniques are used for excavation of remains to maximize and preserve the information that can be derived from the excavation of a site Provenience: physical location of an artifact or feature within a site in a 3-D space www.notesolution.com
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