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Archaeology-Chapter 2-Uncovering the Past-Tools and Techniques Oct 23 2008


Course Code
Marcel Danesi

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Reading Notes
Archaeology: pgs. 7-9
y Historical Archaeology: a specialty within archaeology that studies the material remains of
recent peoples who left written records
y Culture: the set of learned behaviours, beliefs, attitudes, values, and ideals, that are
characteristic of a particular society or population
y Ethnology: the study of how and why recent cultures differ and are similar
Chapter 2: Uncovering The Past- Tools and Techniques
y Provenience: the location of an artifact or feature within a site
y Material Culture: objects people have and make
Site Formation Process
y Site Formation Process: environmental and cultural factors that affect how and where
materials are deposited at an archaeological site or fossil locale
y Midden: a pile of refuse, often shells, in an archaeological site
y Material Culture: functional, social, aesthetic purposes
Locating Sites
y Archaeological Site: areas of past human habitation or where fossil remains are found
y Fossil Locales: places where fossilized remains of once living organisms are found
y Fossilization: the process of becoming a fossil by the replacement of organic materials with
an inorganic mineral matrix
y Takes more than 10,000 years
What Can We Learn From Fossils?
y From bones and teeth: body structure, diet, period the organism died, what climate and
habitat were like
y Taphonomy: the study of changes that occur to organisms or objects after being buried or
deposited (the science of burial)
Finding Archaeological Sites
y Site can range from small campsite- large city
y Some sites may be clearly identifiable (ex: Great Pyramids) or go unnoticeable for long
y Many discovered accidentally, or deliberate search
Site Prospection
Surface Techniques
y Surface Techniques: include; field walking, field surveying,
y Patiently walk and survey surface of a location for signs of artifacts or surface irregularities
that may indicate structures
y Aerial photography, satellite imaging
y Not most efficient means of locating sites
Subsurface Techniques
y Subsurface Techniques: archaeological surveying techniques that map features beneath the
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