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Lecture 1

ANT100Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Radiocarbon Dating, Biological Anthropology, Stone Tool


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT100Y1
Professor
Shawn Lehman
Lecture
1

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ANT100Y1Y Outline for ARCHAEOLOGY Lecture #1
TOPIC 1. WHAT IS ARCHAEOLOGY?
Archaeology is the study of material remains (physical objects) and their spatial relationships to
interpret past human behaviour
RELATIONSHIP OF ARCHAEOLOGY WITH OTHER DISCIPLINES
Archaeology and Anthropology
Anthropology = the study of humankind
- a holistic discipline
- archaeology adds a historical dimension, and comparative case studies
- 4 subdisciplines:
- Archaeology
- Social-Cultural Anthropology
- Linguistic Anthropology
- Biological Anthropology
Archaeology and History
- Both study the past
- History is based on written documents; archaeology on material culture
- History is limited to at most 5,000 years; less than 100 in some regions
- History - limited primarily to literate societies
- Written records tend to focus on the rich and powerful
Historical Archaeology
- archaeology with aid of historic records.
- documents do not give the complete picture, and only archaeology can fill the gaps
e.g. - how did “commoners” live?
Classical Archaeology
- specialized subdiscipline
- classical civilizations of Greece and Rome from about 700 BCE – 500 CE.
- allied with art history, history
Archaeology and Science
- Science is the systematic pursuit of knowledge about natural phenomena.
- Archaeology interacts with many different sciences:
- Geology – e.g., understanding what types of stone were selected for stone tools
- Biology – e.g., identification of bones of extinct species
- Physics and Chemistry – e.g., radiocarbon dating
- Astronomy – e.g., was Stonehenge aligned with the summer solstice?
BUT (and a big but...): archaeology is a social science.
- Since archaeology deals with human behaviour, it is often less predictable than the natural
sciences – people are dynamic and complex, because of individual personality, culture, and
motivations.

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ANT100Y1Y Outline for ARCHAEOLOGY Lecture #1
TOPIC 2. THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD
The archaeological record is the sum of all physical evidence about the past that survives to the
present
= Objects plus their context
2A) FACTORS THAT AFFECT THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD
- Not all behaviour will leave material traces. Because of intervening cultural and natural
processes, the archaeological record is not usually a direct reflection of past behaviour.
Archaeologists must avoid the "Pompeii Premise”.
Some Definitions:
Artifact. Any object made or modified by people.
Ecofact. Natural object used or affected by people.
Feature. Non-portable material remains resulting from human activity (e.g., a house, a
fireplace, a midden).
Archaeological site. A place where evidence of past human activity is preserved.
HOW DO ARTIFACTS ENTER THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD?:
Four stages:
1) acquisition - either direct or through trade
2) manufacture - modification of raw materials
3) use - leaves traces on artifact; can also be interpreted from where the artifact is found
4) deposition - entry of the material into the archaeological record.
**artifacts can enter the archaeological record at any point in this process.
Processes that Transform the Archaeological Record
Natural Factors
- climate - temperature and humidity
- extreme wet, dry, or cold preserves organics
- biological factors - eg. decay, rodents, carnivores.
- soil chemistry can destroy (acid) or preserve (fossilize)
- catastrophic events (volcanoes, earthquakes)
Cultural Factors
- Large Scale Human Events (e.g., war)
- Looting - encouraged by the antiquities market
- Disturbance through industrial or agricultural development
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