ANT200Y1 Lecture Notes - Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Maya Ceramics, Death Mask

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2 Dec 2011
ANT200 Lecture Notes 2 (Sept.19)
The Doing of Archaeology
Kinds and scales of archaeological data
Field methods and analysis
Archaeological Record
The matrices in which artefacts, sites and other human-manufactured features or
results of past human action are found
Archaeologists can use this to try to piece together the systemic context—how life
was actually lived and experienced
Not necessarily found below ground, e.g. cultural landscapes
Chaco Canyon – extensive inter-regional exchange, 650kms of roads, stairways, ramps in
NW New Mexico ca. AD 1100
Three Typical Elements of Archaeological Research
Observed material culture
Features, provenience, etc. that can be recovered
Unobserved human/nonhuman activity
Must try to reconstruct the lifestyle tied to the context of recovered material
Seemingly insignificant objects can provide a wealth of information
Interpretation of human activity
Each archaeologists brings something different to the conversation—social
upbringing, political ideas, gender bias, etc.
Material Evidence
Spatial (no material correlate, but no less significant; an intangible plane):
activity areas
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Any portable object whose form has been shaped (i.e. manufactured or modified)
by way of human activity
Acheulian hand axe, ceramic vessel, funerary mask of Tutankhamun
Nonportable material evidence of human activity (e.g. hearths, storage pits,
Unique and tethered to a certain space and time
Kelly Site, Great Pyramids
Nonartifactual material evidence of human activity
Can be further subdivided into Macrofossils and Microfossils
Visible to the naked eye, e.g. kernel of corn
Can be retrieved through flotation or normal excavation procedures
Flotation device
Water separation of soil matrices
Used primarily to recover macrofossils
Lighter materials float to the surface, can be skimmed off
E.g. pollen, spores; can be retrieved through flotation only
Visible only under high-power magnification, 200x or greater
All material evidence has attributes
These are observable and measurable characteristics (e.g. colour, length, edge
angle of stone tool, house type, etc.)
Vessel attributes:
- Orifice diameter
- Maximum body diameter
- Vessel height
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