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Archaeology-Chapter 3 Reconstructing The Past- Analysis and Interpretation Oct 30 2008

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Marcel Danesi

Reading Notes 10-30-08 Chapter 3: Reconstructing The Past: Analysis and Interpretation Analyzing Artifacts O Conservation: process of treating artifacts, ecofacts, and in some cases even reverse the deterioration process O Can be simple and complex O Reconstruction : like putting together a puzzle; long difficult process- can take several years What Can We Learn From Artifacts O (1) Form: how it is shaped? O (2) Measure: dimensions O (3) Attempt to understand how it was made O (4) Attempt to understand the function of an artifact O Typology: a way of organizing artifacts in categories based on their particular characteristics O Use-Wear Analysis: can determine how a tool was used through careful examination of the edges O By knowing how an artifact was made allows us to understand: technology, technical abilities, social organizations, gender roles, religious beliefs of the past Analyzing Human Remains O Osteology: the study of the form and function of the skeleton O Palaeodemography: analysis of demographic structures O Palaeonutrition: analysis of diet and nutrition O (1) identifying skeletal remains as being humans Estimation of Age O Skeletal Age-Indicator Techniques : osteological techniques that are used to estimate the age at death of an individual from skeletal remains O Remodelling: occurs after growth has ceased and replaces old tissue with new formed bone to maintain bone strength from microscopic fractures from normal biomechanical stress O Estimation of age from the skeletal remains of children is based on the development of dental and skeletal tissues; easier than determining age of adult Sex Determination O Pelvis or hip bone- most reliable part of skeletal determination of sex (95% accuracy rate) O Sexually Dimorphic: refers to species in which males differ markedly from females in size and appearance Ancient DNA O Ability to extract DNA from prehistoric remains O Determination of sex, population affinity, identification of maternal biological lineages, diseases Palaeopathology O Palaeopathology: the study of health and disease in the past from skeletal evidence: appearance, spread distribution of diseases in a bicultural context O Within individuals and populations O Human behaviour plays prominent role in distribution and spread of infectious diseases O Differential Diagnosis: the assessment of potential diseases that are consistent with the observable traitscriteria on bones within an individual O Limitations- only diseases that affect the hard tissues will generally be available for study
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