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Lecture - Archaeological Data and Dating These notes include the lecture notes from October 28, 2010. This is also Professor Watts's lecture of the year on the Archaeology segment of the course. I apologize if the font is very small. I use Microsoft Of

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Christopher Watts

 Subsurface Techniques Archaeological Data and Dating □ Excavation: recovering archaeological data October-28-10  Normally begins with a surface collection (if site is ploughed or 6:00 PM disturbed) ○ Concerned with everyday practices and everyday life  Datum and grid  Surface collection Archaeological Record ○ The matrices in which artifacts, ecofacts, sites and other human -manufactured features or results spatial distribution of artifacts on the surface of a site is recorded with reference to a fixed point (datum) of past human action are found ◊ This produces accurate maps which can then be used to Three Typical Elements of Archaeological Research guide the excavation ○ Observed material culture  When excavating, we record subsurface features and the ○ Unobservedhuman/non-human activity location of artifacts in a similar fashion... ○ Interpretation/explanation of human activity  With reference to a grid system (based on Cartesian Material Evidence ○ coordinates: x and y axes Physical: artifacts, features, ecofacts  Types of Excavations ○ Spatial (positions of artifacts): activity areas, sites, regions ◊ Open-area, areal o horizontalexcavations Artifact ► Uncover and remove layers (stratas)from youngest ○ Any portable object whose form has been shaped (i.e., manufactured or modified) by way of to oldest, simultaneously, across a wide area human activity ◊ Grid-and baulk or vertical excavations ○ Things that have been modelled and shaped ► Focused on a single, small portion of the site ○ Example: Acheulian Hand Axe from Gilan, Iraq; Funerary mask of Tutankhamun ► Units separated by baulks Feature ► You can employ this if you don't have a lot of people, money or time ○ Nonportable material evidence of human activity (e.g., hearths, storage pits, postholes) ○ Example: Kelly Site Excavation Plan; Rock art; Pyramids, Giza  Examples: Screen ◊ Considerations: aperture size of mesh Ecofacts  Stratigraphy: the analytical process by which we order layers ○ Non-artifactual material evidence of human activity and features chronologically; how sites are formed in the ○ Can be further subdivided into Macrofossils and Microfossils record ○ Macrofossils  Based on the Law of Superposition  Visible to the naked eye, e.g., kernel of corn ◊ Sediments are deposited on top of pre-existing sediments  Can be retrieved through flotation or normal excavation procedures  Flotation Device Dating Techniques □ Water separation of soil matrices ○ Stratigraphy is a relative dating method □ Used primarily to recover macrofossils ○ Levels (and, by extension, the artifacts, ecofacts, and features contained in them) can be ordered through □ Lighter materials float to the surface, caught in sieves time based on their stratigraphic position ○ Microfossils ○ There are other methods known as absolute dating methods  e.g., pollen, phytoliths found in soils or residues adhering to artifacts  Dendrochronology  Retrieved through mechanical and chemical disaggregation □ Tree-ring dating of preserved wood  Visible only under high-power magnification, 200x or greater □ Chronologies based on overlapping ring sequences  Example: Poaceae (grass) pollen grains □ Limitations:  Cannot be used in tropical regions Archaeological Site  ○ Can be defined in a number of ways Confined to certain tree species ○  Radiocarbon Dating Usually consists of a collection of activity areas containing any of the following: □ Radioactive isotope or 'variety' of carbon which
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