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Archaeology - Notes from Every Lecture

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Christopher Watts

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ARCHAEOLOGY UNIT October 27 Three elements of archaeological research 1 Observed material culture 2 Unobserved past humannonhuman activity 3 Interpretation of past human activityMaterial Evidence 1 Physicala Artifacts b Features c Ecofacts 2 Spatial a Activity areas b Sites c RegionsArtifactAny portable object whose form has been shaped ie manufactured or modified by way of human utilityFeatureNonportable material evidence of human activityExamples hearths storage pits post holesEcofactsNonartifactual material evidence of human activityCan be further subdivided into macrofossils and microfossilsMacrofossils visible to naked eye retrieved through flotation or normal excavation proceduresMicrofossils pollen phytoliths found in soils or residues adhering to artifacts 200X magnificationArchaeological sitecan be defined in a number of waysconsists of a collection of activity areas containing one of the following artifacts ecofacts features Provenancephysical location in threedimensional spacesite level grid systemregional level map coordinates settlement featuresSite formation processes affected byhuman agencies eg curatingdiscard of objectsnatural agencies eg soil composition environment temperature disturbance by animals taphonomic processes Finding Sitesfield methodssubsurface technologiesexcavation recovering archaeological data Normally begins with a surface collection if site is ploughed or disturbed 1 Types of excavations aopen area horizontal excavations uncover and remove layers strata from youngest to oldest simultaneously across a wide area b vertical excavations are focused on asingle small portion of the site units separated by baulksstratigraphy the analytical process by which we order layers and features chronologically based on the Law of SuperpositionLaw of Superposition that sediments are deposited on top of preexisting sedimentsstratigraphy is a relative dating methodlevels and by extension the artifacts ecofacts and features contained in them can be ordered through time based on their stratigraphic positionmagnetometry measures magnetic fields below the earths surface Some archaeological features building material with iron hearths have their own magnetic fields
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