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Archaeology Notes Sept. 24th

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University of Toronto St. George
Michael Chazan

Archaeology Notes: 9/24/12 -The most important things that Archaeologists do is keep track of space. And then they use space to learn about time. -Geographic Information Systems:  Software that allows you to control spatial data, and correlate spatial date. We’re not just marking one site, but hundreds or even thousands of site locations. It lets you take different layers, topographical, hydrological, geological, road system, aerial photograph, and lay them on top of each other and interact them.  You can translate data into 3 dimensional models, and do predictive modeling. -Many archaeologists are academics, but a lot work in business, in cultural resource management. They work to preserve sites that might be affected by construction and development. -Surveying:  You find site and patterns  It mostly consists of walking around and looking for shit  Surveys are usually done more in open landscapes.  You don’t want to do it in winter and growing seasons, but you do want to do it when the fields have been tilled and after rain.  Some areas you need to adopt different strategies depending on the “lay of the land”.  You need to find not only where to dig, but also where you can avoid causing damage  Also look for natural erosion  Also about finding patterns. People argue very persuasively that you can learn things from survey that you don’t learn from excavation. It can tell us patterns of how people use the landscape. -Hunter/Gatherer Patterning:  Binford said that if you’re a H/G and you’re moving around the landscape, there are 2 basic ways of doing that.  One is that you have a base camp and you go out on a seasonal basis or when you need tools, and you always come back to the base camp.  Other method is that you have seasonal camps, and once every couple of months you pick up everything and move. -Settlement Patterning:  Urban landscape.  Argument that was first launched in the early 70’s, that in order to understand whether you’re dealing with urban society, you can’t just look at urban center, you also have to look at how it relates to the outer areas. The spatial organization affects the administrative organization. You can’t know the truth about an urban society just by excavating the palace, for example.  You can also find a large, seemingly urban site, that just follows a geographical feature  Pub effect – archaeologists like to drink beer~~~ (archaeologists are so lazy they just found the sites that were close to the pubs. Sounds like a plan to me, trolololol.) -You have to develop systems of land use that avoid bias. For example, ease of access. -The more you understand about how the geology forms, the better you can interpret survey data. -What makes sites visible?  Depositional landscapes: where deposits are left. Danger of TOO much deposit.  Erosion can sweep artifacts away and redeposit them.  Aerial photography: shows you things that are not visible from the ground.  Increasingly satellite imagery is used.  Digital elevation model can be made with GIS -Excavation:  Spatial context is everything.  We are a destructive science. Anywhere we go and do excavation, we have the capability to destroy. It is imperative to record in as much detail as possible. Databases are essential. All of that data must be kept together with the object.  Horizontal vs. Vertical excavations.  Horizontal’s goal is to expose a single layer of time over as wide an area as possible.  Vertical puts emphasis on how things change over
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