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
-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
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
You need to find not only where to dig, but also where you can avoid causing
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.
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.
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
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,
-You have to develop systems of land use that avoid bias. For example, ease of
-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
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
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
Horizontal vs. Vertical excavations.
Horizontal’s goal is to expose a single layer of time over as wide an area as
Vertical puts emphasis on how things change over