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Lecture 2

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Christopher Watts

ANT200 Lecture Notes 2 (Sept.19) The Doing of Archaeology • Kinds and scales of archaeological data • Field methods and analysis Archaeological Record • The matrices in which artefacts, sites and other human-manufactured features or results of past human action are found  Archaeologists can use this to try to piece together the systemic context—how life was actually lived and experienced • Not necessarily found below ground, e.g. cultural landscapes Chaco Canyon – extensive inter-regional exchange, 650kms of roads, stairways, ramps in NW New Mexico ca. AD 1100 Three Typical Elements of Archaeological Research • Observed material culture  Features, provenience, etc. that can be recovered • Unobserved human/nonhuman activity  Must try to reconstruct the lifestyle tied to the context of recovered material  Seemingly insignificant objects can provide a wealth of information • Interpretation of human activity  Each archaeologists brings something different to the conversation—social upbringing, political ideas, gender bias, etc. Material Evidence Physical: • artefacts • features • ecofacts Spatial (no material correlate, but no less significant; an intangible plane): • activity areas • sites • regions Artefact • Any portable object whose form has been shaped (i.e. manufactured or modified) by way of human activity • Acheulian hand axe, ceramic vessel, funerary mask of Tutankhamun Feature • Nonportable material evidence of human activity (e.g. hearths, storage pits, postholes) • Unique and tethered to a certain space and time • Kelly Site, Great Pyramids Ecofacts • Nonartifactual material evidence of human activity • Can be further subdivided into Macrofossils and Microfossils Macrofossils  Visible to the naked eye, e.g. kernel of corn  Can be retrieved through flotation or normal excavation procedures Flotation device • Water separation of soil matrices • Used primarily to recover macrofossils • Lighter materials float to the surface, can be skimmed off Microfossils  E.g. pollen, spores; can be retrieved through flotation only  Visible only under high-power magnification, 200x or greater Attribute • All material evidence has attributes • These are observable and measurable characteristics (e.g. colour, length, edge angle of stone tool, house type, etc.) • Vessel attributes: - Orifice diameter - Maximum body diameter - Vessel height - Body height - Decoration - Types?  did it hold significance to those who made it? Can we and should we classify them as types? Provenience (Provenance) • Physical and temporal location in three dimensional space • Site level: grid system  Where was it found on the site? • Regional level: map coordinates, settlement features (e.g. roads, towns)  Where was it found in relation to the region and its features? Context • Association of artefacts (in both space and time) with environmental and other material evidence • Can be either Primary or Secondary Primary context • Materials found where they were originally deposited (in both space and time) • Can be either: - Use-related: e.g. lithic workshop  A variety of lithic procurement and manufacturing activities taking place at a quarry site - Transposed: e.g. midden  Materials are brought to a central area (in this case a midden) for deposition Secondary context • Materials moved after origi
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