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ANT200H5 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Shovel Test Pit, Taphonomy, Deductive Reasoning

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Liye Xie
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Archaeology Midterm 1 Review
Anthropology: the holistic study of humankind
Archaeology: the study of human past through material remains (the archaeological record) w/ the goal
of ordering & describing past events and explaining their meaning; attempts to reconstruct the past
through use of scientific method, human histories, and anthropological perspective
Four Principle Goals: determining form, function, process, and meaning
1. Form: description & classification of physical evidence
2. Function: the purpose of the objects found
3. Process: the changes that occurred in past societies
4. Meaning: understanding past societies within their own cultural contexts
Modern Archaeology: systematic study of the past, asks how and why things were done
Archaeometry: the application of scientific techniques to analyze archaeological materials
Antiquarianism: interest in and collection of ancient objects (art or science), main focus on the objects
themselves; interpretation of objects was speculative and not scientific, this is the root of archaeology
Three-Age System: developed by Christian Thomsen and Jens Worsaee as a way to organize collections
in museums, is composed of the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age; this came from the way
objects were seen in stratigraphy (stone objects older and therefore deeper), this was contrary to the
common view that poor people used stone and rich people used metals
Why did archaeology emerge in the 19th century? Because of the age of Enlightenment and the
Renaissance, ideas from people like Charles Lyell (uniformitarianism) and Charles Darwin (evolution by
natural selection) got people thinking that artifacts could be more than just objects, they could be ways
of understanding people in the past.
Cultural Evolutionism: the idea that all cultures progress through a series of evolutionary stages
Uilieal: Lewis Hery Morga cae up with the idea of the atural progressio of hua
societies based on technological development; stages are savagery, barbarianism, & civilisation
Multilinear: each culture progresses differently based on natural settings, interacting societies,
and own traditions
Prehistoric Archaeology: archaeology before there was written records, the earliest artifacts come from
2.8 mya
Historic Archaeology: archaeology since there have been written records, the earliest written records
are from 5000 ya
Science: science is objective and opening to new ideas, old ideas can be falsified and it is self-correcting,
testable hypothesis and prediction testing are unique to scientific research
The Scientific Method: used in archaeology, composed of 5 steps,
1. Observations
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2. Hypothesis
3. Testing
4. Interpretation
5. Explanation
Critical thinking: analyzing and evaluating think with the goal of improving it
Artifact: any portable objecy whose form has been modified in some way by human activity
Ecofact: a portable, natural object that has cultural significance or relevance
Feature: a human made structure or assemblage that cannot be moved without altering or destroying
its original form
Site: a place where artifacts, features, and ecofacts are found together, an area where there is
significant traces of human activities
Region: a geographical concept, often defined by ecological and cultural factors, usually includes
multiple sites
Matrix: the physical medium within which artifacts, ecofacts, and/or features are embedded or
Provenience: the three-dimensional location of the find within the matrix
Association: two or more archaeological remains occurring together in the same matrix
Context: the interpretation of the significance of the archaeological finds in terms of their provenience,
matrix, and association
Primary: where both the provenience and matrix have been undisturbed since the original
Secondary: where the provenience, matrix, and/or associations have been altered in some way,
by humans or natural activity
Systemic Context Site Formation Archaeological Context
(Living Cultures/Behavioural Processes) (Formation and Transformational Processes) (Archaeological
Taphonomy: the study of how things become entombed, including the process of fossilization
Site formation processes in the systemic context:
1. Cultural deposition: discard, loss, caching, ritual
2. Reclamation: item is taken out of arch. record and brought back into systemic context
3. Disturbance: items in arch. record are disturbed/moved by human activity
Site formation processes: natural (flooding, Aeolian sediment, volcanic eruption, etc.) and cultural
(construction, burials, fires, etc.)
Transformational processes:
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