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Archaeology Lecture Two + Readings

9 Pages
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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT100Y1
Professor
Christopher Watts

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Reconstructing the Past: Analysis and Interpretation
ANALYZING ARTIFACTS
Conservation: technique used on archaeological materials to stop or reverse the
process of decay
oSome conservation is very simple, involving only cleaning and drying the item
oSome are complex, involving long-term chemical treatments and storage
under controlled conditions
Reconstruction:
Careful analysis of the environment in which materials are found in order to say
something about the circumstances by which that material came to be there
oCircumstances natural and human agencies
is like building a puzzle
Materials have to be sorted into similar types (e.g., colour, shapes etc.)
Long difficult process; can take up to many years
Catalogue items by numerating them into categories
Classify items by assigning items to pre-arranged systems which are determined by
rules whether they belong in the category or not
What Can We Learn from Artifacts?
Archaeologists can begin analyzing after conservation and reconstruction is complete
First, examine the form (how it is shaped) of an artifact
Typology: a way of organizing artifacts in categories based on their particular
characteristics
oCan tell the age, species of culture etc.
We must acknowledge if they are emic or etic in nature
oEmic insiders view of culture; recognized as meaningful to its
manufacturer
oEtic outsiders view of culture; recognized as meaningful to the analyst
www.notesolution.com
Second, they measure artifacts (size, weight etc.)
Third, they attempt to understand how the artifact was made
oBy learning how it was made, deductions about the technology, environment
and life can be made
Finally, they attempt to understand the function of an artifact
oFunction allows the archaeologist a direct window into ancient life
Archaeologists use a technique called the use-wear analysis which can determine
how a tool has been used by examining the wearing on its edges
ANALYZING HUMAN REMAINS
Osteology: study of the form and function of the skeleton
oCan contribute to the analysis of demographic structure, health and disease,
diet and nutrition and population affinity
Estimation of age and sex of individuals within a skeletal sample is first step
towards interpretation
Estimation of Age (TEXTBOOK ONLY)
Skeletal age-indicator techniques: used to estimate the age at death of an
individual from skeletal remains
Depends on:
oMacroscopic
Focus on pattern of age-related degeneration of bones
Include examination of the pubic symphysis and auricular structure of
hipbone, closure of sutures between the bones on skull etc.
oMicroscopic
Focuses on remodelling to see how microscopic fractures occur
normally from everyday wear and tear
Remodelling occurs after growth has ceased and replaces old
tissue with new formed bone to maintain bone strength
Easiest and most accurate to estimate the age of children from looking
at their dental and skeletal tissues
www.notesolution.com
Sex-Determination (TEXTBOOK ONLY)
Pelvis and hipbone is the most reliable part for determining sex
Restricted to remains of sexually mature adults
Ancient DNA (TEXTBOOK ONLY)
Extracting DNA from prehistoric remains
Very costly
First used to find the sex of the skeletal remains and any disease
Paleopathology (TEXTBOOK ONLY)
Study of origins, prevalence and spread of diseases in past populations from human
skeletal remains
Human behaviour and its social and cultural determinants play a role in the spread
of infectious diseases
Palaeodemography (TEXTBOOK ONLY)
Study of demographic structure and processes in past populations from
archaeological evidence
Assumption is made that mortality statistics derived from skeletal samples are
sufficient to make inferences about the past population
Ethnographic analogy: method of comparative cultural study that extrapolates to
the past from recent or current societies
oRelies heavily on spatial analysis (settlement archaeology)
oSpatial analysis interpreting the spatial distributions of artifacts, features,
sites, etc. In an effort to reconstruct past human action
Life table: tool used be demographers to place individuals into groups
Also assumed that population numbers were stationary (no immigration and
emigration; births = deaths)
oCan use this to estimate life expectancy at birth
oTwo factors that affect stationary populations are growth and migration
RECONSTRUCTING PAST DIETS (TEXTBOOK ONLY)
www.notesolution.com

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Description
Reconstructing the Past: Analysis and Interpretation ANALYZING ARTIFACTS Conservation: technique used on archaeological materials to stop or reverse the process of decay o Some conservation is very simple, involving only cleaning and drying the item o Some are complex, involving long-term chemical treatments and storage under controlled conditions Reconstruction: Careful analysis of the environment in which materials are found in order to say something about the circumstances by which that material came to be there o Circumstances natural and human agencies is like building a puzzle Materials have to be sorted into similar types (e.g., colour, shapes etc.) Long difficult process; can take up to many years Catalogue items by numerating them into categories Classify items by assigning items to pre-arranged systems which are determined by rules whether they belong in the category or not What Can We Learn from Artifacts? Archaeologists can begin analyzing after conservation and reconstruction is complete First, examine the form (how it is shaped) of an artifact Typology: a way of organizing artifacts in categories based on their particular characteristics o Can tell the age, species of culture etc. We must acknowledge if they are emic or etic in nature o Emic insiders view of culture; recognized as meaningful to its manufacturer o Etic outsiders view of culture; recognized as meaningful to the analyst www.notesolution.com
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