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ANT100Y1 Study Guide - Lascaux, Social Stratification, Oldowan

Course Code
Christopher Watts

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Anthropology Term 1 Study Guide - Watts 10-12-07 1:54 AM
3 Typical Elements of Archaeological research
unobserved material culture
unobserved human/non-human activity
interpretation/explanation of human activity
Archaeological Record
the matrices in which artifacts, ecofacts, sites and other human
manufactured features or results of past actions are found
Material Evidence
o Artifacts
! Any portable object whose form has been shaped by
way of human activity
o Features
! Non portable material evidence of human activity
o Ecofacts
! Non-artificial material evidence of human activity
" Macrofossils
Visible to the naked eye
Can be retrieved through flotation or normal
" Microfossils
Pollen, phytoliths (found in soils or residues)
adhering to artifacts
Retrieved through mechanical and chemical
Visible only under high-power magnification,
200x greater
Archaeological Site
Geographic areas that contain evidence of the past human
behaviour and activity

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Usually consists of a collection of activity areas containing any of
the following
o Artifacts
o Ecofacts
o Features
Provenience (Provenance)
The location of an artifact or feature within a site
Site Formation Processes
Affected by:
o Human agencies (curating/discard of objects)
o Natural agencies (taphonomic processes)
! Soil composition, environment, temperature,
disturbance by animals
! Taphonomy the study of burial
Archaeological Sites (field methods)
Surface techniques: survey techniques for finding and assessing
archaeological sites from surface finds
o Fieldwalking
o Aerial photography, satellite imaging
! Areas disturbed by past human occupation may produce
differences in the kinds of vegetation that cover the
area (detectable from air)
o Testpitting (used to examine the changing pattern and
density of recoveries across the site)
o Remote sensing (non-invasive)
o Resistivity (electric resistivity meters)
! Measures differences in the ability of sediments and
other materials beneath the surface to conduct
o Magnetometry (magnometer)
! Measures relative magnetism of items below the surface
o Ground penetrating radar (GPR)

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! Involves radar waves that map subsurface sedimentary
layers and buried archaeological features
Datum & grid
o Datum represents a fixed, permanent reference point within
or near the site
! Defines the location of all information and specimens
collected from the site
o Once a datum has been decided, a grid system is laid out
o The study of how different rock formations and fossils are laid
down in successive layers or strata (older layers are generally
deeper or lower than more recent layers)
Dating Techniques
Relative vs. absolute
o Absolute dating: a method of dating fossils in which the actual
age of a deposit or specimen is measures (chronometric
o Relative dating: a method of dating fossils that determines
the age of specimen or deposit relative to a known specimen
or deposit
Absolute measures
o Dendrochronology: an absolute dating technique based on
counting annual tree rings in wood (age of wood)
o Radiocarbon dating: a dating method that uses the decay of
carbon-14 to date organic remains (reliable for dating once-
living matter up to 50 000 years old)
! Conventional: count the number of beta radiations
given off per minute per gram of material (the
determine how much 14C is left)
! Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS): can date
specimens up to 80 000 years old because it is more
capable of accurately measuring minute quantities of
14C (requires considerably less raw material to
generate a useful date)
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