Archaeology Lecture Two + Readings

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Christopher Watts

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
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