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Christopher Watts

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Anthropology Term 1 Study Guide - Watts 10-12-07 1:54 AM WATTS LECTURE#1 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 Physical 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 excavation Microfossils Pollen, phytoliths (found in soils or residues) adhering to artifacts Retrieved through mechanical and chemical disaggregation Visible only under high-power magnification, 200x greater Archaeological Site Geographic areas that contain evidence of the past human behaviour and activity www.notesolution.com 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) Subsurface 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 electricity o Magnetometry (magnometer) Measures relative magnetism of items below the surface o Ground penetrating radar (GPR) www.notesolution.com Involves radar waves that map subsurface sedimentary layers and buried archaeological features Excavation 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 Stratigraphy 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 dating) 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) www.notesolution.com Potassium-Argon Dating o The half-life of 40K is a known quantity (so the age of a material containing potassium can be measured by the amount of 40K it contains compared with the amount of 40Ar that it contains) o The K-Ar method dates the minerals and rocks in a deposit (not the fossils) Thermoluminescence (TL) dating o A dating technique that is well-suited to samples of ancient pottery, brick, tile, or terracotta all are heated to a high temperature that released trapped electrons from radioactive elements around it when made o the electrons trapped after manufacture emit light when heated the age of the object can be estimated by measuring how much light is emitted when the object is heated WATTS LECTURE#2 Data Processing Cleaning Conservation (techniques used to stop or reverse the process of decay cataloguing organization classification: assigning items to categories (classes) in a pre- arranged system typology: a way of organizing artifacts into categories based on their particular characteristics o often provide information about artifact regarding age, species/culture affiliation, use, etc. emic insiders view of culture; the type use only meaningful to the analyst etic outsiders view of culture the type use only meaningful to the analyst www.notesolution.com
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