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Archaeology Midterm Notes 1 .docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Max Gwynn

Archaeology Midterm #2 Ch. 3,4,7,11 Chapter 3 – pg. 104-120 Basic Principles of & approaches to excavation, recovery methods Excavation  Yields the most reliable evidence for the two main kinds of information archaeologists are interested in o Human activities @ a particular period in past o Changes in those activities from period to period  Contemporary activities take place horizontally in space & changes in activities occur vertically through time o Form basis of most excavation methodology  Horizontal Dimension o Archaeologist demonstrate contemporaneity – activities did indeed occur at the same time o Artifacts and features are found in association in an undisturbed context  Vertical Dimension o Archaeologists analyze changes through time by the study of stratigraphy  Stratigraphy o The study and validation of stratification – the analysis in the vertical, time dimension of a series of layers in the horizontal, space dimension o Open area excavations better recognize spatial patterning over large area o Stratigraphy is recorded as excavation occurs and later reconstructed o Best for single component sites that are relatively shallow o Geologists recognized that layers/strata are laid down, one on top of the other, according to processes that still continue o Archaeological Strata  The layers of cultural/natural debris visible in the side of any excavation  Accumulate over much shorter periods of time than geological ones, but conform to the same law of superposition  States that where on layer overlies another, the lower was deposited first  Refers only to the sequence of deposition, not to the age of the material in the different strata  Can be inverted, as when they are eroded all the way from the top of a bank to the bottom of a ditch  Artifacts are temporaneous and not intrusive  Method of Excavation o All excavations need to be adapted to the research question in hand and the nature of the site o Paleolithic Site  One or two structures and a few hundred artifacts survive o Site Grid  Laid out from a datum, which is simply a selected location that serves as a reference point for all horizontal and vertical measurements take at the site o Wheeler box-grid  Developed from the work of Pitt-Rivers  Baulks provide a record of stratigraphy at the site.  Allows different layers to be traced and correlated across the site  Some argued that baulks were invariably in the wrong place or wrongly oriented to illustrate the relationships required from sections, and prevent the distinguishing of spatial patterning over large area  Method still used in parts of South Asia where it was introduce by Wheeler in 40s  Mellaart conducted horizontal & vertical investigations at Çatalhöyük in the early 1960’s.Over 200 houses were exposed but he was never able to reach the  Bottom of the mound.Abandoned village of Marsleben: a fixed-level, box-grid excavation of a mediaeval Grubenhaus (house with sunken floor-level) o Open-area method  Particularly effective where single-period deposits lie near the surface  Large open-area  Often undertaken in applied or compliance archaeology o Rigid box-grid  Rarely been employed to excavate very deep sites, because the trench squares rapidly become uncomfortable and dangerous as the dig proceeds downward o Step-trenching  Large area opened at the top which gradually narrows as the dig descends in a series of large steps o Cofferdam  Used for deep excavations  Sheet piling around the area to be dug  Been used in ship wreck excavations, simply to control the flow of water or to pump out water  Expensive and dig must be well-funded  Basic Principles of Archaeology o Archaeological strata  Refer to the accumulation of natural and cultural debris in successive layers o Laws of stratigraphy  Vertical sections show accumulated layers creating a sequence  Superposition, original horizontality, lateral continuity, cross- cutting  Unconformities – represent periods of time where erosion or no deposition occurred o Recording Stratigraphy  The Harris Matrix  Matrix depicts the sequence of deposition as seriation diagram; reflects relative position and contacts between units  Recovery & Recording of the Evidence o One should aim to recover and plot three-dimensional provenience of every artifact from a shallow single-period Paleolihic or Neolithic site o Mechanical diggers are used to remove topsoil (saves time)  Top soil can contain useful archaeological information o Archaeologists screen as much excavated soil in order to recover tiny artifacts, animal bones, plant remains o Screening  methods used are determined by the nature of the site and the expected finds  standard screen size is ¼ inch o Parks Canada Recording  Artifacts, notes, photos, drawings form the full archaeological record and are the basis for interpretation o Piece-Plotting  Records the vertical & horizontal location of each artifact, ecofact and feature o Flotation Screening  Way to recover small artifacts & ecofacts based on their buoyancy  Circulating water washes away soil and the contents separated into materials that flow (light fraction) and those that don’t (heavy fraction)  Allows recovery of the smallest vestiges of ancient cultures & their environments, facilitates detailed examinations  Light Fraction  Seeds, charcoal, roots, other organic material  Heavy Fraction  Shell, pottery, lithics, rocks, other dense materials o Soil Samples  Fasciola Hepatica (Liver-fluke) recovered in a soil sample from the pelvic region  Important to collect soil samples  Do not remove visible artifacts & ecofacts  Processing and Classification o Ecofact – organic and environmental remains o Artifact – portable object made or altered by humans o Feature – a structure made by humans that cannot be moves (pit, building, burial mound) o Attribute – characteristics of material culture o Variable – possible variation in an attribute o Correlation – an association of attributes o Assemblage – groups of artifact types that share spatial & temporal relationships o Archaeological cultures – groups of assemblages that define an archaeological culture o Deciding what to clean  Conservation is left to specialists  Assessment should occur before cleaning  To confirm stones/bones from particular strata are contemporaneous, efforts are made to reassemble/refit or to see if the individuals pieces can be conjoined o Cemetery markers as artifacts  Gravestone markers form an artifact category  An attribute is the decoration and variables are the different motifs  Artifacts can inform us about the past; human activities and behavior  Artifacts can be used to date  Artifacts can demonstrate change through time o Two aspects of field laboratory procedure  Cleaning of artifacts  Artifacts should not necessarily be cleaning thoroughly before a specialist has had a chance to study them  Must be cleaned to some extent if sorted and classified  Artifact classification  Done on basis of three kinds of attributes o Surface attributes (including decoration and colour) o Shape attributes (dimensions as well as shape) o Technological attributes (primarily raw material)  Artifacts found to share similar attributes are grouped together into artifact types o Typology (creation of such types)  Helps archaeologists create order in this mass of evidence  Method of dating  Curation o Conservation of objects and materials play major role not only for arrangement of long-term storage, but also for collections management Chapter 11 – pgs. 421-462 The Bioarchaeology of People  Biological anthropologists who analyze the relevant evidence  Biological anthropology yields a wealth of evidence to enrich the archaeologist’s understanding of the past  Bioarchaeology o First made in 1970s by Grahame Clark o The scientific study of human skeletal remains from an archaeological context to answer questions about life in the past o Biological Profile  Consists of age, sex, stature, ancestry of the deceased  Is it Animal or Human?  At a macroscopic level, bones & bone fragments with joint surfaces should be identifiable  Fragments needs to be directly compared  How Many Individuals?  Minimum # of individuals, an estimate not the actual number  If remains are in good condition & relatively complete MNI is probably accurate; if the remains are in poor condition & relatively incomplete MNI maybe less than actual number  Reconstruction, check for cross-mends and summarize  Represents the max. # of individuals  Overlap, look for overlap in elements, move towards a preliminary conclusion  Exclusion, non-overlapping elements on the basis of size, sex & age  Sex of Individual  Sexual dimorphism most pronounced in pelvic girdle, cited as 90-95% accurate  Pubic bone best portion  Sexual dimorphism also pronounced in cranium, 80-90% accurate  Differences based on size & architecture  Individuals age at death  Anatomical differences between different age cohorts found in growth & development & anatomical deterioration o Human skeleton can tell us about a person’s identity in life, their life history, how they died o Bone is a very dynamic/plastic tissue o Bone morphology is influenced by genetics & environment o Life history events recorded in skeleton o Forensic Taphonomy – multidisciplinary study of what happens to the remains of organisms after death o Paleodemography  Study of ancient population, mortality, fertility o Population Relations  Study of biological relationships and migration based on morphological and molecular variation o Paleopathology  Study of ancient health and disease; origin and evolution of disease o Paleonutrition  Analysis of prehistoric diets and dietary intake in relation to health & disease Identifying Physical Attributes  Which Sex? o Best indicator of sex is the shape of pelvis o Male bones generally bigger, longer, more robust, more developed muscle markings than females o Children remains cannot be sexed with the same degree of reliability as adults  How long did they life? o Teeth (best indicator of age) o Bones (used for assessing age)  Years at which bone epiphyses fuse – give timescale that can be applied to remains of young people  Fusion – the joining of separate pieces of bones, can also indicate age  The thicker the skull, the older the person  Ribs – used to determine age  Interpreting Age @ death o Can only calculate average age @ death for bodies and skeletons that have survived and been discovered o Cemetery provides sample population  Stature of Individual  Regression equation  Metrical relationship of bone length to full body length  Arm bones used to estimate stature  White male humerus measuring 41.0cm  What did they look like? o Paul Janssens  Developed method of superimposing photographs of skulls and portraits  One can confirm the identity of skeleton during restoration of tombs  How were they related? o DNA Analysis Assessing Human Abilities  Walking o Bipedalism – ability to walk habitually on two legs o Skull  Evidence for upright walking  Position of the hole at their base, where the spinal column enters, tells a great deal about the position of the body during locomotion o Footprints  Which hand did they use? o Much evidence comes from Stencils and Prints o When left hand has been stencils, implies that the artist was right-handed o Fractures & Cutmarks another source of evidence o Movement controlled in left part of brain  When did speech develop? o Speech controlled in left part of brain o Speech centre of brain is a bump protruding on the surface of the left hemisphere o Language is function of the brain and of mental capacity  Art and Literature provide evidence for innumerable human activities in the past  Cannibalism – the eating of human flesh by humans Disease, Deformity, Death  Early in our evolutionary history, people began to place great significance on remains of dead  Treatment of the dead and Grave markers as a reflection of o Style o Religion o Population-societal & personal values o Social organization  Facedown burials are deliberate, widespread and meant to disrespect the individual  Ossuary burial occurred every 8-12 years when a village was ready to move o Way of informing the dead as well as notifying other villages  Explanations include the forging of alliances already based in part on kinship, transforming kinship based alliances into communities meant to address new problems  Treatment of the dead by Huron-Wendat in the Feast of the Dead  Definition… The purposeful disposal of the dead o Battle of Cold harbor, Virginia fought in the spring of 1864 o One of America’s bloodiest battles  Excavation- Exposure o Flexibility in methodology is required; you never know what you will encounter until you are there  Excavation- Recording o Site info o Intra-site info o Description of grave, remains & associations o Scale drawing o Photographs & video  Burial Description – Form of Disposal o Simple or single process o Compound involving multiple processes  Ontario Iroquois buried their dead in cemeteries a short distance from the village  Burial recovered when village was about to move, and reburied in a common ossuary at the Feast of the Dead  Burial Description – Body Preparation o Body preparation involved activities that prepare the body for placement in the grace  Burial Description – Individuality o Involved the number of remains contained within a burial (single, double, multiple, contemporary, consecutive)  Burial Description – Articulation o Includes information on articulations; degree of anatomical order (disorder tool)  Burial Description – Position o Involves recording information on the relationship of different body parts at the hip, knee, arms, head  Burial Description – Alignment & orientation o Two directions are used for graves (north & south) o One direction used for orientation of the individual (burial facing east)  Burial Descriptions – Grave Goods & Inclusions o Information on types, frequencies, placements, condition  Burial Descriptions – Disposal container o Includes any container for transporting or holding  Burial Description – Features o Associated features; everything from inclusions to structures  Burial Description – Larger disposal area o Situating the burial in a broader context  Burial Description – demographic & osteobiographic information o Age-at-death and sex are universal variable  Excavation – Removal o Clean o Identify & side o Label containers  Repatriation – Canada o Land claims agreements o Canadian museum of civilization o Locally negotiated o CFN/CMA Task force  Repatriation – USA o NAGPRA; Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act  Reflexive Critique and Open Dialogue o Turner et al (2004)  Fair and equal treatment  Adherence to standards of practice  Critical self evaluation  Dialogue with & involvement of marginalized groups  Scientists & bioarchaeologists see human skeletal remains as being… o Biological resources encoded with info about:  Genetics  Demographic processes operating at the individual and species level  Physiological responses made to natural and sociocultural environments over a lifetime o Studies of skeletal remains are designed to address issues like:  Health  Sex & gender dynamics  Subsistence change  Population movements  Disease transmission  Physical activity  Violence  Social o Why study human skeletal remains and why is Bioarchaeology important?  Bone and teeth are the hardest tissues in the human body  Biological evidence of early ancestors  Evolutionary perspective on health, diet, disease and demography  Comparative/alternate source of data to material culture and historical documents  Addresses issues of identity, life history, manner of death for individuals  Evidence of Soft Tissue o Proper analysis of ancient diseases can only be carried out on surviving soft tissue (or through study of biomolecules) o Soft tissue survives in specific environments o Surface Tissue  Reveals evidence of illness  Reveal some causes of violent death o Inner Tissue  number of methods are at the analyst’s disposal  Bacteria, Parasites, Viruses o Parasites found where soft tissue survives  Parasite eggs pass out in feces encased in hard shells, and thus survive o Scabs/Viruses  Can survive in recognizable form in soft tissue  Virus infects by releasing its DNA into the unfortunate host  Skeletal Evidence for Deformity & Diseases o Skeletal material is far more abundant than preserved soft tissue, and can reveal a great deal of paleopathological information o Frequency & type of injuries on a population level are useful to archaeologists o Leprosy  Erodes the bones of the face and the extremities in a distinctive manner o X-ray analysis of bone may reveal evidence of arrested growth known as Harris Lines  Narrow radiopaque deposits of bone in what are normally the hollow interiors of bones  Clearest in the lower tibia o Beaus Lines  On finger and toenail, are shallow grooves that indicated slowed growth caused by disease or malnourishment o Analysis of Bone  Show that the danger of poisoning from toxic substances is by no means confined to our own times o Phoenician  Oldest known example of false teeth o Black Layer on Teeth  Causes by mercury intoxication: inhalation of mercury fumes o Most common and impressive archaeological evidence for medical skill is the Phenomenon of Trepanation  cutting out of a piece of bone from the skull Assessing Nutrition  Nutrition o Measure of a diet’s ability to maintain the human body in it’s physical and social environment  Malnutrition o Teeth  Patches of poorly mineralized enamel reflect growth disturbance brought about by a diet deficient in milk, fish, oil, animal fats  Lack of vitamin C causes Scurvy o Art & Literature  Additional evidence for malnutrition can be obtained  Shift to agriculture affected women more than men Genetics  Much of the best evidence for early population movements come from the analysis of modern genetic material  Genetic analysis of living populations can only tell us about past cultures that have living descendants Discovering the Variety of Human Experience pg. 17-168  Christopher Hawkes o Argued that it is easiest in archaeology to find out about technology and diet, and most difficult to discover social organization or what people believed and thought Bone Loss & Bone Fracture @ Catalhoyuk  Research project, where archaeologists are excavating a 9,000 yr old Neolithic village  Adaptive strategies developed by Neolithic societies in response to the adoption of agriculture & the domestication of animals set into motion future developments in Europe & many other areas of the globe  Discovery & Early Excavations o James Mellaart  Discovers Catalhoyuk in 1958 & carries out excavations for 4 seasons beginning in 1961  Conducted horizontal & vertical investigations exposing over 200 houses but was never able to reach the bottom of the mound  Current Excavations o Ian Hodder  Began a 25-year field program in 1993 o New focus on individual houses, their remains to understand the social structure and development of the site o New investigations of social structure, resources, land use, activity patterns & human health will provide new understanding of this key period in human evolution  Facts about Bone Health o Early fetal & infant environment have been show to influence bone mass o Adolescents suffering from anorexia nervosa are at high risk of decreased bone mineral density o Gymnastics training in young women ages 17-27 correlates with increased bone density o Inadequate intake of zinc & phosphorus are risk factors for osteoporotic fracture in elderly men o Family & twin studies have demonstrated a strong genetic component to the development of peak bone mass o Diet, physical activity, and lifestyle influence bone health and are implicated in the etiology of osteoporosis  Osteoporosis o Systemic skeletal disease characterized by low bone density & micro- architectural deterioration of bone tissue with a consequent increase in bone fragility & risk of fracture o 75 million people affect in Europe, Japan, USA o 2.3 million fragility fractures annually in Europe & USA o Fractures are projected to doubly by 2025  Research Objectives o What: to determine the extent to which different factors (diet, life style, physical activity) influence bone health & the onset of osteoporosis o How: examination of aspects of bone quantity(cortical & trabecular bone loss), bone quality (trabecular micro-architecture) & gross morphology (fractures) in all age, sex & social groups o Context: in conjunction with supporting evidence on aspects of diet/nutrition, activity patters & other aspects of skeletal biology, site, environment  Context… evidence for diet o Based on a wide range of wild and domesticated plant
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