ANP 203 Exam 3 Study Guide:
• Absolute Dating: provides an actual age in years or a range of years for archaeological artifacts,
ecofacts, features, and sites. The precision offered by different absolute dating methods when
applied the archaeological sites can range widely.
• Archaeomagnetic Dating: Archaeomagnetic dating is a method of assigning a date to a
fireplace or burned earth area using the earth's magnetic field. Superheating rock or clay (hotter
than firing a prehistoric ceramic) aligns the iron mineral within the material to the current
magnetic north pole. Since the pole has wandered over time, comparing the alignment of the
iron mineral particles to the master curve of the North Pole provides a usable date for reference.
Have to be unused objects and in the source
• Attribute: Adistinct, individual characteristic of an artifact that cannot be further subdivided
and distinguishes it from another.An attribute is used to classify artifacts into groups and
describes objects in terms of their physical traits such as color, design pattern, form, shape, size,
style, surface texture, technology, and weight.Attribute analysis is a method of using these
characteristics to statistically produce clusters of attributes in identifying classes of artifacts.
• Battleship Curve: Alens-shaped seriation graph formed by plotted points representing artifact
type frequencies. The rise in popularity of an artifact, its period of maximum popularity, and the
artifact's eventual decline would be plotted, as well as its origin and disappearance.
• Biomes:Aspatially extensive community of plants and animals living in a significantly large,
recognizable habitat. NorthAmerican biomes include tundra, taiga, mountain forest, temperate
deciduous forest, tropical rain forest, grassland, and desert.
• BoneAge: Aloosely defined prehistoric period of human culture characterized by the use of
implements made of bone and antler.
• Calendrical Dating: Not always absolute
• Carbon Dating: Radiometric dating procedure that measures the amount of carbon-14 remaining
in an item found at an archaeological site to determine its age. Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope
of carbon. Its decay rate, expressed as a half-life, is known; therefore when the amount of
carbon-14 remaining in an item is measured, the age of the item can be determined.
• Chronometric Dating: Dating techniques that provide an actual age in years or a range of years
for archaeological artifacts, ecofacts, features, or sites. The precision offered by different
chronometric dating methods when applied to archaeological sites can range widely. In
dendrochronology, for example, the precise year in which a tree was cut down can be
determined an, in another example, the makers mark on a ceramic vessel can be traced to the
precise year in which the maker produced a particular style of pottery.
• Classification: The ordering of archaeological data that share certain attributes or
characteristics into groups and classes; the divisions arrived at by such a process. Classification
is the first step in the analysis of archaeological data -- when particles or objects are sorted or
categorized by established criteria, such as size, function, material, or color.
• Complex Society: Society in which authority, coordination of activity, and control of behavior
are organized at a level beyond that of the family. Complex societies may have ranks or classes
peopled by individuals with greater or lesser wealth, authority, or social standing than those in
other ranks or classes.
• Comparative Collection: Grouping of samples of animal bones, seeds, nuts, lithic raw materials,
and so on that can aid in the identification of materials recovered at archaeological sites.A
comparative collection is, essentially, a library of prototypes that serve as the models by which
archaeological samples can be judged and identified. Comparative collections are particularly
valuable when the archaeological specimens are highly fragmented. • Cultural Ecology: The study of the interrelationships between human groups and their
environments. The cultural ecological approach views culture as an adaptive system.
• Dendrochronology: Tree ring dating. The actual year a tree was cut down and used, for
example, by a past people to build a structure, can be determined by comparing the succession
of rings in the ancient tree to those of a broad master sequence whose final ring represents the
current year. The master sequence for a given region is constructed by examining a number of
trees of overlapping ages. The master sequence consists of a series of rings of various thickness
stretching back, in some areas, for more then 10,000 years. Tree ring thickness varies from year
to year consistently across a region as a result of varying temperatures and amounts of rainfall.
Ring thicknesses for even a short series of years are not repeated, so any ancient tree found in a
region can be placed within the master sequence, and the year of its final ring can be
determined, thus dating when the tree died or was cut down.
• Diffusion: The movement of ideas across geographic distance and cultural boundaries. When
new technologies or styles are reflected in the archaeological record at a particular
archaeological site or within a particular region, it may be the result of local and independent
invention or development of the new technology or idea, or it may be the result of the
borrowing of the new behaviors as a result of diffusion.
• Direct Date: when you date an object by taking a sample of itself and doing carbon dating on it
• Direct HistoricalApproach:An approach in ethnographic analogy in which the culture of a
group that represents the descendants of the people whose archaeological remains are being
investigated is used as a source for models or analogies to explain the life ways lived by the
• Egalitarian:Asociety in which all the members within the groups recognized age and sex
categories have an equivalent amount of wealth, authority, and social standing.All members of
an egalitarian society are not necessarily “equal” and there may be differences in wealth,
authority, and social standing among the difference groups.
• EMIC: Insiders perspective
• ETIC: Outsiders perspective
• Environmental Determinism: The now discredited view that the degree of challenge presented
by a particular environment determines the level of technological complexity achieved by the
people living there. Not surprisingly, Western European thinkers in the nineteenth century
viewed the environments of Western Europe and NorthAmerica as presenting exactly the right
level of challenge to produce the worlds most developed societies.
• EthnographicAnalogy: Using the description of a living group of people-or a people who lived
in the not too distant past and whose life ways have been documented- as a model for
understanding the life ways of an archaeological group. Arecent group whose way of life has
been described is considered an appropriate source for comparisons and analogies when the two
peoples- those whose archaeological remains we are trying to understand and the more recent
group whose way of life has been described by eyewitnesses-appear to have lived under similar
conditions in generally similar cultural settings.
• ExperimentalArchaeology:Answering questions about the cultures of past peoples by
attempting to replicate particular elements of their behavior. Usually applied to material culture,
experimental archaeologists attempt to figure out how tools were made and used by actually
going through the trial-and-error process of making and using them. Experimental archaeology
certainly contributes to our scientific understanding of specific processes of the technologies of
past peoples, but it also does something more: It provides us with a visceral appreciation for
past technologies through the humbling experience of actually trying to make and use things similar to objects made by past people.
• Frequency Seriation: Arelative age determination technique in which artifacts or other
archaeological data are chronologically ordered by ranking their relative frequencies of
appearance. It is based on the idea that an artifact type first steadily grows in popularity and
then steadily declines.
• Geochronology: The study of earth history by correlating archaeological events to the timing
and sequencing of geological events. Specifically, it is the dating of archaeological data in
association with a geological deposit or formation, such as the dating of Pleistocene human
remains in the context of glacial advances and retreats. The term is applied to all absolute and
relative dating methods that involve the earth's physical changes, like radiocarbon dating,
dendrochronology, archaeomagnetism, fluorine testing, obsidian dating, potassium-argon
dating, thermoluminescence, and varve dating.
• Hard Hammer Technique: The use of a hammerstone to remove flakes during knapping. Hard
hammer flakes are short and deep with a prominent bulb of percussion.
• Indirect Dating: The determination of the age of archaeological data by association with a
matrix or an object of known age. When objectAis found clearly associated with object B,
whose date is known, the date of B is given toA.
• In Situ: Anything in its natural or original position or place is said to be in situ.
• Isotope: In physics an isotope is a variety of the atomic structure of an element.All atoms of a
given element have the same number of protons in the nuclei, but the number of neutrons may
vary; different isotopes of an individual element have different numbers of neutrons in their
nuclei. Some isotopes of an element are atomically stable, never changing. Others are unstable,
or radioactive, changing at a regular rate by a process of decay into a stable end product. The
fixed rate of decay of a radioactive isotope forms the basis of radiometric dating.
• Kitchen Midden: An above ground accumulation or pile of residue from food preparation.
Inedible material, spoilage, and excess is thrown on the pule and left to decay. The stuff that
does not disappear-depending on the local soil condition this will often be bones, shells, and
carbonized remains such as seed husks, nutshells, cobs, and rinds- becomes a kitchen midden.
• National Historic PreservationAct of 1966: This legislation formally established historic
preservation as an official policy supported by the federal government of the United States. The
spirit of this law is reflected in the wording of its preface, in which the authors expressed the
belief that the history of theAmerican people, reflected in part by cultural resources, should be
preserved as a reflection of national heritage. This act also established the National Register of
• National Register of Historic Places: Established and authorized in 1966 through the National
Historic PreservationAct, the register amounts to an honor role of structures, places and sites
that meaningfully reflect significant episodes, events, people, or practices inAmerican history.
Sites nominated to and accepted onto the register are deemed worthy of preservation because of
their significance to national and local history.
• Oaxaca: Large highland plateau in Oaxaca, Mexico, with occupation from c 5500 BC and some
of the first cities of the area, including MonteAlbán. Zapotec and Mixtec lived there.
• Obsidian: Naturally produced volcanic glass, usually black and translucent at thin edges.
Obsidian without impurities breaks very predictably and controllable, producing exceptionally
sharp, thin edges. Though these thin edges can be rather delicate and brittle, many ancient
people used obsidian to make cutting, piercing, slicing and scraping tools.
• Obsidian Hydration Dating: Amethod of dating in which the age of an obsidian artifact is
established by measuring the thickness of its hydration rim (layer of water penetration) and
comparing that to a known local hydration rate. The hydration layer is caused by absorption of water on exposed surfaces of the rock. The surface of obsidian starts to absorb water as soon as
it is exposed by flaking during manufacture of an artifact. The layer of hydrated obsidian is
visible when a slice of the artifact is examined under an optical microscope at a magnification
of x 500. Hydration varies geographically, and several factors such as climate, chemical
environment, and physical abrasion also affect the thickness of the layer, so that most studies
are locally or regionally based. Obsidian may also be dated by the fission track dating
technique. Dates have been obtained in Japan extending back as far as c 25,000 BC.
• Moldovan: The name given to the earliest stone tool industry. First found in Olduvai Gorge in
easternAfrica, Oldowan tools were manufactured of stone, often quartz or quartzite, pebbles.
Using direct percussion, the tool maker struck the stone core, removing a large flake. The flake
scar left on the core then became a striking platform for another flake, removed from a facet
opposite from the first. The core was then turned around again, using the scar left by the second
flake as another striking platform, and another flake was removed. This process was repeated
several times, producing a large chopping tool and several sharp, thin cutting flakes. These tools
have been dated to as much as 2.5 million years ago, and most were probably made by a human
ancestor, Homo Habilis.
• Paradigmatic Classification: Looking at more then one variable at a time. Looking for a group
of artifacts instead of just one at a time. This strategy lets you see how an artifact was used.
• PotassiumArgon Dating: Dating method based on the decay of an unstable isotope of the
element potassium into a stable and inert argon gas. The half-life of radioactive potassium,
common in the Earths crust is 1.25 billion years, during which time its end product, argon gas,
builds up at a regular rate in rock. By measuring how much argon has accumulated in a lava
flow, the amount of time since the lave solidified can be determined.
• Pressure Flaking:Amethod of stone tool making in which relatively small flakes are removed
from larger flakes by the application of pressure. Pressure flaking tools are ordinarily made of
antler or metal; bone and wood generally are too soft. Because the pressure flaking tool can be
positioned precisely at the point where the knapper hopes to remove a flake, pressure flaking is
used for the finer work in stone tool making, including precise edge sharpening, flake thinning,
final shaping, and notching.
• RadiometricAges: Dating techniques that are based on the regular rate of decay of an unstable
variety of an element. Because decay rates are known, an estimate of how old an object is can
be derived from the amount of the radioactive variety of an element remaining, or the amount of
the stable end product the radioactive variety decays to. When the life history of the material
being dated can be related to past people, the date derived from the object being dated can be
applied to the cultural material.
• Relative Dating: Refers to dating metho