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Chapter 2

CLST 129 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Taphonomy

Classical Studies
Course Code
CLST 129

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Chapter Two
8:12 PM
Artifacts: objects used, modified or made by people
Ecofacts: organic and environmental remains
Typology: Pictoral decoration on pot surface could help to form or be related to a sequence
of design styles and tell us something about ancient beliefs, particularly if it shows depictions
of gods or other figures
Artifacts can include all humanly modified components of a landscape such as hearths, post-
holes and storage pits- these non portable artifacts are better described as features
Formation process: May affect the way in which finds came to be buried and what happened
to them after they were buried
o Study of this process is called taphonomy
Cultural formation process: the deliberated or accidental activities of humans as they make/
use artifacts, build/ abandon buildings, plow fields ect.
Natural formation process: are natural events that govern both the burial and survival of the
archaeological record
Cultural formation process
o Accusation of raw material
o Manufacture
o Use (and distribute)
o Disposal or discard
Stone tools survive amazingly
Electrolysis- placing artifacts in chemical solution and passing current though it leaves metal
artifact clean and safe
Preservation of organic materials
o Dry environments: great aridity or dryness, prevents decay through a shortage of water
which ensures many destructive micro-organisms are unable to flourish
o Cold environments: natural refrigeration can hold the process of decay in check for
thousands of years
o Water logged environments : organics materials are effectively sealed in a wet and
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