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Chapter 2 study guide notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Genevieve Dewar

Chapter 2: Methods of Studying the Human Past study of human past is an important part of anthro, given its concern with peoples in all places and times; knowledge of the human past is essential if we are to understand what it was that made us distinctively human, as well as how the processes of change- both biological and cultural- affect the human species archaeology and biological anthro are the two branches of anthro most involved in the study of human past o archaeologist (apart from those engaged in analysis of modern garbage) study things left behind by people who lived in historic or prehistoric timestools, trash, traces of shelter etc today aim is to use archaeological remains to reconstruct human societies that can no longer be observed firsthand, in order to understand and explain human behavior the actual remains of ancestors are the concern of biological anthropologists o paleoanthropologist: biological anthropologist engaged in the recovery and study of fossil evidence of human evolution; confine attention to humans, near humans and other ancient primates, the group of which humans belong o paleontologists study all forms of past life prehistoric past: before the existence of written records; does not deny the existence of history, merely of written history pre-contact: the period before European arrival in the Americas Methods of Data Recovery artifact is any object fashioned or altered by humans; it expresses a facet of human culture; since it is something someone made, it is said to be a product of human behavior; it is a material representation of an abstract ideal what people do with the things they have made, how they dispose of them, and how they lose them also reflect important aspects of human behavior; also the context in which artifacts are found tells us which objects were contemporary with which other objects, which are older, and which are younger o without this info they cant understand of identify specific cultures of the past; such info is lost if the material has been disturbed archaeologist work with artifacts and nonfossilized human bone, paleoanthropologist work with human and other primate fossilsthe remains of past forms of life o to paleoanthropologist, the contact tell which fossils are earlier or later in time than other fossils and by noting the association of human fossils with other nonhuman remains they may go a long way toward reconstructing the environmental setting in which the human lived Nature of Fossils fossil is the remains of a once-living organism of past geologic time that has been preserved in the earths crust, generally having lived more than 100 000 years ago fossilization involves the hard parts of the organism because the soft parts usually disappearbones, teeth, shells, horns and woody tissues of plants are the most successfully fossilized altered fossils are remains of plants and animals that lived in the past that have been altered, as by the replacement of organic material by calcium carbonate or silica thousands or MYA the organisms died and were deposited in the earth and may have been covered by sediments and silt or sandthese material gradually hardened, forming a protective shell around the skeleton of the organism the internal cavities of bones or teeth and other pats of the skeleton were generally filled in with mineral deposits from the sediments immediately surrounding the specimenthen the external walls of the bone decayed and were replaced by calcium carbonate or silica fossilization is most apt to occur among marine animals and other creatures that live near water. Because their remains accumulate on shallow sea, river or lake bottoms, away from waves and tidal actionthese concentrations of shells and other parts of organisms are covered and completely enclosed by the soft waterborne sediments that eventually harden into shale and limestone terrestrial animals that dont live near lakes might be fossilized if they die in a cave, or their remains were dragged there by some meat eating animal o in caves, conditions are often excellent for fossilization, as minerals contained in water dripping from the ceiling may harden over bones left on the cave floor www.notesolution.com
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