Anthropology 1020E Chapter Notes -Cognitive Archaeology, Mary Leakey, Archaeogenetics

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The Nature and Aims of Archaeology
-work of scientific analysts, discovery of the past and the exercise of creative imagination
-painstaking task of interpretation
-conservation of the world’s cultural heritage
-both a physical activity and an intellectual pursuit
Archaeology as Anthropology
Biological anthro (evolution), cultural anthro (ethnography/ethnology), archaeology (past tense of
cultural anthro – study material culture)
-one of most challenging tasks for archaeologists today is knowing how to interpret material culture
in human terms
-ethnoarchaeology: where like ethnographers, arch live among contemporary communities but with
the specific purpose of understanding how such societies use material culture
-archaeology important for the field of conservation: ‘heritage studies’ a developing field that
recognizes that the world’s cultural heritage is a diminishing resource and hold different meanings
for different people
Archaeology as History
-archeology has been only significant source of information for the past 3 million years of
-conventional history began with written records around 3000BC is western Asia
-arch can also contribute a great deal to the understanding of periods and places where written
documents exist
Archaeology as a Science
-material objects offer no direct information
-arch like scientist in: collects data (evidence), conducts experiments, formulates a hypothesis
against more data and then in conclusion devises a model = have to develop a picture of the past
-science and a humanity
The Variety and Scope of Archaeology
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-broad range of archaeologies
-earliest periods (Old Stone Age, Paleolithic, before 10,000 years)
-later ones (great civilizations OF the Americas and China, Egyptology, classical archaeology of
Rome and Greece)
-major development recently is the acknowledgement that archaeology can contribute much to
recent historic periods
-N.A and Australia – historical archeology of the colonial and post-colonial periods
-medieval and post-medieval archeology increased in Europe
-specializations that cut across subdivisions: environmental, underwater, ethnoarchaeology
-formation processes now focus of intensive study – ethnoarch flourishes here, studying the living
peoples and their material culture to improve archaeological records
-archaeology of the 21st century ranges from design of the coke bottle to forensic pathology used in
investigation of war crimes
-geoarchaeology for the reconstruction of early environments and the study of lithic materials
The Ethics of Archaeology
-raises ethical issues, that the uses of archaeology are politically and commercially raise moral and
ethical dimensions (deliberate destruction, in opposition to new construction projects
-commercial exploitation of the past also rises PROBLEMS: many sites over-visited and poses
problem to conservation (Stonehenge)
Aims and Questions
-not enough to simply complete the picture, today “the reconstruction of the lifeway’s of the people
responsible for the archaeological remains”
-not just how people lived, but why they lived that way, why they had those patterns of behaviour
and how did their lifeway’s and material culture come to take form in the ways they did
-explaining change
-processual archaeology: moves forward by asking series of questions, defining aims, formulating
questions and proceeding to answer them
-post-processual or interpretive archaeology: symbolic and cognitive aspects of society
-we have found the right questions and the right methods for answering them
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Document Summary

>the ecological approach one of most influential new thinks in north am julian steward: interested in explaining cultural change like childe; highlighted that cultures interact with environments as well = cultural ecology: grahame clark developed ecological approach: broke away from artifact dominated or culture historical approaches and instead argued that by studying how human populations a pated to their environments we can understand many aspects of ancient society; collaboration with new specialists essential (identity animal/plant remains) Immediately after ww2 rapid development of scientific aids for arc: new importance on the application to archaeology of the physical and chemical sciences, greatest breakthrough: dating 1949 radiocarbon evented by willard libby (usa) > ten years later when really broke through, artifact studies could contribute to understanding early trade, over past decade: new developments in biochemistry and molecular genetics led to emergence of new disciplines of molecular archaeology and archaeogenetics.

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