Archaeology Wordsmith

Results for Period:

Amarna period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A phase in the late 18th Dynasty, including the reigns of Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamun, and Ay (1379-1352 BC), when important religious and artistic changes took place. The name is derived from the site of Akhenaten's capital at Tell el-Amarna.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Archaic, Archaic period, Archaic tradition
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: A term used to describe an early stage in the development of civilization. In New World chronology, the period just before the shift from hunting, gathering, and fishing to agricultural cultivation, pottery development, and village settlement. Initially, the term was used to designate a non-ceramic-using, nonagricultural, and nonsedentary way of life. Archaeologists now realize, however, that ceramics, agriculture, and sedentism are all found, in specific settings, within contexts that are clearly Archaic but that these activities are subsidiary to the collection of wild foods. In Old World chronology, the term is applied to certain early periods in the history of some civilizations. In Greece, it describes the rise of civilization from c 750 BC to the Persian invasion in 480 BC. In Egypt, it covers the first two dynasties, c 3200-2800 BC. In Classical archaeology, the term is often used to refer to the period of the 8th-6th centuries BC. The term was coined for certain cultures of the eastern North America woodlands dating from c 8000-1000 BC, but usage has been extended to various unrelated cultures which show a similar level of development but at widely different times. For example, it describes a group of cultures in the Eastern US and Canada which developed from the original migration of man from Asia during the Pleistocene, between 40,000-20,000 BC, whose economy was based on hunting and fishing, shell and plant gathering. Between 8000-1000 BC, a series of technical achievements characterized the tradition, which can be broken into periods: Early Archaic 8000-5000 BC, mixture of Big Game Hunting tradition with early Archaic cultures, also marked by post-glacial climatic change in association with the disappearance of Late Pleistocene big game animals; then Middle Archaic tradition cultures from 5000-2000 BC, and a Late Archaic period 2000-1000 BC. In the New World, the lifestyle lacked horticulture, domesticated animals, and permanent villages.
Atlantic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Atlantic phase, Atlantic climatic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: In Europe, a climatic optimum following the Boreal, the warmest period of the Holocene. This period was represented as a maximum of temperature and evidence from beetles suggests it being warmer than average for the interglacial. It seems to have begun about 6000 BC, when the average temperature rose. Melting ice sheets ultimately submerged nearly half of western Europe, creating the bays and inlets along the Atlantic coast that provided a new, rich ecosystem for human subsistence. The Atlantic period was followed by the subboreal period. The Atlantic period, which succeeded the Boreal, was probably wetter and certainly somewhat warmer, and mixed forests of oak, elm, common lime (linden), and elder spread northward. Only in the late Atlantic period did the beech and hornbeam spread into western and central Europe from the southeast.
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A time in the late Pleistocene Epoch about 30,000 years ago when a prehistoric lake formed covering an estimated 20,000 square miles (52,000 sq km), over much of western Utah and parts of Nevada and Idaho in the US. These conditions existed during the interval of the last major Pleistocene glaciation. Lake Bonneville shrank rapidly in size and, by 12,000 years ago, had permanently shrunk to a point where it had become smaller than the Great Salt Lake.
Bubalus period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The earliest phase of rock art in northern Africa, between 12,000-8,000 BC, in which large-scale carvings of animals appeared. These early engravings -- in southern Oran, in Algeria, and in Libya -- reflect a hunting economy based on the now-extinct giant buffalo Homoioceras antiquus or Bubalus antiquus (hence the name).
Burial Mound Period
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: The penultimate period of eastern North American prehistoric chronology, from 1000 BC to 700 AD. Formulated in 1941 by J.A. Ford and Godon Willey, the total chronology, from early to late, is Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Burial Mound, and Temple Mound. The Burial Mound Period I (1000-300 BC) covers the period of transition from Late Archaic to Early Woodland ways of life and is associated especially with the Adena culture. Burial Mound II (300 BC-700 AD) is associated especially with Middle and Late Woodland groups, especially Hopewell.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Chalcolithic period; Eneolithic, Copper Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Literally, the Copper Stone Age" a period between the Neolithic (Stone Age) and the Bronze Age from 3000-2500 BC in which both stone and copper tools were used. It was a transitional phase between Stone Age technology and the Bronze Age and an increase in trade and cultural exchanges. The term is much less widely used than other divisions and subdivisions of the Three Age System partly because of the difficulty in distinguishing copper from bronze without chemical analysis partly because many areas did not have a Chalcolithic period at all."
classic, Classic, Classical
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Classical Age, Classic Period
CATEGORY: culture; chronology
DEFINITION: A general term referring to the period of time when a culture or civilization reaches its highest point of complexity and achievement. In a broader sense, the term often describes the whole period of Greek and Roman antiquity with the following breakdown: Early Classical Period 500-450 BC, High Classical Period 450-400 BC, and Late Classical 400-323 BC. Specifically, the term describes, in New World chronology, the period between the Formative (Pre-Classic) and the Post-Classic, which was characterized by the emergence of city-states. During the Classic stage, civilized life in pre-Columbian America reached its fullest flowering, with large temple centers, advanced art styles, writing, etc. It was originally coined for the Maya civilization, initially defined by the earliest and most recent Long Count dates found on Maya stelae, 300-900 AD. A division between Early and Late Classic was arbitrarily set at 600 AD, but since in some areas, e.g. Teothihuacan, great civilizations had already collapsed, some scholars regard this date as marking the end of the Classic Period. By extension, the word came to be used for other Mexican cultures with a similar level of excellence (Teotihuacán, Monte Albán, El Tajín). In these areas the cultural climax was roughly contemporary with that of the Maya, and the term Classic took on a chronological meaning as well. The full Maya artistic, architectural, and calendric-hieroglyphic traditions took place during the Early Classic. Tikal, Uaxactún, and Copán all attained their glory then. In the Late Classic, between 600-900 AD, ceremonial centers in the Maya Lowlands grew in number, as did the making of the inscribed, dated stelae and monuments. The breakdown of the Classic Period civilizations began with the destruction of the city of Teotihuacán in about 700 AD. Some date the Classic period to 300-900 AD.
contact period
CATEGORY: chronology; term
DEFINITION: The period in the history and culture of the Americas when the first impact of the Europeans was made.
Coptic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Chronological phase in Egypt lasting from the end of the Roman period, c 395 AD, until the Islamic conquest, c 641 AD. It is also described as the 'Christian' period and is roughly equivalent to the Byzantine period elsewhere in the Near East.
Dynastic Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period of ancient Egypt's history tied to a framework of 30 dynasties (ruling houses) of kings, or pharaohs, who rule from the time of the country's unification into a single kingdom in c 3100 BC until its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. The two Predynastic kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were united by the legendary king Menes, possibly to be identified with the historical King Narmer. The Dynastic Period was followed by a Greek Period when the country was ruled by the Ptolemys, descendants of Alexander the Great's general. The Ptolemaic Period and Egypt's independence were brought to an end in 30 BC when Queen Cleopatra VII died and the country was absorbed into the Roman Empire. The political history, largely derived from written sources, has a detailed and, for the most part, precise chronology. From the 21st Dynasty onwards, Egypt's cohesion broke, and from the 11th-7th centuries BC, Libyan, Asian and Nubian contenders vied with Egyptians for control of the state. The divine ruler, the pharaoh, was ultimately responsible for the complex bureaucracy and was also the figurehead of the official religion, the personification of the sun god Ra, counterpart of Osiris, the god of the land of the dead. Because of their belief in the afterlife, the royal tombs of the pharaohs in particular reflect the great wealth and concentration of resources at the pharaoh's disposal. Much of our information about ancient Egyptian history comes from the records that were carefully maintained by the Egyptians themselves, notably by the priests who were regarded as the guardians of the state's accumulated wisdom.
Early Dynastic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A chronological phase in southern Mesopotamia between c 2900-2330 BC, ending with the founding of the Dynasty of Akkad. It was also known as the Pre-Sargonid period. The Sumerian city-states flourished under their separate dynastic rulers -- Ur, Umma, Kish, and Lagash. The period is 3100-2450 BC on what is called the high chronology" (the other being the "medium chronology"). The term itself is derived from the Sumerian 'king list' which implies that Sumer was ruled by kings at this stage although archaeological evidence for the existence of kingship is meager before the middle of the period. Traditionally it is divided by archaeologists into three subdivisions -- ED I II and III -- each of approximately 200 years duration. The Royal Tombs of Ur belong the ED III period. The Early Dynastic phase shows clear continuity from the preceding Jemdet Nasr and represents a period of rapid political cultural and artistic development. Within the period the pictographic writing of the earlier period developed into the standardized cuneiform script. This period represents the earliest conjunction of archaeological and written evidence for the history of southern Mesopotamia."
Early Intermediate period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period of development of distinctive regional cultures in the central Andes of South America, c 1-600 AD (also said to be c 300-600 AD). The period was characterized by nationalism, full population, first large-scale irrigation works in coastal valleys, interregional warfare, construction of forts, craft specialization, social class distinctions, rise of first great Peruvian cities. Two of the better-known cultures are the Moche and Nasca civilizations. The Middle Horizon emerged from these expansions.
Eastern Zhou [Chou] period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The latter part of the Zhou dynasty, from 770 BC to the extinction of the Zhou royal house in 256 BC. The term also refers to the period up to the founding of the Qin dynasty in 221 BC.
fallow period
DEFINITION: The time allowed for a field to rest, when no crops are grown on it.
First Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Chronological phase, c 2130-1938 BC) between the Old Kingdom (2575-2130 BC) and the Middle Kingdom (1938-1600 BC), which appears to have been a time of relative political disunity and instability. The period includes the 9th dynasty (c 2130-2080 BC), 10th dynasty (c 2080-1970 BC), and the 11th dynasty (c 2081-1938 BC). The 9th dynasty (c. 2130-2080 BC). (The period corresponds to Manetho's 7th to 10th Dynasties and the early part of the 11th Dynasty.) After the end of the 8th dynasty, the throne passed to kings from Heracleopolis, who made their native city the capital. Major themes of inscriptions of the period are the provision of food supplies for people in times of famine and the promotion of irrigation works. In the 10th dynasty, a period of generalized conflict focused on twin dynasties at Thebes and Heracleopolis. The 11th dynasty made Thebes its capital. In the First Intermediate Period, monuments were erected by a larger section of the population and, in the absence of central control, internal dissent and conflicts of authority became visible in public records. Nonroyal individuals took over some of the privileges of royalty, notably identification with Osiris in the hereafter and the use of the Pyramid Texts. These were incorporated into a more extensive corpus inscribed on coffins -- the Coffin Texts -- and continued to be inscribed during the Middle Kingdom.
Five Dynasties period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: In Chinese history, period of time between the fall of the T'ang dynasty (AD 907) and the founding of the Sung (Song) dynasty (960), when five would-be dynasties followed one another in quick succession in North China. The era coincides with the Ten Kingdoms -- the 10 regimes which dominated separate regions of South China -- during the same period.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Pre-Classic, Formative period; Preclassic
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A cultural stage in North America when agriculture and village settlement were developed, accompanied by pottery, weaving, stonecarving, and ceremonial objects and architecture. In the New World, especially Mesoamerica, it is also called the Pre-Classic period and preceded the Classic period. The period was also characterized by initial complex societies (chiefdoms) and long-distance trade networks. In Mesoamerica, it is divided into Early (2000-1000 BC), Middle (1000-300 BC), and Late (300 BC-300 AD). In Andea South America, the period is usually framed within the period 1800-1 BC -- and includes the Initial Period and Early Horizon. It begins with the introduction of ceramics. This occurred c 7600 bp in Amazonia and c 5200 bp in northwest Columbia.
Great Silla Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: First unification of Korean peninsula under single rule (668-935 AD). The Unified Silla period produced more granite Buddhist images and pagodas than any other period and the T'ang Dynasty of China exerted considerable influence over the culture.
Great Tombs period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period in Japanese history, 4th-7th century AD, known for round tombs covered by a mound with a square platform off to the side, making a keyhole shape. Towards end of period, tombs were very large and surrounded by a moat, and earthenware figures and models (Haniwa) were placed in a series of concentric rings around the tomb. Inside was a chamber of stone slabs, probably adopted from cist tomb of northeast Asia. Burial goods included bronze mirrors, Chinese-type swords, magatama (fine polished stone ornaments), and Sue Ware pottery.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: half-value period, radioactive half-life
DEFINITION: The time taken for half of a given amount of a radioactive substance to decay into a non-radioactive substance. It is also defined as the time taken for half the quantity of a radioactive isotope in a sample to decay and form a stable element. It is the basis of radiocarbon and other radiometric dating methods. This decay rate, expressed as a statistical constant, is different for each isotope. If a sample, such as a piece of wood, has half of the original amount of radiocarbon remaining, then a time equivalent to the half-life has passed since it died. The half-life of radiocarbon is 5730 ? 40 years, while the half-life of radioactive potassium, used in potassium-argon dating is 1.3 billion years. The half-life in effect determines the general age range over which a radiometric dating method is potentially useful.
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: A site on Lake Hallstatt in the Austrian Alps with a cemetery of over 3000 cremation and inhumation graves with great quantities of local and imported grave goods. There were prehistoric salt mines in the area. Hallstatt is also a late Bronze age and early Iron Age cultural tradition, c 1200-6000 BC in continental temperate Europe. The term also refers to a cultural period of the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in central Europe, divided into four phases, Hallstatt A, B, C, and D. In central European archaeology the terms Hallstatt A (12th and 11th centuries BC) and Hallstatt B (10th-8th centuries BC) are used as a chronological framework for the urnfield cultures of the Late Bronze Age. The first iron objects north of the Alps appear at the close of this period, and the Iron Age proper begins with the Hallstatt C (or I) stage of the 7th century BC. The area of fullest development is Bohemia, upper Austria and Bavaria, where hillforts were constructed and the dead were sometimes interred on or with a four-wheeled wagon, covered by a mortuary house below a barrow. Sheet bronze was still used for armor, vessels, and decorative metalwork, but the characteristic weapon was a long iron sword (or bronze copy). These swords are found as far afield as southeast England, in the so-called 'Iron Age A' cultures. During the Hallstatt D (or II) period, in the 6th century, the most advanced cultures are found further west, in Burgundy, Switzerland, and the Rhineland. Wagon burials are still prominent and trade brought luxury objects from the Greek and Etruscan cities around the Mediterranean. By the close of this period in the mid-5th century BC, elements of Hallstatt culture are found from southern France to Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. The Hallstatt precedes the La Tène period; the Hallstatt Iron Age culture certainly developed out of the Urnfield Bronze Age groups.
Hellenistic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Hellenistic and Roman period; hellenistic
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: Period of widest Greek influence, the era between the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) and the rise of the Roman Empire (27/30 BC), when a single, uniform civilization, based on Greek traditions, prevailed all over the ancient world, from India, in the east, to Spain, in the west. During these three centuries, Greek culture crossed many political frontiers and spread through many cities founded at that time, especially the new capitals of Alexandria, Antioch, and Pergamum. A common civilization became established throughout the known world for the first time, one which integrated the cultural heritage of each region and subsequently left a deep impression on the institutions, thought, religions, and art of the Roman, Parthian, and Kushan empires. Hellenistic cultural influence continued to be a powerful force in the Roman and Parthian empires during the early centuries AD. A common form of the Greek language, Koine [Greek: 'common'] developed, which was largely indebted to Attic Greek. The term 'hellenistic art' is applied to the post-classical material outside this geographic area, such as in Etruria or southern Italy.
historic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Any period of the past that can be studied from its written documents.
Initial Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The period of 1800-900 BC marking the introduction of pottery in Andean South America. It was also the time when agriculture and animal husbandry began to be the subsistence base for most cultures in the area. It is one of a seven-period chronological construction used in Peruvian archaeology. Its close is marked by the occurrence of Chavin materials and the abandonment of many of the coastal centers. Many of the traits that make up the Peruvian cultural tradition such as intensive agriculture, the widespread use of textiles, monumental ceremonial architecture, and larger and more numerous population centers, occurred during this period.
Integration Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The last stage of Ecuadorian prehistory, from about 500 AD to the Inca conquest (1550), characterized by greater cultural uniformity over wider areas. There is evidence for urban centers, class distinction, intensive agriculture, and high quality metallurgy throughout the region. The absorption of Ecuador into the Inca empire was the culmination of this trend. It is part of the chronological continuum -- Formative, Regional Development, Integration -- formulated by Betty Meggers.
Intermediate Periods
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: One of the three periods in Egyptian history when the country was divided into regional potentates instead of united. These periods occurred between the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, and Late Period. The First Intermediate Period was 2130-1938 BC, Second Intermediate Period was 1630-1540 BC, and the Third Intermediate Period was 1075-656 BC. In Andean/Peruvian archaeology, there were also Intermediate Periods. The Early Intermediate Period (200 BC-600 AD) was characterized by the rise of the first great city states, such as Moche and Nasca. The Late Intermediate Period (1000-1476 AD) was characterized by the presence of numerous fractionalized corporate units which arose after the decline of Tiahuanaco and Huari, e.g. Chimu and Aymara.
Japanese periodization
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A classification used by archaeologists and historians: Jomon 10,000-300 BC, Yayoi 300 BC-300 AD, Kofun 300-710, Nara 710-794, Heian 794-1183, Medieval (Kamakura, Muromachi, Momoyama) 1183-1603, Feudal (Edo/Tokugawa) 1603-1868, Meiji 1868-1914, Taisho 1914-1925, Showa 1925-1988, and Heisei 1989-present.
CATEGORY: culture; chronology
DEFINITION: The earliest major postglacial culture of hunting and gathering in Japan, 10,000-300 BC, divided into six phases. This early culture, its relics surviving in shell mounds of kitchen midden type around the coasts of the Japanese islands, had pottery but no metal. The pottery was heavy but elaborate, especially in the modeling of its castellated rims. The term Jomon means 'cord marked', indicating the characteristic decoration of the pottery with cord-pattern impressions or reliefs. One of the earliest dates in the world for pottery making has been established as c 12,700 BC in Fukin Cave, Kyshu. Other artifacts, of stone and bone, were simple. Light huts, round or rectangular, have been identified. Burials were by inhumation, crouched or extended. The Jomon was succeeded by the Yayoi period. There are over 10,000 Jomon sites divided into the six phases: Incipient (10,000-7500 BC), Earliest (7500-5000 BC), Early (5000-3500 BC), Middle (3500-2500/2000 BC), Late (2500/2000-1000 BC), and Final (1000-300 BC). Widespread trading networks and ritual development took place in the Middle Jomon. Rice agriculture was adopted during the last millennium BC. The origins of Jomon culture remain uncertain, although similarities with early cultures of northeast Asia and even America are often cited.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Great Burial Period, Tumulus Period
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: The name of the protohistoric tomb period of Japan, 300-710 AD, and the type of tumulus used for the burials. . Large tombs were built which were covered with artificial hillocks about 8 meters high, with burial chambers about 2 meters underneath the top surface. The burial chamber, enclosed with stones, contained coffins and various funerary offerings. The period when tombs of this kind were built in abundance was characterized by Haji ware and Sue ware. It is divided into Early, 4th century; Middle, 5th century; and Late, late 5th-7th centuries. The Kofun period falls between the Yayoi period and the fully historic Nara period and partially overlaps the Asuka and Hakuho periods of art historians. In their writings, the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki texts, the culture was explained. Early kofun were built by modifying natural hills, as were Late Yayoi burial mounds. Haji pottery, used throughout the Kofun period, is very similar to Yayoi pottery and farmers lived in the same kinds of houses, using very similar tools. Technical advances over the yayoi period include irrigation canals and dams. There were also silversmiths who made the ornaments deposited in kofun and professional potters began making Sue pottery in the 5th century. Those in the fertile and well-protected Yamato Basin actively sought new technical and administrative skills on the continent and thus artisans came to make new kinds of pottery, ornaments, and weapons. Yamato leaders gained control over much of Japan in the 7th century and moved the capital to Heijo in 710. The magnificent kofun tombs indicate that the Yamato court based in the Yamato area (the present Nara prefecture) succeeded in bringing almost the whole of Japan under its control.
Korean periodization
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Classification of the eras of Korea by archaeologists and historians. The major divisions following the Palaeolithic are: Chulmun, 7000-1000 BC; Bronze Age, 700 BC-0 AD; Iron Age, 400 BC-300 AD; Proto-Three Kingdoms, 0 -300 AD; Three kingdoms, 300-668; United Silla, 668-935; Koryo, 935-1392; Yi, 1392-1910; Japanese Colonial, 1910-1945; Modern, and 1945-present.
La Tène
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: The site of a great Iron Age votive deposit in the shallow water at the east end of Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Excavations revealed wooden piles, two timber causeways, and a mass of tools and weapons of bronze, iron, and wood (swords, fibulae, spearheads, etc.). Some of these objects bore curvilinear patterns which are the hallmark of La Tène (Celtic) art everywhere from central Europe to Ireland and the Pyrenees. La Tène has given its name to the second major division of the European Iron Age, which followed the Hallstatt period over much of the continent and lasted from mid-5th century BC until the Celts were subdued by Roman conquest c 50 BC. Settlement was characteristically in hillforts and, from the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, massive oppida occur. As in the Hallstatt culture, there is a notable distinction between the markedly wealthy burials of chieftains and their associates, and burials of other members of society. The highest development, and the birth of the art style, took place in west central Europe from the Rhineland to the Marne. Contact with the Greek and Etruscan worlds brought wine, metal flagons, and Attic drinking cups into lands north of the Alps, and La Tène art shows links with that of the Scythians to the east. In Britain, contact with the continental La Tène cultures is shown by chariot burials and the presence of La Tène art motifs on metalwork and pottery. British cultures showing La Tène influence are sometimes grouped within an Iron Age B complex. In Ireland, which the Romans never invaded, a Celtic culture and an art style with La Tène elements persisted into the Early Christian period. It is subdivided into La Tène I c 480-220 BC, La Tène II c 220-120 BC, and La Tène III c 120-Roman conquest(at different times in different areas).
Late Glacial period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The closing stages of the Pleistocene Ice Age, when the glaciers had begun their final retreat and when much of northern Europe was tundra. This period lasted from c 13,000-8500 BC. The substages in northern Europe are the Oldest Dryas (13,000-10,450), the Bølling oscillation (10,450-10,050), the Older Dryas (10,050-9850), the Allerød oscillation (9850-8850), and the Younger Dryas (8850-8300). Cultures of the Late Glacial period include Ahrensburgian, Creswellian, Federmesser, and Hamburgian.
Late Horizon
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Upper Formative; Inca Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A division of time in central Andean chronology, 1450-1533 AD, which corresponds to the Inca Empire's expansion from Cuzco. It is the most recent and briefest period of a chronological construction of Peruvian archaeology. The early date marks the point at which territorial expansion was virtually complete; the late date marks the passing of control to the Spanish under Pizarro. Archaeologists have come to distinguish the various peoples and civilizations by descriptive terms -- the Late Preceramic, the Initial (or Lower Formative) Period, the Early Horizon, the Early Intermediate Period, the Middle Horizon, the Late Intermediate Period, and the Late Horizon.
Late Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A division of time in central Andean chronology, 1000-1450 AD, which was a period of regional diversification on the coast and in the highlands. New styles, cultures, and kingdoms arose after the collapse of the Middle Horizon empires. The period began with the dying out of the signs of unity imposed by Huari. Warfare, secularization of urban centers, rectangular enclosure plan were prominent. The cultures and styles were Chimú, Chancay, Pachacamac, Chincha, Ica; Cajamarca, Chanca, Killke, Lucre, Colla, Lupaca. The various empires that developed during the Late Intermediate Period were conquered by the Inca Empire.
Late Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A phase of Egyptian history, c 664-332 BC comprising the 26th-31st Dynasties, stretching from the end of the Third Intermediate Period to the arrival of Alexander the Great. Shabaqo (716-702 BC), the second ruler of the Kushite 25th Dynasty, exerted Nubian influence by moving the administrative center back from Thebes to Memphis. In writing, the demotic script, the new cursive form, was introduced from the north and spread gradually through the country. Hieratic was, however, retained for literary and religious texts, among which very ancient material, such as the Pyramid Texts, was revived and inscribed in tombs and on coffins and sarcophagi. The Late Period also saw the greatest development of animal worship in Egypt.
Late Woodland period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period of time, c 400-1000 AD, in the American Midwest, when populations spread west to the eastern slopes of the Rockies and were in contact with eastward-moving Puebloan people. A favorable agricultural period was indicated by the marked increase in village size and in population density. Areas along major streams were occupied by various interrelated cultural groups collectively known as the Plains Mississippian cultures. Part of this complex was connected to the developing Mississippi complexes to the east by diffusion and, to some degree, by a migration of such groups as the Omaha and Ponca from the St. Louis area by about 1000 AD. It follows the Middle Woodland era but lacks the elaborate Hopewellian artifacts and structures.
Magellan periods
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: A chronological sequence covering 8000 BC-1000 AD constructed on the basis of assemblages from Fell's Cave and the Palli Aike Cave in Patagonia, South America. The sequence is divided into five phases, describing a series of hunting and marine adaptations. The earliest assemblage (Magellan I) contains fishtail projectile points, signifying Paleoindian activity. Horse and sloth bones and the remains of three partly cremated Dolichocephalic humans, found in association with these points, have produced a single radiocarbon date of c 8700 BC. A shift to willow-leaf points occurred in Magellan II c 8000-4000 BC, which coincides with the disappearance of Pleistocene megafauna and widespread climatic change. Magellan IV-V are ill-defined but represent a continuing hunting strategy blending into a period of ceramic use.
Middle Woodland period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A term sometimes used to describe the time period during which the Hopewell culture flourished throughout the American Midwest, from roughly 50 BC to 400 AD.
Migration Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The period of large-scale movement of peoples in western Europe during the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries AD -- including the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England. These movements are associated with the collapse of the Roman empire. Barbarians from beyond the Roman frontiers settled within many of the former provinces. The Migration Period is often extended to cover period from 3rd century AD to accession of Charlemagne in 800 AD.
Nara period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A period in Japanese history, 710-794 AD, named after the new capital of Nara (or Heijo as it was then known), to which the court moved from Fujiwara. The capital was established there to secure greater centralized power. The palace buildings -- the dairi (the Imperial living quarters), buildings for ritual, and governmental buildings for administrative business -- were arranged in a plan imitating that of the T'ang capital of Ch'ang-an. No palace building is in existence now; but the lecture hall (Kodo) of the Toshodai Temple in Nara, believed to have originally been the Chosu-den (for court officials' important ceremonies) of the Heijo Palace, is suggestive of palace architecture of the time.
Neogene period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The upper division of the Tertiary system including the Miocene and Pliocene periods; latest of the two divisions of the Cenozoic Era (66.4 million years ago to the present). The Neogene includes the Miocene and Pliocene epochs (23,700,000-1,600,000 years ago) and is considered by some to encompass the time up to the present. The Neogene, which means new born was designated as such to emphasize that the marine and terrestrial fossils found in the strata of this time were more closely related to each other than to those of the preceding period called the Paleogene. The term Neogene is widely used in Europe as a geologic division, but is generally not employed in North America, where the Cenozoic Era is simply divided into the Tertiary Period (66,400,000-1,600,000 years ago) and the Quaternary Period (1,600,000 years ago to the present).
Old Babylonian period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Chronological period of c 2000-1600 BC when there were competing kingdoms in southern Mesopotamia which were eventually conquered by Hammurabi of Babylon. The kingdoms included Isin and Larsa, important during the first half of the period, and the large kingdom created by Hammurabi, which flourished in the second half. The period was a time of increasing intellectual endeavors in literature, astronomy, mathematics, law, etc.
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Any specific interval of time in the archaeological record, such as the Upper Paleolithic period. This term is often confusingly used interchangeably with phase and stage. A period is a true time division of the history of a large region (such as the Valley of Mexico or southern China) and does not necessarily imply any developmental characteristics. In archaeological context, it is a major unit of prehistoric time, usually containing several phases and pertaining to a wide area. It is a convenient term used to discuss the history of a complex area.
period interface
DEFINITION: The composite interface of a number of units of stratification which make up the surface of a period.
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The process by which the stratigraphical material from a site is arranged into periods and phases based upon stratigraphic, structural, and artifactual data.
Pharaonic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The entire history of Egypt from the establishment of the monarchy in 2925 BC to the invasion of Alexander in 332 BC.
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The process by which the stratigraphical material from a site is arranged into periods and phases based upon stratigraphic, structural, and artifactual data.
Postglacial period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period occurring following a glacial episode, especially that from the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age c 8300 BC to the present. The substages in northern Europe are: Pre-Boreal (c 8300-7700 BC), Boreal (7700-5550 BC), Atlantic (5550-3800 BC), Sub-Boreal (3800-1200 BC), and Sub-Atlantic (1200 BC to present).
Pre-Axumite period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A term applied to the developed societies of south Arabian origin in the northern part of the Ethiopian plateau, c 5th century BC - 1st century AD. South Arabian elements assimilated through influence of kingdom of Sheba into a culture developed from Neolithic. Texts engraved on stone using south Arabian script have been found. There is evidence of influence from Meroe, with Ethiopia as a crossroads for trade, traffic, and culture. These societies provided the base from which the kingdom of Axum rose to prominence during the first centuries ad.
Pre-Classic or Preclassic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period in Mesoamerican archaeology during which agriculture formed the basis of settled village life, c 2000 BC-250 AD. The earliest writing -- glyphs -- in Mesoamerica began in this period. The Olmec was the first culture to appear in the Preclassic. A similar level was attained in Peru at about the same time (Chavín). In many other areas life remained on a Formative level until the Spanish conquest. The final phase of the Pre-Classic cultures of the central highland forms a transition from the village to the city, from rural to urban life.
pre-Dynastic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Pre-Dynastic Egypt; Predynastic
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: The period before recorded history in Egypt and before it became a unified state in c 3100 BC. The term predynastic denotes the period of emerging cultures that preceded the establishment of the 1st dynasty in Egypt. In the late 5th millennium BC there began to emerge patterns of civilization that displayed characteristics deserving to be called Egyptian. The accepted sequence of predynastic cultures is based on the excavations of Sir Flinders Petrie at Naqadah, al-'Amirah (el-'Amra), and al-Jazirah (el-Gezira). Another somewhat earlier stage of predynastic culture has been identified at al-Badari in Upper Egypt. Until recently, most of our knowledge of pre-Dynastic Egypt was derived from the excavation of graves. Pre-Dynastic communities appeared in the section of the Nile Valley immediately south of Asyut. Large settlements were established, notably that at Hierakonpolis. Some time after 5000 BC the raising of crops was introduced, probably on a horticultural scale, in small, local cultures that seem to have penetrated southward through Egypt into the oases and the Sudan. The food-producing economy was based on the cultivation of emmer wheat and barley and on the herding of cattle and small stock, together with some fishing, hunting, and use of wild plant foods. Highly specialized craftsmen emerged to build vessels, make copper objects, weave linen, and make basketry and pottery. A series of small states arose until around 3100 BC, the unified kingdom of Ancient Egypt came into being.
Preceramic Period
CATEGORY: culture; chronology
DEFINITION: The earliest of a seven-period chronological construction used in Peruvian archaeology, c 9000-1800 BC, starting with the first human occupation and ending with the introduction of ceramic artifacts. It is usually subdivided into six periods and is characterized by a variety of subsistence patterns and by a lack of ceramics. The first two periods (up to 8000 BC) represent a subsistence based on hunting. The third period, c 8000-6000 BC is seen as transitional from hunting to hunting and gathering. Period four c 6000-4000 BC had cyclical, seasonal migration. In Preceramic V, c 4000-2500 BC, the lomas dried up and people tended to be sedentary; agriculture supplied an increasing part of the diet. Large habitation sites, ceremonial centers and agriculture appear increasingly in Preceramic VI c 2500-1800 BC. There are lithic complexes in the Early Preceramic, followed by an Archaic Period with foraging populations and the beginning of domestic and ceremonial architecture. The Preceramic was followed by the Initial Period.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: prehistoric period
CATEGORY: related field; chronology
DEFINITION: Any period for which there is no documentary evidence and the study of cultures before written history or of more recent cultures lacking formal historical records. In the strict sense, 'history' is an account of the past recovered from written records, but such an account can be prepared from other sources, notably archaeology. The term 'prehistory' was coined by Daniel Wilson in 1851 to cover the story of man's development before the appearance of writing. It is succeeded by protohistory, the period for which we have some records but must still rely largely on archaeological evidence to give us a coherent account. Prehistory differs from history in dealing with the activities of a society or culture, not of the individual; it is restricted to the material evidence that has survived.
Protoclassic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: In Mesoamerica, the period at the end of the Preclassic and immediately before the Classic period, c 50 BC-250 AD. It refers to the cultures of the Maya area which were transitioning between Preclassic and Classic.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: protohistoric era, protohistoric period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The period in any area following prehistory and preceding the appearance of coherent history derived from written records. It is a transitional time period between prehistory and recorded history, for which both archaeological and historical data are employed. There are several more detailed definitions, such as 1) a time when non-literate aboriginal peoples had access to European goods but had not had face-to-face contact; 2) periods during which historical documentation is fragmentary or not directly from the society being studied; and 3) the period of 1250-1519 AD in Mesoamerica, which followed the Postclassic and ends just before the Spanish conquest (there are historic documents for this period).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Quaternary era; Quaternary Period; Quaternary System
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Major geochronological subdivision which includes the Pleistocene (c 1.8-2.45 million years bp) and Holocene (c 10,000 BC) epochs and marked by the appearance of near-humans and Homo sapiens. It is the second period of the Cenozoic geologic era, following the Tertiary, the youngest of the 11 periods in Earth history. These terms may also be applied to groups of deposits, which are described as the Quaternary 'System' and the Pleistocene or Holocene 'Series'. The base of the Quaternary System is defined by basal deposits that overlie Pliocene deposits. The Quaternary was marked by repeated invasions of vast areas of mid-latitude North America and northwestern Eurasia by ice sheets, the period is frequently referred to as the Great Ice Age.
Regional Development period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A term used in Ecuadorian archaeology for the period 500 BC-500 AD, when local adaptation led to the proliferation of regional cultures. The continuum Formative, Regional Development, Integration Period has also been applied to neighboring parts of South and Central America. Some of the Ecuadorian coastal variants produced fine pottery, elaborate figurines, and many small art objects. There are hints of Asiatic influence in the cultures of Bahía and Jama-Coaque, which occupied the coastland from La Plata island to Cape Francisco. The period is characterized by changes in socio-political organization and art styles and technology, which gave rise to region-wide rather than purely local cultures.
Roman period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The period of Roman political and military control, generally between 200 BC and 400 AD, but varying for different regions, depending on the date of conquest.
Second Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The time, 1630-1540 BC, when groups of Asiatic people appear to have migrated into the Egyptian Delta and established settlements. The Second Intermediate Period began with the establishment of the 15th Dynasty, called the Hyksos (c 1630-c. 1523 BC), with its capital at Avaris (Tall ad-Dab'a) in the Delta, and ended with the 17th Dynasty (c 1630-1540 BC), ruling from Thebes. The Second Intermediate Period was the consequence of political fragmentation and immigration and the time may have been somewhat impoverished.
soaking period
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The time during which the highest temperature of firing is sustained
speculative period
DEFINITION: The period in history of archaeology in the New World between 1400-1840, characterized by unsystematic and speculative interpretations about the past.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Sub-Atlantic Climatic period, Sub-Atlantic Climatic Interval
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Last of the five postglacial climate and vegetation periods of northern Europe, beginning c 1500 BC (according to pollen analysis, though radiocarbon dating says c 225 BC). It is a division of Holocene chronology (10,000 years ago-present). The Sub-Atlantic Interval followed the Sub-Boreal Climatic Interval and continues today. It is a subdivision of the Flandrian, thought to be wet and cold, a trend started in the preceding Sub-Boreal period. There was a dominance of beech forests and the fauna were essentially modern. During the Iron Age, pollen analysis shows evidence of intensified forest clearance for mixed farming. Sea levels have been generally regressive during this time interval, though North America is an exception.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Sub-Boreal Climatic period, subboreal
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: One of the five postglacial climate and vegetation periods of northern Europe, occurring c 3000-1500 BC or, according to some, 0 AD, based on pollen analysis. The Sub-Boreal, dated by radiocarbon methods, began c 5,100 years ago and ended about 2,200 years ago. It is a division of Holocene chronology (10,000 years ago-present). The Sub-Boreal Climatic Interval followed the Atlantic and preceded the Sub-Atlantic Climatic Interval. It was characterized by a cooler and moister climate than that of the preceding Atlantic period. It is a subdivision of the Flandrian, starting with the Elm Decline. Frequencies of tree pollen fall and herbaceous pollen rises, representing man's invasion of the forest in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. It is correlated with pollen zone VIII, and the climate was warm and dry. The Sub-Boreal forests were dominated by oak and ash and show the first evidence of extensive burning and clearance by humans. Domesticated animals and natural fauna were abundant.
Temple Mound Period
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: Time period from c 800 AD to European colonization when Native Americans of the Mississippian tradition built large flat-topped earthen structures (platform mounds) designed to function as artificial mountains elevating their temples above the landscape. This period followed the Burial Mound period and is the most recent period of a chronological construction relating to the whole of eastern North American prehistory (formulated by J.A. Ford and Godon Willey). The periods are: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Burial Mound, and Temple Mound. The Temple Mound period is divided into two sub-periods: Temple Mound I (800-1200 AD), the establishment and rise of the Mississippian Tradition; and Temple Mound II (1200-1700 AD), the peak and then demise of the Mississippian.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tjene, This; Thinite period
DEFINITION: A site in Upper Egypt where the 1st and 2nd Dynasties originated, according to the 3rd-century-BC historian Manetho. Thinis is located north of the Predynastic and Early Dynastic cemeteries of Abydos (modern al-Barba).
Thinite dynasties
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The 1st and 2nd Dynasties of Egypt, c 3100-2686 BC, named by the Egyptian historian Manetho (3rd century BC) for Thinis, a city near Abydos, where some of its kings were allegedly buried. Menes (c 3100-3040 BC) is considered the traditional founder of the dynasty.
Third Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A chronological phase (1075-656 BC) following the New Kingdom, when Egypt was divided. The north was inherited by the Tanite 21st dynasty (c 1075-950 BC), and much of the Nile Valley came under the control of the Theban priests.
Tumulus culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tumulus Bronze Age, Tumulus period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Middle Bronze Age culture of the central Danube region in Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Bavaria, with burials beneath round barrows, dating c 1500-1200 BC. The heartland of the Tumulus culture was Bavaria, Württemberg, and the area previously occupied by the Unetice culture, but distribution extended into north Germany and west as far as Alsace. With the introduction of urnfield burial, the Tumulus culture and the Middle Bronze Age came to an end. It is defined mainly by the dominant burial rite of inhumation beneath a burial mound, as well as a number of characteristic bronze types, found both in the burials and in hoards. It continued earlier trends in ceramics and metalwork, though more elaborate in form and decoration.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Ubaid period; 'Ubaid culture complex
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: A small tell of Ur which has given its name to a culture c 5000-3000 BC in southern Mesopotamia, where it underlies practically every city of Sumer. It later spread to the north, displacing the Halaf culture and becoming the first culture to cover the whole of Mesopotamia. It is distinguished by a well-made buff pottery, frequently overfired to a greenish color, and painted in dark brown or black. In the south, stone was scarce, but there were terra-cotta pounders, sickles, hoes, and axes. Temples were built (e.g. Eridu, Gawra), ancestral in structure and siting to those of Sumerian times. At Al 'Ubaid are the remains of a temple with copper statues and reliefs, and mosaic friezes of the 1st Dynasty of Ur c 2600 BC. The period represents the time when the first villages, and later, the first towns and cities, appeared and many of the characteristics of Sumerian civilization emerged. It expanded greatly and between 4500-3700 BC, it influenced almost the entire Near East, from coasts of Syria to Iranian plateau and the Arabian Gulf. It lasted until the beginning of the Uruk period.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Ubaid period; 'Ubaid culture complex
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: A small tell of Ur which has given its name to a culture c 5000-3000 BC in southern Mesopotamia, where it underlies practically every city of Sumer. It later spread to the north, displacing the Halaf culture and becoming the first culture to cover the whole of Mesopotamia. It is distinguished by a well-made buff pottery, frequently overfired to a greenish color, and painted in dark brown or black. In the south, stone was scarce, but there were terra-cotta pounders, sickles, hoes, and axes. Temples were built (e.g. Eridu, Gawra), ancestral in structure and siting to those of Sumerian times. At Al 'Ubaid are the remains of a temple with copper statues and reliefs, and mosaic friezes of the 1st Dynasty of Ur c 2600 BC. The period represents the time when the first villages, and later, the first towns and cities, appeared and many of the characteristics of Sumerian civilization emerged. It expanded greatly and between 4500-3700 BC, it influenced almost the entire Near East, from coasts of Syria to Iranian plateau and the Arabian Gulf. It lasted until the beginning of the Uruk period.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Unetice period; Aunjetitz; Unetician culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early Bronze Age culture centered on Bohemia, Bavaria, Germany, Poland, and Moravia, named after a type site cemetery north of Prague, Czechoslovakia. Characteristic metal objects include ingot torcs, lock rings, various pins, flanged axes, riveted daggers, and the halberd. Regional groups include: Nitra, Adlerberg, Straubing , Marschwitz, and Unterwölbling (Austria). In late Unetice times, there is evidence of commercial contact with the Wessex culture of Britain and, via the amber route, perhaps with southeast Europe and the Mycenaeans. The Veterov culture of Moravia and the Mad'arovce culture of Slovakia, which had links with the Mycenaean world, are sometimes considered to be subgroups within the final Unetice tradition. Innovations of the culture include two-piece mold and use of tin to make bronze. The earliest Bronze Age center, Unetician A, consisted of a complex of flat inhumation graves with modest grave goods in copper and bronze. Unetice is an umbrella term for the local groups and is dated to c 1800-1500 BC.
Ur III period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The third dynasty of Ur according to the Sumerian king lists, a time when Ur controlled much of Mesopotamia and the Zagros highlands. It began with Ur-nammu (2112-2095 BC) and the period is noted for the numerous economic texts from its administrative centers. Ur III collapsed under attack by the Elamites and Amorites.
Urnfield period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Urnfield period; Urnfield; Urn culture, Urnfield complex
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A widespread group of related Bronze Age cultures practicing burial by cremation in pottery urns, at first in central and eastern Europe and later spreading to northern and western Europe. Such funerary urns were buried in a cemetery of urns (urnfields) and the practice dates from c 1300 BC to c 750 BC. Other features of the Urnfield period include copper-mining, sheet bronze metalworking, and fortified settlements. At the start of the Iron Age, inhumation once again became the dominant form of burial in many areas. A small pot with holes in it is often found interred with the urn, which may have been the ritual fire igniter or an incense burner. The Urnfield cultures succeeded the Tumulus culture in central Europe and developed into the Hallstatt Iron Age culture.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: biblical Erech, modern Warka; Uruk period
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: One of the greatest city-states of Sumer, northwest of Ur, which flourished at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. It is 250 km south of Bagdad, Iraq. Pottery dating from around 5000 BC has been found there, but the civilization is traditionally dated to c 3800-3100 BC. Uruk's rulers tried to lead Sumer until Ur became more powerful, but Uruk still remained important as a holy city. It was one of the great Sumerian city-states, developing from the 'Ubaid period. It was the site of numerous innovations, the most important being the invention of writing. It lost importance with the rise of Ur, c 2100 BC, but remained occupied till the Parthian period. Archaeologists have found very important structures and deposits of the 4th millennium BC and the site has given its name to the period that succeeded the Ubaid and preceded the Jemdet Nasr period. Uruk was Mesopotamia's -- and the world's -- first true city. There are two large temple complexes -- the Anu sanctuary and the Eanna sanctuary -- both with several successive temple-structures during the Uruk period, including the White Temple in the Anu sanctuary and the Limestone and Pillar Temples in the Eanna sanctuary. A characteristic form of decoration is clay cones with painted tops pressed into the mud plaster -- known as clay cone mosaic. A ziggurat laid out by Ur-Nammu in the Ur III period (late 3rd millennium BC) is by the Eanna sanctuary. The earliest clay tablets appear in late Uruk levels; they are simple labels and lists with pictographic symbols. Tablets from slightly later levels, of the Jemdet Nasr phase, show further developments towards the cuneiform script of the Early Dynastic period. There was also mass-produced wheelmade pottery, cylinder seals, and sophisticated art. Uruk was the home of the epic hero Gilgamesh, now thought to be a real king of the city's first dynasty.
Vendel Period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A term for a main phase of the Migration Period, the 7th and 8th centuries AD in Scandinavia, the last phase of the Iron Age before the Viking Age. It takes its name from a site in central Sweden with rich burials. Other cemeteries of the Vendel Period are at Valsgarde and Old Uppsala, with burials often in boats with rich treasures.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Villanovan culture; Villanova period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early Iron Age people of the Po Valley, Etruria, and parts of Campania, Italy, c 900-700 BC. The culture is defined by artifacts from the type site of Villanova: metalwork in gold and bronze. The craftsmen played a major part in the development of the fibula and the technique of sheet metalwork, especially the situla. The cemeteries were urnfields with decorated biconical urns and bronze objects; subsidiary vessels, fibulae, ornaments, crescentic razors, etc., frequently accompanied the ashes. The pottery was handmade, dark burnished, decorated with meanders of grooved bands. The Villanovans were replaced culturally by the Etruscans in the south in the 8th century, in the north in the 6th century. This period laid the foundations for the Etruscan culture and city-states of the 8th century BC.
Warring States period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A division of the Zhou/Chou Dynasty, 475-221 BC, the latter part of the Eastern Zhou period, made up of six or seven small feuding Chinese kingdoms. The Warring States period saw the rise of many of the great philosophers of Chinese civilization, including the Confucian thinkers Mencius and Hsün-tzu, and the establishment of many of the governmental structures and cultural patterns that were to characterize China for the next 2,000 years. The Warring States period is distinguished from the preceding age, the Spring and Autumn (Ch'un Ch'iu) period (770-476 BC), when the country was divided into many even smaller states. In 223 BC, Ch'in defeated Ch'u and two years later established the first unified Chinese empire.
Western Zhou [Chou] period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A division of the Zhou/Chou Dynasty, 1027-771 BC, the earlier part of the Zhou dynasty, starting with the fall of the Shang dynasty. The first Zhou/Chou rulers parceled out their expanding territory among feudal lords. As the feudal states rose in power and independence, so did the central Zhou/Chou itself shrink, to be further weakened by the eastward shift of the capital from sites in the Wei River valley near modern-day Sian to Lo-yang in 771 BC. Thereafter, the Zhou/Chou empire was broken up among rival states.
Woodland period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Stage in eastern North America c 1000 BC-800 AD that is a period in Native American history and culture. It is characterized by hunter-gatherers, elaborate burial mounds, beginning of substantial agriculture (corn, beans, squash), and pottery decorated with cord or fabric impressions. It is a term restricted to the cultures of the Eastern Woodlands (south and east of Maritime Provinces of Canada to Minnesota and south to Louisiana and Texas) and important sites are Adena, Hopewell, and Effigy Mound. From c 700 AD, the southern part of the Woodland territory shows strong influence from the Mississippian culture, but elsewhere the Woodland tradition continued until the historic period.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Protohistoric period of Japan, 300 BC-300 AD, which replaced the Jomon period and precedes the Kofun. It is marked by the strengthening of mainland influences from Korea and China, as shown by the appearance of bronze and, later, iron, wet-rice growing, the potter's wheel, and cist and jar burials. These changes were absorbed into the Jomon tradition, which was only gradually replaced. Local developments include the great decorated bronze bells and Late Yayoi mound-burials foreshadow the mounded tombs of the Kofun. Large quantities of bronzes and glass imported from China. It is generally divided into three parts: Early (300-100 BC), Middle (100 BC-100 AD), and Late (100-300 AD) -- dates based mainly on imported Chinese bronze mirrors, because the radiocarbon dates for Yayoi tend to be erratic. Yayoi pottery is less ornate than Jomon ware, but is made and fired in basically the same way. It also incorporates Mumun pottery (from Korea) techniques and is related to the Haji pottery of the Kofun period. Apart from the pottery, the Yayoi culture is characterized by definite evidence of agriculture and the use of metal tools. Yayoi houses were semi-subterranean or built at ground level. A series of settlements, a large one with several smaller ones, seem to have formed a community, which was often moated.

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