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AOC beaker
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: All-over-corded beaker
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An ancient Greek people, described in Homer, who lived on the mainland and western isles of Greece, Crete, Rhodes, and other isles except the Cyclades. This coincides precisely with the Mycenaeans of the 14th-13th centuries BC. They have also been identified both with the Ahhiyawa, mentioned by the Hittites as a western neighbor and by Herodotus as descendants of earlier Achaeans, and with the Akawasha, described by the Egyptians as part of the Peoples of the Sea. Achaea was the ancient name for Greece. The Achaean League was a third century BC confederacy of 12 cities of the northern Peloponnese.
Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Alexander the Great (Alexander III), king of Macedonia, began his career of conquest in 335 BC. He overthrew the Persian Empire and laid the foundation for the territorial kingdoms of the Hellenistic world. Born in Macedonia in 356 BC, he was the son of Philip II and Olympias. He was taught by the great philosopher Aristotle from the age of 13-16. Alexander took power in Macedonia and mainland Greece in 340 BC when Philip left to attack Byzantium. By 332 BC, his arrival in Egypt ended the Persian occupation and he had already conquered much of western Asia and the Levant before his arrival in Egypt. In Egypt, Alexander made sacrifices to the gods at Memphis and visited the oracle of Amun-Ra where he was recognized as the god's son, thus restoring the true pharaonic line. He founded the city of Alexandria and then left Egypt in 331 BC to continue his conquest of the Achaemenid empire. His empire stretched from India to Egypt. After his death from a fever in 323 BC, his kingdom quickly dissolved.
Alfred the Great (849-899)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: King of Wessex, 871-899, a Saxon kingdom in southwestern England. He prevented England from being conquered by the Danish and promoted literature, learning, and literacy - helping to begin an artistic renaissance that flourished for two centuries. Our knowledge of him is known from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, begun during his reign c. 890, and the biography written by his friend and teacher Asser. Alfred succeeded to the throne in 871 and fought off invading Danes before being forced to flee in 877. He returned to drive the invaders from his kingdom. Alfred also established the first English fleet and organized a chain of fortified towns on the southern coasts for protection.
Andean Hunting-Collecting tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A tradition dating 6000-4000 BC, characterized by seasonal changing of residence and a trend toward specialization in certain regions of the Andes.
Andean chronology
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The chronological systems of the Central Andes area with two main stages, Preceramic and Ceramic. The Ceramic is broken down into: Initial Period, 1900-1200 BC, Early Horizon 1200-300 BC, Early Intermediate Period 300 BC-700 AD, Middle Horizon 700-100, Late Intermediate Period 1100-1438/1478, and Late Horizon 1438-1532. These horizon periods are times of widespread unity in cultural traits. Intermediate periods are times of cultural diversification.
Anse au Meadow, L'
DEFINITION: A site on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland that is the only known Viking settlement in the New World. The Norse explorers were the first Europeans to reach what is now Canadian explorers, c 1000 AD, as is recorded in the Icelandic sagas and recently confirmed by the archaeological discovery of the site at L' Anse-aux-Meadows. Excavations revealed traces of turf-walled houses similar to those at Viking sites in Greenland and Iceland. Also found was a spindle whorl, iron nails, and a smithy with pieces of bog-iron and several pounds of slag - all of Norse origin. Radiocarbon dates range from AD 700-1080 with a concentration around 1000, which is the period when, according to the sagas, Norsemen led by Leif Eriksson sailed west from Greenland and explored the coast of America, which they named Vinland.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Apameia; Apamea ad Maeandrum
DEFINITION: A city in Hellenistic Phrygia on the Orontes River, partly covered by modern Dinar. Originally a Macedonian colony founded by Antiochus I Soter in the 3rd century BC, it became a Seleucid city superseding Celaenae and commanding the east-west trade route of the Empire. In the 2nd century BC, Apamea passed to Roman rule where it became capital of the Syria Secunda province. It became a great center for Italian and Jewish traders, but it declined by the 3rd century AD and trade was diverted to Constantinople. The Turks captured the town in 1070 and it was devastated by an earthquake in 1152.
CATEGORY: culture; language
DEFINITION: A branch of the confederacy of Semite tribes who moved out of the Syrian desert and who conquered the Canaanites and established themselves in their own series city-states in c 16-12 BC. The foremost of these states was Aram of Damascus, a large region of northern Syria, which was occupied between the 11th-8th centuries BC, and also Bit-Adini, Aram Naharaim, and Sam'al (Sinjerli). In the same period some of these tribes seized large tracts of Mesopotamia. By the 9th century BC, the whole area from Babylon to the Mediterranean coast was occupied by the Aramaean tribes known collectively as Kaldu (also Kashdu), the biblical Chaldeans. Assyria, nearly encircled, attacked the armies of the Aramaeans and one by one the states collapsed under the domination of Assyria in the succeeding centuries. The destruction of Hamath by Sargon II of Assyria in 720 marked the end of the Aramaean kingdoms of the west. Those Aramaeans along the lower Tigris River remained independent somewhat longer and in 626 BC, a Chaldean general (Nabopolassar) proclaimed himself king of Babylon and joined with the Medes and Scythians to overthrow Assyria. Thereon in the Chaldean empire, the Chaldeans, Aramaeans, and Babylonians became one group. Their North Semitic language, Aramaic, became the international language of the Near East by the 8th century BC, replacing Akkadian. Aramaic was written in the Phoenician script and was the diplomatic and vernacular speech of the Holy Land during the time of Christ. It was replaced by Arabic after the Arab Conquest, but is still spoken in some remote villages of Syria. In the Old Testament the Aramaeans are represented as being related to the Hebrews and living in northern Syria around Harran from about the 16th century BC. Few specifically Aramaic objects have been uncovered by archaeologists.
Archéodrome de Beaune
DEFINITION: A museum of reconstructed buildings and experimental archaeology founded in 1978 in Côte d'Or, France. There is a Palaeolithic encampment, a Neolithic house, and Roman siege works.
Atlantean column
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A carved human figured serving as a decorative or supporting column
Avonlea point
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Early bow and arrow projectile point 100 AD-500 AD.
Balearic Islands
DEFINITION: A group of islands including Majorca (Mallorca), Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, off the east coast of Spain. Various civilizations left their marks on the islands, though the prehistoric talayotic civilization (so-called from its rough stone towers called talayots) seems to have continued without modification for 2600 years. Their position in the Mediterranean laid them open to continuous influence from eastern civilizations, as is found in archaeological finds. Bronze swords, single and double axes, antennae swords, and heads and figures of bulls and other animals are found. Native talayotic pottery was consistent until the Roman occupation. Their most interesting period was the Bronze Age with three important monuments: the Naveta, Talayot, and Taula. The islands were successively ruled by Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Moors, and Spaniards.
Banteay Srei
CATEGORY: structure; site
DEFINITION: A small, beautiful sandstone monument in Angkor, Cambodia, built in 967. Episodic relief (relief panels illustrating various aspects of the royal mythology) sculpture first appears on Banteay Srei. The relief revolves around a series of Indian legends dealing with the cosmic mountain Meru as the source of all creation and with the divine origin of water. The chief artistic achievement of its sophisticated architecture is the way in which the spaces between the walls of the enclosures, the faces of the terraces, and the volumes of the shrine buildings are conceived and coordinated. It seems to have been influenced by the architecture of the Hindu Pallava dynasty in southeastern India.
Battersea Shield
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A late Iron Age parade shield found in the River Thames at Battersea, England. It was a fine example of insular Celtic Art, with an elongated bronze body with rounded ends and decorated in relief and with red glass inlay.
Beacharra ware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Style of decorated middle Neolithic pottery found in western parts of Scotland and classified by Stuart Piggott into three groups: unornamented bag-shaped bowls (A); decorated carinated bowls with a rim diameter less than the diameter at the carination and incised or channeled ornament (B); and small bowls with panel ornament in fine whipped cord (C).
Beaker people
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Beaker Folk, Beaker culture; Bell Beaker culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A widespread Late Neolithic European people of the third and second millennium BC named after the characteristic bell-shaped beakers found buried with their dead. These people spread a knowledge of metalworking in central and western Europe from c 2500-2000 BC. They first came to Britain between 1900-1800 BC in successive waves, via Holland, from the Rhineland. Their origins are uncertain, with theories of them being the Battle-Ax people from south Russia and Spanish Megalithic people from Almeria or from Portugal and Hungary. They were copper and bronze workers and famous for their great collective tombs. The assemblages of grave goods - decorated pottery, fighting equipment (arrowheads, wristguards, daggers) - were characteristic of the people, who lived in small groups mainly by major river routes as they were known traders. Burial was by contracted inhumation in a trench, or under a round barrow, or as a secondary burial in some form of chamber tomb. Each burial was accompanied by a beaker, presumably to hold drink, probably alcoholic, for the dead man's last journey.
Beazley, Sir John Davidson (1885-1970)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: A British antiquarian who identified much Athenian pottery by the names of the craftsmen who made them.
Bell Beaker
CATEGORY: ceramics; culture
DEFINITION: A type of pottery vessel found all over western and central Europe from the final Neolithic or Chalcolithic, c 2500-1800 BC. The culture's name derives from the characteristic pottery which looks like an inverted bell with globular body and flaring rim. The beakers were valuable and highly decorated. They are often associated with special artifacts in grave assemblages, including polished stone wristguards, V-perforated buttons, and copper-tanged daggers.
Bellows Beach
DEFINITION: A coastal occupation site on Oahu, Hawaii, which has produced some of the earliest occupation dates (600-1000 AD) of the island group. The assemblage is of Early Eastern Polynesian type: shell fishhooks, stone adzes, and bones of dog, pig, and rat.
Black Death
DEFINITION: A particularly severe outbreak of plague which crossed Europe between 1347 and 1351 AD, probably a combination of bubonic and pneumonic plagues. It took a greater toll of life than any other known epidemic or war up to that time. A rough estimate is that 25 million people in Europe died from plague during the Black Death. The population of western Europe did not reach its pre-1348 level until the beginning of the 16th century.
Black Earth
DEFINITION: A distinctive area of Russia where the soil coloration resulted from intensive settlement activity and major deposits of iron ore.
Book of the Dead
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: The modern name given to a collection of ancient Egyptian mortuary texts made up of spells or magic formulas, placed in tombs and believed to protect and aid the deceased in the hereafter. The collection, literally titled The Chapters of Coming-Forth-by-Day received its present name from Karl Richard Lepsius, German Egyptologist who published the first collection of the texts in 1842. It was probably compiled and re-edited during the 16th century BC, and over half of the collection is comprised of the Coffin Texts dating from c 2000 BC and the Pyramid Texts dating from c 2400 BC. The Book of the Dead had numerous authors, compilers, and sources. Scribes copied the texts on rolls of papyrus, often with illustrations, and sold them to individuals for use in burials. Many copies of the book have been found in Egyptian tombs, but none contains all of the approximately 200 chapters. The choice of spells varies from copy to copy.
CATEGORY: database design
DEFINITION: A dichotomous record of observation such as 1/0, present/absent, male/female.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Boreal Climatic Interval
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A climatic subdivision of the Holocene epoch, following the Pre-Boreal and preceding the Atlantic climatic intervals. Radiocarbon dating shows the period beginning about 9,500 years ago and ending about 7,500 years ago. The Boreal was supposed to be warm and dry. In Europe, the Early Boreal was characterized by hazel-pine forest assemblages and lowering sea levels. In the Late Boreal, hazel-oak forest assemblages were dominant, but the seas were rising. In some areas, notably the North York moors, southern Pennines and lowland heaths, Mesolithic man appears to have been responsible for temporary clearances by fire and initiated the growth of moor and heath vegetation.
DEFINITION: The site of two villas that were suburbs of Rome, near Pompeii, with important and sumptuous artifacts and painted rooms dating c 40 BC. These include possessions of the great patrician families of Rome, such as paintings illustrating Dionysiac mysteries, jewels, and magnificent gold and silver household furnishings. The cubiculum of one villa at Boscoreale is preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of New York City and other items are kept at the Louvre. Many of the rich hoards were accidentally saved by the volcanic catastrophe of 79 AD.
Breasted, James Henry (1865-1935)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: American Egyptologist, archaeologist, and historian who excavated Megiddo (Armageddon), established ancient Egyptian historical periods, and founded University of Chicago's Oriental Institute (1919). Breasted promoted research on ancient Egypt and the ancient civilizations of western Asia as well as compiled a record of every known Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription and published a translation of these in a five-volume work, "Ancient Records of Egypt" (1906). He led expeditions to Egypt and the Sudan (1905-1907) and copied inscriptions from monuments that had been previously inaccessible or were perishing. The Oriental Institute is a renowned center for the study of the ancient cultures of southwest Asia and the Middle East. His other books included "History of Egypt" (1905) and "Ancient Times" (1916) and "Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt" (1912). His excavation at Megiddo uncovered a large riding stable thought to have been King Solomon's and one at Persepolis yielded some Achaemenid sculptures.
Breton arrowhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of well-made barbed and tinged arrowhead, highly symmetrical in form, with graceful slightly concave or convex sides and flared barbs. The tang is the same length as the barbs. Characteristic of the early Bronze Age in northern France and southern Britain.
DEFINITION: A burial site along the coast south of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Excavations uncovered 200 burials over a span of 1300 years, with wide variations in burial practices, possibly related to age, sex and status. Red ochre was present in nearly all graves, while grave goods included bone, shell, and stone artifacts and tools.
Buckley earthenware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: C 1720-1775, North Wales, The body of this earthenware is quite coarse because of the combination of two different types of clay in the process. The ware is made of layers of pink-firing and yellow clays. The combination of the two clays served to make the poor clays more workable. The ware is decorated with a black lead-glaze. The exterior fabric color on unglazed portions is purplish-red. The body exteriors are often heavily ribbed. When broken, the fabric interior exhibits the characteristic red and yellow layers.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Cherchel, Caesarea Palaestinae, Caesarea Maritima, Straton's Tower, Strato's Tower
DEFINITION: An ancient port and administrative city of Palestine on the Mediterranean coast of present-day Israel. It is often called Caesarea Palaestinae or Caesarea Maritima to distinguish it from Caesarea Philippi. It was originally an ancient Phoenician settlement known as Straton's (Strato's Tower) and was rebuilt and enlarged by Herod the Great around 22-10 BC, who renamed it for his patron, Caesar Augustus. Herod also rebuilt the harbor, which traded with his newly built city at Sebaste (Augusta) of ancient Samaria. There were Hellenistic-Roman public buildings and an aqueduct. After Herod died, it became the capital of the Roman province of Judaea. An inscription naming Pontius Pilate is one of the best-known from the site. The city became the capital of the Roman province of Judaea in AD 6. Jewish revolts and later Byzantine and Arab rule cause the city's decline.
Canaanean blade
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of extremely regular and large (1-2 inches wide and up to 10-12 inches long) flint blade produced by a specialized technique. The technology seems to have first appeared at the beginning of the 4th millennium BC in eastern Anatolia and adjoining areas, and was then introduced to the southern Levant (Canaan) by 3500 BC; these blades were produced until 2000 BC.
Cave of Hearths
DEFINITION: A cave in northern Transvaal which yielded the right side of a Homo sapiens child's jaw, of Rhodesioid type, dating from about 50,000 years ago. It is located close to the Makapansgat site, the oldest cave site known in Africa. Both offer extremely early evidence of the use of fire by man in Africa and tools of the transitional Acheulian-Fauresmith type. The earliest deposits of the Cave of Hearths are Acheulian, followed by a long period of abandonment. There was a long succession of Pietersburg industries and some signs of typological continuity between the Acheulian and the Pietersburg assemblages. The Pietersburg industry was succeeded by an assemblage of subtriangular points and flake scrapers similar to the Bambata industry of Zimbabwe.
DEFINITION: An Upper Palaeolithic site in eastern Romania with artifacts of bifacial foliates, sidescrapers, and endscrapers. Upper levels of backed blades are from the Gravettian.
DEFINITION: A land in southern Babylonia (modern southern Iraq) frequently mentioned in the Old Testament and first described by Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (reigned 884/883-859 BC). Its more important rulers were Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar, and Nabonidus, who ruled an empire from the Persian Gulf between the Arabian desert and the Euphrates delta. Nabopolassar in 625 became king of Babylon and inaugurated a Chaldean dynasty that lasted until the Persian invasion of 539 BC. The prestige of his successors, Nebuchadrezzar II (reigned 605-562) and Nabonidus (reigned 556-539), was such that Chaldean became synonymous with Babylonian and Chaldea replaced Assyria as the main power in the Near East. Chaldean also was used by several ancient authors to denote the priests and other persons educated in the classical Babylonian astronomy and astrology and to the Aramaean tribe named for Kaldu which first settled in this area in the 10th century BC.
Champollion, Jean-François (1778-1867)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: French historian and linguist who founded scientific Egyptology and played a major role in the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics by deciphering the Rosetta Stone. A masterful linguist, Champollion started publishing papers on the hieroglyphic and hieratic elements of the Rosetta Stone in 1821-1822, and he went on to establish an entire list of hieroglyphic signs and their Greek equivalents. He was first to recognize that some of the signs were alphabetic, some syllabic, and some determinative (standing for a whole idea or object previously expressed). His brilliant discoveries met with great opposition, however. He became curator of the Egyptian collection at the Louvre, conducted an archaeological expedition to Egypt, and received the chair of Egyptian antiquities, created specially for him, at the Collège de France. He also published an Egyptian grammar and dictionary, as well as other works about Egypt.
Chateau Gaillard
DEFINITION: A 12th-century castle built by Richard the Lion-Heart on his return from the Third Crusade in 1196. Sitting on the Andelys cliff overlooking the Seine River in France, substantial portions of it still stand. Château Gaillard, the strongest castle of its age, guarded the Seine River valley approach to Normandy. It was successfully besieged by Philip II in 1204. The French isolated the fort with a double ditch, then collapsed part of the châtelet and penetrated the main fortress through the latrines.
DEFINITION: A large rock shelter northwest of Marseilles in southern France, with a series of deposits from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Neolithic. There was impressed ware and a radiocarbon date in the early 6th millennium BC. It was probably the site of the Roman camp, Maritima Avaticorum.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An early Stone Age industry (Lower Palaeolithic) characterized by crudely worked hand axes. The implements from the type site Chelles-sur-Marne, near Paris, France, that gave the industry its name are now grouped with the Acheulian industry. The term Chellean, in the sense of earliest hand-ax culture, has been replaced by Abbevillian industry. The industry was so-named in the 1880s, replacing the term Acheulian, which was eventually reinstated.
Chelsea sword
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Early type of bronze sword found in southern Britain, having a leaf-shaped blade, flat section, and hilt tang. These were local copies of various imported weapons of Hallstatt A type from mainland Europe by Penard Period smiths.
Cheops (fl early 26th c BC)
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Kheops, Khufu, Khufwey, Khnomkhufwey
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The second king of the 4th Dynasty (c 2575-2465 BC) of Egypt who erected the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is the largest of the three pyramids, the length of each side at the base averaging 755 3/4 feet (230.4 m) and its original height being 481 2/5 feet (147 m). Cheops/Khufu reigned c 2570 BC. His sons, Djedefre (Redjedef) and Chephren (Khafre), succeeded him.
Chiflet, Jean-Jacques (1588-1673)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Philip IV's (Spain) surgeon who was entrusted with studying and reporting on objects found in the tomb of Childeric I (AD 481/482), Clovis's father, discovered at Tournai in 1653. Anastasis "Childerici I" printed in 1655 may be regarded as the earliest scientific archaeological publication.
DEFINITION: A settlement site of the Early Neolithic Cris in the Olt Valley of southwestern Rumania, dating from the late 6th to mid-5th millennia BC. Four main occupation phases have been found, all of which are defined by rich painted ware assemblages. Level I has some of the earliest white-on-red painted pottery of the First Temperate Neolithic and the latest level has polychrome painted pottery of Starcevo-Cris.
Corded Beaker culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Late Neolithic culture in central and northern Europe from c 2800 BC, named after a characteristic cord-marked decoration found on pottery. The Corded beaker culture belongs to the so-called Battle-Ax cultures of Europe. There were two phases of new burial rites, with individual rather than communal burials and an emphasis on burying rich grave goods with adult males. The first phase, characterized by Corded Ware pottery and stone battle-axes, is found particularly in central and northern Europe. The second phase, dated to 2500-2200 BC, is marked by Bell Beaker pottery and the frequent occurrence of copper daggers in the graves; it is found from Hungary to Britain and as far south as Italy, Spain, and North Africa. At the same time, there was an increase in the exchange of prestige goods such as amber, copper, and tools from particular rock sources.
Cyclopean masonry
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: cyclopean construction, cyclopean wall, cyclopean monuments, Pelasgian
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A style of masonry that calls for large, close-fitting, irregularly shaped stones, used typically in Mycenaean fortifications. The massive stone wall's gaps between the inner and outer faces of the huge stone boulders were filled with small stones and clay. It is named after the Greek mythical character Cyclops, thought by the Greeks to have built the walls of Tiryns, which are constructed in this fashion. The technique occurs widely elsewhere in the Mediterranean (Nuraghe, Naveta, Talayot, Torre), and was sometimes employed by the Inca and other Andean peoples.
Cyrus the Great (590-580 BC-529/530 BC)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The first great Achaemenid king, who founded the Achaemenid empire after overthrowing the Medes and expanding westward through the mountains into Anatolia and eastward across the Iranian plateau into Central Asia. His capital was at Pasargadae (Persia), where his tomb survives. He is remembered as a tolerant and ideal monarch who was called father of his people by the ancient Persians and in the Bible as the liberator of the Jews captive in Babylonia. His successors extended the kingdom into Egypt, western India, and Macedonia.
Dead Sea Scrolls
CATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: Ancient Hebrew manuscripts recovered from five cave sites in which they had been hidden at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea. They are believed to be the religious writings of the Essenes, a sect who in the 1st century BC and 1st century AD dwelt in a monastery at Khirbet Qumran. This material, first found in 1947, is extremely relevant to the origins of Christianity. The library included all the Old Testament texts as well as sectarian works. The scrolls, together with the excavations at Qumran, have provided much information about the beliefs and way of life of the Essenes. It is thought that the library was hidden in the cave in anticipation of the destruction of Khirbet Qumran by the Romans, which occurred in 67-73 AD. The manuscripts of leather, papyrus, and copper are among the more important discoveries in the history of modern archaeology. Their recovery has enabled scholars to push back the date of the Hebrew Bible to no later than 70 AD and to reconstruct the history of Palestine from the 4th century BC to 135 AD.
Deagan, Kathleen (1948- )
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: A leading contemporary Americanist archaeologist, specializing in the excavation and analysis of Spanish colonial period sites in the American Southeast and Caribbean.
DEFINITION: Mesopotamian / Sumerian (Enki) god of water and a member of the triad of deities completed by Anu (Sumerian An) and Bel (Enlil). From a local deity worshipped in the city of Eridu, Ea evolved into a major god, Lord of Apsu, the fresh waters beneath the earth. Ea, the Akkadian counterpart of Enki, was the god of ritual purification.
Eanna sounding
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A test excavation in the Eanna district of Warka for study of the origins of writing in southern Mesopotamia. The site has an 18-level sequence from the 'Ubaid (XVIII-XV), Early Uruk (XIV-IX), Middle Uruk (VIII-VI), Late Uruk (V-IV), Jemdet Nasr (III), and Early Dynastic (II-I) periods. Cylinder seals, sealings, and written texts from Mesopotamian administrations were found here for the first time.
Earlier Stone Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The first stage of the Stone Age in sub-Saharan Africa, dating from more than 2.5 million years ago to c 150,000 years ago. The earliest artifacts are representative of the Oldowan Industrial Complex, which was succeeded by the Acheulian Industrial Complex between c 1.5 million-150,000 years ago.
Early Archaic Percussion Pressure flaking
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of flaking in which the Preform was shaped by percussion flaking. The blade edges were ground to prepare a surface for the removal of elongate pressure flakes. The pressure flaking may have taken the form of alternate uniface bevel flaking, biface serration flaking, alternate biface bevel flaking or irregular pressure flaking.
Early Bronze Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period in the Levant dating to c 3200-1950 BC, just before Egypt's Archaic Period. Increasing urbanization was shown by the building of walled towns.
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 Horizon
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period during which the Chavin culture flourished in the central Andes of South America and was integrated into the northern highlands and coastal region of Peru, c 900-1 BC (also said to be c 1200-300 BC). It is one of a seven-period chronological construction used in Peruvian archaeology. It coincides with the duration of the Chavin style and its derivatives, such as Cupisnique. Following this, there was regional differentiation culminating in the complex cultures of the Early Intermediate Period.
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.
Early Khartoum
DEFINITION: A base camp site within modern Khartoum which provided the first clear picture of the so-called 'Aquatic Civilization'. The site had traces of sun-dried daub suggesting the presence of temporary structures. Fishing done with bone-headed harpoons was the economic basis of the settlement. Other artifacts include chipped and ground stone and pottery with 'wavy-line' decoration. Dates of 6th or 5th millennium BC seems probable; similar harpoons at Tagra, to the south, are dated to c 6300 BC.
Early Later Stone Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: An informal designation for the microlithic late Pleistocene Stone Age industry of some sites in South Africa. One such site is Border Cave, characterized by small backed pieces, bone points, ostrich eggshell beads, and incised bone and wood.
Early Lithic
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A term applied to the earliest stage in New World history, when man first appeared and started hunting and gathering. The period is characterized by large projectile points and percussion-chipped stone tools suitable for the slaughter and butchering of big game.
Early Man Shelter
DEFINITION: An Australian rock shelter at Cape York, with patinated Panaramitee-style paintings and engravings of humans, animals, tracks, and abstract motifs. Charcoal from occupation deposits covering wall engravings yielded radiocarbon dates between 10,000-13,000 bp. The shelter also contained the oldest known remains of Sarcophilus harrisii (Tasmanian devil) in tropical Australia: it is now found only in Tasmania. Bone tools are present that are 3000-6000 years old.
East Greek pottery
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A type of pottery produced during the Archaic Period within the Greek islands an on the western coast of Turkey at Chios, Samos, Ephesus, Miletus, Clazomenae, and Rhodes.
East Midland burnished ware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Type of Roman pottery dating to the 3rd and 4th centuries AD and found mainly in the northeast midlands of England. The pots produced were grey-brown in color and were dominated by bowls and jars
East Rudolf
DEFINITION: An important site on the northeastern shore of Lake Turkana (Lake Rudolf) in northern Kenya for research into earliest man, with major contributions to knowledge of the Australopithecines and Hominids (Australopithecus boisei, A. africanus, and Homo habilis). There are sediments rich in fossils and volcanic layers of the 1-3 million year time range.
East Spanish rock art
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An art style of southeastern Spain, found on the walls of shallow rock shelters and probably of the Mesolithic period. The subjects are lively scenes from everyday life, with warriors, hunters, dancers, and animals. The style is unlike that of cave art, the figures being small and painted in solid colors with no attempt at light and shade.
Easter Island
DEFINITION: The easternmost inhabited island of Polynesia, a small volcanic one, about 2500 miles from South America and 1250 miles from Pitcairn Island, its nearest inhabited Polynesian neighbors. It was settled by the Polynesians early in 1st millennium AD and developed a horticultural economy. By 700 AD, the inhabitants built large stone platforms (ahu), some of cut stone, and between 1000-1700 AD these platforms supported rows of huge stone statues (moai), some with separate top knots. Shaped by stone tools, as there is no metal on the island, from quarries in volcanic craters, there are about 300 platforms and about 600 statues. By about 1700, the warrior chiefdoms were fighting and all the statues were toppled from their pedestals. The platforms were used for human burial in stone chambers inserted into the stonework. There is a village of stone houses and many petroglyphs. The Europeans discovered Easter Island in 1722, after which the culture and population. The islanders also carved on wooden boards in an undeciphered script, Rongorongo. Easter Island culture represents the cultural development an isolated human community.
Eastern Chin Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A phase of the Chin dynasty; the ruling house of Chinese origin controlling southeastern China from 317-420 AD when northern China was under rule of Turkic tribes. There are numerous tombs and Yueh Ware. It was one of the Six Dynasties of China.
Eastern Gravettian
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Upper Palaeolithic industry across central and eastern Europe during the last glacial maximum, c 30,000-20,000 BP. Assemblages include shouldered points, backed blades, and some Venus figurines.
Eastern Zhou 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.
Eastgate point
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Type of projectile head developed c. AD 500 as an arrowhead during the late Archaic Stage in the Great Basin and western interior of North America.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An early Upper Palaeolithic industry of the Levant region, named for the Emireh cave at the north end of the Sea of Galilee (Israel) which yielded tools and triangular arrowheads with a base tapered by means of bifacial retouches (Emireh points). It is the earliest stage of the Upper Palaeolithic recognized in the eastern Mediterranean region. The Emiran is believed to date from about 30,000 bc and may be transitional from the Mousterian.
Fourneau du Diable
DEFINITION: A cave in the northern part of the Dordogne, southwest France, occupied during the Upper Palaeolithic, with Perigordian, Solutrian and Magdalenian deposits. It is one of only two sites where Solutrian art is well-exemplified.
Funnel Beaker
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: funnel-necked beaker culture; Funnel(neck) Beaker; Trichterbecher or TRB
CATEGORY: ceramics; culture
DEFINITION: A vessel with a globular body and expanded neck, characteristic of the Early and Middle Neolithic culture of northern Europe. The funnel beaker is not directly related to the bell-beaker of central and western Europe. The complex culture represents the first agriculturists in Scandinavia and the north European plain, appearing from 3500 BC onwards. It is named after the characteristic pottery, which is often found in megalithic tombs in northern Germany.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A late predynastic culture of Upper Egypt, successor of the Amratian, c 4000-3500 BC. It is named after the site of El Gerza or Gerzeh in the Fayum and is well represented at the cemetery of Naqada in Upper Egypt; another important site is Hierakonpolis. Flintwork included ripple-flaked knives and their was metalworking as copper was coming into use for axes, daggers, etc. Faience was introduced and ground stone vessels were popular and very finely worked. Typical pottery is a light-colored fabric in shapes imitating the stone vessels, decorated with red painted designs. These include imitations of stone markings, geometrical patterns and designs taken from nature. Ships were common, especially the papyrus-bundle craft used on the Nile. There is much evidence of contacts with southwestern Asia (in wavy-ledged handles on the jars, in cylinder seals, representations of mythical animals, the use of mudbrick in architecture, and possibly writing). These seem to have led to the advances which brought Egypt to the level of unified civilization at the start of the Dynastic period c 3200 BC.
Great Basin
DEFINITION: A natural region of western North America, with rugged north-south mountains and broad valleys, covering 190,000 square miles. It is bordered by the Sierra Nevada Range on the west, the Wasatch Mountains on the east, the Columbia Plateau on the north, and the Mojave Desert on the south. Most of Nevada, the western half of Utah, and portions of other states lie within its boundaries.
Great Interglacial
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A major division of the Pleistocene epoch, the warm interval between the Mindel and the Riss glaciations c 400,000-200,000 years ago.
Great Langdale
DEFINITION: A Neolithic ax factory in Cumbria, northwest England, with high-quality stone quarried at several sites and traded over very wide areas of England by the Peterborough people, c 4000-3000 BC.
Great Rift Valley
DEFINITION: The main branch of the East African Rift system, an ancient geological feature where the action of earthquakes and volcanoes created ideal conditions for burying and preserving bones. Many early hominid fossil sites have been discovered in the Great Rift Valley. In the north, the rift is occupied by the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and the Gulf of Aqaba. It continues southward along the Red Sea and into the Ethiopian Denakil Plain to Lakes Rudolf (Turkana), Naivasha, and Magadi in Kenya. It continues through Tanzania southward through the Shire River valley and Mozambique Plain to the coast of the Indian Ocean near Beira, Mozambique.
Great Serpent Mound
DEFINITION: Large ritual earth mound in Ohio with the form of a curved serpent holding either an egg or a frog. The mound is associated with a nearby burial mound of the Adena culture.
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.
Great Tradition
DEFINITION: Set of elite values and behaviors that emerge from folk traditions during the evolution of complex societies and that are expressed in distinctive rituals, art, writing, or other symbolic forms.
Great Wall of China
DEFINITION: A monumental building project which created a wall running (with all its branches) about 4,000 miles (6,400 km) west to east from Bohai Bay to a point deep in central Asia, the Tarim Basin. Parts of the vast fortification date from the 4th century BC. In 214 BC, the first emperor of a united China (Shih Huang-ti of the Qin dynasty) connected a number of existing defensive walls into a single system fortified by watchtowers, which served both to guard the rampart and to communicate with the capital, Hsien-yang, by signal - smoke by day and fire by night. The enemy against whom the Great Wall was built were the Hsiung-nu, the nomadic tribes of the northern steppes. The wall was originally made of masonry and rammed earth and was faced with brick on its eastern portion. It was substantially rebuilt in later times, especially in the 15th and 16th centuries. The basic wall is generally about 30 feet high, and the towers are about 40 feet high.
Great Zimbabwe
DEFINITION: A Late Iron Age site in southeastern Zimbabwe, by far the largest and most elaborate of the dry-stone constructions to which the term dzimbahwe is applied. After an Early Iron Age phase of 500-900 AD, the main sequence of occupation began around 1000 when Shona speakers occupied Zimbabwe Hill and began building stone walls around 1300. Great Zimbabwe was the capital of the Shona empire from 1270-1450 AD, which stretched from the Zambezi River to the northern Transvaal of South Africa and eastern Botswana. There was a class system and the kings accumulated wealth through trade, attested by items such as glass vessels and beads, pottery, and porcelain. Gold was the principal export; Great Zimbabwe appears to have been at the center of a network of related sites through which control was exercised over the gold-producing areas. Archaeologically, the culture is called the Zimbabwe Tradition and is divided into Mapungubwe, Zimbabwe, and Khami phases. In the 15th century the site declined with trade and political power shifting to the north near the Zambezi Valley.
Greater Peten
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A major architectural style of the Classic Maya lowlands, especially the use of polychrome painted stucco on wall surfaces.
Gudea (fl 2100 BC)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: A ruler of Lagash in the post-Akkadian period, c 2125 BC, known from the numerous inscribed statues of him at Tello. These are among the best-known objects of Sumerian art.
Guinea Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A series of industries in the coastal regions of West Africa during the last 10,000 years. Backed microliths akin to those manufactured in earlier times are associated with pottery and with ground stone ax- and hoe-like implements. One of the few well-described and dated occurrences is at Bosumpra near Abetifi in Ghana, where the occupation is dated between the 4th-2nd millennia BC. Because most of these peoples were nonliterate, there are few records up to c 1000 AD, when Arab historians began describing the western African region. By that time, it already had centralized states, agriculture, and long-distance trading routes.
Haua Fteah
DEFINITION: A large cave site in Cyrenaica, Libya, with the most complete sequence, back to c 78,000 BC, of Upper Pleistocene and Holocene industries known from a single site in North Africa. The oldest flint industry is a Libyan variant of the pre-Aurignacian (Libyan Amudian), and is followed successively by Levalloiso-Mousterian (60,000 years ago), Dabban (40,000 years ago), Oranian (18-16,000 years ago), Libyco-Capsian, and finally (from c 6800-6400) by Neolithic with pottery and domesticated animals. Based upon the striking of parallel-sided blades from prismatic cores, the earliest stage has clear affinities with broadly contemporary industries in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. Its makers exploited both large game animals and seafood resources. There was a return to blade technology with the Dabban industry and the beginning of the Dabban occupation of Crenaica seems to have coincided with the onset of very arid conditions in the Saharan regions to the south. The Oranian had small backed bladelets.
DEFINITION: A bison kill site in southern Alberta, Canada, with evidence of use from 3700 BC.
Healy Lake
DEFINITION: A prehistoric site in Tanana Valley, Alaska with four cultural layers starting c 11,000-10,000 bp. That layer contained Chindadn points and microblades.
Heathery Burn
DEFINITION: A cave site in Durham, England, which had the remains of a Late Bronze Age occupation by metalsmiths. There was much pottery, animal bones, and bronzes. The cave may have been a hunting shelter in the 8th century BC.
Heavenly Horse, Tomb of the
DEFINITION: A 5th century AD mounded tomb of the Silla Kingdom in Kyongju City, Korea. There was an internal wooden chamber with a lacquered wooden coffin of a male dressed in gold crown and with very rich grave goods.
Hengistbury Head
DEFINITION: An Upper Palaeolithic / Creswellian site with flint artifacts with thermoluminescence dates of c 12,500 bp. There is also a nearby Mesolithic site with evidence of flintknapping. The site became important c 100 BC (Iron Age) as a trading center with continental Europe; Roman wine amphorae were among the imports.
CATEGORY: typology
DEFINITION: The taxonomic group that includes the human and ape members of the primates.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ancient Vercovicium, Borcovicium; Dorcovicus
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: The best-preserved fort along Hadrian's Wall in Britain; one of the best examples of a permanent military camp there, with its defenses, street plan, administrative buildings, and barrack blocks. There was also a small civil settlement for traders, etc., at its gates. It is roughly midway along the Wall's length, in Northumberland. At Housesteads, archaeologists have uncovered a market where northern natives exchanged cattle and hides for Roman products. This allowed Roman wares and Roman cultural influences to make their way north.
Idaean Cave
DEFINITION: A sacred cave on Mount Ida in central Crete, one of those claimed to be the birthplace of Zeus. Votive offerings were made here by the Minoans, as it was an important cult center. There was a large rock shaped into a stepped altar. A magnificent series of decorated shields of the 8th and 7th centuries BC, showing artistic influence from Syria and Assyria, was also on the site.
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A group of languages from which most modern European languages are derived, as well as Indian Sanskrit and the Farsi language of Iran. It is assumed that the dispersal of these languages must have occurred through large-scale migrations of people. Attempts have been made to identify the carriers of Indo-European languages with groups recognizable in the archaeological record. When the groups were literate or are recorded in other people's documents, as with the Hittites and the Luwians in Asia Minor, it is possible to establish that the groups were indeed Indo-European speakers. One school maintains that the original homeland was in the south Russian steppes in the 5th millennium BC and spread into Europe with the Single Grave, Corded Ware, and Globular Amphorae groups. Indo-European was first recognized by Sir William Jones in 1786. It includes most of the modern European languages (Romance, Germanic, Slavic, Baltic, Greek, Albanian) and modern Indo-Iranian (Persian, Hindi).
DEFINITION: A Roman province in Palestine annexed by Pompey in 64 BC. It was first ruled by Herod the Great, but later by Roman procurators, of whom Pontius Pilate is best known. Its chief city was Jerusalem.
K-means technique
CATEGORY: typology
DEFINITION: A clustering method whereby the multi-dimensional space of dissimilarities is partitioned into an optimal number of groups.
DEFINITION: A heiau of Molokai, Hawaii, with six construction phases starting from 1460 AD.
Khufu (fl. early 26th century BC)
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Cheops, Khufwey, Khnomkhufwey
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The second king (pharaoh) (reigned 2589-2566 BC) of the Egyptian 4th Dynasty (c 2575-2465 BC), during the Old Kingdom, and the successor of Snefru (2613-2589 BC). His name is an abbreviation of the phrase Khnum-kuefui ('Khnum protects me'). He was the builder/owner of the Great Pyramid at Giza, the largest of the ancient pyramids. The pyramid covers a ground area of 53,000 square meters and rises to a height of 148 meters, reflecting a complex and efficient organization of which the pharaoh was the head. Two of his sons, Djedefre (Redjedef) and Khafre, succeeded him.
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.
L'Anse aux Meadows
DEFINITION: A site on Epaves Bay, northern Newfoundland, Canada, with evidence of a Viking settlement founded in the late 10th century AD. There are remains of Scandinavian-style turf-built houses and other artifacts of European origin: iron rivets, slag, a ring-headed bronze pin, and a soapstone spindle whorl. Supporting documents, such as Groen-lendingabok, Erik's Saga, and the map of Sigurthur Stefansson, also indicate that around 1000, Norse sailors journeyed to a land west of Greenland, which they called Vinland. The site has produced a series of radiocarbon dates which cluster around 1000 AD.
Laang Spean
DEFINITION: Cave site in western Cambodia, occupied between c 7000-500 BC, which has yielded a Hoabinhian sequence with an appearance of ground stone tools and pottery by perhaps 4300 BC. Succeeding layers contain more elaborate pottery and flaked stone tools.
DEFINITION: The ancient name of several cities of western Asia, mostly founded or rebuilt in the 3rd century BC by rulers of the Seleucid dynasty, and named after Laodice, the mother of Seleucus I Nicator, or after Laodice, daughter or niece of Antiochus I Soter and wife of Antiochus II Theos. It became one of the greatest cities of the Seleucid kingdom. The cities aided in the Hellenization of western Asia and subsequently in the spread of Christianity in the region. The most important of the cities was Laodicea ad Lycum (near modern Denizli, Turkey); its church was one of the seven to which Saint John addressed the Revelation. Laodicea ad Mare (modern Latakia, Syria) was a major seaport.
Leakey, Louis Seymour Bazett (1903-1972)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Kenyan-born British archaeologist and anthropologist whose brilliant career was devoted to the recovery and interpretation of the bones and tools of early man and his forebears in East Africa. His name is particularly associated with Olduvai Gorge and Homo habilis, and his work was extended and continued by his wife Mary and son Richard. As a geologist and paleontologist, he clarified the paleoclimatic scale of the Pleistocene. His intensive early Hominid research in East Africa included finds of Australopithecus boisei (Zinjanthropus) and Homo habilis, dating to c 1.75 million years ago. These discoveries proved that man was far older than had previously been believed and that human evolution was centered in Africa, rather than in Asia, as earlier discoveries had suggested. Leakey was also noted for his controversial interpretations of these archaeological finds. He was also instrumental in persuading Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey to undertake their pioneering long-term studies of chimpanzees and gorillas, respectively, in those animals' natural habitats. Leakey wrote "Adam's Ancestors" (1934; rev. ed. 1953) "Stone-Age Africa" (1936) "White African" (1937) "Olduvai Gorge" (1952) "Mau Mau and the Kikuyu" (1952) "Olduvai Gorge 1951-61" (1965) "Unveiling Man's Origins" (1969; with Jane Goodall) and "Animals of East Africa" (1969).
Leakey, Mary Douglas (1913-1996)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: English-born archaeologist and paleoanthropologist who made several of the most important fossil finds subsequently interpreted and publicized by her husband, the noted anthropologist Louis Leakey. She discovered the skull of Proconsul africanus, an apelike ancestor of both apes and early humans that lived about 25,000,000 years ago. At Olduvai Gorge she found the skull of an early hominid Australopithecus boisei (Zinjanthropus). At Laetoli, she discovered several sets of footprints made in volcanic ash by early hominids who lived about 3.5 million years ago. The footprints indicated that their makers walked upright; this discovery pushed back the advent of human bipedalism to a date earlier than had previously been suspected by the scientific community. Among Mary Leakey's books were "Olduvai Gorge: My Search for Early Man" (1979) and the autobiographical "Disclosing the Past" (1984).
Leakey, Richard (1944- )
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Kenyan physical anthropologist and paleontologist, son of Louis and Mary Leakey, responsible for extensive fossil finds of human ancestral forms in East Africa. His investigations suggested that relatively intelligent, tool-using ancestors of true man lived in eastern Africa as early as 3,000,000 years ago, or almost twice the time span of previous estimates. Leakey uncovered some 400 hominid fossils, making Koobi Fora the site of the richest and most varied assemblage of early human remains found to date in the world. Leakey proposed controversial interpretations of his fossil finds. In two books written with science writer Roger Lewin, "Origins" (1977) and "People of the Lake" (1978) Leakey said that about 3 million years ago three hominid forms coexisted with each other: Homo habilis Australopithecus africanus and Australopithecus boisei. Leakey contended that a relatively large-brained upright bipedal form of the species Homo lived in eastern Africa c 2.5-3.5 million years ago. He also wrote "The Making of Mankind" (1981).
Leang Burung
DEFINITION: Rock shelter site in southwestern Sulawesi, Indonesia with deposits postdating Ulu Leang. Shelter I has produced a late Toalian assemblage with microliths, Maros points, and pottery dating to the 2nd and 1st millennia BC. However, Shelter 2 produced a much older stone tool assemblage, late Pleistocene, with possible early Australian and also Levalloisian technological affinities, dating back to c 30,000-17,000 BC.
Leang Tuwo Mane'e
DEFINITION: Rock shelter on the coast of Karakellang, Talaud Islands, northeastern Indonesia, which has produced a preceramic small blade industry, c 3000 BC, followed by the appearance of a Neolithic assemblage by about 2000 BC, probably introduced from the Philippines.
Leroi-Gourhan, André George Léandre (1911-1986)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: French prehistorian who prepared important works on Palaeolithic art. He worked at Les Furtins, Arcy-sur-Cure, and Pincevent, pioneering techniques of horizontal excavation, the study of occupation floors, and ethnological reconstruction of prehistoric life. He published "Treasures of Prehistoric Art" (also published as "The Art of Prehistoric Man in Western Europe" 1967; originally published in French 1965) a magnificently illustrated volume on the art of the Cro-Magnon peoples and "The Dawn of European Art: An Introduction to Palaeolithic Cave Painting" (1982; originally published in Italian 1980) a well-illustrated technical discussion.
Linear A
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A syllabic script created by the Minoans and used in Crete and on other Aegean islands of Greece during the Neopalatial (early palace) period, c 1700-1450 BC (also c 2000/1900-1400 BC). The script has never been deciphered. It was inscribed on clay tablets as administrative records, as well as on stone (religious) vases and bronze double axes. Sir Arthur Evans named the Linear A and B scripts such to distinguish them from the hieroglyphic which preceded them; Linear A is the earlier of the two. Each is a syllabary, and was written with a sharp point on clay tablets. Linear A is of the Middle Minoan III-Late Minoan I. It is in some ways similar to Linear B and has pictograms reduced to formal outline patterns. Linear A tablets have been found in the palaces of Crete itself and also on the Cycladic islands of Melos, Keos, Kythera, Naxos and Thera.
Linear B
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A syllabic script used in Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece from c 1450-1200 (also c 1500-1100) BC. Michael Ventris deciphered it in 1952 as an early form of Greek. It was created at Knossos when the Mycenaeans took control and spread to mainland Greece. It was mainly used at the palace sites of Mycenae, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns. Most of the Linear B writings are on clay tablets but also on terra-cotta jars that were traded throughout the Aegean region. The writings are administrative / economic in nature and its decipherment has thrown much light on the continuity between Bronze Age and classical Greece. They are from the Late Minoan II in Crete and Mycenaean III A-B on the mainland. It is probable that when the Mycenaeans overran the Minoans they adopted the script used on Crete, Linear A and adapted it for writing the Greek language; many signs were added to the existing Linear A signs.
Linear Elamite script
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A syllabic script used in Elam for inscriptions c. 2200 BC. The earliest Elamite writings are in a figurative or pictographic script and date from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Documents from the second period, which lasted from the 16th to the 8th century BC, are written in cuneiform; the stage of the language found in these documents is sometimes called Old Elamite. The last period of Elamite texts is that of the reign of the Achaemenid kings of Persia (6th to 4th century BC), who used Elamite, along with Akkadian and Old Persian, in their inscriptions. The language of this period, also written in the cuneiform script, is often called New Elamite.
Linear Pottery culture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Linearbandkeramik; LBK; Danubian I
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The earliest Neolithic culture of central Europe, western Ukraine to eastern France, between c 4500-3900 BC. It is so named after curvilinear incised patterns which make its pottery so recognizable. This was the first farming culture in central Europe, based on grain cultivation and domesticated livestock, lasting to 3200 BC on its periphery. The Linear Pottery core area stretches from eastern Hungary to the Netherlands, including settlement concentrations in the Pannonian Basin, Bohemia, Moravia, central Germany and the Rhineland. A second rapid expansion occurred eastwards round the northern rim of the Carpathians, from Poland to the Dnieper. Linear Pottery is characterized by incised and sometimes painted pottery (3/4 spherical bowl) with linear designs (curvilinear, zigzag, spiral, and meander patterns), polished stone shoe-last adzes, and a microlithic stone industry. Small cemeteries of individual inhumations are common as are longhouses with rectangular ground plans. The remarkable uniformity that characterized the Linear Pottery culture in its core area broke down after c 4000 BC and the cultures that emerged - Tisza, Lengyel, Stroke-Ornamented Ware, Rossen etc. - were more divergent in characteristics. It is most possible that it derived from the Körös culture of the northern Balkans.
DEFINITION: The largest marae (stone temple) constructed in Tahiti, Society Islands, Polynesia. It was an 11-stepped pyramidal ahu covering 81x 22 meters, 13.5 meters high. Constructed by the chieftainess Purea of Papara district in 1767, it now has only a few foundation fragments surviving.
Mauna Kea
DEFINITION: The highest mountain in Polynesia and a dormant volcano on north-central Hawaii Island. It has very extensive prehistoric basalt adze quarries, mostly between 3350-3780 m (12,400 feet) above sea level. The sites include workshops, rock shelters, stone-walled enclosures, and religious shrines. Radiocarbon dates from the shelters range from 1400-1650 AD. The dome of the volcano is 30 miles (48 km) across, with numerous cinder cones, and is the site of a major astronomical observatory.
McKean Complex
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Middle Plains Archaic complex dating to c 5000-3000 BC and occupying parts of the northwestern Plains of North America. Its type site is in northeast Wyoming and has a McKean projectile point - a stemmed, lanceolate form.
McKean point
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Bifacially worked chipped stone projectile points characteristic of the McKean Complex of the middle Archaic Stage in the Great Plains of North America during the period c.2900-1000 BC. Lanceolate in outline with curved sides and a hollow base these points were probably spearheads used in bison hunting.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Meadowcroft rock shelter
DEFINITION: A rock shelter in Pennsylvania with a long series of stratified deposits spanning the period from at least 14,000 BC up to the 18th century AD - Palaeoindian, Archaic, Late prehistoric, and historic periods. The site was occupied intermittently by groups representing all the major cultural stages in northeastern North America. Charcoal samples in the lowest stratum have yielded dates in the range 35,000-19,500 BC, although there was no association with cultural material. Flint tools bear a resemblance to finds at Blackwater Draw and Lindenmeier. The evidence from Meadowcroft established beyond reasonable doubt the presence of a human population south of the ice masses in the Late Pleistocene. Meadowcroft provides some of the earliest reliable evidence of man in North America.
DEFINITION: A lakeside village of the Iron Age on the Somerset Levels in southwest England with groups of mounds similar to those at nearby Glastonbury. The settlement consisted of about 40 round houses built on desiccated peat and with timber and brushwood floors. It was surrounded by a palisade and occupied from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD. The pottery dates from about 60 BC until about the time of the Roman invasions of the 1st century AD. The site was reoccupied during the 4th century. The Abbot's Tribunal, Glastonbury, houses some of the objects discovered during excavation.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: One of the kingdoms of southern Arabia in the 1st millennium BC, contemporary with the Sabeans, Qatabaneans and Hadramis. The Minaean kingdom lasted from the 4th to the 2nd century BC and was predominantly a trading organization that, for the period, monopolized the trade routes. They seem to be loosely associated with the 'Amir people to the north of the Minaean capital of Qarnaw (now Ma'in), which is at the eastern end of the Wadi Al-Jawf and on the western border of the Sayhad sands. The Minaeans had a second town surrounded by impressive and still extant walls at Yathill, and they had trading establishments at Dedan and in the Qatabanian and Hadramite capitals. The overwhelming majority of Minaean inscriptions come from Qarnaw, Yathill, and Dedan.
Monreale Cathedral
DEFINITION: A magnificent cathedral, in northwestern Sicily, Italy, constructed between 1174-1189 by William II, the third Norman king of Sicily. Little now remains of the monastic buildings except the splendid cloister (with 216 marble columns) adjacent to the cathedral. The cathedral is one of the richest and most beautiful churches in Italy, combining Norman, Byzantine, Italian, and Saracen styles. Particularly notable is the interior mosaic decoration, one of the largest in existence. The subjects of the mosaics include an Old Testament cycle, the miracles of Christ, the life of Christ, and the lives of the saints Peter and Paul. It was created by a group of craftsmen trained in Byzantium.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Inhabitants of Mycenae, the civilization of late Bronze Age Greece, set in the Argolid. Their name for themselves was Achaeans, and their achievements were remembered in the legends of the classical Greeks. Their forebears probably arrived in Greece around 2000 BC, bringing Minyan ware and an Indo-European language with them. Mycenaean civilization arose in the 16th century BC by the sudden influx of many features of material culture from the Minoans. Later traditions speak of the arrival of new rulers from the east. By c 1450 BC, the Mycenaeans were powerful enough to take over both Knossos and the profitable trade across the east Mediterranean, especially in Cypriote copper. Trade was extended also to the central Mediterranean and continental Europe, where Baltic amber was one of the commodities sought. The peak of their power lasted only a century and a half until natural and unnatural disaster struck. The Trojan War at the end of the 13th century points to unrest east of the Aegean. There is evidence of increasing depopulation of southern Greece about the same time, paving the way for invasion by the Dorians. At home, the Mycenaeans dwelt in strongly walled citadels containing palaces of the megaron type, exemplified at Mycenae, Tiryns, Thebes, and Pylos. To these were added the more Minoan features - frescoes, painted pottery, skillfully carved seals, artistic metalwork, clay tablets, etc. Their writing, Linear B, was an adaptation of the Minoan script, presumably first made by the mainlanders who had occupied Knossos, for the writing of their own, Greek, language. (Linear B was deciphered by Michael Ventris.) The Mycenaeans contributed greatly to the economy and technology of Late Bronze Age Europe, and to the population of the east Mediterranean coasts after the Egyptian defeat of the Peoples of the Sea, and they also left a legacy in their language and literature to their descendants in Greece. The civilization collapsed in c 1200 BC.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A rich merchant Semitic people who established a kingdom south and east of Edom - ancient Midian, on a trade route from Red Sea to Mediterranean, by the 6th century BC. The Nabataeans infiltrated Edom and forced the Edomites into southern Palestine. They made Petra (in Jordan) their capital in c 312 BC, but they also controlled Bosra and Damascus at height of power. The city prospered as the center of the spice trade. Khirbet Tannur temple, Wadi Rum temple, watch towers, and an elaborate hydraulic network are attributed to them. During 64-63 BCE, the kingdom of Nabataea was conquered by the Romans under Pompey, who restored the Hellenistic cities destroyed by the Jews and set up the Decapolis. The country remained independent but paid imperial taxes. The kingdom annexed by Romans in 106 AD as "Provincia Arabia Petraea" (Palaestina Tertia).
Natal Early Iron Age
DEFINITION: A South African province of Natal which has traces of the furthest southeastern extension of the Early Iron Age complex of sub-Saharan Africa, which has been linked with the dispersal of peoples speaking Bantu languages. Evidence for Early Iron Age settlement is found in the fertile areas of the lower river valleys and dates from about the 4th century AD. Closely related sites are known from the Transvaal, as at Broederstroom and Lydenburg.
Nea Nikomedeia
DEFINITION: An Early Neolithic tell settlement in Macedonia in northern Greece. From a large structure (shrine?) in the center of the mound, there were terra-cotta female figurines thought to have been used in rituals. The remains of rectangular mud houses, a number of crouched burials, and plain and painted pottery, frogs carved from greenstone, flint blades, and many ground stone axes have been found. Radiocarbon dates of c 6200-5300 BC was obtained. The earliest known domesticated cattle date from about 6000 BC at Nea Nikomedeia, in association with cultivated einkorn, emmer, and barley.
Neanderthal man
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Neandertal, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, Neanderthals
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An early form of Homo sapiens that inhabited much of Europe and the Mediterranean area during the late Pleistocene Epoch, about 100,000 to 35,000 years ago. Neanderthal remains have also been found in the Middle East, North Africa, and western Central Asia. This type of fossil human that is a subspecies of Homo sapiens and is distinguished by a low broad braincase, continuous arched brow ridges, projecting occipital region, short limbs, and large joints; his brain was as large as modern man's. His flintwork, which in North Africa and Eurasia was of Middle Palaeolithic (Mousterian) type, was technically more advanced than anything which had gone before (scrapers and points), and the careful burial of dead with funerary offerings provides the oldest surviving evidence for religious beliefs. Neanderthals mainly lived in caves. They used fire and hunted small and medium-sized animals (e.g. goats, deer) and scavenged from the kills of large carnivores. The oldest skeletal remains belong to the Riss-Würm interglacial period, but Neanderthal man persisted through the earlier stage of the succeeding Würm glaciation until he was replaced by modern man. This replacement probably took place between 40,000-35,000 BC, but the scarcity of skeletal evidence from the period makes it impossible to give a more precise date. The manner of this replacement is also in doubt. Neanderthal man is sometimes classified as a distinct species of the genus Homo, but has also been considered as falling within the same species as Homo sapiens, whose ancestor he may have been. The species is named after its type area in Neanderthal, a valley near Düsseldorf in Germany, where skeletal remains of this type of human were first found in 1856.
Near Oceania
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: Those islands of the Pacific Ocean that can be reached by watercraft without going out of sight of land - basically comprising the Indonesian archipelago, the Philippines, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.
New Guinea
DEFINITION: The largest island of Oceania, in the eastern Malay Archipelago, north of Australia. New Guinea was joined to Australia in low sea-level periods of Pleistocene and was probably first settled by early Australoids at the same time as its larger neighbor. New Guinea archaeology examines the Highlands, which is totally Papuan-speaking, and also the coasts, which is mixed Papuan and Austronesian. The Highland prehistoric sequence in totally aceramic. Stone mortars and pestles, many elaborate shape, are also found in the Highlands. The New Guinea coasts only have sequences back to 3000-2000 years ago as earlier sites were probably drowned by rising sea levels. The best-reported are Collingwood Bay and south coastal Papua, both with pottery. Some coastal groups had developed elaborate trading networks by the time of European contact. Almost the whole of New Guinea is occupied by speakers of Papuan languages, the original settlers of the island, who live mainly in the interior and southern sections. Ethnic composition is complex among the Papuans, who speak some 700 different languages.
New Guinea Highlands
DEFINITION: An area of Oceania which was unknown until the 1930s and whose population is Melanesian speakers of Papuan languages. Its prehistory goes back at least 26,000 years and supported agricultural systems dating back at least 6000 years.
New Zealand
DEFINITION: The southernmost and (except for Chatham Islands) only temperate landmass to be settled by Polynesians/Maoris. Beginning in c 900 AD, the lifestyle was predominantly horticultural on the North Island, but hunting and gathering on the colder South Island. Language, economy, and technology are almost fully Polynesian. There are two archaeological phases: Archaic, c 900-1300, and Classic, c 1300-1800. The Classic is associated with many earthwork fortifications, a rich woodcarving tradition, and development of the chiefly society observed by Captain Cook in 1769.
DEFINITION: A Roman fort on the Tweed near Melrose, it was first built by Agricola c 81 AD. There were rebuildings in c 86, 145, and 158, enlarging and strengthening it to hold a garrison of a thousand men. It remained the main base for the Roman army of occupation in the Scottish lowlands as long as this region was held.
Ocean Bay tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A culture of the southern coast of Alaska, dated from c 4000-1000 BC, a marine mammal-hunting tradition. The principal excavated sites are Sitkalidak Roadcut (Kodiak Islands) and Takli Island.
Old Bering Sea Culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Eskimo subculture that settled in northern Alaska and northeast Siberia between 1500-2000 years ago, and is best known for its ivory objects. The earliest sites were in Bering Strait area and the major type site is on St. Lawrence Island. It is an early manifestation of the western Arctic Thule tradition, often linked with the possibly contemporaneous Okvik culture. Although both share similar traits - a highly evolved art style, polished slate tools and pottery - the relationship between the two is still uncertain. The art style appears to have flourished between 100-500 AD.
Oldbury-type bead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Type of late Iron Age bead found in southeastern England, hexagonal in outline with white spirals in a blue ground mass.
Oxus Treasure
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A collection of Persian art of the Achaemenidian period (6th-4th century BC) now in the British Museum, London. It was discovered in 1877 on the bank of the Oxus River near the present Afghanistan-Russian border. This large hoard of gold and silver metalwork included a variety of jewelry, ornamental plaques, figurines, chariot models, and vessels. One of the armlets consists of a circular gold band with its two ends meeting in the form of finely worked griffins.
PF beaker
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: protruding foot beaker
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Abbreviation of protruding foot beaker.
Pasemah Plateau
DEFINITION: A plateau in southern Sumatra with a series of impressive prehistoric megalithic monuments - massive slab graves and a rich collection of life-sized anthropomorphic carvings. The large stones are roughly carved into the shape of animals, such as the buffalo and elephant, and human figures - some with swords, helmets, and ornaments and some apparently carrying drums. They are stylistically similar to those of Iron Age burials of the last centuries BC, and remote connections with the Dong Son culture of northern Vietnam and the megalithic cultures of south India are likely.
Pasteurs des Plateaux
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The general name for the Late Neolithic and Copper Age peoples who lived on the uplands of Languedoc, southern France, c 2500 BC, and who made pottery of the Ferrières and Fontbouisse styles.
Peoples of the Sea
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Sea People(s), Peoples of the Islands in the Midst of the Sea
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Any of the groups of aggressive seafarers who invaded eastern Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, and Egypt toward the end of the Bronze Age, especially in the 13th century BC. They are considered responsible for the destruction of the Hittite Empire, among others. Because of the abrupt break in ancient Near Eastern records as a result of the invasions, the precise extent and origin of the upheavals remain uncertain. Principal evidence is based on Egyptian texts and illustrations; other important information comes from Hittite sources and from archaeological data. The peoples were of mixed origin and tentative identifications of the people are: Pulesati/Pelset/Peleset = Philistines; Luka/Lukka = Lycians; Akawasha/Ahhiyawa/Ekwesh = Achaeans; Danuna = Danaoi; Sherden/Sherdana/Shardana = Sardinians; Shekelesh/Sicels/Sikels/Siculi = Sicilians; Tursha/Tyrsi/Teresh/Tyrrhenians (Tyrsenoi) = Etruscans. The Philistines, who perhaps came from Crete, were the only major tribe of the Sea Peoples to settle permanently in Palestine.
Phocaean ware
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: Roman red-glossed pottery made from the 4th-7th century AD on the west coast of Turkey. It was widely distributed in the eastern Mediterranean.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Pre-Boreal Climatic Interval
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A division of Holocene chronology which began about 10,000 years ago and ended about 9,500 years ago. The Pre-Boreal Climatic Interval preceded the Boreal Climatic Interval and was a time of increasing climatic moderation. Birch-pine forests and tundra were dominant. It is a subdivision of the Flandrian Interglacial and represents the start of the Flandrian.
Preah Vihear
DEFINITION: A large mountaintop temple built by the Khmer king Suryavarman, located on the border of Thailand and northern Cambodia. It has been described as one of the most beautiful natural sites of the whole of Asia.
Qasr al-Hayr East
DEFINITION: An Islamic site in Syria with two fortified buildings and a bathhouse. There are towers and a monumental gate as this was the site of a rural princely complex dating from 710-750 AD, erected by Umayyad princes. An inscription from the mosque, now lost, gives the date 728-729 and refers to the site as a town. Although the principal occupation belongs to the 8th century, Qasr al-Hayr enjoyed revival in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Rancho La Brea
DEFINITION: Quaternary site (Le Brea Tar Pits) near Los Angeles with very large numbers of vertebrate remains dating c 40,000-11,000BP buried in tar pits (asphalt deposits of ancient tar seeps). The tar pits contain the fossilized skulls and bones of prehistoric animals that became entrapped in the sticky seepage of the pits. The remains of such Pleistocene mammals as imperial mammoth, mastodon, saber-toothed cat, giant ground sloth, and camel have been recovered. There are some artifacts, including manos and wooden spear points.
Real Alto
DEFINITION: A village of the Valdivia culture of Ecuador, near the coast, occupied from c 3500-3000 BC. It had a formal layout, with an open plaza surrounded by elongated mounds of household rubbish. Excavation revealed large timber and thatch houses, one mound with offerings and a second with elaborate high-status burials. There is evidence for the emergence of an early complex social organization.
Remote Oceania
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: The small islands of the Pacific that can only be reached by sailing out of sight of land, including all the islands east of a line stretching from the Philippines to the Solomons.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: One of four major peoples / kingdoms of southern Arabia in the 1st millennium BC, contemporary with the Minaeans, Qatabanians, and Hadramites. The Sabaean capital was at Marib (Ma'rib). The people who called themselves Saba' (biblical Sheba) are both the earliest and the most abundantly attested in the surviving written records. Sabaean rulers - who are mentioned in Assyrian annals of the late 8th and early 7th centuries BC - were responsible for impressive cultural and irrigational constructions. Two secondary centers were Sirwah, on a tributary of the Wadi Dhana above the dam, and Nashq (now Al-Bayda'), at the western end of Wadi Al-Jawf.
Sea Peoples
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A collective term for various peoples who were on the move in the Aegean, Anatolia, and Levant in the 13th and 12th centuries BC. They were responsible for widespread destruction of settlements in these areas, particularly Ugarit and Alalakh and, more remotely, with the fall of Mycenaean Greece and the Hittite empire. Dorians, Aeolians, and Ionians moved into Greece and Aegean islands, probably destroyed the Mycenaean kingdom and drove the inhabitants eastwards (Trojan War, c 1200 BC). The Thraco-Phrygians were also driven into Anatolia, where they brought about the fall of the Hittite Empire. Homeless peoples swept southwards along the coasts of Asia Minor and Syria, burning and looting as they went, and were only stopped by Ramesses III and Merenptah in 1174 BC. It was at this time that the Philistines settled in Palestine.
Seacow Valley
DEFINITION: River valley in Cape Province, South Africa, with more than 14,000 Stone Age sites. The ceramic sequence dates to the millennium prior to European settlers. There is information about the Stone Age Smithfield hunter-gatherers from this area.
DEFINITION: An area of marshes and lagoons of southern Babylonia (Persian Gulf). In the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, the dynasty of the Sealand controlled much of southern Mesopotamia, but little is known about its rule. Only one of its kings being documented in contemporary texts. Earlier documents referred to the area of the kingdom of Chaldea as the Sealand.
Sevso treasure
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A hoard of Roman silver treasure found in Yugoslavia and Lebanon, named for the owner's inscription on a dish
Silver Leaves
DEFINITION: Iron Age site south of the Zambezi River in eastern Transvaal, South Africa, dated to the 3rd-4th centuries AD.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A culture of the Upper Paleolithic period in western Europe, from about 19,000 BC, following the Perigordian and Aurignacian; characterized by the use of projectile points, especially the laurel-leaf blade. From Solutré, a site in central France, it was a short-lived style of toolmaking with particularly fine workmanship. The Solutrean industry, like those of other late Paleolithic big-game hunters, contained a variety of tools such as burins, scrapers, and borers; but blades that were formed in the shape of laurel or willow leaves and shouldered points are the implements that distinguish the Solutrean. It preceded the Magdalenian in parts of France and Spain. At Laugerie-Haute, unifacially chipped leaf-shaped points in the Early Solutrean show the gradual development of bifacial working, a stage dated c 19,000-18,000 BC. The Middle phase is characterized by fine large bifacial points and by the introduction of pressure flaking. In the Later Solutrean, this technique was used to produce slim leaf-shaped projectiles and small single-shouldered points. In southeast Spain this final stage also has barbed and tanged arrowheads. The laurel leaves were typical of Middle Solutrean and willow leaves (shouldered points) were from the Later Solutrean. The bone needle with an eye was invented in this period. Many decorated caves in France can be assigned to this period.
Southeastern Ceremonial Complex
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Southern Cult, Southeastern tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A network of exchange and interaction in the southeastern and midwestern United States from around 1200-1500. A complex consisting of a range of specialized artifacts and motifs found in mortuaries and rich burials at some of the principal sites of the Middle Mississippi Culture (Mississippian) in southeastern North America. Beginning c 1200 AD, cult objects include ear-spools, ceremonial axes, and disks made of copper or shell - all engraved with symbols of military and supernatural power, such as the cross, the sun circle, the swastika, and the eye-and-hand. Characteristic artifacts such as monolithic ceremonial axes, effigy jars, and worked shell objects have been found in abundance at the major ceremonial centers at Etowah, Georgia; Spiro, Oklahoma; and Moundville, Alabama. The cult's climax occurred between 1200-1400, but had virtually disappeared by the time of the first European explorers.
Sturts Meadows
DEFINITION: Site in New South Wales, Australia, of the Panaramitee with engravings on mudstone outcrops. Radiocarbon dates are c 10,000 bp.
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.
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A phase between the Late Helladic and the Protogeometric periods on mainland Greece, known from its pottery found in cemeteries in Attica and from sites in central Greece and the Peloponnese. It is dated c 1050-1020 BC. Pottery was the first art to recover its standards after the Dorian invasion and the overthrow of Mycenae. Athens escaped these disasters and in the ensuing dark age became the main source of ceramic ideas. For a short time Mycenaean motifs survived on new shapes - the Submycenaean ware. It gave way to the Protogeometric (c 1020-900 BC) style by converting the decaying Mycenaean ornament into regular geometrical patterns.
DEFINITION: Important obsidian source in western Melanesia, on the north coast of New Britain, occurring from 9000 BC (Late Pleistocene) at Matenkupkum and Matenbek. The obsidian was widely distributed in Lapita times (c 1500-1BC) to as far as New Caledonia, 2600 km away.
DEFINITION: Traditionally, the most sacred marae of eastern Polynesia, on Raiatea, Society Islands. It is associated with the worship of the god Oro. The surviving platform (ahu) is 40 meters by 7 meters and is faced with coral slabs. The platform's shell is dated to the 17th century AD.
Thebes-East Bank
DEFINITION: This part of Thebes included the main part of the city, now overbuilt by Luxor, and a temple built by Amenhotep III and Ramesses II. Just north was the temple of Karnak.
Ulu Leang
DEFINITION: Important rock shelter in the Maros region of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia, with a sequence c 8000-6000 BC in the early Holocene. It illustrates the development of the Toalian microlithic industry, with flake and bone tools.
Valea Lupului
DEFINITION: A large settlement site of the Late Neolithic Cucuteni culture, Moldavia, Rumania, with a radiocarbon date c 2750 BC. The single phase occupation produced domestic assemblages of the Cucuteni B3 phase.
DEFINITION: Biogeographical zone of islands between Southeast Asia Sunda shelf and the Sahul shelf - an area separating Australia from Southeast Asia for 70 million years. It marks the division between two major faunal groups: oriental animals (elephants, tigers, and apes) and the animals of Australia (kangaroos, wombats, and monotremes). Dates of first human settlement are uncertain; the first settlers of Australia prior to 30,000 years ago had to cross sea gaps of up to 70 km in this zone. The water formed a barrier to the spread of animals and humans into Australia and New Guinea. It is named after the British naturalist A.R. Wallace, who first recognized its significance.
DEFINITION: Royal seat of the Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, England, in the 7th century AD and site of an impressive group of buildings. Great timber halls and a semicircular timber grandstand for meetings and assemblies have been excavated. Of the smaller buildings uncovered, one is thought to have been converted from a pagan temple into a church. It has advanced our knowledge of Saxon timber architecture.
activity area
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A place where a specific ancient activity was located or carried out, such as food preparation or stone toolmaking. The place usually corresponded to one or more features and associated artifacts and ecofacts. In American archaeology, the term describes the smallest observable component of a settlement site. See data cluster.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A large-scale Roman arena open to the elements and surrounded by tiers of seats. They were constructed for exhibiting gladiatorial and other public spectacles (military displays, combats, and wild beast fights) to the populace. The earliest were oval and built of wood, later changing to stone construction. Rome's Colosseum has tiered galleries 2-3 stories in height and has provision for covering the arena with shades to protect against rain or sun. Roofing of so wide an expanse was beyond Roman technology. The arena of the Colosseum had a false timber floor, below which there was a labyrinth of service corridors. The animal cages were situated here, linked with pre-tensioned lifts and automatic trapdoors so that participants and animals could be sent up to the floor of the arena with speed and precision. Somehow Roman engineers staged the grand opening by flooding the arena for a full-scale sea battle. Amphitheatres accommodated a great number of spectators (possibly more than 50,000 at the Colosseum). The Romans derived their ideas from the classic Greek theater and stadium and the model was widely copied throughout the Roman empire. It could be erected on any terrain and set inside an urban center. An early example of the Republican period is at Pompeii the Colosseum is of the Imperial model. The fortress of Caerlon and the towns of Caerwent, Cirencester, Colchester, Dorchester, Richborough, and Wroxeter are some British places which had amphitheatres.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: The treating of a metal or alloy with heat and then cold - or the repeated process of heating and hammering to produce the desired shape. After casting metal, it may be necessary to further process it by cold-working, hammering, and drawing the metal - either to produce hard cutting edges or to produce beaten sheet metal. Hammering makes the metal harder, though more brittle and subject to cracking because it destroys its crystalline structure. Annealing, the reheating of the metal gently to a dull red heat and allowing it to cool, produces a new crystalline structure which can be hammered again. The process may be repeated as often as is necessary. The final edge on a weapon may be left unannealed as it will be harder and last longer.
DEFINITION: Concerning trees. In pollen analysis, arboreal pollen types are distinguished from shrub pollen and herbaceous pollen.
arboreal pollen
DEFINITION: Pollen from trees.
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A sector of units of excavation that consists of a group of closely related, usually contiguous, squares. The numbering of Areas is by capital letters, e.g., Area A, Area M, etc., and squares by Arabic numbers, Area A, Square 1. In some systems of excavation what is an Area in the above description is called a field, and instead of the smaller unit of squares already described, that unit is called an area, e.g., Field 1, Area 1.
area excavation
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: extensive excavation, open excavation, open-area excavation
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method of excavation in which the full horizontal extent of a site is cleared and large areas are open while preserving a stratigraphic record in the balks between large squares. A gradual vertical probe may then take place. This method is often used to uncover houses and prehistoric settlement patterns. Area excavation involves the opening up of large horizontal areas for excavation, used especially where single period deposits lie close to the surface. It is the excavation of as large an area as possible without the intervention of balks and a grid system. This technique allows the recognition of much slighter traces of ancient structures than other methods. On multi-period sites, however, it calls for much more meticulous recording since the stratigraphy is revealed one layer at a time.
arithmetic mean
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: An average; a measure of central tendency calculated by dividing the sum of observations by the number of observations.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: projectile point, arrow-head
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A small object of bone, metal, or stone that has been formed as the pointed end of an arrow for penetration and is often found at sites of prehistoric peoples. The earliest known are Solutrean points of the Upper Palaeolithic. Arrowheads are often the only evidence of archery since the arrow shaft and bow rarely survive. The term projectile point is generally preferable because it avoids an inference regarding the method of hafting and propulsion. Most often, arrowheads were placed in a slot in the shaft, tied, then fixed with resin.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The cutting or chopping part of an axe.
axhead roughout
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An unfinished, roughly shaped axehead.
bag wear
DEFINITION: The damage that can occur to artifacts and ecofacts during excavation, transportation, and cataloging.
barbed and tanged arrowhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Triangular-shaped flint arrowheads of the later Neolithic and early Bronze Age in Europe. Distinctive in having a short rectangular tang on the base opposite the point, symmetrically set either side of which is a barb. The tang was used to secure the arrow tip to its shaft and usually projects slightly below the ends of the barbs.
bark beater
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: a stone, wood, or other hard material which was used in the Precolumbian period to soften bark for making clothing or architecture
basal-looped spearhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Type of leaf-shaped socketed spearhead of the European middle Bronze Age which has two small holes or loops at the base of the blade, one either side of the socket. It is assumed that these were to assist in securing the metal spearhead to the wooden shaft, but they might also have been used to tie streamers of some kind to the top of the spear.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A small, circular, tubular, or oblong ornament with a perforated center; usually made from shell, stone, bone, or glass.
bead rim
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A rim in the form of a small, rounded molding, in section at least two-thirds of a circle. It was often used on bowls, dishes, and jars.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Decorative work made of beads
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A simple pottery drinking vessel without handles, more deep than wide, much used in prehistoric Europe. The pottery was usually red or brown burnished ware, decorated with horizontal panels of comb- or cord-impressed designs. It was distributed in Europe from Spain to Poland, and from Italy to Scotland in the years after 2500 BC and the international bell-beaker is particularly widespread, though uncommon in Britain. In Britain there are local variants, the long-necked (formerly A) beakers of eastern England and the short-necked (formerly C) beakers of Scotland. There are local developments elsewhere, such as the Veluwe beakers in Holland. Beaker vessels are commonly found in graves, which were often single inhumations under round barrows; commonly associated finds include copper or bronze daggers and ornaments, flint arrowheads, stone wristguards, and stone battle-axes. In many northern and western areas its users were the first to start copper metallurgy. The widespread distribution of beaker finds has led to the frequent identification of a Beaker people and speculations about their origins.
DEFINITION: The seed or pod of certain leguminous plants of the family Fabaceae and important to man since the beginning of food production. Most modern beans are of the genus Phaseolus, different species of which occur wild in two hemispheres. Their cultivation commenced at an early date in both. These species all originated in Mexico and South America, spreading to the Old World after Columbus. The earliest finds of cultivated Phaseolus beans are from 6th millennium BC Peru and Mexico. Vicia faba, the ancestor of the broad bean, was confined to the Old World, and was already being grown in the Neolithic Near East. Later in the Neolithic, the species appeared in Spain, Portugal, and eastern Europe. During the Bronze Age, the field bean grew in southern and central Europe, and by the Iron Age it reached Britain.
DEFINITION: A large carnivore of the family Ursidae, closely related to the dog (family Canidae) and raccoon (Procyonidae). The bear is the most recently evolved of carnivores and it appears to have diverged from the dog family during the Miocene. It evolved through such forms as the Pliocene Hyaenarctos (of Europe, Asia, and North America), into modern types such as the black and brown bear (Ursus). Today's bears are of three groups: the brown bears, the black bears, and the polar bear. Occasional finds of fossil polar bear bones outside the Arctic Circle are presumably related to the presence of pack ice and ice shelves at the edges of ice sheets during glaciations. Brown bears existed in Europe and Asia during the late Quaternary period. One very large variant evolved in Europe, the 'Cave Bear', whose fossils are quite common in Quaternary cave deposits.
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: A direction or relative position; a horizontal direction expressed in degrees east or west of a true or magnetic north or south direction.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: In music, a wooden or metal object used to provide a rhythm by striking another object; otherwise, A general tool used to beat objects with.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: hammer-and-anvil technique, paddling
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A technique to thin and even out the walls of coil- or slab-built vessels after they have partially hardened to leather hardness to improve the bonding between coils or add surface texture. One holds an anvil or fist inside the vessel while the outside is struck repeatedly with a paddle which can be wrapped with cord or fabric to add texture to the vessel surface.
bedrock feature
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A feature constructed into bedrock that does not fit any other feature type.
blanket peat
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: Peat that forms in areas of high rainfall that is not dependent on groundwater but receives all its moisture from the atmosphere. It can form on higher ground like plateaus. In periods of climatic change, blanket peat alters its nature, such as by developing tree cover in drier periods and then recurring as a bog when rainfall increases. In a peat bog of this type there may be well-preserved evidence of human activity and organic material in the drier times which is later covered by renewed peat growth.
bone measurement
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The measurement of bones to compare size and shape between different individuals. The dimensions of skeletal structures can be taken using a variety of calipers and other measuring equipment. Multivariate analysis is one method of comparison which helps to identify and distinguish bones by species and sex and for studying the genetics of groups of animals. Much work has been done in human skull measurement to investigate genetic relationships of ancient populations.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A coin, medal, dish or ornament made of thin, beaten metal - usually gold or silver. These items were often disk-shaped - hollow on the underside and convex on the upper.
DEFINITION: The fruit of a tree in the South Sea islands that is about the size of a melon and whose whitish pulp (with the consistency of new bread) requires cooking before it can be eaten. The tree was probably first cultivated from the Philippines to New Guinea, and attained great economic importance in the Polynesian Islands, especially the Marquesas and Tahiti, about 1500-2000 years ago. The fruit was also dried or allowed to ferment, and could then be stored for several years in underground pits. In 1788, Captain William Bligh was attempting to take breadfruit saplings from Tahiti to the West Indies when the famous mutiny on HMS Bounty occurred.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Evidence of accidental damage to a stone tool that resulted in the loss of an appreciable part of an artifact (usually the distal or proximal part) and altered its length, width, or shape
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A piece of armor covering the chest
brown earth
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: brown forest soil, brown earths
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: Brown forest soils that result from prolonged forestal conditions and which develops under mature deciduous woodland. Brown earths are thought to have covered most of the British Isles and temperate Europe under the great forests which existed during the middle of the present Interglacial. The soil type is penetrated by tree roots and actively worked by earthworms to a considerable depth. The top is well-mixed mineral material and humus. As a result of woodland cover being removed repeatedly, these soils are rare today.
butt beaker
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A tall beaker shaped like a butt or barrel and having a small, everted rim. The body is usually decorated with cordons, rouletting, latticing, etc. Mid 1st century BC through to 1st century AD in date. Some were made in Gallo-Belgicia, others were locally made in Britain.
casting seam
CATEGORY: artifact; geology
DEFINITION: The place where a small amount of molten metal will run into the joint between the surfaces of the parts of the casting mold. In a bivalve or composite mold, this seepage results in a visible seam when the object is removed from the mold. It is usually filled and polished off; unfinished objects are often found with a visible seam or ridge.
cave bear
DEFINITION: An extinct species of bear that lived 300,000-10,000 years ago in Europe and the Mediterranean. They could be up to 8 feet long and about twice the weight of modern European brown bears. They were vegetarian.
cave earth
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A layer of earth forming the old floor of a cave before the depositing of stalagmite. The term also describes cave deposits of shattered boulders and pebbles that occur from frost and weathering.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: The concave-shaped auditorium of an ancient open-air theater, which was often a semicircle of stone benches rising in tiers. A cavea might be divided, depending on the size of the building, into 1-3 distinct tiers, called upper, lower, middle (summa, ima, media cavea).
chisel-ended arrowhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of arrow tip, usually of flint or stone, that has a sharp straight cutting edge at right angles to the axis of the arrow shaft, rather than a point. Such arrowheads are believed to have been used for shooting birds.
claw beaker
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: elephant's trunk beaker, Rüsselbecher
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Elaborate glass beakers dating from c 500 AD onward in Early Saxon graves and Frankish burials. Also called Rüsselbecher, the beakers have two superimposed rows of hollow, trunklike protrusions curving down to rejoin the wall of the vessel above a small button foot. In form they are similar to free-standing conical beakers, but they are embellished by a series of unusual clawlike protrusions. In many cases the glass is tinted brown, blue, or yellow. The beakers were probably made in Cologne or Trier, Germany.
clearing excavation
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any excavation designed primarily to reveal the horizontal and, by inference, functional dimensions of an archaeological site - such as the extent, distribution, and patterning of buried data.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Property possessed by many minerals of breaking in certain preferred direction along smooth plane surfaces; property possessed by certain rocks of breaking with relative ease along parallel planes or nearly parallel surfaces. Rock cleavage is designated as slaty, phyllitic, schistose, and gneissic.
cleavage surface
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A surface formed by a separation of the rock along a natural cleavage plane or crack, esp. on quartz crystals, slate, petrified wood
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A heavy, large core or flake tool of the Palaeolithic period, typically having a wide, straight cutting edge at one end, like a modern ax head. Technologically it is related to the handax, and is often found as a component of Acheulian (esp. Upper Acheulian) handax industries. The sharp transverse cutting edge was almost always notched by use but never sharpened. Along with bifacial tools, it was one of the main instruments of Homo erectus. It is found mainly in Africa, where much of the flake surface is left unretouched. The axlike knife was used since the Middle Pleistocene era to cut through animal bone and meat.
compartmented seal
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The typical, usually metal, seal of the Bronze Age in western Central Asia and northern Afghanistan. Most often round, the seals' motifs were geometric or of objects of nature.
cone beaker
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Type of Anglo-Saxon glass drinking vessel made in the form of an elongated cone. Mainly 5th to 7th century AD.
constructed feature
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A feature deliberately built to provide a setting for one or more activities, such as a house, storeroom, or burial chamber.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: Earthenware having a cream-colored glaze.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A flat edged blade used in leatherworking
crutch-head pin
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of bronze dress fastener characterized by a simple shaft with a short cross-piece set in the form of a T. Some examples have decoration on the upper part of the shank and head. Dating to the 15th century BC they are found in southern Britain in association with Wessex Culture II graves and on the continent in Rienecke A2 contexts.
culture area
DEFINITION: Major anthropological subdivisions of the North American continent, characterized by relatively uniform environments and relatively similar cultures. It is a geographical region in which general cultural homogeneity is to be found, defined by ethnographically observed cultural similarities within the area. A culture area is also a geographic area in which one culture prevailed at a given time. This concept was devised as a means of organizing museum data. Examples are the Southwest, the Northwest Coast.
cumulative feature
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A feature that has been formed without deliberate construction or constraints. The feature results from accretion, for example, in a midden, or subtraction, for example, in a quarry.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Contained by or consisting of a curved line or lines: these designs employ flowing, curvilinear forms
cylinder seal
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A cylinder engraved with a design, scene, and/or inscription which was impressed onto the plastic clay when the cylinder seal was rolled over a clay tablet. This was the standard seal form of the Mesopotamian civilization, starting in the Uruk period. The incised stone cylinder was rolled over a soft surface so that the design appeared in relief. These seals were used to mark property and to legalize documents. Dating is based on changes in the design carved on the seal as well as the seal's size and proportion.
death assemblage
DEFINITION: The population of carcasses when members of a life assemblage die.
death mask
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A cast of a person's face taken after death.
deep sea core
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: deep sea core dating, deep-sea core
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A technique used in the analysis of data from oceanic sediments in which the material retrieved by the core yields information on temperature changes in the ocean through time. These changes, suggestive of climatic variation, help to chart the progress of glaciation and, since they can be dated, the technique assists in the establishment of a chronology for the Quaternary. The cores, some 5 cm. in diameter and up to 25 m. deep, are extracted from the ocean floor. The sediments they contain have a high percentage of calcium carbonate content made up of the shells of small marine organisms and these sediments build up very slowly, from 10-50 mm per 1000 years, but their sequence is uninterrupted. Since these organisms have different temperature preferences depending on species, the relative abundance of the various species changes as the temperature alters. Variations in the ratio of two oxygen isotopes in the calcium carbonate of these shells give a sensitive indicator of sea temperature at the time the organisms were alive. Through the identification of the species, and by the use of oxygen isotope analysis, a picture can be built up of variations in temperature over the millennia. Since various forms of dating (radiocarbon dating, ionium dating, uranium series dating, palaeomagnetism, protactinium/ionium dating) can be used on the carbonate in the shells, absolute dates can be given to the different levels in the core. Thus dates emerge for glaciations and interglacial periods, which can assist in the age determination of archaeological material found in association with these glacial phases. Problems with the technique are the difficulty of correlating oceanic temperature changes with continental glacial and interglacial phases, and the disturbance by animals living on the ocean bottom. The piston corer was developed in 1947.
difference-of-means test
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: Statistical test comparing two sample means to see if a sample probably came from a given population or if two samples probably came from the same population.
differential heat analysis
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: differential thermal analysis
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A remote sensing technique in which the variability in heat absorption and dissemination is used to plot hidden archaeological features. In analytical chemistry, this technique is used for identifying and quantitatively analyzing the chemical composition of substances by observing the thermal behavior of a sample as it is heated.
direct measurement
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: Measurement that can be compared with a standard scale, as on a ruler or Munsell chart.
dog-leash technique
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method of defining an archaeological recovery area by attaching a rope to a centrally located marker stake and tracing the boundary in a circle.
duplex head nail
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A nail with an upper head projecting for removal, used for temporary work
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Pointed or rounded projections from the base or hafting area of certain projectile points.
ear flare
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ear-flare, eared (adj.)
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A large circular ear ornament, flared like the bell of a trumpet, which was often made of jade. The ear flare was an elaborate form of ear spool.
ear spool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An ornament worn in the ear lobe, sometimes of such weight that the ear might be stretched to shoulder-length.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: broad-eared, long-eared
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Having ears or earlike projections
early-stage biface
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A biface in the initial step of manufacture, usually with sinuous edges and simple surface topography.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A general term used to describe mixed material which dug from an excavation. Earth is not really the same as soil, which has a more precise definition, although earth may include material from soils in addition to material from other sources.
earth lodge
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: In American Midwest and East cultures, any wood structure with an earthen covering used for shelter and ceremonies. They have hard-packed floors and/or postholes which are the remains of wall and roof supports.
earth sciences
CATEGORY: related field
DEFINITION: Sciences concerned with the study of formation processes that affect the earth's surface.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: Ceramics fired at temperatures high enough for vitrification to begin.
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: Any early structure built from a mound or bank of earth, often created as fortification. In the plan of earthworks, the heads of the line of tadpoles" is the top or highest point.
DEFINITION: Any of nearly 2000 species of terrestrial worms which act as one of the main agents by which plant litter, humus, and minerals are incorporated and mixed in soil. Earthworms are responsible for the maintenance and stability of various types of soil, especially the brown forest soils. The character of a soil may change markedly if the plant litter made by the vegetation changes to a kind which is unpalatable to earthworms. The effects of earthworm sorting may be seen on archaeological sites in the blurring of layers and the development of worm-sorted layers in the top of buried soils. Earthworms usually remain near the soil surface, but they are known to tunnel as deep as 6 feet during periods of dryness or in winter. Indirectly they provide food for man by aerating the soil, promoting drainage, and drawing organic material into their burrows where it decomposes faster, thus producing more nutritive materials for growing plants.
electronic distance measuring devices
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any surveying or mapping instrument using electronics and infrared or laser beams in measuring and calculating distances, points, and angles. They often work with computers.
DEFINITION: Groups of nine deities, nine being the plural of three (in Egypt the number three symbolized plurality in general) but some enneads had more than nine gods. The earliest and principal ennead was the Great Ennead of Heliopolis. This was headed by the sun god and creator Re or Re-Atum followed by Shu and Tefnut deities of air and moisture; Geb and Nut who represented earth and sky; and Osiris Isis Seth and Nephthys. Enneads are associated with several major cult centers.
etched carnelian bead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Beads with an etched decoration created with heat after a design in an alkali or metallic oxide paste has been painted. It was developed by the late Harappan period in south Asia and continues to be used.
DEFINITION: In Bayesian analysis, if there is no a priori evidence to suggest that one member of the population is any different from other members with respect to the property to be measured, the members are said to be exchangeable in the sample.
feather termination
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: feather fracture, feather-edged flaking, feathered (adj.)
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A gradual thinning of a lithic flake at the distal end to an extremely sharp point or edge.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An effect obtained by trailing a feather through wet slip decoration in pottery-making
DEFINITION: A nonmoveable/nonportable element of an archaeological site. It is any separate archaeological unit that is not recorded as a structure, a layer, or an isolated artifact; a wall, hearth, storage pit, or burial area are examples of features. A feature carries evidence of human activity and it is any constituent of an archaeological site which is not classed as a find, layer, or structure.
feature interface
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: Unit of stratification resulting from the destruction of pre-existing stratification, rather than by the deposition of soils.
feature record
DEFINITION: A comprehensive and detailed summary of how a given feature was excavated, what was found in or associated with it, and an interpretation of what the feature represents.
fire hearth
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A flat piece of wood upon which a stick (drill) is twisted vigorously to start a fire.
flat axhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An axehead of early Bronze Age date, made of copper or bronze, which is flat on both sides and generally lacks side flanges or other hafting aids.
forest clearance
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: The cutting down of natural vegetation before the planting of crops or grazing of domestic animals. Early on, clearings would be produced by the slash and burn method. Evidence for this process is provided by pollen analysis, in the form of a sharp decline in the proportion of tree pollen, corresponding with a rise in the pollen of grasses, including the cereals, and weeds of cultivation, especially plantains and goosefoots.
fossil beach
CATEGORY: geology; geography
DEFINITION: A former beach, now situated above sea or lake level. Vertical displacement may be caused by isostatic crust changes or eustatic sea-level fluctuations.
girth beaker
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A vertical-sided beaker, with horizontal bands of corrugations, cordons, or latticing. Of mid 1st century AD date. Some were Gallo-Belgic and others locally made in Britain. BUTT BEAKER.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A piece of armor designed to protect the part of the leg below the knee. It originally covered the shin only, but in medieval Europe there was also a closed greave which protected both the shin and the calf.
hammerhead mortarium
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A mortarium with a rim and flange that form a single unit, shaped like the head of a hammer, its centre meeting the body of the vessel at right angles.
harpoon head
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The arming tip of a harpoon. generally classifiable into 2 main forms - toggling and barbed - each of which may be composite or single-piece, and may or may not carry additional cutting-blades or side-blades. Always have line-guards or other means of line attachment.
header and stretcher
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: In architecture, header is a brick or stone laid in a wall with its end towards the face of the wall; stretcher is a brick or stone laid with its length parallel to the face of a wall.
DEFINITION: The practice of removing and preserving human heads. Headhunting arises in some cultures from a belief in the existence of a material soul. Headhunting may go back to Paleolithic times, as in deposits of the Late Paleolithic Azilian culture found at Ofnet in Bavaria. In Europe, the practice survived until the early 20th century in the Balkan Peninsula.
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: Any place where a pit was dug and a fire built, sometimes identified by charcoal, baked earth, ash, discoloration, or an outline of stones or clay footing. The site of an open domestic fire might have served as kiln or oven. Hearths often appear in one layer of soil after another as an archaeologist digs down through a site, and they are an indication of a succession of camps or habitations. Charcoal from a hearth can be dated by the radiocarbon method. Baked clay in a hearth can be dated by the palaeomagnetic method. Burnt earthen rims may provide oxidized material for archaeomagnetic dating. The hearth is often centrally located and has a variety of shapes and sizes.
heat treating
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: The process of baking a flint or chert nodule at a high temperature (350-500 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30-50 hours in order to increase the workability of the stone
heat treatment
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A process in which the flintknapping properties of stone tools' raw materials are improved by subjecting the material to heat
heavy fraction
DEFINITION: The heaviest materials that sink to the bottom of flotation equipment mesh - such as pottery sherds, flint, and large seeds.
heavy mineral analysis
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method of analysis carried out on artifacts such as potsherds to identify the materials used; the shard is crushed and put into a viscous fluid in which the heavier minerals sink to the bottom. It is used to determine the geological source of the sand inclusions in the clay of the pot, and therefore the probable area of manufacture. The method involves the crushing of 10-30 g. of pottery and the floating of the resulting powder on a heavy liquid such as bromoform with a specific gravity of 2.85. Heavy minerals like zircon, garnet, epidote, and tourmaline sink, while quartz sand and clay float: it is the heavy minerals (separated, identified, and counted under a low-power microscope) which characterize the parent formation, and which enable the source of the sand to be identified.
horizontal feature interface
DEFINITION: The area associated with upstanding units of stratification and marking the interfacial levels to which the units have been dug.
house of the dead
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A type of wooden building above a tomb or connected to a grave, widespread in Denmark and Germany, but also found in other areas of northern Europe during the Neolithic period.
idealist explanation
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any rationalistic account of human goals and of the universe in general. A form of explanation stressing the search for insights into the historical circumstances leading up to the event by studying the ideas and motives of the individuals involved.
ideational strategy
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A research perspective that defines ideas, symbols, and mental structures as driving forces in shaping human behavior.
indirect measurement
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: Measurement that does not involve direct comparison of a phenomenon with a standard scale but it mediated by other measures thought to be correlated with the measure.
javelin head
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A kind of large flint projectile point used during the Neolithic in the British Isles. Usually lozenge-shaped in outline with slightly convex curves on the leading edges. Finely made, and sometimes polished and ground on the large flat sides, presumably to reduce the weight and produce a thinner blade.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A large, flat missile point of stone, bone, ivory, or metal - larger than an arrowhead and smaller than a spearhead. It is assumed to have armed a light lance or javelin and was mounted on a long shaft for hunting or war.
laurel-leaf point
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: laurel-leaf blade
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A distinctive long, thin leaf-shaped Solutrean flake tool made with delicate workmanship. The largest was found from Volgu, France. It was made during the Upper Palaeolithic in Europe.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: To dissolve or subject to the action of percolating liquid - as water; i.e. water seeping through the soil and removing the soluble materials from it.
leaching cast
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: Soil or sediment leached down from above by some mechanism.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A soft, silvery-white or grayish metal that is very malleable, ductile, and dense and is a poor conductor of electricity. Known in antiquity and believed by the alchemists to be the oldest of metals, lead is highly durable and resistant to corrosion, as is indicated by the continuing use of lead water pipes installed by the ancient Romans. In antiquity, galena (from which silver may also be extracted) was the main source of lead in the Old World, although anglesite and cerussite were also exploited. Lead was used to make patterns for casting, to wet bronze and ease its casting; in making glazes; and alloyed with tin to make soft solder for joining metals and pewter for tablewares as well as for pipes roofing etc. The first evidence for lead-extraction in parts of Europe is the addition of the metal to bronze during the Late Bronze Age.
lead bronze
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: An alloy of copper and tin with lead, often 60-70% copper, up to 2% nickel, up to 15% tin, and lead. The presence of lead, which remains free in the alloy as opposed to becoming part of the crystalline structure, increases the fluidity of the metal in its molten state and makes the casting of finely detailed objects easier. It is used as a bearing metal.
lead glaze
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A type of glaze found on European pottery and the soft-fired earthenware of the Han dynasty of China. It was probably invented by the Greeks and/or Romans by the 3rd century BC, involving either dusting the unfired vessel with galena (lead ore) or dipping it into a mixture of lead ore and water. The glaze fuses in one firing. The natural color of lead glaze has a yellowish tinge; after the 13th century copper ore was often added to give a greenish-gray effect. In China it was used for vessels and miniature ceramic sculptures in funerary deposits.
lead isotope analysis
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A technique based on the relative abundance of lead isotopes, which differ according to the origin of the lead, allowing scientists to pinpoint the source of a piece of lead once the ratios of the isotopes have been determined. A mass spectrometer is used on a small sample to determine the ratio of the isotopic concentrations, which are similar in different regions if the geological time scale is similar. The method can be used to identify sources of lead impurities in other metals as well as in glass and glaze.
leaf arrowhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A leaf or diamond-shaped arrowhead with shallow retouching at the edges.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: foliated; foliate
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Of a tool, pointed at the ends and with convex sides, as on a willow leaf. The term is applied to an arrowhead, the blade of a slashing sword, or the flattened bow of a fibula and other tools which have been retouched on both faces to produce a flattish effect. Many Upper Paleolithic tools are named after leaves (Solutrean laurel leaf). Some Middle Paleolithic industries are characterized by the presence of bifaces, others by the presence of leaf-shaped objects. Mousterian industries producing leaf-shaped items in central and eastern Europe.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A stage in the manufacture of ceramic artifacts between forming and firing when the clay is sufficiently dry to lose plasticity but still can be polished to compact its surface.
lid-seated vessel
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A pot in which the rim is ledged, dished, or grooved internally to keep a lid in place.
limited-area reconnaissance
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method of comprehensively inquiring about a site, supported by actual substantiation of claims that sites exist by checking the ground.
DEFINITION: Descent in a line from a common progenitor; a group of individuals tracing descent from a common ancestor. A kinship that traces descent through either the male (patrilineal) or female (matrilineal) members.
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A term describing a script composed of simply drawn lines with little attempt at pictorial representation, especially a form of cursive in which the hieroglyphs were sketched by outline only.
linear earthwork
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: An earthwork, dike, ditch, or bank that is created in a straight line, not curving around to form an enclosure. Such earthworks were of various lengths and created for various purposes. Some Bronze and Iron Age examples may be ranch boundaries with no defensive value, but later Iron Age and the post-Roman Dark Age may be either boundary markers or defense works. Many of these later dikes cut across communication route or lines of easy access, and would have been an effective obstacle against chariots or wheeled vehicles.
linear regression analysis
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A statistical procedure for determining the relationship between two variables. It has many applications in archaeology, as in the study of variations in population or the size of clay-pipe stems through time, or the relationship between the quantity of an item and the distance from its source. One variable (e.g. time or distance) is regarded as independent, while the second is dependent on it; from a set of know observations, it is possible to estimate the relationship between the two. Thus, given the population figures for different times in a region, it would be possible to predict the population for any other date. The method assumes that there is a linear relationship between the variables, and uses only one variable to explain all the variation in the other; these can be serious limitations.
looped spearhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of bronze spearhead common in the middle Bronze Age of Europe which has a pair of small loops cast into the outside of the hafting socket near the base. It is assumed that these loops were to assist in securing the shaft to the spearhead itself.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The stone or metal top of a mace, usually perforated. In 1968 Fiona Roe published a classification of British late Neolithic stone maceheads, recognizing five main groups: ovoid; Maesmore group; flint nodule type; Thames pestle; and Orkney pestle.
meadowood point
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A triangular side-notched point - with notches chipped into each side of the base to form a stem below the main part of the point, generally 2 1/2 inches long.
DEFINITION: Direct evidence of various kinds as to what people were eating at a particular time.
mealing bin
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A small adobe- or stone-lined pit in which was placed a metate, used for grinding maize.
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: In mathematics, a quantity that has a value intermediate between those of the extreme members of some set. In archaeological technique, it is a measure of central tendency in a distribution. The arithmetic mean is the sum of all values, divided by the number of cases. Other measures of central tendency include the mode - the most commonly occurring value - and the median - the value in the middle of the distribution's range.
mean ceramic dating
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: mean ceramic dating formula, mean ceramic date
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A statistical technique devised by Stanley South for pooling the median age of manufacture for temporally significant pottery types at American Colonial sites. It is especially applicable to 18th-century sites, where many distinctive ceramic types may be expected to occur in large numbers. The mean ceramic date is found by multiplying the sum of the median dates for the manufacture of each ceramic type of the frequency of each ceramic type and dividing this figure by the total frequency of all ceramic types. The median date for each type is arrived at from documentary evidence. One shortcomings is that the supposition that the median date coincides with the period of maximum use; another is the use of a count of sherds rather than whole vessels.
mean square error
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: A measure of the efficiency of a possibly biased statistic or estimate, based on squared deviations from the parameter.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Any running design consisting of a single line or band twisting regularly. The spiral meander is a simple running spiral, the square meander a rectilinear form of the same thing. The earliest known examples of finger painting are the prehistoric decorative and figurative meanders traced on walls of the Altamira caves in Spain.
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: An observation made by reference to a standardized scale.
melon bead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Type of Roman glass bead made in the shape of a melon.
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: The patterns of edge damage on a stone tool providing archaeological evidence of the ways in which that tool was used. Microscopic scratches and polish on the surface of stone tools or hominid teeth might reveal how various tools were used or what types of food certain hominids ate.
microwear analysis
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The study of the patterns of wear or damage on the edge of stone tools, which provides valuable information on the way in which the tool was used.
middle-range research
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Middle Range Theory, middle-range theory
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A set of frameworks or theories that allow the construction of accurate statements of past behavior based on the analysis of the contemporary archaeological record. It applies to any investigation aimed at linking the static data from the archaeological record with the dynamic processes that formed it. The frameworks link the archaeological record and the original activities that produced that record, allowing archaeologists to make inferences about past human behavior. It is considered by some to be the key to a scientific understanding of the archaeological record.
motto beaker
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A beaker made in Gaul or the Rhineland decorated with white-painted scrolls and words forming phrases such as: da mihi vinum (give me wine); valete or vivas (good health); nolite sitire (thirst not); and bibe (drink up).
multilinear cultural evolution
DEFINITION: A theory of cultural evolution that sees each human culture evolving in its own way by adaptation to diverse environments. It is sometimes divided into four broad stages of evolving of social organization: band, tribe, chiefdom, and state-organized society. It is often defined by these four general levels of complexity rather than seeing all societies as pursuing a single course.
nearest-neighbor analysis
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: nearest-neighbor statistic
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method of analyzing the extent to which two-dimensionally located points are randomly distributed; a measure of the relationship between a cluster of points in a pattern based on the expected value and the observed value. The statistic equals observed value divided by expected value. This method of analyzing the degree of dispersion in a distribution pattern was first developed by plant ecologists studying the concentration of certain species. A nearest-neighbor index (usually denoted by the symbol R), is calculated from the ratio of the average observed distance from each point in the pattern to its nearest neighbor, to the average distance expected if the pattern were randomly distributed, which depends solely on the density of the pattern being studied. The index R varies from 0.00 for a totally clustered pattern through 1.00 for a random distribution to a maximum of 2.15 for a completely regularly spaced pattern. The index is influenced by the size of the study area chosen; it is therefore essential to select a relevant framework for the distribution being studied. With any boundary, however, it is possible for the index to be distorted by the 'boundary effect' to give a figure closer to the maximum than would be justified; this arises because the nearest neighbors of points near to the boundary may in fact lie beyond the boundary and hence not be properly counted, thus increasing the figure for the observed mean distance. It is also essential that the points in the pattern being analyzed are of the same date and similar function, and that the pattern should be complete. The index R describes only a part of the total pattern and can serve as a useful basis for asking more detailed questions about the factors that underlie the observed pattern. The technique has been useful to archaeologists studying the distribution of sites over a landscape and their relation to each other.
nonarboreal pollen
DEFINITION: Pollen from nontree plants, such as sedges and grasses.
nuclear DNA
CATEGORY: flora; fauna
DEFINITION: The DNA present in the chromosomes within the nucleus of a cell.
nuclear area
DEFINITION: A location where large, complex societies occur at different times, such as the valley of central Mexico. The term also is defined as the focus of activity in a site, such as a camp or village around which hunting or agricultural activity takes place.
off-site area
DEFINITION: Any site with low densities of artifacts.
open-area excavation
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A type of excavation in which large horizontal areas are opened, esp. where single-period deposits lie close to the surface.
parrot beak jug
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Type of glazed ceramic jug found in Britain and northern Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries AD, distinctive in having a rather stylized polychrome image of a large-beaked bird on the side.
peak sanctuary
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: Minoan cult location in the mountains of Crete. These sanctuaries had deposits of votive offerings but no monumental architecture.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A form of earthenware, developed by Wedgwood (1775-79) as a whiter version of its creamware body. A greater quantity of white clay was used in the body and the transparent lead glaze included traces of cobalt, giving the surface a pearly white appearance. It was soon adopted by other potteries, such as Spode, Leeds, and Swansea.
DEFINITION: Any person who cultivates land in rural areas for their basic subsistence and pays tribute to elite groups.
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: An accumulation of dead organic matter, mostly from plants, which becomes preserved mainly by the exclusion of oxygen. It is dark brown or black and partially decomposed, being preserved under anaerobic conditions in an environment of excessive moisture. Peat forms mostly in bogs and fens; the importance of peat to archaeology lies in its preservation of palaeobotanical (palaeoenvironmental) evidence which can be used to reconstruct the ancient environment. The remains can often be radiocarbon dated. Vast beds of this organic fuel occur in Europe, North America, and northern Asia but are worked only where coal is deficient. Peat deposition is the first step in the formation of coal.
peat bog
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: Wet spongy ground of decomposing vegetation which has poorer drainage than a swamp; soil is unfit for cultivation but can be cut and dried and used for fuel.
pedestal beaker
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Type of drinking cup with a distinct base section or foot forming an integral part of the lower body; some are Gallo-Belgic, others are locally made in Britain.
pegged spearhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A variety of socketed spearhead common in the European late Bronze Age in which the shaft is secured to the metal head by means of a metal or wooden peg set at right angles to the main axis of the shaft passing through a pair of opposed holes in the metal casing of the socket.
petit-tranchet derivative arrowhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Diverse series of later Neolithic flint arrowhead forms found in Britain and believed to derive from the development of petit-tranchet arrowhead forms. The group was defined and classified in 1934 by Grahame Clarke and includes a range of triangular and trapezoidal pieces; some were perhaps for use in hunting birds.
pin beater
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A thin rod of wood or bone (occasionally stone) with tapering ends used to compact the weft threads on an upright loom by pushing down between each of the warp threads one at a time. See also WEAVING COMB.
plow beam
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The wooden or metal bar that connects the blades, shares, and their mountings to the yoke, which in turn is attached to the harnesses fitted to the draught animals that provide the power. The plough beam has to be strong enough to transmit the power from the traction through to the blades and share cutting through the ground, but long enough for the draught animals not to be snagged by the plowing mechanism itself.
polished axhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An axhead of flint or other stone, commonly used for Neolithic types
poppy head beaker
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A beaker shaped like the seed-head of a poppy plant in a grey or black fabric with a polished surface. It has an everted rim and the body is often decorated with panels of dots in barbotine, or with rouletting. The largest sizes could be classified as jars.
potash-lead glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Glass based on potash as a flux with high concentrations of lead. It is heavy, lustrous, and more refractive than other forms of glass.
prayer bead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A bead or group of beads used in prayer.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A term used to refer to the Acheulian industry people, who are believed to have developed into the Neanderthals.
preaching cross
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A class of monumental sculpture unique to the British Isles, developed from the 7th century onwards. The tall, tapering cross shaft rested on a plinth or base, and carried a three-armed cross head. Both the cross and the shaft were usually ornamented with Christian figures and other decorative motifs. They may be Celtic interpretations of Mediterranean crosses and Iron Age stelae.
primary beam
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: Main roof support beam that spans the length or width of a structure and support the remainder of the roof.
protruding foot beaker
CATEGORY: artifact; culture
DEFINITION: The typical vessel of the Late Neolithic in the Netherlands with radiocarbon dates from c 3200-2400 BC. The basic form has a splayed neck, S-shaped profile, and flat everted base. It has cord ornament, dentate spatula impressions, or herringbone incisions. The vessel also defines the culture, which had burial in either a single flat grave or a pit under a barrow, and used the battle-ax. The culture represents the Dutch branch of the widespread corded ware-battle-ax complex, or single-grave cultures. In the Netherlands, there is some hybridization between the Protruding Foot Beaker culture and the Bell Beaker.
quoit bead
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: quoit-shaped bead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Doughnut-shaped type of early Bronze Age faience bead.
quoit-headed pin
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Middle Bronze Age pin typical of the Ornament Horizon in northwest Europe (British Taunton Phase) comprising a thin shank with a point at one end and a large, rather ostentatious, ring cast onto the shank at the other.
raised beach
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: An ancient or previous shoreline from a period when the land level was lower than it is today in relation to the sea level. This geological feature is produced by changing sea-levels through time and though it may now be some distance from the sea, a raised beach shows where the original coastline was. Changes in relative heights of land and sea can often be correlated with fluctuations in the Pleistocene climate.
realistic section
DEFINITION: A means of drawing sections to give an artistic impression of a soil profile, in which no interfacial lines or layer numbers appear.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A blacksmith's tool in the form of a tapered square-sectioned rod that is used to expand a hole in a piece of thin or soft metal by rotating the reamer in the hole while pushing down on the top.
reaping hook
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Iron tool in the form of a long slightly curved knife, usually with a single blade on the inner face of the curve, used for harvesting cereals, grass, or reeds.
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A long low bank or wall found at Dartmoor, England. These Bronze Age stone boundary walls may designate the territorial extent of individual communities.
regnal year
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A year reckoned from the date or anniversary of a monarch's accession to the throne, e.g. in his eighth regnal year. At times documents were dated by a king's regnal year. Before the time of Alexander the Great the first regnal year was the new year following the king's accession.
research design
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A carefully formulated and systematic plan for executing archaeological research. Systematic planning of archaeological research, usually including 1) the formulation of a strategy to resolve a particular question; 2) the collection and recording of the evidence; 3) the processing and analysis of these data and its interpretation; and 4) the publication of results. It begins as a statement outlining these four key elements as a blueprint of archaeological research: statement of perspective, synthesis of the existing database, research domains, and relevant research strategy. Research design is carried out to ensure the efficient use of resources and to guide the research according to the scientific method.
research proposal
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A formally presented research design or strategy describing an intended project and its predicted results.
research question
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A specific question (or questions) that archaeologists ask when preparing a research program and seek to answer when executing that program.
reserve head
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of funerary sculpture of the Egyptian Old Kingdom, found mainly in tombs at Giza, and considered by some to be true portraits of the deceased. They consist of a limestone human head, usually with excised (or unsculpted) ears and enigmatic lines carved around the neck and down the back of the cranium.
rim edge treatment
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Angular flattening, horizontal flattening, horizontal and vertical flattening, pushed, squeezed, pinched
ring-headed pin
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Bronze or iron dress-fitting comprising a slender shaft typically 5-10cm in length with a point at one end, while the other end has been bent round onto itself to form a loop or ring. Found in middle and later Iron Age contexts in the British Isles.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Small silver coin minted when the Anglo-Saxons reintroduced currency into England in the 7th century. The earliest identifiable ones are of Eorpwald of East Anglia (625-627) and Penda of Mercia (625-654). Our penny may owe its name to the latter. With this change of name it remained the standard coin from the reforms of Offa of Mercia (757-796) until the 12th century. Sceattas are distinctive because they were made from pellets which were hammered between two dies, not minted from a flattened piece of metal (as after c 790 in England). The kings of Kent imitated these sliver coins in about 690, and issued them with a variety of designs which are collectively known as the primary series of sceattas. The primary series is virtually confined to Kent and ended about 720. The secondary series include a wider variety of designs which occur over a larger area.
sea level
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: The level of the surface of the sea; position of the air-sea interface, to which all terrestrial elevations and submarine depths are referred. Changes in the volume of water held in the sea and relative movements of the land surface, resulting from various types of deformation of the earth's crust are important in archaeology. Sea-level fluctuations are shown by deposits and landforms on the coasts of localities. The sea level constantly changes at every locality with the changes in tides, atmospheric pressure, and wind conditions. Longer-term changes in sea level are influenced by the Earth's changing climates. The sea level appears to have been very close to its present position 35,000 years ago.
CATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: A device for impressing characteristic marks into a soft surface, such as wet clay or wax, to indicate ownership or authenticity. Seals were made of bone, ivory, stone, or wood and had an intaglio design and were in the form of stamps or cylinder seals. The first can have a very wide range of shapes, and gives single impressions. The second, characteristic of ancient Mesopotamia, is rolled across the surface to yield a frieze of repeat designs. Their social and linguistic significance is great. They were fundamental in the development of writing system and were a status symbol of authority and sometimes accorded talismanic properties. The use of seals and writing on clay tablets appeared together in Mesopotamia, towards end of 4th millennium BC.
seal matrix
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The object used to make impressions in wax as seals.
seal stamp
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A piece of inscribed stone used to impress a symbol on wet pieces of clay or bitumen, used by administrators to keep track of goods.
sealing roofing nail
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A nail with a lead or plastic washer under the head to provide a watertight seal, used on metal roofing
sealing wax
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Wax used to seal letters, envelopes, documents, etc.
seasonality of occupation
DEFINITION: The exploitation of different environments at different times of the year by the same group of people; an estimate of when during the year a particular archaeological site was occupied. Transhumance is one instance of this practice, where high pastureland is grazed in the summer. There was also exploitation of water resources for fish or water birds; the following of wild herds by hunter-gatherers. The people usually moved back to their original starting place each year.
seasonality studies
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The determination of the time of year that a site was occupied based on certain plant or animal remains.
DEFINITION: Pertaining to maturing or aging by exposure to certain conditions or treatment as with wood or bone.
secondary beams
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: Roof construction beams that rest on the primary beams and span the distances between the primary beams or between the primary beams and the walls of the structure.
seed beater
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An instrument usually made of wood or reeds that is formed into a racketlike shape and used to strike seeds from bushes.
severed head cult
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Some Celtic groups in Iron Age Europe collected the heads of enemies as charms and status symbols. This practice was elevated to the status of a cult among Celto-Ligurain groups in southern France and at sanctuary sites like Entremont, Glanum, and Roquepertuse which have stone statuary associated with the cult. The statuary are of carved stone heads, headless torsos, and pillars carved with severed heads, as well as niches for the display of actual severed heads.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of stress or force in which parts of a pottery body slip or slide relative to each other
sleeper beam
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: sill-beam; cill-beam; ground-sill
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A large horizontal timber into which uprights are socketed to construct the frame of a building. In early timber-framed buildings (Roman, Saxon and medieval), the framing was often erected not on a wall foundation but directly on a horizontal beam resting on or slightly recessed into the ground. Though rarely surviving, its wood will often leave a dark stain in the ground detectable by careful excavation.
snake-thread glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Well-defined series of glasses of Roman date decorated with serpent-like lines or threads of glass which are either the same color as or differently colored from the body. The glasses were made both in the east, probably in Syria, and in the west, at Cologne and perhaps elsewhere.
socketed spearhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of spearhead typical of the middle and later stages of the European Bronze Age in which an elongated hollow was cast into the base of the blade to receive the shaped end of the wooden spear shaft. Some socketed spearheads are fixed to the shaft by means of a peg set at right angles through the metal walls of the spearhead and the wooden shaft within; others are secured by lashings fixed to loops cast into the base of the metal spearhead.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A pole weapon with a sharp point, either thrown or thrust at an enemy or prey, one of the earliest weapons created by man and dating back to Palaeolithic times. They were originally a sharpened stick and some were made of stone, shaped and fixed to the shaft by thongs and possibly resins. In the Bronze Age, they were made of that metal and had a tang for riveting the head to the shaft. Later, the tang was replaced by a socket into which the shaft fitted. The Iron Age spears retained this feature and were sometimes decorated with La Tène designs.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: spear thrower, spearthrower, throwing stick, atlatl, woomera
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A device which increases the power with which a spear can be hurled; a long stick with a hooked end which holds the butt of a spear. The implement usually has finger grips at one end. The device thus becomes an artificial extension of the thrower's arm, giving him increased leverage and range and allowing the thrower to hurl a spear accurately a much greater distance than he could by unaided hand. Spear throwers were used in Europe during the Palaeolithic and throughout the New World in pre-Columbian times, where they were known as atlatls. Spear throwers made of reindeer antler are characteristic of the Magdalenian period in Europe. Similar devices were used in the Arctic, and in Australia, where they are often called woomeras.
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Bifacially flaked points - or a thrusting blade mounted on a long shaft (spear) as a weapon for war or hunting. Early examples in flint were usually leaf-shaped, and hafted simply in a cleft in the spear shaft. In the Early Bronze Age, bronze dagger blades were made and ferrules added. The socketed spearhead came when these were cast in one piece with the blade.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The tip of a projectile, used for throwing, thrusting, or stabbing.
stamp seal
CATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: A small, hard block that has a flat surface engraved with a design that can be transferred to soft clay or wax as a mark of ownership or authenticity. Stamp seals appear in Mesopotamia from the Halafian period in the fifth millennium BC, when they were used to impress ownership marks on lumps of clay which were then attached to goods. In the Bronze Age, it was differently shaped for different cultures: square in the Indus, round in the Persian Gulf (Barbar), and compartmented in central Asia (Bactrian). Stamp seals preceded cylinders and developed over a period of about 1,500 years until largely replaced by the cylinder in the 3rd millennium BC. Seals came into use before the invention of writing for the securing of property and the method was either to shape clay over the stopper or lid or to make a fastening with cord and place clay around the knot and then impress it with the seal. The sealing of written documents, mainly clay tablets and papyrus scrolls, became regularly established in the latter part of the 3rd millennium BC.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A soft magnesian mineral, white to green massive rock composed mainly of talc. The softness of the stone made it very popular for the carving of artifacts: figurines, vessels, jewelry, decorative stone works, and stamp seals. Its resistance to high temperatures made it particularly suitable for mold-making for metal casting. In the Indus Civilization seals of this material were whitened by heating with lime, a process called 'glazing'.
stem-and-leaf plot
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: A graph used in exploratory data analysis that mimics a histogram without losing any information.
DEFINITION: The subdivision of an archaeological area, usually defined by geographic or cultural considerations.
surface treatment
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: Any modification made to the surface of pottey for either technological or functional purposes.
sweat bath
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A hut or space heated by steam created by pouring water over hot stones, used for ritual cleansing and therapeutic sweating.
sweat house
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: Special building for taking sweat-baths (cleansing one's body by sweating), a common native Californian institution. There was a fire area for heating stones; water would then be poured over the stones to produce steam. They doubled as community centers for prayers and other religious activities.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A pot with a handle, spout, and lid, in which tea is prepared.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: Building or space in which a performance is given to an audience, an important adjunct of most Greek and Roman towns. In ancient Greece, where theatre began in the 5th century BC, the theatres of the classical period were constructed between two hills (essentially D-shaped) so that the audience sat in a tiered semicircular arrangement facing the orchestra circle, in which most of the action took place. (The name amphitheater should be used only of a circular or oval structure in which the seating completely surrounds the stage, as in the Colosseum). Greek theater consisted of two main elements: the orchestra, a space for acting and dancing which was usually circular; and the auditorium, a spectators' area, which was probably no more than a hillside or slope originally. Later, the skene (originally perhaps only a temporary structure for the convenience of performers) was added. Well-preserved examples survive at Epidaurus, Pompeii, and Orange.
thrusting spear
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A handheld spear used for stabbing rather than throwing.
transverse arrowhead
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: petit-tranchet arrowhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Style of flint or stone projectile tip of trapezoidal outline in which the wider straight end forms the leading edge. Typical of the later Mesolithic in northern Europe.
treasure trove
CATEGORY: term; artifact
DEFINITION: In law, treasure found hidden in the ground etc. but of unknown ownership. In Britain, treasure troves are the property of the State, though sometimes they are in part returned or recompensed to the owner of the land. To be declared treasure trove by a coroner's inquest, the items must be of gold or silver, must have been lost or hidden with the intention of recovery, and by someone who is no longer traceable. In these circumstances, the Crown takes possession, rewarding the finder with the market value or with the object itself if it is not required for the national collections.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: Building used to contain precious objects - annexes of sanctuaries, for storing the offerings and goods of the sanctuaries and of the donor cities to which they belonged.
unilinear cultural evolution
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: unilinear evolution
DEFINITION: A 19th-century evolutionary theory holding that all human cultures pass through the same sequence of evolutionary changes or stages, from simple hunting and gathering to literate civilization. Lewis H. Morgan described seven stages, or ethnical periods, from lower savagery, barbarism, to civilization.
unlooped socketed spearhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A large metal projectile point typical of the later Bronze Age in Europe that was mounted on a wooden shaft by way of a socket cast into the base of the object, usually with a hole to allow a peg to pass through the socket walls and the shaft to ensure secure attachment. Such spearheads lack the loops of earlier designs which seem to have been used to tie the spearhead to the shaft.
use-wear analysis
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: edge-wear analysis; usewear analysis; microwear analysis; use wear analysis
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The examination and study of the edges and surfaces of artifacts, mainly stone tools, to determine the type of wear they have experienced and thus the tasks for which they were used. Microscopic analysis is used to detect signs of wear on working edges.
use-wear striae
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: use-wear stigmata
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Polish, striations, breakage, or minor flaking which develop on a tool's edge during use. Microscopic examination and study of the wear may indicate the past function of tools.
vertical feature interface
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A unit marking a distinct event, such as the digging of a pit, and resulting in the destruction of pre-existing stratification.
DEFINITION: The process whereby materials are altered through time. This can occur at various speeds, depending on the composition of the objects, the environment in which they are buried, and changes in the environment.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The interlacing of long, thin materials, such as yarn or thread to make cloth (fabric) or baskets. The use of wool, cotton, silk, flax, or some other plant or animal fiber yarn or thread to produce textiles of various sorts by criss-crossing the yarns together in at least two directions. Warp threads are those which run up and down the length of a piece of textile, weft threads are those that run across the weave at right angles to the warp. Many different patterns are possible, producing different kinds of textile and styles of weave. Patterns can be introduced by using different colored threads in a set order. The earliest evidence of weaving is that represented as textile and flexible basketry impressions on burnt clay from Pavlov in the Czech Republic which date to between 25000 and 23000 BC. The oldest woven cloth so far discovered is made from flax, dates to about 7000 BC, and comes from Çayönü, Turkey.
weaving comb
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Bone or wooden implement with a handle at one end and a toothed edge at the other. The tool is used during weaving to pack the weft together tightly; the prongs of the weaving comb fit between the warp threads, so allowing the weaver to exert considerable downward or lateral pressure on the accumulating weft.
DEFINITION: Cereal grass of the Gramineae (Poaceae) family and of the genus Triticum and its edible grain, one of the oldest and most important of the cereal crops. Two wild forms of wheat are found in the Near East today, wild einkorn (Triticum boeoticum) and wild emmer (Triticum dicoccoides). Wild einkorn and, less commonly domestic einkorn, appear in the Near East at such early farming sites as Ali Kosh before 7000 BC. Emmer, both wild and domestic, was much more common than einkorn and has been found on most early Neolithic sites in the Near East. Domestic emmer subsequently spread throughout Europe. Hexapolid wheats (club wheat, bread wheat) appear in the Near East before 6000 BC. Spelt wheat was being cultivated at Yarim Tepe in northern Mesopotamia in the 6th millennium BC. In Europe there are some Neolithic occurrences of spelt, but it became common only in the Iron Age.
willow-leaf point
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Late Solutrean flake tool - slim, with rounded ends and retouching on one side only - of extremely fine workmanship.
window lead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Lead came subdividing the quarries of glass and holding them in place in a leaded light.
winged axhead
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A form of bronze axehead of middle or late Bronze Age date in which narrow, high flanges on both faces are hammered over to enclose the axe haft. Some types feature a side loop to further assist hafting.
year formula
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: date formula; year-name
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A phase in Mesopotamia when cuneiform documents provide dates for significant events in relation to a given year in a king's reign. Dating by year formula, done from Akkadian through Old Babylonian times, provides a basic framework for the political history of southern Mesopotamia. The Assyrians did not, unlike the Babylonians, use year formulas containing interesting historical details; instead, every year was designated by the name of a high official (eponymic dating). The reconstruction of Hammurabi's rule is based mainly on his date formulas; years were named for a significant act the king had performed in the previous year or at the beginning of the year thus named.

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