CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: Used to describe the customary use of a given artifact, such as food preparation.
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: artifact DEFINITION: A set of artifacts that reveals the activities of an individual.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A type of surveying in which readings measure discontinuity between buried ditches or pits and the surrounding earth.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Anglian-Elsterian CATEGORY: chronology DEFINITION: Quaternaryglacial deposits found in East Anglia, England. Other possibly related and isolated patches exist elsewhere in Britain, but they are older than the extreme range of radiocarbon dating and palaeomagnetism shows them to be younger than 700,000 bp. This period is sometimes equates with the Elster glacial maximum and dated to c 300,000-400,000 years ago. During the Anglian-Elsterian glaciation in Europe a large ice-dammed lake formed in the North Sea, and large overflows from it initiated the cutting of the Dover Straits. In East Anglia, the deposits are stratified below Hoxnian and above Cromerianinterglacial deposits and Acheulian and Clactonian artifacts are found in the sediments. Most of the evidence of human activity in Britain and Europe is later than this time. Anglian is more often used to describe the group of deposits or the one glaciation (antepenultimate) of that time.
CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: Soils formed by or related to human activity.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: pertaining to an effect or process resulting from human activity
CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: Soil that has been influenced by human activity -- indicated by a concentration of phosphorus, organic matter, debris, or artifacts. The different soil and sediment components are physically mixed through cultivation, deforestation, or construction.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: Any theoretical concepts used to assess the framework and meaning of the remains of past human activity. Such a theory is used to guide a reconstruction and an interpretation of the past by looking beyond the facts and artifacts for explanations of prehistoric events.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ancient Iunu-Montu, Hermonthis CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A site in Upper Egypt on the west bank of the Nile, southwest of Luxor, that was the original capitol of the Theban nome until the 11th Dynasty. Excavations have revealed extensive cemeteries and areas of Predynastic settlement. Thutmose's annals on the walls of the temple of Karnak describing 20 years of military activity in Asia are supplemented by stelae from Armant.
CATEGORY: artifact; term DEFINITION: A group of objects of different or similar types found in closeassociation with each other and thus considered to be the product of one people from one period of time. Where the assemblage is frequently repeated and covers a reasonably full range of human activity, it is described as a culture; where it is repeated but limited in content, e.g. flint tools only (a set of objects in one medium), it is called an industry. When a group of industries are found together in a single archaeologicalcontext, it is called an assemblage. Such a group characterizes a certain culture, era, site, or phase and it is the sum of all subassemblages. Assemblage examples are artifacts from a site or feature.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Mexica, Tenochcas CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: The last pre-Columbian civilization to enter the Valley of Mexico after the collapse of the Tolteccivilization in c 12 AD, who built a magnificent capital at Tenochtitlán and were later conquered by the Spaniards (1521). They called themselves the Mexica or Tenochca and were the dominant political group of the Late Post-Classic Period. The people spoke Nahuatl. Their origin is obscure, partly because of the deliberate destruction of their own records, but tradition says that in 1193 AD the last of seven Chichimec tribes left Aztlan , a mythical birthplace somewhere north or west of Mexico, and filtered south. For a while they lived around Lake Texococo, but in 1345 they were allowed to found Tenochtitlán (under present-day Mexico City) on some unoccupied islands. By 1428 Tenochtitlán, Texococo, and Tlacopan formed an independent state which controlled most of present-day Mexico from the desert zone in the north to Oaxaca in the south, with extensions as far as the Guatemalan border -- all through military expansion. By inclination and training the Aztecs were militaristic, and a person's status depended on his success as a warrior. The chief god of the Aztecs, Huitzilopochtli, was a war god who required the blood of sacrificial victims, and only constant warfare supplied the altar of the god. Human sacrifice was necessary also to ensure the daily rising of the sun. Other major deities were Huitzilpotchtli (the warrior god and chief deity of Tenochtitlan), Texcatlipoca (god of night, death and destruction), Xipe Totec (god of spring and renewal), and Quetzacoatl, the plumed serpent (god of self-sacrifice and inventor of agriculture and the calendar). Tenochtitlán became a great imperial city, so large that it could not be self-sufficient but had to rely on tributes from its provinces. Luxury goods and necessities were brought to the city, and craftsmen produced jewelry, turquoise mosaics, featherwork, and carved stone. Mold-made clay figurines were common, and the black-on-orange pottery was decorated with geometrical designs and stylized creatures. Little architecture or painting survived the Spanish conquest of 1521. Copies of several books have been preserved (as the Dresden Codex). Aztec society was set in a clearly defined hierarchical classsystem. At the top was the ruling class (pipil) from whom and by whom the emperors were chosen. The mass of the population were freeman (machuale) and under them were the serfs (mayeques) and then at the bottom the slaves. Most people were of the landholding group called the calpulli, which had its own internal hierarchy. Change of social class was possible through state service in the military and sometimes through merchant activity. The merchants (pochteca) served as early-reconnaissance and espionage groups. The arrival of the Spaniards and the fall of Tenochtitlán after a 90-day siege marked the end of Aztec dominance.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ballgame, ball game; ollama, pok-ta-pok CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The ritual and sporting activity played throughout pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, especially in Mexico and Guatemala from the Pre-Classic period. (Stone reliefs at Dainzu and the possible remains of a ball court at San Lorenzo Tenochititlan indicate that the game existed as early as Pre-Classic times.) It may have originated among the Olmecs (La Venta culture, c 800-400 BC) or even earlier and it spread to other cultures, including Monte Albán and El Tajín; the Maya (called pok-ta-pok); and the Toltec, Mixtec, and Aztec. In Aztec times, it was a nobles' game and was often accompanied by heavy betting. Various myths mention the ball game, sometimes as a contest between day and night deities. It is still played in isolated regions. The players, who were sometimes heavily padded, were allowed to use only their hips and thighs in propelling a rubber ball around the court. The ball-court itself was shaped like a capital I with exaggerated end pieces, and in the Post-Classic periodstone rings or macaw heads were fixed to the side walls. Aztec records say that the team which passed the ball through one of these rings won the game outright. Tlachtli is the name of the court itself, but also for the game. Tlachtli and ollama are Nahuatl words. There was considerable diversity in the rules both over time and across culture. Death through injury was not unusual and the loss of a game could sometimes result in the sacrifice of the losing team. There is a considerable inventory of artifacts associated with the ball game, including hachas, palmas, court markers, elbow stones, and yokes.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Basketmakers CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: Two early chronological periods of the early Puebloans or Anasazi -- 100-500 AD, followed by the Modified Basket Maker period, 500-700; They lived people in the Four Corners area (northwestern New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, southeastern Utah, and northeastern Arizona) of the U.S. The origin of the Basket Maker Indians is not known, but it is evident that when they first settled in the area they were already excellent basket weavers and that they were supplementing hunting and wild-seed gathering with the cultivation of maize and pumpkins. They lived either in caves or out in the open in shelters constructed of a masonry of poles and adobe mud. Both caves and houses contained special pits, often roofed over, that were used for food storage. The Basket Makers were among the first village agricultural societies in the Southwest. Three Basketmaker stages were recognized at the 1927 Pecos Conference of Southwesternists: Basketmaker I (hypothetical), Basketmaker II (1--450 AD) which was a large basecamp and widely scattered seasonal camps where the preferred container was the basket, and Basketmaker III (450--700/750) in which there were small villages of pit houses in well-watered valley bottoms. Specialized structures such as wattle-and-daub storage bins and large rooms for communal activity (possibly early kivas) also began to occur more frequently in the latter stage.
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 peatbog 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.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: The largest and most impressive town of the Middle Mississippi Culture, on the Illinois bank of the river near East St. Louis. Cahokia Mounds State Historic and World Heritage Site, the location of this large prehistoric Indian city, is to the northeast. It constituted probably the largest pre-Columbian (c AD 900-1300) community north of Mexico in the Mississippi floodplain. The scale of public works in the culture can be estimated from remains of the largest of the Mississippi earthworks, Monk's Mound near Cahokia, which measures 1,000 feet (300 m) long, 700 feet (200 m) wide, and 100 feet (30 m) high -- which is larger than the Great Pyramid of Egypt. The magnitude of such public works and the distribution of temples suggest a dominant religious cult and a series of priest-rulers who commanded the services of a large population and the establishment of artist-craftsman guilds. In addition to large-scale construction, there is evidence of long-distance trade, elaborate ceremonial activity, and possibly astronomical observation. There is evidence of around 10,000-38,000 inhabitants and a town of warehouses and workshops, residential housing arranged along a grid of streets, and open plazas and 100 manmade mounds (burial and platform types). One of the smaller mounds contained rich burials, including a corpse was wrapped in a robe sewn with more than 12,000 shell beads; caches of arrowheads, polished stone, and mica; and his retainers -- 6 men at his side and 53 women in a mass grave nearby. Artifacts include flint hoes, shell and limestone-tempered pottery, and engraved stone tablets sometimes etched with the motifs of the Southern Cult.
CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: A large, bowl-shaped volcanic depression leading to the expulsion of a large quantity of molten rock (magma). The depression is more than one kilometer in diameter and surrounded by faults with instabilities that can bring about a renewal of volcanic activity. Calderas usually, if not always, form by the collapse of the top of a volcanic cone or group of cones because of removal of the underlying body of magma. Subsequent minor eruptions may build small cones on the floor of the caldera. These may later fill with water, as did Crater Lake in Oregon.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: radiocarbon dating CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The occurrence of natural radioactive carbon in the atmosphere allows archaeologists the ability to date organic materials as old as 50,000 years. Carbon-14 is continuously produced in the atmosphere and decays with a half-life of 5,730-year (+/- 40 years). Unlike most isotopic dating methods, the carbon-14 dating technique relies on the progressive decay or disappearance of the radioactive parent with time. This is now a common method for estimating the age of a carbonaceous archaeological artifacts. The radioactivity of an artifact's carbon-14 content determines how long ago the specimen was separated from equilibrium with the atmosphere-plant-animal cycle. The method is based on the principle that all plants and animals, while they are alive, take in small amounts of carbon-14 and when they die, the intake ends. By measuring the loss rate of the carbon 14, the age of the object can be established. Measurement of the carbon-14 activity in a cypress beam in the tomb of the Egyptian Pharaoh Snefru, for example, established the date of the tomb as c 2600 BC.
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: The second of three chronological stages of the Cochiseculture in southern Arizona and New Mexico, with dates clustering between 4000-500 BC. The appearance of distinctive, side-notched projectile points indicates an interest in hunting though a mixed food-gathering economy is indicated by assemblages commonly including cobble manos, shallow basin grinding slabs, choppers, and scrapers. There were large base camps, storage pits, and outlying specialized-activity camps that show some permanence. There is evidence from Bat Cave in New Mexico of the cultivation of primitive maize.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A stratified, ancient quarry/workshop site just north of Lima, Peru -- an area of coastal lomas (areas of fog vegetation). Excavations revealed a lithicflakeindustry as early as the Late Pleistocene, dating between 9,000 to 11,000 years ago. Wood fragments helped define a Chivateros I period of c 9500-8000 BC. There is also a red zone with some flint chips which, by comparison of artifacts of the nearby Oquendo workshop date to pre-10,500 BC. The whole industry is characterized by burins and bifaces with the upper-level (Chinateros II) containing long, keeled, leaf-shaped projectile points which resemble points from both Lauricocha II and El Jobo. Dating has been aided by the deposition of both loess and salt crust layers which suggest alternating dryness and humidity and which can be synchronized with glacialactivity in the Northern Hemisphere.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Arctic Stone Age CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A group of related cultures in the most northerly (Arctic) regions of Europe, including Siberia, and North America. These peoples lived north of the region where settled farming life was possible. Although contemporary with Neolithic and Bronze Age communities farther south, the circumpolar tribes remained semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers. They adopted pottery from the farming peoples and their trade connections, making egg-shaped bowls with pitted or comb-stamped decoration. Characteristic tools were hunting and woodworking equipment, often of ground slate. Rock carvings and artifacts attest the use of skin boats, skis, and sledges which suggest long-distance trade -- especially of amber. The sites and cemeteries are usually close to water. Fishing was an important activity and they exploited food sources such as elk, reindeer, and seal.
CATEGORY: artifact; fauna DEFINITION: Fossilized or desiccated human or animal feces. The study of these remains can provide information about the human or animal activity in that particular locale, such as diet and disease; the study of these remains is called coprology. Coprolites only survive in exceptional circumstances -- arid, frozen, and occasionally waterlogged deposits. They can be reconstituted by the addition of chemicals like trisodium phosphate, and can then be analyzed for their plant and animal remains. This gives additional insight into what was being eaten on a site, since the evidence from pollen analysis, or flotation, only suggests what was being grown.
CATEGORY: feature; term DEFINITION: The deposition of materials from settlements or other prehistoric areas of activity that accumulate over a relatively continuous time. Several such layers create a stratigraphic and chronological sequence.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: Archaeological data found in association and in primary context and used to define areas and kinds of ancient activity. Such information may be divided into composite, differentiated, and simple data clusters.
de facto refuse
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Artifacts left behind when a settlement or activity area is abandoned.
Denbigh Flint complex
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: An Arctic Small ToolTraditionflintindustry found at Cape Denbigh, Iyatayet, Cape Krusenstern, Onion Portage, and other Alaskan sites. The typical artifacts are finely workedmicroblade tools (bladelets, small crescents), burins, and bifacially pressure-flaked points. The Denbigh complex had developed by c 3200 BC. The Arctic Small tooltradition spread eastwards over the whole Arctic zone from Alaska to Greenland and contributed to the earliest Eskimo cultures. Land mammals seem to have been the primary focus of subsistenceactivity.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: disturbance process CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The changing or altering of an archaeologicalcontext by the effect(s) of an unrelated activity at a later time. Examples include dam building, farming, and heavy construction, as well as noncultural activities such as freeze-thaw cycles, landslides, and simple erosion. Disturbance is also the nonscientific removal of an artifact from its archaeologicalcontext.
CATEGORY: deity DEFINITION: A legendary monster usually depicted as a huge, bat-winged, fire-breathing, scaly lizard or snake with a barbed tail. In general, in the Middle Eastern world, the dragon was symbolic of the principle of evil. In the Far East, the dragon was prestigious and considered a beneficent creature. The Chinese dragon, lung, represented yang, the principle of heaven, activity, and maleness in the yin-yang of Chinese cosmology. From ancient times, it was the emblem of the Imperial family, and until the founding of the republic (1911) the dragon was on the Chinese flag.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The systematic and scientific recovery of cultural, material remains of people as a means of obtaining data about past human activity. Excavation is digging or related types of salvage work, scientifically controlled so as to yield the maximum amount of data. It is the main tool of the archaeologist. The excavation of a site, however, involves the destruction of the primary evidence, which can never be recovered. Excavation should therefore never be undertaken lightly or without an understanding of the obligations of the excavator to the evidence he destroys. The first decision is whether to excavate a site at all, a question of particular interest when sites are being rapidly destroyed by farming methods and road and town building. The nature and scale of the undertaking is the next decision. If time and/or money is short, sampling of the site may be all that is possible. If a large-scale excavation is to be undertaken, the approach will be either area (open) excavation, grid method, quadrant method, rabotage, sondage, etc. Removal of the topsoil will either be carried out by hand or machine. After an initial plan has been made of all visible features before excavation, digging proceeds according to the dictates of the site: sections may be taken across areas of feature intersection, or across individual features. A permanent record of the whole process should be kept: plans, drawings, notes, photographs. Excavation is only the first part of the process. For years, excavation was regarded as merely a method of collecting artifacts. Pitt Rivers in Britain and Petrie in the Near East first placed emphasis on evidence rather than artifacts, not what is found but where it was found relative to the layers of deposit (stratigraphy) and to other objects (association) -- the context. The excavator can only justify his destruction if it is done with meticulous care so that every artifact, be it an ax or a posthole, is discovered and if possible preserved; if it is recorded accurately enough for all information to remain available after the site has disappeared; and if this record is quickly made available by publication. In short, excavation is the digging of archaeological sites, removal of the matrix, and observance of the provenience and context of the finds therein, and the recording of them in a three-dimensional way.
CATEGORY: term 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 burialarea 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.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A general term applied to collections of workedflint, stone, debitage, and associated raw material gathered up from the surface of ploughed fields or disturbed ground. Such collections range in size from a few dozen through to many thousands of pieces, and may have been collected from areas of any size from a few metres across to several hectares. As such they do not represent distinct kinds of archaeological site but rather the archaeological manifestation of many different kinds of activity; their unity is a product of the way material has been recovered rather than the processes by which it was created in the first place. Much work has been devoted to characterizing flint scatters in terms of what they represent. It is now clear that some are caused by the erosion of underlying features and deposits which relate to a vast range of activities including settlements, stoneworking sites, and middens. In other cases the scatters reflect episodes of activity in the past that involved little more than the deposition of material on the contemporary ground surface which has subsequently become incorporated into the topsoil through natural and anthropogenic formation processes.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: site formation process CATEGORY: term; technique DEFINITION: The total of the processes -- natural and cultural, individual and combined -- that affected the formation and development of the archaeological record. Natural formation processes refer to natural or environmental events which govern the burial and survival of the archaeological record. Cultural formation processes include the deliberate or accidental activities of humans. On a settlement site, for example, the nature of human occupation, the activities carried out, the pattern of breakage and loss of material, rubbish disposal, rebuilding, or re-use of the same area will all influence the surviving archaeological deposits. After the site's abandonment, it will be further affected by such factors as erosion, glaciation, later agriculture, the activities of plants and animals, as well as the natural processes of chemical action in the soil. Reconstruction of these processes helps to relate the observed evidence of an archaeological site to the human activity responsible for it.
CATEGORY: ceramics DEFINITION: A distinctive green glazed pottery found in the 19th-century excavations of the Forum in Rome. This ware has since been found on may sites close to Rome, and in settlements of all types in southern Etruria. Typically there are pitchers, often with incised wavy-line decoration around the body of the pot. The ware belongs to the late 6th or early 7th century, a phase of Late Roman activity.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: Any characteristic of an object that indicates its function, such as its form or a residue from an activity for which it was used.
CATEGORY: related field DEFINITION: The study of the physical properties of the earth -- structure, composition, and development -- such as magnetism, radioactivity, vulcanism, etc. Its applications to archaeology have been to provide dating methods (geochronology) and techniques for exploration (magnetometer and resistivity survey). Some dating techniques, e.g. palaeomagnetism, are based on geophysical properties of the earth. It is a subdiscipline of both geology and physics.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Grime's Graves CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: The oldest known Neolithicflint mine in England, in Norfolk, with the remains of around 350 mine shafts. The high-quality flint had three banks: floorstone, wallstone, and topstone. The products, mainly ax blades, were roughly chipped to shape at the site and were then traded in semi-finished condition. The miners used flint tools, deer's antlers as picks or wedges, and animal shoulder blades as spades. Excavation was probably by wooden shovel (a product of the polished ax and chisel) or possibly the shoulder blades of oxen. It is estimated that 50,000 picks made of red-deer antler were used during the 600 years of activity in the mine, which began about 2300 BC. In one shaft, the miners made a chalk statuette of a fat pregnant woman and a phallus of chalk; this practice, a fertility cult, was used to bring fruitful results in further mining. There are differing dates for the use of the mine shafts.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A general term for any area that has evidence of a domestic activity, such as food preparation. Any site where people lived in the past.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Haithabu, Haddeby CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An important Vikingsettlement in northern Germany and one of the earliest Scandinavian urban centers, established in the late 8th century. It is situated on a fjord, defended by a large earthrampart. Between 800-1050, Hedeby was a major trading center and many imported luxury goods have been found, especially in graves. Excavation has revealed many wooden buildings, well preserved in waterlogged conditions, and evidence of industrial and commercial activity. It served as an early focus of national unification and as a crossroads for Western-Eastern European and European-Western Asian trade.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: henge monument CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: A circular, prehistoric religious enclosure constructed of wood or stones and enclosed by ditches, banks, and walls -- and found only in the British Isles. Henge monuments are characteristic of the megalithic period in southern and eastern England in particular. To the west and north, henges often enclose a stone circle. There are 13 such examples, including Avebury and Stonehenge. The circular area is delimited by a ditch with the bank normally outside it. Class I henges have a single entrance marked by a gap in the earthworks, while those of Class II have two such entrances placed opposite each other. Avebury had four entrances. Many henges have extra features such as burials, pits, circles of upright stones (Avebury, Stonehenge) or of timber posts (Durrington Walls, Woodhenge). Henges are often associated with Late Neolithicpottery of groovedware, Peterborough and Beaker types, dating from the centuries after 2500 BC. Occasional examples were still in use in the Bronze Age, e.g. Stonehenge. Henges are believed to have been focal points for 'ritual' activity, but there is much controversy over their design. They range in size from c 30 meters to more than 400 meters in diameter (Avebury, Durrington Walls).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: household unit CATEGORY: term; feature DEFINITION: A term used to describe a set of features associated with one house structure. Components would include a house, a few storage pits, graves, a rubbish area, perhaps an oven or hearth, and activity areas. It is an arbitrary archaeological unit defining artifact patterns reflecting the activities that take place around a house and assumed to belong to one household.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A major trading city of the East African coast, on an island off Tanzania. For three centuries before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500 it was the leading entrepot on the East African coast. It was first occupied in the 9th century AD, with the earliest settlement being a village of thatched, timber-framed houses. The only industries were iron-working and the manufacture of shell beads. Small quantities of pottery from western Asia and, towards the end of the period, chlorite-schist from Madagascar indicate commercial activity on a modest scale. Prosperity began c 1200, marked by the introduction of coins, widespread use of masonry, and the construction of the mosque. In the 14th century the sultan built a spectacular palace, known as Husuni Kubwa, just outside the town. The establishment of a wealthy Islamic community is identified with the arrival of the so-called Shirazi dynasty which, according to tradition, came from the Persian Gulf. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Kilwa controlled the coast far to the south and grew even more wealthy through its control of the trade in Zimbabwean gold. The arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean at the end of the 15th century heralded Kilwa's decline.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: total archaeology CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The study of individual features including settlements seen as single components within the broader perspective of the patterning of human activity over a wide area. It is the recovery of the story of an area of countryside using all possible techniques -- surface scatters, field and other boundaries, standing buildings, as well as excavation. This approach within archaeology emphasizes examination of the complete landscape, focusing on dispersed features and on areas between and surrounding traditional sites as well as on the sites themselves.
Loch Lomond stadial
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Younger Dryas CATEGORY: chronology DEFINITION: A widespread but short interval of renewed glacialactivity and cold climatic conditions in the British Isles. This event occurred about 11,000 years ago, some 2,000 years before the dissipation of the ice sheet. It is a stadial of the Devensian cold stage during which small glaciers were formed in the high mountains of Wales and the Lake District and an icecap was formed over the highlands of Scotland. The Loch Lomond stadial may be correlated with Godwin's Pollen Zone III and the Younger Dryas (Scandinavia).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: pl. loci CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A predicted archaeological site locality; a center of cultural activity. The term is also applied to a distinct portion of an archaeological site, typically separated from other parts of the site by space devoid of cultural materials. Many open-air sites consist of various loci spread over a relatively large area.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Magellan complex CATEGORY: chronology; culture DEFINITION: A chronological sequence covering 8000 BC-1000 AD constructed on the basis of assemblages from Fell's Cave and the Palli Aike Cave in Patagonia, South America. The sequence is divided into five phases, describing a series of hunting and marine adaptations. The earliest assemblage (Magellan I) contains fishtail projectile points, signifying Paleoindian activity. Horse and sloth bones and the remains of three partly cremated Dolichocephalic humans, found in association with these points, have produced a single radiocarbon date of c 8700 BC. A shift to willow-leaf points occurred in Magellan II c 8000-4000 BC, which coincides with the disappearance of Pleistocenemegafauna and widespread climatic change. Magellan IV-V are ill-defined but represent a continuing hunting strategy blending into a period of ceramicuse.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: individualistic method CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The theoretical principle that all group economic or political activity can be traced back to, and explained by, the behavior of individuals. An approach to the study of societies which assumes that thoughts and decisions do have agency, and that actions and shared institutions can be interpreted as the products of the decisions and actions of individuals.
CATEGORY: chronology DEFINITION: A division of time in Andean/Peruvian South America, c 600-1000 AD, used to refer to the first imperialistic domination of area under the unifying forces of Tiahuanaco and Huari (Wari) cultures. It was the time of the first large-scale imperial expansions. During the first half of the Middle Horizon, in central Peru, the Huaricame to control the highlands and possibly the coast. The remains of large groups of food-storage buildings in the Huari strongholds suggest military activity like that of the late Inca. Huari is closely linked in its art style to the monuments of the great site of Tiahuanaco, located on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Tiahuanaco expanded over the altiplano and adjacent regions of Bolivia, southern Peru, and northern Chile. The principal buildings of Tiahuanaco include the Akapana Pyramid, a huge platform mound or stepped pyramid of earth faced with cut andesite; a rectangular enclosure known as the Kalasasaya, constructed of alternating tall stone columns and smaller rectangular blocks; and another enclosure known as the Palacio. They practiced the raised-fieldsystem of agriculture. Some Tiahuanacoeffigy vessels have been discovered at Huari, but otherwise they seem to have been independent entities. In the second half of the Middle Horizon, the political and economic systems slowly collapsed. The decline of these two states was followed by a period of more localized political power. The Late Intermediate Period began about 1000 AD.
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: Ritual activity and preparation for disposal of a corpse.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: tuft CATEGORY: feature DEFINITION: A gradual accumulation of debris upon which a continuously occupied settlement is built, or which is the by-product or remains of some activity. The term can mean (1) a constructed earthwork or fortification, especially one with a geometric or animal form (also called effigy mound), (2) a low, isolated, rounded natural hill, usually of earth, (3) a structure built by fossil colonial organisms, (4) prehistoricrefuse heap consisting chiefly of the shells of edible mollusks (also called shell mound), or (5) an artificial construction commonly used for human burial (also called burial mound) or as a foundation for a temple or dwelling.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A term used in systems thinking to describe the process by which changes in one field of human activity (subsystem) sometimes act to promote changes in other fields and in turn act on the original subsystem itself. An instance of positive feedback, it is thought by some to be one of the primary mechanisms of societal change.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An elephant butchery site in northern Malawi, undated, but containing scrapers and core axes. The site is of interest as preserving in situ the debris of a single, clearly defined, activity. It has been attributed to the Lupembanindustry.
natural secondary context
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A secondary context resulting from natural transformational processes such as erosion or animal or plant activity.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Kom Gi'eif, Naucratis CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An ancient Greek town in the Nile River delta, on the Canopic (western) branch of the river. An emporion (trading station") with exclusive trading rights in Egypt Naukratis was the center of cultural relations and trade between Greece and Egypt in the pre-Hellenistic period. It was established by Milesians in the 7th century BC and flourished throughout the classical period. There was a shared administrative building called the Helleneion. It declined after Alexander's conquest of Egypt and the foundation of Alexandria (332 BC). There is evidence for the minting of silver and bronze coins and for the existence of a new building program under the early Ptolemies. By Roman imperial times the site may have been abandoned. Dedications to deities and Greek pottery have thrown light on the early history of the Greek alphabet and the commercial activity of various Greek states especially in the 6th century BC. It was mentioned by Herodotus as the chief point of contact between Egypt and Greece until Hellenistic period and rise of Alexandria."
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: One of the most important kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, lying north of the Humber River. During its peak period it extended from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, between two west-east lines formed in the north by the Ayrshire coast and the Firth of Forth and in the south by the Ribble/Mersey River and the Humber. It resulted from the union of Deira, with its capital at York, and Bernicia, based on Bamburgh, under Edwin in 622 AD. After the conversion of King Edwin in 626 and the establishment of many major monasteries within the region, Northumbria became a center of missionary activity and a leading center of missionary activity and a leading center for the production of Christian art. In the later 7th-8th centuries, despite political decline, it was the scene of a cultural renaissance, attested by the history of Bede, the illuminated manuscripts of Lindisfarne, etc. Schools of art and monumental architecture also flourished. Archaeologically its most important site is Yeavering, a series of palaces built by Edwin and his successors in northern Northumberland. The cultural life and the political unity of Northumbria were destroyed by the arrival of the Danes.
CATEGORY: term 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.
CATEGORY: ceramics DEFINITION: One of three associated ceramicseries in the Greater Antilles area. Seen as transitional to Chicoid and Meillacoid, the Ostionoid appears in c 650 AD in Puerto Rico, where it overlays Saladoid materials. Vessels are generally smooth, finished in red monochrome slip, often with plain tabular lugs. The introduction of items like petalloid celts, potter stamps, and zemis indicates external influence, possibly Mesoamerican. Agriculture activity is indicated by the presence of griddles used in the preparation of manioc.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A collection of archaeological artifacts, ecofacts, and material that may not be related -- that are together through accident or natural forces rather than human activity. Also used to describe a site with a mass of intercut features of different periods.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Phan Rang CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A state of the kingdom of Champa on the coast of southern Vietnam. It became the center of Champan activity from the mid-8th century onward.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: phosphate surveying, phosphorus survey CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The examination of phosphates from decayed organic matter; a technique for detecting the presence of phosphate in soil and for using phosphorus concentrations to determine human settlements and activity within sites. Phosphate is a natural constituent of soil, however, it is concentrated by animals' bones, excrement, and food refuse. The technique has been employed particularly in the study of cave deposits (to show human or animal occupation), settlement sites (to identify the uses to which different areas were put) and burials (to show the former existence of bodies completely decayed). Once phosphate is in the soil, it is usually converted into an insoluble form, so that it does not tend to move down profile nor to be redistributed sideways in the soil. For this reason, settlements and farms tend to leave high concentrations of phosphate in the soil, which often remain stable over long periods, sometimes thousands of years. Much preliminary work must be done on the distribution and range of naturally occurring phosphorus because variations are caused by vegetation abundance and type and by soil horizon.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: plough marks, plowmarks, plow scars CATEGORY: feature DEFINITION: Marks left in buried soil indicating that the land has been plowed at some remote time, giving evidence of ancient agricultural activity. Plow marks have been found, for example, under several British Neolithic monuments and are valuable evidence for ancient clearance and cultivation. They are identified by sharp physical discontinuities in soil color and texture as seen in excavation profiles or plan-view.
primary cultural deposit
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A cultural deposit that accumulates on the surface from human activity, e.g. ash layers or living floors.
CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: An unstable (radioactive) isotope of carbon with atomic mass 14 that is produced in the atmosphere by cosmic radiation. It is the basis for radiocarbon dating, the method most frequently used in archaeology. It acts like C12, being taken into the organic compounds of all living matter. The proportions of radioactive and inert carbon are identical throughout the vegetable and animal kingdoms' carbon cycle. When organic matter dies it ceases to exchange its carbon, as carbon dioxide, with the atmosphere, so its C14 dwindles by decay and is not replenished. Determination of the radioactivity of carbon from a sample will reveal the proportion of C14 to C12, and this will in turn, through the known rate of decay of C14, give the age of, or more accurately the time elapsed since the death of, the sample.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: radioactive carbon dating, radiocarbon age determination, carbon-14 dating; radiochronometry; RC CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: An absolute radiometric dating technique for determining the age of carbon-bearing minerals, including wood and plant remains, charcoal, bone, peat, and calcium carbonate shell back to about 50,000 bp. The technique is based on measuring the loss of radiocarbon (carbon-14) that begins disintegration at death at a known rate. It is one of the best-known chronometric dating techniques and the most important in archaeology presently. It can be used for the dating organic material up to 75,000 years old. It is based on the theory of Willard F. Libby (1947); his radioactive-carbon dating provided an extremely valuable tool for archaeologists, anthropologists, and earth scientists. When organic matter dies it ceases to exchange its carbon, as carbon dioxide, with the atmosphere, so its C14 dwindles by decay and is not replenished. Determination of the radioactivity of carbon from a sample will reveal the proportion of C14 to C12, and this will in turn, through the known rate of decay of C14, give the age of, or more accurately the time elapsed since the death of, the sample. Two things in the method have to be allowed for: first, the 'date' given is never exact. The +/- figure, which should always be quoted, is a statistical one, meaning that there is a 2 to 1 chance that the correct date lies within that bracket. Secondly, the rate of decay of C14 is based in all published examples on a half-life of 5730 +/- 40 years (after 5730 years, one half of the C14 will have disintegrated, after another 5730 years one half of the remainder, and so on). Correction tables are used to correct 'raw' radiocarbon dates (quoted as years ad or BC) into true dates (AD or BC). The method yields reliable dates back to about 50,000 bp and under some conditions to about 75,000 bp. One of the basic assumptions of the technique is that the amount of radiocarbon in the atmosphere has remained constant through time. It has now been established, with the dendrochronological sequence for the bristlecone pine, that the C14 concentration has fluctuated. The reasons for the fluctuation are not yet fully understood. The calibration of radiocarbon dates is therefore necessary in order to achieve an approximate date in calendar years. Dates quoted in radiocarbon years, before calibration, are written BC or bp (before present), as opposed to calibrated dates, written BC or BP. The original half-life for radiocarbon of 5,568 ? 30 years has been revised to 5,730 ? 40 years, though dates are normally published according to the old half-life in order to avoid confusion (the date can be adjusted for the new half-life by multiplying the old date by 1.029). All radiocarbon dates are quoted with a standard deviation. Ideally, a series of dates should be obtained for any deposit as a series may cluster around a central point. New refinements continue to improve the technique's accuracy as well as extend the range of dates which can be achieved. A previous limit of 50,000 years on the age of material which could be dated, set by the limits on the ability of the proportional counter used to record beta particle emissions, has been extended to 70,000 years by the use of isotopic enrichment, the artificial enrichment of the C14 to C12 ratio.
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A type of cultural deposits made up of a primary cultural deposit that has undergone modification, either by physical displacement or because of a change of use of the activity area.
CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The study of the spatial distribution of ancient activities, the remains of single-activity areas or of entire regions.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: settlement pattern study CATEGORY: technique; term DEFINITION: The study of ancient human occupation and activity patterns within a specified area -- the distribution of features and sites, buildings, and other constructions in relation to the topography of a given area. Archaeological studies of settlement patterns deal with such matters as urbanization, the relationship between town, village, and countryside, and the operation of administrative centers. Findings reflect the relationship of the inhabitants with their environment, and the relationship of groups with each other within that environment. Factors influencing the pattern of settlement in any area may include the subsistence strategy, the political structure, the social structure, population density, and carrying capacity.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: Traces in the archaeological record that can be linked to particular patterns of activity.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Any location that demonstrates past human activity, as evidence by the presence of artifacts, features, ecofacts, or other material remains; a single place in which excavation or reconnaissance has revealed objects or data of archaeological interest. The definition implies that such a location was utilized by humans for a sufficient period of time to develop features or become a deposit ground for artifacts. Sites can range from small, temporary camps to large, complex cities, from a living site to a quarry site, and from one artifact to many levels of occupation. Major types of sites include domestic / habitation sites, kill-sites, and processing / butchering sites.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: site formation process; formation process CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The total of the processes -- natural and cultural, individual and combined -- that affected the formation and development of the archaeological record. Natural formation processes refer to natural or environmental events which govern the burial and survival of the archaeological record. Cultural formation processes include the deliberate or accidental activities of humans. On a settlement site, for example, the nature of human occupation, the activities carried out, the pattern of breakage and loss of material, rubbish disposal, rebuilding, or re-use of the same area will all influence the surviving archaeological deposits. After the site's abandonment, it will be further affected by such factors as erosion, glaciation, later agriculture, the activities of plants and animals, as well as the natural processes of chemical action in the soil. Reconstruction of these processes helps to relate the observed evidence of an archaeological site to the human activity responsible for it.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The statistical study of concentrations of human activity in a defined space; the systematic study of spatial patterning in archaeological data. Distribution maps showing artifacts or sites have long been used in archaeology, but spatial analysis adds rigorous mathematical and statistical techniques for examining such maps. Techniques adapted from modern geography include locational analysis for the study of settlement patterns, and the use of distance-decay functions, linear regression analysis, and trend-surface analysis for exploring the distribution of artifacts.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A method used to define variations among artifacts by their location in an activity area.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A characteristic of an artifact based on its location in an activity area.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: sterile soil CATEGORY: feature DEFINITION: An excavationlayer or deposit in which there are no cultural materials or evidence of human occupation or activity.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: site surface survey CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A method of data collection in which archaeological finds are gathered from the ground surface of sites and then evaluated. Surface survey helps to establish the types of activity on the site, locate major structures, and gather information on the most densely occupied areas of the site that could be most productive for total or sampleexcavation. There are two basic kinds of surface survey: unsystematic and systematic. The former involves fieldwalking, i.e. scanning the ground along one's path and recording the location of artifacts and surface features. Systematic survey less subjective and involves a gridsystem which is walked systematically, thus making the recording of finds more accurate. Surface survey usually includes the mapping of features. The study of the distribution of surviving features, and the recording and possible collecting of artifacts from the surface.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: An artifact that was used for a practical function, such as providing food, shelter, or defense, rather than connected to social or ideological activity. The term is also more generally applied to archaeological data resulting from past technological activities.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: plate tectonics CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: Displacements in the plates that make up the earth's crust, often responsible for the occurrence of raised beaches and for seismic and volcanic activity. Plate tectonics is a theory dealing with the dynamics of the Earth's outer shell, the lithosphere. The theory states that the lithosphere consists of about a dozen large plates and several small ones. These plates move relative to each other and interact at their boundaries, where they diverge, converge, or slip harmlessly past one another.
CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: In Roman architecture, a bathcomplex with rooms of different temperatures and exercise areas. Such a complex of rooms designed for public bathing, relaxation, and social activity for the ancient Romans. The great imperial thermae are Baths of Titus (81 AD), Baths of Domitian (95), Trajan's Baths (c 100), Baths of Caracalla (217), and the Thermae of Diocletian (c 302).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: thermoluminescence dating, thermoluminescent dating; TL CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: Chronometric method of datingceramic materials by measuring the stored energy created when they were first fired. It is based on the principle that ceramicmaterial, like other crystalline non-conducting solids, contains small amounts of radioactive impurities such as potassium, uranium, and thorium, which emit alpha and beta particles and gamma rays causing ionizing radiation. This produces electrons and other charge-carriers (holes) which become caught in traps in the crystallattice. Heating of the pottery causes the electrons and holes to be released from the traps, and they recombine in the form of thermoluminescence. The amount of thermoluminescence from a heated sample is used to determine the number of trapped electrons resulting from the absorption of alpha radiation. The quantity of light emitted will depend on three factors -- the number of flaws in the crystal, the strength of the radioactivity to which it has been exposed, and the duration of exposure. An age determination technique in which the amount of light energy released in a potterysample during heating gives a measure of the time elapsed since the material was last heated to a critical temperature. The older a piece of pottery, the more light produced. Accuracy for the technique is generally claimed at ?10%. It overlaps with radiocarbon in the time period for which it is useful, spanning 50,000-300,000 years ago, but also has the potential for dating earlier periods. It has much in common with electron spin resonance (ESR).
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Sites in New South Wales, Australia, which are now dry lakes which were filled during times of the Pleistocene. Human activity dates to c 35,000 years ago and there are hearths, artifacts, shell middens, extinct megafauna, and burials in the area. Late Pleistocenefossil remains from the Willandra Lakes region include the specimen designated WLH 50, a robust individual.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Yun-kang CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Series of magnificent Chinese Buddhist cave temples created in the 5th century AD (Six Dynasties period) and located just west of the city of Ta-t'ung (Datong). The caves are among the earliest remaining examples of the first major flowering of Buddhist art in China. A low ridge of soft sandstone was excavated to form about 20 major cave temples and many smaller niches and caves. Activity at Yungang declined after 494, when the Northern Wei capital moved from Datong to Luoyang (Lo-yang).