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CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The second of two Arab dynasties of the Muslim Empire of the Caliphate (caliphs = rulers) and descended from al-Abbas, uncle of the Prophet Muhammad. It overthrew the Umayyad caliphate in AD 750 and was based in Baghdad until 1258 when it was sacked by the Mongols. The end of the Umayyad dynasty meant a shift in power from Syria to Iraq. The Abbasids' settlement in Baghdad marked the beginning of the golden age of Arabic literature. The Abbasids, of great intellectual curiosity, adapted elements of earlier high cultures and incorporated them into their own.
Abejas phase
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The first important agricultural phase in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico, dating 3500-1500 BC, after the introduction of maize.
Abu Ballas
DEFINITION: A site in the Western Desert of Egypt, occupied 8500-5000 years ago.
Afanasievo culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Neolithic culture of the Yenisei valley of southern Siberia. The people, who were stock breeders and hunters, probably moved into the area in the late 3rd millennium BC. Excavations uncovered burials under kurgans (low mounds), surrounded by circular stone walls. There was stamped dentate pottery, stone, bone, and bronze tools, and some copper ornaments with the burials. The Afanasievo people were the first food-producers in the area, breeding cattle, horses, and sheep, but also practiced hunting. The Afanasievo were succeeded by the Andronovo culture in the mid-2nd millennium BC.
Agate Basin
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: A Palaeoindian site of Wyoming with evidence of the killing and butchering of animals. Artifacts include a distinctive point, scrapers, and eyed bone needles. The complex dates to 10,500-10,000 BP.
Ajuerado phase
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The earliest phase of pre-village, pre-agriculture in Tehuacan Valley, Mexico, from c 7200-7000 BC. There was hunting and gathering.
DEFINITION: A site near Kobe City, Japan, where fossil Homo bones were found in 1931. The bones have been dated to the Holocene.
DEFINITION: A site mentioned in texts of the 2nd millennium BC as a source of copper; assumed to be Cyprus. The texts also record the workings of the Sea Peoples c 1200 BC.
Alaska Refugium
DEFINITION: A large area of interior Alaska that was not glaciated during the latter part of the Pleistocene. It was connected to Beringia and eastern Siberia, allowing access for peoples between Asia and North America.
Almagro Basch, Martin (1911-1984)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: A Spanish archaeologist who worked on megaliths, on the dating and interpretation of prehistoric Spanish cave art, and on the site of Ampurias / Emporion.
American Anthropological Association
DEFINITION: A professional organization for anthropologists with a special division for archaeologists. The association publishes American Anthropologist and Anthropology Newsletter. The Archaeology Division publishes the monograph series Archaeological Papers of the AAA.
DEFINITION: A site in northwest Iran, southwest of the Caspian Sea, dating to the late 2nd millennium BC. Rich burials in tombs have produced gold and silver vessels, pottery figurines, animal-shaped pottery rhytons (ritual vessels) - material similar to that at Marlik Tepe.
DEFINITION: An ancient Greek trading settlement in Spain, 40 km northeast of present-day Gerona. It was originally a colony of Marseilles (Massalia), founded in the early 6th century BC. The town allied with Rome in the 3rd century BC and it became a Roman colony under Augustus (27 BC-14 AD). Ampurias was probably most prosperous between the 5th-3rd centuries BC, when it established extensive trading across the Mediterranean. Its commercial achievements were marked by the minting of coinage. But after Roman presence increased and the harbor began to silt up, the town declined. The end came at the destruction by the Franks in 265 AD.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A major cultural tradition of canyon dwellers found in southwestern United States between 100-1600 AD - mainly in the four corners area of northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah, and southwestern Colorado. These Native Americans began settlements with the cultivation of maize. Pottery was unknown at the beginning, but basketry was well developed, hence the name "Basket Maker" is given to these early stages. By the sixth century there were large villages of pit houses with farming and pottery and it evolved into the full Anasazi tradition. The first pueblos and kivas were constructed and fine painted pottery made. The next few centuries (the Pueblo I-III periods) were a time of expansion during which some of the most famous towns were founded (Chaco Canyon) and fine polychrome wares produced. At this time the Mogollon people to the south adopted the Anasazi way of life and their Hohokam neighbors were also influenced perhaps suggesting that the Anasazi actually migrated to these areas. In such an arid environment farming was always vulnerable to fluctuations in climate and rainfall and these factors caused considerable population movement and relocation of settlements during 11th-13th centuries with the virtual abandonment of Chaco Canyon in 1150 and the plateau heartland by 1300. From 1300 until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century the Anasazi culture and population dwindled and the homeland in northern Arizona was abandoned. Then with the encroachment of nomadic Apache and Navajo tribes and with the arrival of Europeans from the south and east Anasazi territory decreased further. However some pueblos have continued to be occupied until the present day. The generally accepted chronological framework of three Basketmaker and five Pueblo stages was first proposed at the 1927 Pecos Conference. Although exact links are uncertain it is clear that modern Pueblo Indian people are descended from Anasazi ancestors. The name Anasazi is derived from a Navajo word meaning "enemy ancestors" or "early ancestors" or "old people.
DEFINITION: A Pre-Classical and Classical city on the Meander River of southwest Turkey with extant remains of the Roman period, including an agora, odeum, temple of Aphrodite, and baths. There also was an abundance of free-standing statues. The Pre-Classical mounds show Late Neolithic occupation and a sequence of Late Chalcolithic to Late Bronze Age artifacts.
Arezzo vase
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: Red-clay Arretine pottery of which many fine examples have been found in or near the town of Arezzo in Tuscany, an important Etruscan city. The red-lustered ware was ornamented in relief and shows evidence of Greek origin.
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: The site of an Iron Age cemetery in Yorkshire, England, with at least 90 burials, some barrows covering the burials and some with chariots. There are several related sites (Danes' Graves) in east Yorkshire with similar grave goods which define the Arras culture along with the burials. Material dates the Arras culture to c 5-1 BC and the Arras people seem to have been intruders from the continent. Their artifacts suggest links with the migrations of the Parisii from eastern France and the Rhineland. The chariot gear includes a distinctive three-link horse bit.
Arslan Tash
DEFINITION: The site of the ancient city of Hadâtu, a provincial capital of the Assyrian kings of northern Syria, first excavated by the French in 1928. There was a central tell surrounded by a circular wall and a palace and temple containing fine ivories, dating from the beginning of the 8th century BC.
DEFINITION: A seasonal Preceramic site in the Andes of southern Peru dating to 7800 BC - with possibly the earliest domestic structures in the Andean region. A ceremonial complex dating to 2660 BC with altars, clay-lined fire basins, and surface hearths has also been found.
DEFINITION: A Philistine city on the southern coast of Palestine, southwest of Jerusalem. Excavations have uncovered remains of the Roman period, with some small areas of Philistine levels. Egyptian texts describe Ascalon as one of the cities that revolted against Rameses II. During the Roman period, Ascalon was the birthplace of Herod the Great. It flourished during that time and was occupied in the Byzantine and Arab periods.
DEFINITION: A Palestinian site of a Canaanite city of the Late Bronze Age that was probably destroyed by the Sea Peoples. It was one of the cities of the Philistine Pentapolis.
DEFINITION: A Palestinian site of the Late Bronze Age with artifacts of Egyptian and Cypriote origin. There was an Iron Age Philistine city and material from the Roman period.
Ashoka (d 238 BC?)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The last major emperor of the Mauryan empire of India in the 3rd century BC. He started out as a bloody tyrant, but underwent a spiritual crisis and became a Buddhist, furthering the expansion of that religion throughout India. His reign was c 265-238 BC but has also been given as c 273-232 BC. His kingdom included most of modern Pakistan and India, except the extreme south. Many monuments survive from his period: stupas, rock-cut temples, and commemorative pillars. A series of inscriptions, enshrining Buddhist teaching, survives on rock faces and stone pillars in various parts of the empire.
Ashurbanipal (fl. 7th century BC)
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Assurbanipal, Asurbanipal, Assurnasirpal
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The last of the great kings of Assyria (668-627 BC), who established the first systematically organized library in the ancient Middle East, a huge collection of Assyrian clay tablets in his palace and that of his grandfather, Sennacherib. The library has been extremely valuable in revealing the art, science, and religion of ancient Mesopotamia. Approximately 20,720 tablets and fragments have been preserved in the British Museum. This collection was assembled by royal command, whereby scribes searched for and collected or copied texts of every genre from temple libraries. Theses were added to a core collection of tablets from Ashur, Calah, and Nineveh itself. The major group includes omen texts based on observations of events; on the behavior and features of men, animals, and plants; and on the motions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars. There were dictionaries of Sumerian, Akkadian, and other words, all important to the scribal educational system. Ashurbanipal also collected many incantations, prayers, rituals, fables, proverbs, and other "canonical" and "extracanonical" texts. The traditional Mesopotamian epics - such as the stories of Creation Gilgamesh Irra Etana and Anzu - have survived mainly due to their preservation in Ashurbanipal's library. Handbooks scientific texts and some folk tales show that this library of which only a fraction of the clay tablets has survived was more than a mere reference library. His many brilliant military campaigns served only to hold what had been already won by previous kings though Egypt regained its independence and Elam was only retained by complete devastation.
Ashurnasirpal II (fl. 8th century BC)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: King of Assyria 883-859 BC, who consolidated the conquests of his father, Tukulti-Ninurta II, and commanded the last period of Assyrian power before the establishment of the New Assyrian Empire. His military expeditions took him as far as the Mediterranean and, according to his own testimony, he was a brilliant general and administrator. He set the standards of military achievement and brutality which made the Assyrians feared throughout the Near and Middle East. The details of his reign are known almost entirely from his own inscriptions and the reliefs in the ruins of his palace at Calah (now Nimrud, Iraq). He refounded Calah as a military capital beside Assur and Nineveh. By 879 BC the main palace in the citadel, the temples of Ninurta and Enlil, shrines for other deities, and the city wall had been completed. Botanic gardens and a zoological garden were laid out, and water supplied by a canal from the Great Zab River. His son and successor, Shalmaneser III (858-824 BC) expanded the empire.
DEFINITION: A Late Preceramic site on the south-central coast of Peru with a series of mounds and burials with evidence of trephination.
Asiab, Tepe
DEFINITION: A semi-permanent settlement in the Zagros region of western Iran, dated between 7100-6750 BC, belonging to the Karim Shahir culture. There is evidence of tool manufacture, settlement patterns, and subsistence methods, including the crude beginnings of the domestication of both plants and animals in this site as well as nearby sites at Guran, Ganj-e Dareh, and Ali Kosh. Burials have been excavated, covered in red ochre.
Asikli Hüyük
DEFINITION: An Aceramic Neolithic site in central Anatolia, near an obsidian source (Ciftlik) and probably involved in extracting and trading the material. Radiocarbon dates of unstratified contexts at the site are c 7000-6650 BC. It may have been contemporary with Hacilar.
DEFINITION: A pre-Classical Greek settlement and port on the east side of the Akrítas in the Argolid Gulf. It was originally settled by the Argives after the First Messenian War (c 735-715 BC). Evidence of Early, Middle, and Late Helladic settlement and of Hellenistic city walls remains. It was reoccupied during the Middle Ages by refugees from the north who gave it the name of their former village.
DEFINITION: A city of the Philistines on the coast of Palestine near Gaza. Under Roman levels are Philistine deposits and there is a destruction level, the work of the Peoples of the Sea c 1200 BC, separating these levels from the underlying Late Bronze Age of the Canaanites.
Asmar, Tell
DEFINITION: The ancient city of Eshnunna on the Diyala River of Iraq, inhabited from the Uruk to Old Babylonian period. Excavations here have provided the archaeological definition of the Early Dynastic and Akkadian periods. In the early 2nd millennium BC, Tell Asmar was the center of the kingdom of Eshnunna.
DEFINITION: A Late Preceramic site on the north-central coast of Peru, dating to 4360-3950 BP. It is one of the largest Preceramic settlements known in the Andes and it had a complex social hierarchy. Six platform mounds and other structures include rooms with artifacts, textiles, plant material, clay figurines, and feathers.
DEFINITION: A large Palaeolithic rock shelter near Ioánnina, in Epirus, northwest Greece. There are Mousterian phases, an earlier one with carefully retouched tools and use of the Levallois technique, and a later phase with small tools. The Upper Palaeolithic levels of backed blades include one radiocarbon-dated to c 26,000 BC (24,000 ? 1000 BC). In the final stage (11,7000 ? 260 BC), geometric microliths and microburins appeared alongside the backed blades. Occupation ended around 9000 BC.
CATEGORY: deity; site
DEFINITION: A solar deity which was the chief god of the city of Assur and the kingdom of Assyria. With the latter's conquests, Assur assumed leadership of the Assyrian pantheon and supremacy over the other gods of Mesopotamia. The deity was conceived in anthropomorphic terms. The image of the deity was fed and clothed and was responsible for fertility and security, and represented as a winged sun-disc. It is also the name of the ancient religious capital of the Assyrian empire in northern Mesopotamia, on the bank of the River Tigris at modern Qalaat-Shergat, which was a great trading center and the burial place of the kings even after the government moved to Nineveh. First recorded in the 3rd millennium BC as a frontier post of the empire of Akkad, it then became an independent city-state and finally the capital of Assyria. After Assyria's collapse in 614 BC it failed to survive but was briefly revived under the Parthians. Areas of the palaces, temples, walls, and town have been cleared, and a sondage pit was cut beneath the Temple of Ishtar (pre-Sargonid) to reveal the 3rd and early 2nd millennium levels (the first use of this technique in Mesopotamian excavation). Sumerian statues were found - among the earliest evidence of Sumerian contact outside the southern plain. For over 2000 years successive kings built and rebuilt the fortifications, temple, and palace complexes: inscriptions associated with these monuments have helped in the construction of the chronology of the site. Three large ziggurats dominated the city with the largest being 60 m square (completed by Shamsi Adad I c 1800 bc). It was originally dedicated to Enlil, but later to Assur; the dedication of the other temples also changed through time. Representations on cylinder seals suggest that many buildings might have had parapets and towers. Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) moved the capital to Calah and by 614 BC the city of Assur had fallen to the Median (Medes) army.
DEFINITION: The name of three different empires dating from about 2000-600 BC, the city-state of Assur, and the people inhabiting this northeastern area of Mesopotamia. Originally Semitic nomads in northern Mesopotamia, they finally settled around Assur and accepted its tutelary god as their own. After the fall of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur (2004 BC), Assyria seems to have become an independent city-state and important as middleman in international trade. In its period of greatness, 883-612 BC, there was continuous war in Assyria to keep the empire's lands which at their widest extended from the Nile to near the Caspian, and from Cilicia to the Persian Gulf (Egypt, much of the area to the west as far as the Mediterranean, Elam to the east and parts of Anatolia to the north). Its greatest kings were all warriors, Ashurnasirpal II, Shalmaneser III, Tiglathpileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib, and Ashurbanipal, who made the name of Assyria feared throughout the ancient East through their military skill and brutality. The main achievements in Assyria, outside warfare, were in architecture and sculpture, particularly the protective winged bulls, etc., which guarded all palace entrances, and the magnificent reliefs of battles, hunts, and military processions which adorned the walls. Assurnasirpal II (833-859 BC) transferred the center of government to Calah (Nimrud). The fortunes of the empire rose and fell under the kings of the 9th-7th centuries: Assurbanipal (668-627 BC) reconquered Egypt, but in 614 BC the empire fell when the Medes invaded Assyria, captured Calah, and destroyed Assur.
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: One of the two main dialects of ancient Mesopotamia, used in the north. A Semitic language very close to Babylonian, from which it is thought to have diverged at the end of the 2nd millennium. Assyrian probably disappeared with the destruction of Assyria in 7th century BC. Old Assyrian cuneiform is attested mostly in the records of Assyrian trading colonists in central Asia Minor (c. 1950 BC; the so-called Cappadocian tablets) and Middle Assyrian in an extensive Law Code and other documents. The Neo-Assyrian period was the great era of Assyrian power, and the writing culminated in the extensive records from the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (c. 650 BC).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Assyriological adj., Assyriologist n.
CATEGORY: related field
DEFINITION: The study of the history, language, and antiquities of ancient Assyria and Babylonia in northern Mesopotamia, principally through cuneiform lists. Assyriologists have reconstructed sequences for Assyria through limmu (eponym) lists found by excavators.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Asherah, Ashtoreth, Ashtart
DEFINITION: The goddess of the ancient Near East that was the chief deity of many important sites and the fertility goddess of the Phoenicians and the Canaanites. She is sometimes equated with Egyptian Isis, Babylonian Ishtar, Carthaginian Tanit, and Greek Aphrodite, Cybele, and Hera. She originated in Syria as a war goddess, probably introduced into Egypt in the 18th Dynasty (1550-1295 BC). Astarte was usually portrayed as a naked woman on horseback wearing a headdress or bull horns.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A macrolithic industry of the Mesolithic in northern Spain, discovered from shell mounds at cave mouths. It followed the Azilian and is characterized by a long pointed unifacial quartzite pick. It dates to the 9th and 8th millennia BP.
CATEGORY: culture; chronology
DEFINITION: A culture and period in Japanese history during which the development of art, the introduction of Buddhism from Korea, and the adoption of a Chinese pattern of government were important. Located in the southwestern part of the Nara Basin (Yamato Plain), the culture flourished from 552-645 AD. In art history, the Asuka culture refers to early Buddhist art and architecture in the Northern Wei style. In chronology, the Asuka period refers more to the reign of Soga family during which Buddhism was promoted and a formal administrative structure with diplomatic relations was introduced. Many old temples and palaces are surviving examples of Asuka architecture, sculpture, and paintings.
Aswad, Tell
DEFINITION: An Aceramic Neolithic site in Syria's Damascus basin, occupied c 7800-6600 BC. There is evidence of early farming (plant cultivation including barley, cereals, emmer wheat, lentils, peas, pulses).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Swenet, (Greek) Syene, Assuan, Assouan
DEFINITION: A city in Upper Egypt, on the first cataract of the Nile, where the Aswan High Dam has been erected. The ancient site included important antiquities such as the temples (Abusimbel's), the rock-cut tombs of Qubbet el-Hawa, and the island of Elephantine (modern Jazirat Aswan) have been rescued from flooding by international groups who also explored those structures which could not be saved. There are also local quarries on the eastern bank on the Nile which supplied granite for many ancient Egyptian monuments and which are still in operation. Aswan was the southern frontier of pharaonic Egypt. Aswan later served as a frontier garrison post for the Romans, Turks, and British.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ancient Djawty, Lycopolis, Syut, Asiut, Assiout
DEFINITION: Capital of the Asyut muhafazah (governorate) and the largest settlement of Upper Egypt, midway between Cairo and Aswan on the west bank of the Nile. It was a center of worship for Wepwawet, the jackal-headed god. In the Middle Kingdom, it was the capital of the 17th nome (province) of Upper Egypt. It was commercially important as a terminus of caravan routes across the deserts. In Hellenistic times it was known as Lycopolis (Wolf City") referring to the worship of the jackal-headed god."
DEFINITION: A Late Neolithic site (4th millennium BC) in the Zagyva Valley, 30 km east of Budapest, Hungary. There are remains of a settlement with 40 rectangular houses containing rich assemblages and a cemetery with rows of graves. There are varying degrees of wealth in the grave goods. Aszód is a rare example of a site east of the Danube River with a western Hungarian material culture.
CATEGORY: culture; language
DEFINITION: Native Americans who speak languages of the Athabascan or Dene language family. The Northern variety is in Alaska and the Yukon; the southern variety, including the Apache and Navajo, are in the U.S. Southwest. The groups diverged around 500 AD.
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A family of about 150 languages which includes Vietnamese, Munda (eastern India), Mon (southwest Burma), Khmer (Kampuchea), and several minor language groups including Nicobarese, and Aslian of peninsular Malaysia. Vietnamese, Khmer, and Mon are culturally the most important of these and have the longest recorded history. Khmer is spoken primarily in Cambodia, Mon in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). Vietnamese and Khmer, with the largest number of speakers, are the national languages, respectively, of Vietnam and Cambodia. Austro-Asiatic was once the main linguistic family of mainland Southeast Asia and eastern India, but its speakers have become geographically split into the Tibeto-Burman, Thai, and Austronesian languages.
DEFINITION: The site of a trading center in southern Mauritania at the southern end of the main caravan route across the Sahara to Ghana. In the closing centuries of the 1st millennium AD, it is probably that much gold was exported northwards along this route.
Bahariya Oasis
DEFINITION: A fertile depression in the northeast Libyan Desert about 200 km west of the Nile. Archaeological remains date mainly from the early New Kingdom to the Roman period (c 1550 BC-395 AD).
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: A Chalcolithic culture of Rajasthan, Indian, of the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. Archaeological evidence indicates that early humans lived along the banks of the Banas River (and its tributaries) about 100,000 years ago. The sites at Ahar, Gilund, and Kalibangan reveal Harappan (Indus) and post-Harappan culture (3rd-2nd millennium BC) with black-and-red ware, often with white painted designs, and other related red wares. Copper and bronze were very common and agriculture was attested. The Ahar occupation lasted c 2200-1500 BC. Pottery fragments at Kalibangan are carbon-dated to 2700 BC.
Basarabi culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Iron Age culture of cemeteries and settlement sites over much of Romania with its type site on the Danube. It is a local version of the Hallstatt culture, dating to 975-850 BC.
Basin of Mexico
DEFINITION: A basin enclosed by mountains with cultural remains as early as 19,000 BC at Tlapacoya and 15,000 BC at Tlatilco. The Basin contains the current capital, Mexico City, Mexico, the remains of Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, and the cities of Cuicuilco and Teotihuacán. Dry farming, swidden agriculture, chinampas, and irrigation have been used to cultivate the area. Important periods in the area's prehistory were from c 100 BC-650 AD and from 1200-1520 AD, before the Spanish conquest.
Basket Maker
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 base camp 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.
Basques; Basque
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Spanish Vasco, or Vascongado, Basque Euskaldunak or Euskotarak
CATEGORY: culture; language
DEFINITION: A people living in both Spain and France in areas bordering the Bay of Biscay and encompassing the western foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. The Basques are distinguished partly by an unusual pattern of blood groups, very high in the Rhesus negative factor, and by their language, quite unrelated to any other known one. They probably represent one of the people who inhabited Europe before the arrival of the Indo-Europeans. Basque is the only remnant of the languages spoken in southwestern Europe before that region was Romanized. The origin of the Basque language remains a mystery. It has been hypothesized that Basque had a genetic connection with the now-extinct Iberian and that both languages evolved from the Hamito-Semitic (Afro-Asiatic) language group - but there is another theory that the similarities between the two arose from geographic proximity. Although Basque and Iberian are similar, the knowledge of Basque could not help decipher ancient Iberian inscriptions discovered in eastern Spain and on the Mediterranean coast of France. Basque is also linked with Caucasian, the ancient language spoken in the Caucasus region.
DEFINITION: The second-largest city and principal port of Iraq, which from ancient times was a center of commerce, finance, letters, poetry, and science. It was founded as a military encampment by the second caliph, 'Umar I, in 638 about 8 miles (13 km) from the modern town of az-Zubayr, southeastern Iraq. Its proximity to the Persian Gulf on the west bank of the Shatt al-Arab gives it easy access to both the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and eastern frontiers. The first architecturally significant mosque in Islam was constructed there in 665. From the late 9th century Basra suffered a series of disasters and gradually declined. The Zanj (Negro slaves who worked in the fields and plantations of southern Iraq) revolted in 869-873 and sacked the city, and in 923 it was plundered by the Qarmarthians. In 1050, parts of the city were in ruins.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Bronze wine flagons found in Moselle, France, with coral and enamel inlay of c 400 BC. The pair is thought to have come from a Celtic chieftain's grave.
Basta, Tell
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ancient Per-Bastet, Bubastis
DEFINITION: The site of a temple and town in the eastern Nile Delta, about 80 km northeast of Cairo which flourished from the 4th Dynasty to the end of the Roman period (c 2614 BC-AD 395). The main monument at the site is the red granite temple of the cat-goddess Bastet.
DEFINITION: A Urartian settlement in northwest Iran with a citadel of monumental buildings (palaces). Several Urartian texts and sealed bullae kept records of goods stored and traded. Urartian and post-Urartian pottery have been chronologically classified.
DEFINITION: The ancient Lower Egyptian goddess worshipped in the form of a lioness, and later a cat. Bastet's form was often changed after the domestication of the cat around 1500 BC. Her principal cult center was Bubastis in the Nile River delta but she also had an important cult at Memphis. In the Late and Ptolemaic periods large cemeteries of mummified cats were created at both sites, and thousands of bronze statuettes of the goddess were put there as votive offerings. Her cult was carried to Italy by the Romans, and traces have been found in Rome, Ostia, Nemi, and Pompeii.
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: A cave on the southern coast of Anatolia which gave its name to a late Palaeolithic culture. The tool kit includes tanged arrowheads, triangular points, and obliquely truncated blades. There are rock engravings in shelters such as Beldibi, the only known cave art in western Asia.
Beni Hassan
DEFINITION: A Middle Kingdom archaeological site, on the eastern bank of the Nile, Egypt, about 150 miles south of Cairo. The site is known for its rock-cut tombs of the 11th- and 12th-dynasty (2125-1795 BC) officials of the 16th Upper Egyptian (Oryx) nome, or province. Some of the 39 tombs are painted with scenes of daily life and important biographical texts. The governors of the nome, whose capital was Menat Khufu, ancestral home of the 4th-dynasty pharaohs, administered the eastern desert. The tomb of one, Khnumhotep II, contains a scene showing Semitic Bedouin merchants in richly colored garments entering Egypt. A rock-cut shrine of Pakhet, known as Speos Artemidos, built by Queen Hatshepsut and Thutmose III of the 18th dynasty, lies one mile north, in an ancient quarry, with a smaller shrine of Alexander II nearby. There are some small tombs dating back to the 6th Dynasty (2345-2181 BC).
Bewcastle Cross
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A runic standing cross monument in the churchyard of Bewcastle, Northumberland, northern England, dating from the late 7th or early 8th century. Although the top of the cross has been lost, the 15-foot (4.5-meter) shaft remains, with distinct panels of the figures of Christ in Majesty, St. John the Baptist, and St. John the Evangelist, while on the back there is an inhabited vinescroll. Like the Ruthwell Cross, that at Bewcastle possesses a poem inscribed in Runic script. The worn inscription suggests that the monument was a memorial to Alchfrith, son of Oswiu of Northumbria, and his wife Cyneburh (Cyniburug). It is one of the finest examples of Early Christian Northumbrian art.
DEFINITION: A cave in the Folded Mountain Belt of the Cape Province, South Africa, containing a long sequence of Upper Pleistocene and Holocene deposits. The earliest occupation was probably around 80,000 years ago. There was a long 'Middle Stone Age' sequence and then occupations attributed to the Robberg, Albany, and Wilton industries.
DEFINITION: 7th-millennium BC Pre-Pottery Neolithic village near the River Euphrates in Syria. The first occupation phase had two levels with rectangular mud-brick houses. The next four levels had more solid mud-brick houses, some with plastered floors, benches, and pillars. The economy was based on hunting of wild animals, except in the final phase when sheep and cattle were bred. Sickle blades, pounders, and querns were used for wild or cultivated plants in the first phase. Artifacts include a white ware, made of mixed lime and ash and used to cover baskets, producing watertight vessels. Obsidian occurs in large quantities, indicating extensive trade networks linking Bouqras with the source sites in Anatolia.
DEFINITION: A series of early Upper Palaeolithic deposits in southwest France near Brassempouy, famous for carved ivories and broken statuettes of Venus or "Lady". These statues are thought to be the work of Cro-Magnon artists.
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.
DEFINITION: An Egyptian site in the southeastern Nile delta with monuments of the 22nd Dynasty.
DEFINITION: A Baden culture cemetery near Budapest, Hungary, where a very early four-wheeled wagon was found in a grave.
Burgaschi-See Sud
DEFINITION: A lake settlement site of the Neolithic Cortaillod culture in Switzerland, dated to the mid-4th millennium BC. The organic remains are well-preserved as on other Cortaillod sites. The most important hunted fauna were red deer, roe deer, aurochs, and wild boar. Domesticated cattle, sheep, goat and pig were kept. Artifacts include copper beads.
Can Hasan
DEFINITION: The site of a number of tells in southern Turkey. Can Hasan III was an aceramic Neolithic settlement c 6500 BC. There were at least seven structural phases, with dark burnished pottery in several levels and painted pottery in one. The villagers were agriculturists, growing einkorn and emmer, lentil, and vetch in the earlier phases. The main Can Hasan mound was occupied in the late Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods.
Cape Coastal Ware
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A Stone Age pottery style from the coast of southern Namibia to eastern Cape Province, South Africa, after c 1600 BP. It is characterized by point-based pots.
DEFINITION: A city in southwest France occupied as early as the 5th century BC by the Iberians and then by Gallo-Romans. Its inner rampart was built in 485 AD. The site is one of the best-preserved examples of a medieval fortified town in Europe with an inner wall and citadel dating from 11th-13th centuries. The site was extensively restored in the 19th century and the church of Saint-Vincent and the cathedral of Saint-Michel, both 13th century, survive.
Casas Grandes
CATEGORY: culture; site
DEFINITION: A culture, river, and site in Chihuahua, northern Mexico. The town's name, Spanish for great houses refers to the extensive, multistoried ruins of a pre-Columbian town, which was probably founded in 1050 and burned around 1340, after which the abandoned valley lands were occupied by the Suma, who migrated in from the east. Ruins of this type are common in the valleys of the Casas Grandes and its tributaries. The earliest culture, also called the Viejo, was characterized by Mogollon-type pottery and pithouse dwellings. The following period, the Medio, had adobe houses. A third period, the Tardio, came after 1300 AD and was heavily influenced by Mesoamerica. The area was settled by the Spaniards in 1661/1662 and is now a national monument under the jurisdiction of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.
DEFINITION: A small settlement on an island in the Danube River, southern Rumania. Excavations have revealed occupation layers of the Middle, c 3900-3700 BC, and Late Neolithic, c 3700-3500 BC. A complete village plan has been found from the later occupation with one large central structure surrounded by six smaller structures. The finds have ritual implications and technological importance. There is evidence of heavy reliance on wild animal meat.
DEFINITION: A rock in Tipperary, Ireland, which rises dramatically 358 feet (109 m) above the surrounding plain. On the summit of this limestone outcrop is a group of ruins, including the remains of the town's defenses, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the bishop's castle, and an ancient cross. The rock was the stronghold of the kings of Munster from the 4th century. St. Patrick consecrated Cashel as a bishopric c 450. In 1101 the rock was given to the church by King Murtagh O'Brien.
Caskey, John (1908-1981)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: An American archaeologist who served as director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and worked at Lerna and Ayia Irini.
Caso y Andrade, Alfonso (1896-1970)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Mexican archaeologist and government official who explored the early Oaxacan cultures and who excavated Tomb Seven at Monte Albán, the earliest-known North American necropolis. His discovery and analysis of the burial offerings at Tomb Seven proved that Monte Albán had been occupied by the Mixtec people after they had displaced the Zapotecs before the Spanish conquest. Caso found evidence of five major phases, dating back to the 8th century BC, and established a rough chronology through comparisons with other sites. Caso also deciphered the Mixtec Codices. He made important contributions to regional archaeology and to the interpretation of Mixtec manuscripts, Mexican calendars, and dynastic history in general. He held posts as head of the Department of Archaeology at the National Museum, director of the museum, and director of the National Institute for Indian Affairs.
Cass ny Hawin
DEFINITION: A Mesolithic settlement site on the Isle of Man with a stone tools, including microliths.
DEFINITION: A Late Bronze Age settlement and cemetery containing 2,000 rock-cut chamber tombs near Syracuse in southeast Sicily. It is the type site of a Late Bronze Age phase - Pantalica II - of the early 1st millennium BC. The Pantalica culture was characterized by large urban settlements. Artifacts include a distinctive buff painted ware with plume or 'feather' motifs, c 1250-1000 BC, and a number of typical bronze types, including stilted and thick-arc fibulae and shaft-hole axes.
Cassivellaunus (fl. 1st century BC)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: A powerful British chieftain who was defeated by Julius Caesar during Caesar's second raid of Britain in 54 BC. Cassivellaunus is the first man in England whose name we know and he led his tribe, the Catuvellauni, a group of Belgic invaders from the River Marne area. He used guerrilla tactics and chariot warfare successfully until Caesar captured the fortified settlement, identified as present-day Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire. Cassivellaunus agreed to provide hostages and pay an annual tribute to Rome, but there is no evidence that he kept these promises. His son was Cunobelin, the Cymbeline written about by Shakespeare.
DEFINITION: An Upper Palaeolithic rock shelter at Castelmerle, southwest France. There were two Aurignacian levels with art objects of carved or painted stone. The art from Castanet and neighboring Blanchard rock shelter is amongst the earliest known, dating c 33,000 BC.
DEFINITION: An Early Bronze Age settlement and cemetery of rock-cut tombs near Syracuse, Sicily. Excavated by Orsi in 1891-1892, the cemetery contained several hundred tombs used for collective burial and one tomb had a carved facade and several were closed by slabs with carved double spirals. The characteristic pottery was a buff ware painted with black or green lines and designs. Pottery shapes included splay-necked cups and pedestaled bowls. There were also bossed bone plaques, showing connections with the Aegean world well before 2000 BC.
Castor box
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A shallow vessel in color-coated ware ( Nene Valley Ware) with a fitting lid of Roman date. Usually both box and lid were rouletted.
Castor ware
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A distinctive pottery named after a Roman settlement site on the north bank of the Nene in Northhamptonshire. Castor ware is a slate-colored pottery which commonly had hunting scenes of dogs, boars, etc. on the outer surface, which were applied by squeezing paste from a bag or applying by brush. The E barbotine hunt cups were a highlight of the native Romano-British potter's craft.
Cerro de las Mesas
DEFINITION: A site in southern Veracruz, Mexico, in the plains of the Papaloápan River that is a hybrid site of Pre-Classic and Classic periods. Dozens of earthen mounds are scattered over the surface in a seemingly haphazard manner, and the archaeological sequence is long and complex. The site reached its apogee in the Early Classic, when the stone monuments for which it is best known were carved. Most important are a number of stelae, some of which are carved in a low-relief style recalling Late Formative Tres Zapotes, early lowland Maya, and Cotzumalhuapa. Cerro de las Mesas pottery, deposited in rich burial offerings of the Early Classic, is much like that of Teotihuacan, with slab-legged tripods. Potters made large, hollow, handmade figures of the gods and the most spectacular discovery on the site was a cache of 782 jade objects, many of Olmec workmanship. Cerro de las Mesas is famous for Remojadas-style pottery figurines, found in great quantity as burial goods. Because the Classic occupation contains abundant Teotihuacan materials and two Maya Long Count dates (ad 468 and ad 533), it is usually interpreted as a redistribution point for materials from both Mexico and the Maya lowlands.
Ch'in Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Dynasty of 221-206 BC that unified China into a single empire. The Ch'in, from which the name China is derived, established the approximate boundaries and basic administrative system that Chinese dynasties were to follow for the next 2,000 years. The dynasty was originated by the state of Ch'in, one of the many small feudal states into which China was divided between 771-221 BC. In 247 BC, the boy king Chao Cheng came to the throne and he completed the Ch'in conquests and created the Ch'in empire. Chao Cheng proclaimed himself Ch'in Shih huang-ti (First Sovereign Emperor of Ch'in). To rule the vast territory the Ch'in installed a rigid authoritarian government; they standardized the writing system standardized the measurements of length and weight and the width of highways abolished all feudal privileges built the Great Wall and in 213 ordered all books burned except those on utilitarian subjects. Excavations have found examples of the standard weights and measures imposed on China. There is also a spectacular large group of lifesize pottery figures of warriors horses and chariots found in area adjacent to the tomb of the first Ch'in emperor Ch'in Shih huang-ti.
Ch'ing Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The last imperial dynasty of China (1644-1911/12 AD), Manchu in origin. Under the Ch'ing, the territory tripled in size and the population grew from 150,000,000 to 450,000,000 and an integrated national economy was established. There are some elaborately constructed tombs. Ch'ing porcelain is technically masterful, but Ch'ing artists were individualistic and innovative.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Middle Neolithic culture found over most of France, named for the Camp de Chassey, which appeared c 4300 BC. By this time, Chassey pottery had superseded impressed ware in the south and the new style is found in caves, village sites, cists, pit graves, and megalithic chamber tombs. The earliest Chassey pottery is often decorated with scratched geometric patterns, whereas the later wares are more plain and have pan-pipe (flûte de pan) lugs. In north and central France, the culture appeared c 3800. In many areas the Chassey people were the first Neolithic farmers. The pottery and flintwork of the Paris basin differ in many ways from those of the Midi. One distinctive form of vessel, the vase support with scratched decoration, is confined to the Paris basin and western France. Both cave and open settlements were occupied.
Chin Dynasty
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Jin, Juchen, Jurchen, Ju-Chen, Ruzhen, Jurched, Jurchid
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Chinese dynasty (AD 1115-1234) founded by the Jurchen tribes of Manchuria, who were formerly vassals of the Khitans or Liao dynasty (AD 916-1125). They overran most of northern China and captured the Sung capital of K'ai-feng, forcing the Chinese to move their capital south to Hang-chou in 1126. The empire covered much of Inner Asia and all of North China.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A late prehistoric and historic Native American culture originally living along the coast of southern California and speaking a Hokan language. Chumash also occupied the three northern channel islands off Santa Barbara. The major Chumash groups were the Obispeño, Purismeño, Ynezeño, Barbareño, and Ventureño, Emigdiano, and Cuyama. The Chumash were skilled artisans, made wooden-plank canoes and vessels of soapstone, as well as a variety of tools out of wood, whalebone, and other materials. They produced basketry, did rock painting, and started of clamshell-bead currency in the area. The Chumash were among the first native Californians to be encountered by the Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who visited the islands in 1542-1543.
Civita Castellana
DEFINITION: A site near Rome, originally the capital of the Faliscans, the 9th-century-BC Falerii Veteres. It was reputedly founded by the Pelasgians from Argos. The Faliscans were a tribe belonging to the Etruscan confederation against Rome. The city was destroyed by the Romans in 395 BC and again in 241 BC. Faliscan vases have been found in its rich necropolis.
Classic, Classical
CATEGORY: culture; chronology; artifact
DEFINITION: A general term referring to the period of time when a culture or civilization reaches its highest point of complexity and achievement. In a broader sense, the term often describes the whole period of Greek and Roman antiquity with the following breakdown: Early Classical Period 500-450 BC, High Classical Period 450-400 BC, and Late Classical 400-323 BC. Specifically, the term describes, in New World chronology, the period between the Formative (Pre-Classic) and the Post-Classic, which was characterized by the emergence of city-states. During the Classic stage, civilized life in pre-Columbian America reached its fullest flowering, with large temple centers, advanced art styles, writing, etc. It was originally coined for the Maya civilization, initially defined by the earliest and most recent Long Count dates found on Maya stelae, 300-900 AD. A division between Early and Late Classic was arbitrarily set at 600 AD, but since in some areas, e.g. Teothihuacan, great civilizations had already collapsed, some scholars regard this date as marking the end of the Classic Period. By extension, the word came to be used for other Mexican cultures with a similar level of excellence (Teotihuacán, Monte Albán, El Tajín). In these areas the cultural climax was roughly contemporary with that of the Maya, and the term Classic took on a chronological meaning as well. The full Maya artistic, architectural, and calendric-hieroglyphic traditions took place during the Early Classic. Tikal, Uaxactún, and Copán all attained their glory then. In the Late Classic, between 600-900 AD, ceremonial centers in the Maya Lowlands grew in number, as did the making of the inscribed, dated stelae and monuments. The breakdown of the Classic Period civilizations began with the destruction of the city of Teotihuacán in about 700 AD. Some date the Classic period to 300-900 AD.
DEFINITION: An Upper Palaeolithic painted cave in the Canabrian region of northern Spain. The style, including a finger-blob technique, suggests that it belongs to a primitive stage of cave art, possibly preceding the Solutrean.
Coxcatlán phase
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Occupation phase of Mexico's Tehuacán Valley from c 5500-4500 BC. Maize first appeared, though wild and semi-domesticated plants were still eaten along with small game.
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.
Dakhla Oasis
DEFINITION: One of a chain of oases located in the Libyan Desert, west of the Egyptian city of Luxor. The main pharaonic sites in Dakhla include a town site of the Old Kingdom (2686-2160 BC) and its associated cemetery of 6th Dynasty mastaba tombs, near the modern village of Balat.
DEFINITION: A rich oasis city at the inland end of a pass in Syria and the modern capital of Syria. Damascus was occupied by the 3rd millennium BC, but the settlements of the prehistoric, biblical and Roman periods underlie the modern and medieval city and are therefore not readily available for excavation. Excavations have demonstrated that an urban center existed in the 4th millennium BC at Tall as-Salhiyah, southeast of Damascus. Pottery from the 3rd millennium BC has been found in the Old City. Before the 2nd millennium BC an intricate system of irrigation for Damascus and al-Ghutah had been developed. Egyptian texts and references in the Bible attest the city's importance in international trade from the 16th century BC; it appears as Dimashqa in the Tell El-Amarna documents. The Aramaeans conquered Damascus in the late 2nd millennium BC and it was subsequently annexed by the Israelites (10th century BC) and later the Assyrians (8th century BC). By 85 BC it had become capital of Nabatean kingdom; by 64 BC it was a Roman city of commercial and strategic importance, and subsequently a major Byzantine garrison. Damascus was captured by the Arabs in 635 and chosen as their capital by the Ummayads, who formed the first Islamic dynasty and ruled from 661-750. Its most famous Islamic monument if the Great Mosque of the caliph al-Walid, built in 706-714/715. Among ancient cities of the world, Damascus is perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited. Its name, Dimashq in Arabic (colloquially ash-Sham, meaning the northern as located from Arabia), derives from Dimashka, a word of pre-Semitic etymology, suggesting that the beginnings of Damascus go back to a time before recorded history.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The inhabitants of northwestern India at the time of the Indo-European migrations, described in the "Rig-Veda" as having dark faces and snub noses unintelligible speech and worshipping strange gods but living in fortified cities (pur) and being very rich especially in cattle. The Dasas are often identified with the inhabitants of the towns of the Indus Valley culture.
DEFINITION: An area of southern Bactria, Afghanistan, with Bronze Age, Achaemenid, and Classical sites. There are major architectural ruins from these periods.
Dinas Powys
DEFINITION: An Iron Age Hill Fort near Cardiff, Wales, which was refurbished in the sub-Roman and medieval periods. Traces of hearths, a collection of Mediterranean imported pottery, and metal-working debris such as molds, furnaces, and ovens have been found.
Dos Aguas
DEFINITION: A rock shelter with paintings of the Spanish Levantine (Mesolithic) type situated in Valencia, Spain. Hunters of food and marine shellfish can be seen in cave art at Dos Aguas. More than 7,500 figures painted by these hunters and gatherers are known from all over the eastern and southern peninsula, dating from 7000-3500 BC. Located in the open air, usually beneath rock overhangs or in protecting hollows, are animated representations of people dancing, including two women in voluminous skirts at Dos Aguas.
Dos Pilas
DEFINITION: The largest Maya city of the Petexbatun part of Guatemala during the Late Classic period. The tomb of a Late Classic ruler was discovered which included a spectacular headdress.
Douglass, Andrew Ellicott (1867-1962)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: An American astronomer who developed the dendrochronology dating method. He outlined the method as early as 1901, but it was not until 1929 that he was able to publish an unbroken sequence of tree-rings for the Southwest US, extending back from the present day to the early years of the present era. This provided a dating method for the southwestern Pueblo villages.
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A series of cold climatic phases in northwestern Europe, during a time when the North Atlantic was in almost full glacial condition. Dryas I was c 16,000/14,000 BP, Dryas II (Older Dryas) was c 12,300-11,800 bp, and Dryas III (Younger Dryas) was c 11,000-10,000 bp. It is named after a tundra plant. . The increasing temperature after the late Dryas period during the Pre-Boreal and the Boreal (c 8000-5500 BC, according to radiocarbon dating) caused a remarkable change in late glacial flora and fauna.
Dynastic Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period of ancient Egypt's history tied to a framework of 30 dynasties (ruling houses) of kings, or pharaohs, who rule from the time of the country's unification into a single kingdom in c 3100 BC until its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. The two Predynastic kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were united by the legendary king Menes, possibly to be identified with the historical King Narmer. The Dynastic Period was followed by a Greek Period when the country was ruled by the Ptolemys, descendants of Alexander the Great's general. The Ptolemaic Period and Egypt's independence were brought to an end in 30 BC when Queen Cleopatra VII died and the country was absorbed into the Roman Empire. The political history, largely derived from written sources, has a detailed and, for the most part, precise chronology. From the 21st Dynasty onwards, Egypt's cohesion broke, and from the 11th-7th centuries BC, Libyan, Asian and Nubian contenders vied with Egyptians for control of the state. The divine ruler, the pharaoh, was ultimately responsible for the complex bureaucracy and was also the figurehead of the official religion, the personification of the sun god Ra, counterpart of Osiris, the god of the land of the dead. Because of their belief in the afterlife, the royal tombs of the pharaohs in particular reflect the great wealth and concentration of resources at the pharaoh's disposal. Much of our information about ancient Egyptian history comes from the records that were carefully maintained by the Egyptians themselves, notably by the priests who were regarded as the guardians of the state's accumulated wisdom.
Early Dynastic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A chronological phase in southern Mesopotamia between c 2900-2330 BC, ending with the founding of the Dynasty of Akkad. It was also known as the Pre-Sargonid period. The Sumerian city-states flourished under their separate dynastic rulers - Ur, Umma, Kish, and Lagash. The period is 3100-2450 BC on what is called the "high chronology" (the other being the "medium chronology"). The term itself is derived from the Sumerian 'king list' which implies that Sumer was ruled by kings at this stage although archaeological evidence for the existence of kingship is meager before the middle of the period. Traditionally it is divided by archaeologists into three subdivisions - ED I II and III - each of approximately 200 years duration. The Royal Tombs of Ur belong the ED III period. The Early Dynastic phase shows clear continuity from the preceding Jemdet Nasr and represents a period of rapid political cultural and artistic development. Within the period the pictographic writing of the earlier period developed into the standardized cuneiform script. This period represents the earliest conjunction of archaeological and written evidence for the history of southern Mesopotamia.
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.
El Castillo
DEFINITION: Cave site in northern Spain, spanning the entire Palaeolithic. Its earliest Aurignacian material has been dated to c 38,700 bp. There are engravings and paintings of the Upper Palaeolithic, c 20,000-10,000 BC, in the caves.
El Riego phase
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The occupation phase of c 7000-5500 BC in Tehuacán Valley, Mexico, with a hunter-gatherer society. Squash, chili peppers, and avocados may have been domesticated by the very small population.
Erligang phase
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A stage of the early Bronze Age in North China seen in two strata at Zhengzhou Erligang, classified archaeologically as Middle Shang. The phase preceded the Anyang period (c 1300-1030 BC) and radiocarbon dates have been c 1600-1550 bc. The massive rammed-earth fortification, 118 feet wide at its base and enclosing an area of 1.2 square miles, would have taken 10,000 men more than 12 years to build. Also found were ritual bronzes, including four monumental tetrapods, palace foundations; workshops for bronze casting, pot making, and bone working; burials; and two inscribed fragments of oracle bones. The Erligang phase may correspond to the widest sway of the Shang empire and is known for its highly developed bronze-casting industry. Some Chinese archaeologists call the phase Early Shang.
DEFINITION: A late Middle Pleistocene site in northern Tanzania with faunal remains including archaic Homo sapiens and extinct mammal species as well as artifacts.
Farafra Oasis
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ancient Ta-iht, al-Farafirah Oasis
DEFINITION: A fertile depression in the Western Desert of Egypt, west of modern Asyut. The smallest of the major Egyptian oases, it is first mentioned in texts dating to the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 BC) and by the 19th Dynasty (1295-1186 BC) it was said to have been inhabited by Libyans.
DEFINITION: A former capital of the Nubian kingdom of Nobatia, located on the border of modern Egypt and Sudan on the west bank of the Nile. It was first established as a small Egyptian fortress in the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC) and continued in use in the 18th to 19th Dynasties (1550-1186 BC) with the construction of five Egyptian temples.
Five Dynasties period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: In Chinese history, period of time between the fall of the T'ang dynasty (AD 907) and the founding of the Sung (Song) dynasty (960), when five would-be dynasties followed one another in quick succession in North China. The era coincides with the Ten Kingdoms - the 10 regimes which dominated separate regions of South China - during the same period.
Fraser River
DEFINITION: A complex of sites in the Fraser River delta in British Columbia, Canada, showing the sequence of the Northwest Coast Tradition of three periods: Early 1000 BC-1 AD; Intermediate 1-1250 AD; and Late from 1250 AD. Three culturally distinct areas (the Canyon, the Plateau, and the Delta) contain evidence of the differing influences which influenced the Northwest Coast Tradition materials. Canyon sites provide evidence of a long occupation covering Big Game Hunting Tradition, Old Cordilleran Culture, and Archaic. Taken together, the sites indicate a movement from inland to the coast beginning c 2000 BC.
DEFINITION: A cave in southern France (Hautes-Pyrénées) containing important examples of Late Paleolithic mural art, paintings, and engravings dating from the Aurignacian Period, the oldest phase of European Stone Age art. The site was first known for its Ice Age fauna. There are approximately 150 engravings of animals and 250 red or black hand prints. A curious feature of these silhouettes is that many are representations of mutilated hands with one or more finger joints missing, most frequently the last two joints of the last four fingers. The significance of the hand prints and the missing fingers is unknown. The cave was occupied from at least the Middle Palaeolithic and the animal engravings are attributed to the Gravettian.
DEFINITION: A series of sites in the Atbara region of Sudan with a food-producing economy and human burials indicating a social hierarchy. The main site is Mahal Teglinos.
DEFINITION: A major Roman city of Judea (modern Jordan), founded by the Seleucids. Extensive remains include colonnaded street, forum, stadium, triumphal arch, theater, and temples to Athena and Zeus. Gerasa was one of the 10 cities of the Decapolis league.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Teleilat, Teleilat el Ghassul; Ghassulian
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: Chalcolithic site northeast of the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley with four major occupations indicated - most notably the culture of the 4th millennium BC known from the sites of Teleilat Ghassul and Nahal Mishmar. The houses were of pisé (simple mud-brick on stone foundations) and had elaborate polychrome frescoes. A wide range of well-made pottery shapes were in use, which were found on many other Palestinian sites. Carbonized date and olive stones are among the earliest evidence for the cultivation of these fruits. Burials were in cists, made of stone slabs and covered by stone cairns. The culture exploited copper early on and was the last period of large-scale stone tool use in Palestine.
DEFINITION: A mountain valley near Sarajevo in Bosnia where there are several thousand tumuli of the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages (10th-1st centuries BC) containing more than 10,000 cremation burials. Inhumation was the dominant rite and some graves were very richly equipped. The metal and ceramic objects show connections with Greece, Italy, and the Danube valley.
DEFINITION: A lake village in Somerset, England, which has yielded more data than any other site about life in the British Iron Age. The village was built on a wooden platform keyed to the underlying peat and was enclosed by a timber palisade. Inside were more than 90 round huts with clay and plank floors. They had central hearths for the fires. Cobbled paths and alleyways ran between the huts. Preservation was so good that the excavators recovered baskets, iron objects (including currency bars and tools with their original hafts), dugout canoes, fragments of spoked wheels, lathe-turned bowls, basins and tubs decorated with La Tène art motifs, farming and fishing gear, basketry and wickerwork, and evidence of potting, weaving, and metalworking from the village. Occupation started from the 3rd/2nd to the 1st century AD, just before the Roman conquest. On the high ground nearby is an Iron Age earthwork, Roman pottery, and a Dark Age structure dated to the 6th century AD. Glastonbury, like Cadbury Castle, is linked in folklore with King Arthur. A rotary quern was invented here and eventually became universal. The Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary at Glastonbury was perhaps the oldest (c 166 AD) and certainly one of the richest in England.
Glastonbury ware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of middle Iron Age pottery manufactured at a number of centers in the southwest of England. A wide range of forms are known, principal amongst which are globular bowls, jars, and shouldered bowls. Incised decoration in curvilinear motifs and so-called tram-line pattern is common
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Iron Age culture whose type site is a cemetery in Lombardy, Italy. Occupied from the 9th century BC to the 3rd century BC, it is an urnfield cemetery with some burials accompanied by wheeled vehicles. Some contain rich grave goods of metal, showing connections both with the Hallstatt Iron Age culture of central Europe and with the Etruscans in central Italy.
Goodwin, Astley John Hilary (1900-1959)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The first archaeologist in sub-Saharan Africa, who wrote (with C. Van Riet Low), "The Stone Age Cultures of South Africa" (1929) in which they classified the southern African Stone Age into Earlier Middle and Later stages which is still used today.
Gorodtsov, Vasili Alekseevich (1860-1945)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Russian archaeologist who developed the Bronze Age chronology for Russia, focusing on formal typology. He also wrote syntheses of Russian prehistory and worked at Gontsy, Il'Skaya I, and Timonovka.
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 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.
DEFINITION: An Upper Palaeolithic cave site in the Greater Caucasus of Georgia. Artifacts include backed blades, Gravettian points, needles, and harpoons.
DEFINITION: A stratigraphic settlement site of the Late Neolithic Cucuteni culture, in north Moldavia, Rumania. The main settlement level (Cucuteni A3), has a radiocarbon date of c 3130 BC. A village of almost 70 houses is on a promontory site, which is defended by a ditch and palisade. Rich polychrome painted ware and a group of large copper bossed pendants, with affinities in Denmark and Austria, have been found.
DEFINITION: A Greek city on the west coast of Turkey (once Asia Minor), the birthplace of the 5th-century BC historian Herodotus. Formed part of the Delian league, its peak period was as capital city of Mausolus (satrap), who ruled Caria from 377-353 BC. He built walls, public buildings (agora, theater), and the famous Mausoleum (one of the Seven Wonders of Ancient World) as his funerary temple, of which nothing now remains but fragments preserved in the British Museum. Halicarnassus' sack by Alexander The Great in 334 BC is the last major event on record. Virtually all traces of ancient Halicarnassus has now unfortunately disappeared under modern Bodrum. Some sections of the city wall survive, and the site of the mausoleum, the tomb of Mausolus, is known.
Han Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A historical dynasty and period in China, after the collapse of the brief rule of the Ch'in (Qin) Dynasty, from 206 BC to 220 AD. This dynasty took over the control of a unified China and had two main periods: Western (Early) Han (206 BC-8 AD) and Eastern (Late) Han (25-220 AD), separated by the Wang Meng (Wangman) of 9-25 AD. The Western Han capital was Chang'an and the Eastern (Late) Han (25-220 AD) at Lo-Yang (Luoyang). Next to the rich tombs at Mawangdui and Mancheng, perhaps the most revealing Han archaeological finds are a number of tombs whose wall paintings, decorated tiles, and stone reliefs form the earliest substantial corpus of Chinese pictorial art. The Han dynasty started iron and salt monopolies, extended itself through the commandery system, opened trade to the West via the silk route, and began the tradition of court histories.
DEFINITION: A tell site on Lake Urmia, northwest Iran, with a sequence beginning in the late 7th millennium BC. Much information has been gained on the early Ceramic Neolithic phase of the late-7th to mid-6th millennia BC. The citadel dates from the 10th century BC and is surrounded by a lower town. Four buildings on the citadel, facing onto a court and linked to a higher court with further buildings, have been interpreted as a palace complex. In c 800 BC, Hasanlu was destroyed. One of the skeletons held a magnificent gold bowl decorated with mythical scenes in relief. The bowl is related artistically to the finds from Marlik and Ziwiyeh. Other rich finds of gold, silver, electrum, glass, and ivory have been made at Hasanlu.
DEFINITION: A Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age site of the Hallstatt period in Bavaria, Germany. The farmsteads enclosed by earthworks showed pottery and bronze casting activities in the 1st millennium BC. It is typical of the period in central Europe before the emergence of large centers of production and commerce.
Hassi Mouilah
DEFINITION: An Algerian Capsian Neolithic site of c 5300 BP with point-based pots with impressed decoration, projectile points, geometric microliths, ostrich eggshell and amazonite beads.
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: A prehistoric tell site near Mosul in northern Iraq with a sequence of a pre-Samarran culture in northern Mesopotamia. The site has given its name to the pottery ware present in its lowest levels, dated to the 6th millennium BC, and a culture complex. This pottery may be related to that of the upper levels at Jarmo and is widely distributed. It was usually a buff ware in simple shapes, sometimes burnished, sometimes painted or incised with simple geometric patterns. In higher levels it was replaced by Samarra ware. Evidence from Yarim Tepe, another important Hassuna site, indicates that they were already experimenting with metallurgy and that pottery-making was a specialist activity (with true pottery kilns). The appearance of stamp seals suggests the importance of private ownership. There were several Halaf levels and 'Ubaid levels. Subsistence was cereal cultivation and herding cattle, goat, and sheep. The material culture used copper, turquoise, and carnelian beads.
DEFINITION: A site on the upper Ganges in India which revealed important prehistoric stratigraphy. The lowest level, with ochre-colored pottery, was followed by painted gray ware, mudbrick walls, etc. Over this, there was a settlement of mud-brick houses with northern black polished ware and coinage of the later 1st millennium BC. Over this were levels down to the 15th century AD.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Boghaz Köy; Hattusa, Hattusha, Khattusas, Bogazköy
DEFINITION: The ancient name for Boghaz Köy, the capital of the Hittites, who established a powerful empire in Anatolia and northern Syria in the 2nd millennium BC.
DEFINITION: A bison kill site in southern Alberta, Canada, with evidence of use from 3700 BC.
DEFINITION: An Iron Age oppidium on a 6th century BC site of the Hallstatt D period. Hohenasperg was a commercial center whose finds included many luxury items from Greece.
DEFINITION: A site in southwest China with the world's largest rock art panel. It is a limestone cliff along the Zuojiang River with over 1800 red paintings of anthropomorphs and zoomorphs. The art was done between 2370-2115 years ago in between the Early Warring States period and the Eastern Han Dynasty.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An area on the northeastern fringe of Mesoamerica in northern Veracruz and Tamaulipas provinces of Mexico and the Maya-speaking group that lived there. The people were hunter-gatherers and the area has an archaeological sequence from the Early Preclassic to the Aztec conquest and Spanish contact. The cultural climax of the Huasteca occurs in the Early Post-Classic. The largest of the Huasteca centers (Las Flores, Tamuin) contain only moderately sized pyramids surrounded by a number of housemounds. The monumental sculpture is of relatively poor quality. The hallmarks of the Huastec culture are structures on a round plan, a black-on-white hard paste pottery, and carved shell ornaments.
Intihuasi Cave
DEFINITION: An Argentinian site with long occupation and clear chronological continuity and similar to the Desert Tradition. Its lowest level, dated to c 6000 BC, contains willow-leaf points and other hunting tools in association with manos, milling stones, and ground-stone ornaments. Other levels contain medium-sized triangular points, bone projectile points, and a ceramic level (c 750 AD).
Jastorf culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Iron Age culture of the southern Baltic during the late Hallstatt (600-300 BC), with some of the earliest iron metallurgy of the area. It extended from Lower Saxony through Pomerania.
DEFINITION: An Early Bronze Age tell settlement near Szolnok, Hungary. Occupation layers of the Hatvan and Füzesabony groups have been found, with well-preserved domestic architecture.
Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The third president of the United States and considered by many to be the father of American archaeology because of his meticulous excavation of a Virginia burial mound. Jefferson was the first person, in North America or anywhere, to undertake (1784) excavations of a prehistoric site as a means to understanding the people who built it. He wanted to find out why the burial mounds on his land had been built. One mound he excavated carefully with trenches, noting that in a number of levels that skeletons had been placed in the ground and covered - producing a mound 12 ft (4 m) high. In observing the different levels, he was anticipating the stratigraphical method which became common practice in Europe and America only at the end of the 19th century. Worsaae's work in Denmark came a half a century later and the wider adoption of stratigraphical excavation methods was 100 years later.
Jemdet Nasr
CATEGORY: site; artifact; chronology
DEFINITION: A small site between Baghdad and Babylon, near Kish, Iraq, which has given its name to a period of Mesopotamian chronology and its black-and-red painted pottery ware. The period of 3100-2900 BC was characterized by writing in pictographs, pottery with painted designs or plum red burnished slip, and plain pottery with beveled rims. Cylinder seals are squat and plain and drill used in designs. The period is characterized by increasing populations, the development of more extensive irrigation systems, towns dominated by temples, increased use of writing and cylinder seals, more trade and craft specialization. The period - equivalent to Uruk III of the Eanna Sounding sequence - was followed immediately by the Early Dynastic period of Sumer. A building of Jemdet Nasr date may be the oldest palace discovered in southern Mesopotamia.
DEFINITION: A site in southern Cyprus that began with an Aceramic Neolithic I settlement in 7th millennium BC. Another area had a Chalcolithic site of the early 4th millennium BC. Another, occupied c 1325-1225 BC, is an extensive Late Cypriot town. Copper and gypsum are mined at Kalavasos.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Bronze Age culture that succeeded the Andronovo culture in southern Siberia in the late 2nd millennium BC. The three main, basically successive, yet often overlapping cultures were the Afanasyevskaya, Andronovo, and Karasuk. The Karasuk culture developed when a gradual change was made from settled communities to seasonal transhumance. Two settlements of large pit houses are known and many cemeteries of stone cists covered by a low mound and set in a square stone enclosure equipped with round-bottomed pots; many of these are in the Minusinsk Basin. The Karasuk people were farmers who concentrated on sheep- and cattle-breeding. They also practiced metallurgy on a large scale; the most characteristic artifact is a bronze knife or dagger, with a curved profile and a decorated handle, related to China's An-Yang. They produced a realistic animal art, which probably contributed to the development of the later Sytho-Siberian animal art style. Remains of bridles mark the beginning of horse riding on the Siberian steppe. The character of their material culture came from exchange with the centers of Far Eastern metallurgy. The Karasuk culture originated and spread its influences farther to western Siberia and Russian Turkistan than did the Andronovo. Trade relations extended to central Russia. Chronology of this period is based on comparisons with northern Chinese bronzes. The Karasuk period persisted down to c 700 BC.
DEFINITION: Site of a Bronze Age shipwreck off Cap Uluburun, Turkey, which was probably going to the Aegean when it sank in the 14th century BC. Objects found in 1982 in the shipwreck include the first known gold scarab of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. Other items are copper, tin and glass ingots, bronze tools and weapons, jewelry for the Near East, Egypt, and the Aegean; and pottery from Cyprus, Canaan, and Mycenae. The ship's contents reveal a tight web of interconnections in the later 14th century among Mycenaean Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Africa.
DEFINITION: A Middle or Late Jomon plaza-type shell midden village in Chiba prefecture, Japan. There were at least 47 pit houses in a circular plan, with shell deposits around the rim. It is the type site for Kasori Jomon ceramics.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A cultural phase of eastern Sudan including the Butana, Gash, and Mokram groups.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A people of the central Zagros mountains who occupied Babylon after the Hittite raid c 1595 BC and who had a distinctive culture and language. Their occupation ended with the city's conquest by Assyria and Elam c 1157 BC. The Kassites may or may not have been Indo-Europeans, but their rulers were probably Indo-Aryan aristocracy who taught them horsebreeding and riding, which they introduced into Mesopotamia. One important source of information on the Kassites was the Amarna correspondence on foreign relations of 14th century BC. The Kassites used distinctive boundary stones called kudurru. The Kassite rule represents the longest episode of political integration in the history of southern Mesopotamia. Important sites are Aqar Quf, Warka, and Nippur.
DEFINITION: A site on the island of Kythera, Greece, of an Early Helladic settlement later colonized by the Minoans in c 2500 BC. Kastri prospered from trade between Crete and Laconia. The site of Delphi was occupied by the modern village of Kastrí until 1890, when the village was moved to a site nearby and renamed Delphi. There is another Kastri on the island of Syros.
DEFINITION: An Upper Palaeolithic cave site in northwest Greece with occupation beginning c 22,000-11,000 bp. Artifacts include backed blades, shouldered points, bone points, and decorated pebbles.
Kharga Oasis
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: al-Wahat al-Kharijah; al-Kharijah
DEFINITION: The southernmost and largest of the major Egyptian western oases, which is located in the Libyan Desert about 175 km east of Luxor. There are traces of Middle Palaeolithic (Mousterian) occupation at Kharga and its material culture was closely connected with that of the Nile valley throughout the Pharaonic period. This oasis is of approximately the same age as the Epi-Levalloisian sites of the Sebilian and the Fayyum Depression.
Khasekhemwy (fl. 27th century BC)
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Khasekhem; Khasekhemui; Khesekhem
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The sixth and last king of Egypt in the 2nd Dynasty (c 2775-2650 BC) who ended the internal struggles of the mid-2nd dynasty and reunited the country. He was the last Abydene/Abydos ruler. Probably starting from a base at Hierakonpolis, Khasekhemwy extended his control over the whole kingdom. His monuments refer to his unification of Upper and Lower Egypt and other inscriptions suggest that he raided Nubia and his name has been found in Lebanon, probably indicating trade with the Syrians. Annals of the Old Kingdom record great technological advances that were made during his last six years. Khasekhemwy was an ancestor of the 3rd-dynasty king, Djoser.
Kheit Qasim
DEFINITION: Three sites in east-central Iraq. Kheit Qasim I has a large Early Dynastic cemetery of brick tombs with multiple inhumations, unusual for southern Mesopotamia. Kheit Qasim III was a small 'Ubaid site.
DEFINITION: Palaeolithic site on the Northern Donets River in Russia dating to the late Middle Pleistocene. The artifacts include flake and core tools.
Klasies River Mouth
DEFINITION: A complex of caves and overhangs on the south coast of South Africa (Cape Province). It provides one of the most complete sequences available for the area, including sea-level changes of the Late Pleistocene - at least the last 60,000 years. A long development of the 'Middle Stone Age' shares some features with the Pietersburg industries and is interrupted by a phase attributed to Howiesons Poort. This is followed by Later Stone Age deposits containing three painted stone slabs and burials with shell beads dating to 5000 years ago. The site has some of the oldest-known remains of anatomically modern Homo sapiens, dating to 100,000 years ago. There are indications of cannibalism in the Late Pleistocene and exploitation of the marine resources around 120,000 years ago.
Klein Aspergle
DEFINITION: The site of a rich Celtic burial of the early La Tène period in Ludwigsburg, Würtemberg, Germany. Funerary offerings included an Etruscan bronze vessel, a native copy of an Etruscan beaked flagon, gold mounts for a pair of drinking horns, and two imported Attic cups dated around 450 BC. In the same village is a slightly earlier tumulus burial, of the late Hallstatt D period, with imported ivories (including a sphinx) as well as bronzes.
Koryo Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Kingdom of Korea from 918-1392 AD; the dynasty lasted from 935-1392. It turned to Buddhism in adversity, built many temples, and made exquisite Celadon objects. Koryo's close cultural ties with China during the Sung period (960-1279) resulted in direct influences from the advanced Chinese urban culture. The peace of the realm was often disrupted by invaders from Manchuria, first Khitan, then Juchen, and finally by the Mongols. In 1232, the Koryo court fled to Kanghwa Island off the west coast of Korea, leaving the country to Mongol devastation and control. The art of Koryo never again equaled its pre-Mongol achievements. It is from the name Koryo that the Western word Korea is derived.
Krasnyj Yar
DEFINITION: Upper Palaeolithic site in south-central Siberia, occupied from around the Last Glacial Maximum of 25,000-14,000 bp. The artifacts include wedge-shaped microcores, microblades, points, and endscrapers.
Kuntur Wasi
DEFINITION: A site near Cajamarca in the northern highlands of Peru, of the Chavin culture of Early Horizon period c 800 BC. The central structure was a stone-faced, triple-terraced pyramid, surmounted by a temple or temples. Three-dimensional statues and other carved stone are executed in the Chavin style with the characteristic feline motif common. Other associated features, however, such as ceramics, appear to be a mixture of Chavin and later styles, suggesting that the site may extend beyond the Early Horizon.
La Ferrassie
DEFINITION: A rock shelter in the Dordogne, southwest France, with Middle Palaeolithic material and burials of several Neanderthal. Occupation began in the Mousterian period, to which belong two Neanderthal adults and five children, buried in shallow trenches. There are several layers of 'Ferrassie', a subdivision of the Charentian Mousterian tradition, with Levallois flaking. There is a long series of Upper Palaeolithic levels, including Châtelperonian, Aurignacian, and finally a thin Gravettian level. The stratification has contributed to an understanding of the Upper Palaeolithic sequence in France.
DEFINITION: Magdalenian cave in Hautes-Pyrénées, France, with many engraved figures and a large polychrome horse painting. There are hearths and engraved stones in the cave, which is dated to 12,310 BC.
DEFINITION: One of the most important capital cities of ancient Sumer, located midway between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southeast Iraq. The city was founded in the prehistoric Ubaid Period, c 5200-3500 BC, and was still occupied as late as the Parthian era, 247 BC-224 AD. In the Early Dynastic Period, the Stele of the Vultures was erected to celebrate the victory of King Eannatum over the neighboring state of Umma. Control of Lagash fell to Sargon of Akkad (reigned c 2334-2279 BC). Lagash revived about 150 years later, prospering under Gudea, though they were nominally subject to the Guti, a people who controlled much of Babylonia from about 2230-2130. Lagash was endowed with many temples, including the Eninnu, House of the Fifty a seat of the high god Enlil. French excavators found at least 50,000 cuneiform texts which have proved one of the major sources for knowledge of Sumer in the 3rd millennium BC. Dedicatory inscriptions on stone and on bricks also have provided the chronological development of Sumerian art. The ancient name of the mound of Telloh was actually Girsu, while Lagash originally denoted a site southeast of Girsu, later becoming the name of the whole district and also of Girsu itself. The site continued into Old Babylonian times, though after its absorption into the Ur III state, it declined in importance.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An early Indianized state in the Pattani region of peninsular Thailand. The name of first appears (as Lang-ya-hsiu) in a Chinese source of the 6th century AD, asserting that it was founded 400 years earlier; its name reappears in later Malayan and Javanese chronicles. Langkasuka was the most important of the Indianized states and controlled much of northern Malaya. Malaya developed an international reputation as a source of gold and tin, populated by renowned seafarers. Between the 7th and 13th centuries many of these small, often prosperous peninsular maritime trading states may have come under the loose control of Shrivijaya, the great Sumatra-based empire.
Las Bocas
DEFINITION: A site in Puebla, Mexico, known for its hollow figurines and other pottery in the Olmec style, at the eastern entrance to the Morelos Plain. Las Bocas is noticeably similar to a site at the other end of the plain, Chalcatzingo, and is thought to have been one of a series of Olmec trading stations. Burials similar to those at Tlatilco further confirm the Olmec connection.
Las Haldas
DEFINITION: Initial Period ceremonial site on the north-central coast of Peru. The earliest ceramics have yielded radiocarbon dates of about 1800 BC. There is a stepped pyramid, three plazas, smaller mounds, and sunken courts along a linear axis.
DEFINITION: A Magdalenian cave in the Dordogne, southwest France, with a spectacular collection of Palaeolithic paintings and engravings. Once the cave was opened to visitors, the delicate atmospheric balance was disturbed and the paintings were attacked by fungus; it was closed to the public in 1963. A small number of archaeological finds from inside the cave probably date to the early Magdalenian including lamps. A Neanderthal skeleton was found a few hundred meters away at Regoudou. There are 600 paintings of aurochs, horses, deer, and signs, accompanied by 1500 engravings dominated by horses. Some of the paintings in the rotunda, especially the bulls, approach life size, which is unusual in cave art. A number of paintings are in two contrasting colors, red iron oxide and black manganese dioxide. It was probably never inhabited, but was used from c 15,000 BC. A nearby facsimile cave, Lascaux II, is now open to the public.
Lashkari Bazar
DEFINITION: The site of a large royal palace erected in the 11th and 12th centuries, on the Helmand Rud, near the site of Bust in Afghanistan. Lashkari Bazar was the winter retreat of the rulers of Ghazni. It was conquered by the Arabs c 661, and the 10th century writer Ibn Hauqal described it as a large and wealthy town. Apart from the tell, the principal monument is a ceremonial arch of the Ghorid period. The palace complex at Lashkari Bazar extends northwards from Bust for more than 5 km and was founded by the Ghaznavid sultan Mahmud (998-1030), who with his son Masud I (1030-1041) built the so-called South Palace. Later rulers added two other palaces. The complex also contained barracks and a bazaar. Lashkari Bazar was sacked by the Ghorids in 1151; it was restored by them, then destroyed by the Khwarezmshah or the Mongols in the early 13th century. Excavations revealed elaborate wall paintings in the South Palace and a fine stucco Mihrab in an adjacent mosque.
DEFINITION: A plain on Crete which has been occupied since the Neolithic and which was intensively used by the Minoans.
Last Glacial Maximum
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The geological period dating between 25,000-14,000 bp, during which global temperatures reached the lowest levels of the Upper Pleistocene (127,000-10,000 bp). Massive continental ice sheets formed in the northern hemisphere and sea levels fell worldwide. The people were anatomically modern and conducted industries of the Upper Palaeolithic in unglaciated parts of the Old World.
DEFINITION: Bronze Age site by Lake Sevan, Armenia, with pit graves under stone cairns. There are traces of wheeled wagons, carts, and chariots.
Le Mas d'Azil
DEFINITION: Huge river tunnel and limestone grottoes in Ariège of the French Pyrenees with occupation from the Aurignacian to the Bronze Age. The Magdalenian level has portable art dated to the 12th millennium BC. The Azilian material, between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic, included perforated barbed points and painted pebbles. The site is rich in Palaeolithic remains.
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).
DEFINITION: One of the Ionian Islands off the west coast of Greece, which was once believed to be Homer's Ithaca, home of Odysseus. Mycenaean remains at Nidhrí on the east coast testify to early occupation and convince some scholars that Leucas, not Ithaca, was the home of Odysseus.The cave of Chirospilia has yielded Neolithic material, but more important are the Early and Middle Bronze Age cemeteries. The former included the rites of jar burial and partial cremation under barrows. Two groups of tombs of the Middle Bronze Age contained some Minyan Ware, and show some links with the shaft graves of Mycenae, as also with burial mounds in Albania. In the mid-7th century BC, Corinthian colonists established themselves just south of the present capital and dug a canal through the isthmus. Under Roman rule in the 2nd century BC, a stone bridge, of which there are some remains, was constructed to the main island. In 167, the Romans made Levkas a free city.
Liao Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A dynasty formed by the nomadic Khitan tribes (907-1125) in much of present-day Manchuria (Northeast Provinces) and Mongolia and the northeastern corner of China proper. There were elaborate chambered tombs.
DEFINITION: A beach site on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) in northern Kenya, formed between the 9th-4th millennia BC. The site was occupied from at least the 7th millennium BC by people who produced both microlithic and macrolithic implements and depended for their livelihood on fish caught by means of barbed bone harpoons similar to those from Early Khartoum. The early pottery at Lowasera was of wavy-line style; the later pottery was undecorated. Occupation continued until after the retreat of the lake at the end of the 4th millennium BC.
DEFINITION: Site of a fortified settlement on the west coast of Cyprus, first occupied in the 13th century BC, possibly by the Sea Peoples. An ashlar structure may have been their sanctuary. In the 12th century BC, the settlement was destroyed by fire, then taken over for a period by the Mycenaean Greeks.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Indonesian traders, particularly from Sulawesi, who visited tropical Australia during the Indonesian monsoon season. They collected and processed sea-slugs (trepang, bêche-de-mer, sea cucumber), an important ingredient in their cooking. Archaeological evidence consists of stone structures used to support boiling vats, scatters of Indonesian potsherds, ash concentrations from smokehouses, graves, and living tamarind trees descended from seeds brought by the trepangers. Their cultural legacies to the Aborigines included metal tools, dugout canoes, vocabulary, art motifs, song cycles, rituals, and depictions of Macassan praus in rock paintings and stone arrangements. Macassan voyagers to Australia arrived around 1700 AD and continued till the end of the 19th century.
DEFINITION: An island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa which was one of the last major tropical land masses to be settled by man. There is no evidence for human presence prior to the 1st millennium AD. It is generally accepted that the island's first settlers came from Indonesia, perhaps from Borneo. Later, probably in about the 11th century AD, Bantu-speaking immigrants from East Africa also arrived.
Maiden Castle
DEFINITION: One of the largest and most famous Iron Age hillforts in Britain, located in Dorset, England. The oldest structure on the hilltop is a Neolithic causewayed camp (c 2000-1500 BC), followed after an interval by an earthen long barrow, which is partly built over the ditches of the earlier camp. Occupation resumed in the Early Iron Age (c 5th century BC) with the construction of a hillfort (c 250 BC) which was later extended to fortify the entire hill. Maiden Castle was at that time a permanent settlement with stone and wooden huts linked by surfaced trackways. Sometime before 50 BC, the site came under the control of the Belgae and became the tribal capital of the Durotriges, with coinage and imported Gallo-Roman luxuries. During the Roman conquest, the fort was sacked by Vespasian's legion (43-44 AD), and the slain defenders were buried in a cemetery near the east gate. The Romans moved the remaining population to a new site at Durnovaria (Dorchester), and the hillfort was abandoned until the 4th century AD when a Romano-Celtic temple was built there.
Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766-1834)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: English economist and demographer, best known for his theory that population growth overrun available food resources unless it is controlled by catastrophes such as war, epidemics, or natural disasters - or with limits on reproduction.
CATEGORY: culture; artifact
DEFINITION: A long-lived pottery tradition of central Vanuatu, Melanesia, dated to between c 700 BC-1600 AD. It had incised and applied relief and is quite different from the ancestral Polynesian Lapita pottery. It was a Melanesian tradition, with parallels in the northern Solomons and New Caledonia.
Marianas Islands
DEFINITION: An island group in western Micronesia with a sequence starting with settlement around 1500 BC, by island people in Southeast Asia. They made a distinctive red-slipped ware (Marianas Redware Phase), sometimes incised with lime-filled decoration, closely related to Philippine wares. By 800 AD, a plain, unslipped ware was in use, and stone architecture had developed. Parallel rows of upright pillars topped with hemispheric capstones (halege) were erected. The pillars were supports for structures called latte (after which term the culture is named), which may have served as houses or canoe sheds. Each village had from one to several latte structures. Stone and shell tools were used and the betel nut was chewed, as shown by extended burials most often located between the rows of latte.
Marquesas Islands
DEFINITION: An island group of Eastern Polynesia, first settled c 300 AD.
DEFINITION: Palestinian site with a great rock fortress-palace complex built by Herod the Great (37-4 BC). It lies west of the Dead Sea, where the last survivors of the First Jewish Rebellion (Zealots) of 70 AD defied the Roman army (66-73 AD), and whose siege works can still be traced. Although first fortified by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus (ruled 103-76 BC), Herod was the chief builder of Masada. His constructions (37-31 BC) included two ornate palaces (one of them on three levels), heavy walls, and aqueducts, which brought water to cisterns holding nearly 200,000 gallons. After Herod's death (4 BC), Masada was captured by the Romans, but the Jewish Zealots took it by surprise in AD 66. A synagogue and ritual bath discovered there are the earliest yet found in Palestine.
Maskhutah, Tell el-
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tall al-Maskhutah; ancient Per-Atum, Per Tum; biblical Pithum
DEFINITION: Ancient Egyptian city located near Ismailia in al-Isma'iliyah muhafazah (governorate). Mentioned in the Bible (Exodus 1:11) as one of the treasure cities built for the pharaoh by the Hebrews, it was known to have been enlarged by the Ramesside pharaohs, especially by Ramses II (reigned 1279-13 BC), in whose reign the Exodus of the Hebrews may have taken place. The site has yielded sphinxes and statues of Ramses II and the best preserved of the trilingual stelae that commemorated Darius I the Great's completion of the Nile-Red Sea Canal. It was the capital of the eighth nome of Lower Egypt during the Late Period (747-332 BC). It was a site of pharaonic storehouses built by the Hebrews under Egyptian bondage.
Maspero, Gaston Camille Charles (1846-1916)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: French Egyptologist who succeeded August Mariette as Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service and who edited the first 50 volumes of the immense catalog of the collection there. He excavated numerous sites from Saqqara to the Valley of the Kings. At Deir el Bahari (Dayr al-Bahri), he came upon fabulous collection of 40 royal mummies, s, including those of the pharaohs Seti I, Amenhotep I, Thutmose III, and Ramses II, in inscribed sarcophagi, as well as a profusion of decorative and funerary artifacts. Maspero's intensive study of these findings was published in "Les Momies royales de Deir-el-Bahari" (1889; "The Royal Mummies of Dayr al-Bahri"). He also published an account of the Nubian monuments threatened by construction of first Aswan Dam. He helped found the Egyptian Museum in 1902. During his second tenure as director general (1899-1914) Maspero regulated excavations tried to prevent illicit trade in antiquities sought to preserve and strengthen monuments and directed the archaeological survey of Nubia. His writings include "Histoire ancienne des peoples de l'Orient classique". (1895-97; "Ancient History of the Peoples of the Classic Orient") "L'Archéologie égyptienne" (1887; "Egyptian Archaeology") "Les Contes populaires de l'Égypte ancienne" (4th ed. 1914; "Popular Tales of Ancient Egypt") and "Causeries d'Égypte" (1907; "New Light on Ancient Egypt").
Maszycka Cave
DEFINITION: Cave site near Krakow, Poland, on the Pradnik River, with an Upper Palaeolithic assemblage assigned to the Magdalenian c 17,500-16,500 BP. Human skeletal remains of 16 people are associated with the layer. The uppermost layer contained Neolithic remains.
Meillacoid phase
CATEGORY: culture; ceramics
DEFINITION: One of two ceramic series (the other being Chicoid) which emerged from the Ostinoid series. Originating in Haiti, it remained largely confined to the western Greater Antilles. Sites are usually village shell middens, but are often close to good agricultural land. The characteristic pottery is thin and hard but with a rough surface texture and simple incision, sometimes combined with appliquéd strips. The dates are usually within 850-1000 AD, although some sites in central Cuba endured to as late as 1500.
Middle Assyrian
CATEGORY: culture; chronology
DEFINITION: A period in the history of the Assyrian empire extending from the 14th-12th centuries BC. In the Late Bronze Age, Assyria was dominated by the Mitanni state, but in the 14th century BC, Assyria became dominant. Ashur-uballit I created the first Assyrian empire and initiated the Middle Assyrian period. With the help of the Hittites, he destroyed the dominion of the Aryan Mitanni (a non-Semitic people from upper Iran and Syria) and ravaged Nineveh. Later, allied with the Kassite successors in Babylonia, Ashur-uballit ended Hittite and Hurrian rule. By intermarriage he then influenced the Kassite dynasty and eventually dominated all of Babylonia, thus paving the way for the Neo-Assyrian mastery during the Sargonid dynasty (12th to 7th century). The succeeding Assyrian kings expanded the empire through northern Mesopotamia and the mountains to the north and briefly occupied Babylonia. Several kings weakened Assyria, but then others brought back its dominion. Middle Assyrian is also the name of a form of cuneiform that was used extensively in writing law code and other documents. Middle Assyrian laws were found on clay tablets at Ashur (at the time of Tiglath-pileser I, 1114-1076 BC).
Middle Awash
DEFINITION: River valley of northeast Ethiopia with rich Hominid fossil finds as well as archaeological sites dating from the Miocene to the Holocene. Australopithecine fossils from c 4.5-2.5 million years ago (mainly A. afarensis) and some of the oldest-known stone artifacts in the world (flaked cobble Oldowan Complex, c 3-2.5 mya) were found there.
Ming Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Major late Dynasty of China (1368-1644 AD), succeeding Mongol Yüan Dynasty (1280-1368). The period is known for painting and decorative arts, porcelain, lacquer, cloisonné, and textiles. The burial sites of the Ming emperors are near modern Beijing. The Ming extended the Chinese empire into Korea, Mongolia, and Turkistan on the north and into Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma) on the south, exercising more far-reaching influence in East Asia than any other native rulers of China.
Minusinsk Basin
DEFINITION: A steppe region on the upper Yenisei River in southern Siberia, surrounded by forested mountains. Very large numbers of burial mounds of different periods exist in the area and some 40,000 bronze objects survive in collections - presumably only a fraction of the number originally present. There were many mines in the Basin, worked as early as the 14th century BC.
DEFINITION: A Persian demigod who achieved independence and importance during the Roman empire, and best known as the savior deity of the Roman mystery cult of Mithraism. Especially in military circles, his worship challenged early Christianity. He is portrayed as a young man in a Phrygian cap, usually in the act of kneeling on the back of a bull to dispatch it by a sword thrust in the neck. A Mithraeum is a building, often semi-subterranean, containing a passage between broad shelves on which the worshippers reclined during the ceremonies. The end wall may hold a fresco or relief of Mithras himself. From the 1st century BC onwards, he begins to appear in the Roman world as the god of a mystery cult. His disciples, who were exclusively men and often limited to the ranks of soldiers and businessmen, were promised life and happiness after death. As in other mystery cults, the rites were kept secret, and truth and benefits came only to initiated believers, who had to pass through a sequence of seven grades of initiation. These were the stages of the Raven (Corax), Bride (Nymphus), Soldier (Miles), Lion (Leo), Persian (Perses), Runner of the Sun (Heliodromos), and Fater (Pater). The disciple also underwent baptism, took part in the reenacting of the sacred meal, and bore the seal of his discipleship on his body. Mithraism expanded rapidly from the second half of the 1st century AD.
Mont Lassois
DEFINITION: Iron Age hillfort in Cote-d'Or, France, on a route from the River Seine to the Mediterranean. Occupation is dated to the 6th century BC (Hallstatt D), the residence of a Celtic chieftain. The hillfort of Vix seems to have been the center of political authority and extensive trade relations. The rich Celtic and Greek artifacts found there, including Massiliote wine amphorae and Attic black figure ware, as well as those from the nearby tumulus burials near the villages of Vix and Sainte-Colombe-sur-Seine, indicate trade between the Celts and the Greeks.
Mount Mazama ash
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: Volcanic ash (or tephra) originating from the eruption of Mount Mazama (Crater Lake, Oregon) nearly 7000 years ago (6600 years ago). Undisturbed beds of Mazama ash provide important contextual dates for archaeological sites throughout the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada. The eruption also produced Crater Lake in Oregon. Great thicknesses of pumice were deposited on the flanks of Mount Mazama, while finer material was blown over great distances by the winds. The widespread distribution of the Mazama Ash has made it useful in archaeological studies as a horizon, or time, marker. Studies of sediments formed in relation to the ash deposits suggest that the ash formed at a time when generally drier climates prevailed in the regions in which the ash occurs. The mineralogical composition of the ash is distinctive and allows it to be distinguished from other volcanic ash deposits.
Mulloy, William Thomas (1917-1978)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: American archaeologist who developed the cultural chronology of the northwest Plains, especially at Pictograph Cave in Montana. He also worked on Easter Island on orongo, ahu, and their moai.
DEFINITION: A town in Asia Minor possibly founded by Mausolus, ruler of Caria (377-353 BC). Hellenistic and Roman site with Corinthian-style Temple of Zeus, Temple of Augustus and Rome, and ceremonial arch.
Mylonas, George (1898-1988)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Greek archaeologist who excavated at Ayios Kosmas, Eleusis, Mycenae, and Olynthus.
Nasbeh, Tell en-
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tell en-Nasbeh; Tall al-Nasbeh; Tel Mizpe
DEFINITION: A site near Jerusalem, occupied throughout the Iron Age. Noteworthy were its massive rubble walls, 4 m thick, with projecting towers and a very strong gateway. It is the probable site of biblical Mizpah.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Major culture of the southern coast of Peru during the Early Intermediate Period, c 200 BC-600 AD, developed out of Paracas. The principal Nasca site is at Cahuachi on the Nasca River, with a great adobe temple atop a mound, some walled courts and large rooms, and a number of smaller constructions. The earliest pottery, of roughly the 2nd century BC, still shows Paracas influence in the iconography and the use of up to 16 colors, but the paint was not put on before firing. Typical Nasca pottery with designs of fish, birds, severed heads, human figures and demons, shows a long internal development. The final Nasca substyle incorporates patterns taken from the art of Huari, and this contact was soon followed by invasion. Stylistically, the Nasca ceramics have been divided into nine phases. With the expansion of the Huari empire to the coast around the 7th century AD, Nasca culture came to an end and was replaced by a local version of Huari. To the Nasca period belong some (or all) of the desert markings, the so-called 'Nasca lines', made by scraping away the weathered surface of the desert to expose the lighter material beneath. Motifs include lines, geometrical patterns, and a few animal or bird forms. The dead were buried in large cemeteries, mainly near Cahuachi. Nasca survived into the Middle Horizon, when it became fused with the more dominant Huari and Tiahuanaco styles.
Nasca lines
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: geoglyphs; Nazca lines
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: In the Peruvian desert or Nasca region of the southern coast, geometric and geomorphic patterns created by the removal of surface stones to reveal the pale earth beneath. The lines were made by clearing the surface of small red/brown stones and exposing the lighter-colored soil underneath. The straight lines radiate to points in small hills and suggest a ceremonial function. The straight lines date to the Early Intermediate as well as to later periods. Maria Reiche, a researcher, believes that the figures represent constellations and the straight lines have astronomical significance. Others believe the lines pointed toward sacred places. The Nasca lines are virtually indecipherable from ground level, but are plainly visible from the air. The lines have been preserved by the extreme dryness of the climate of the region.
DEFINITION: Boulder hill in northern Tanzania with a deep deposit of Middle and Later Stone Age material.
DEFINITION: A town in western India, an important religious center attracting thousands of pilgrims annually because of the sanctity of the Godavari River and because of the legend that Rama, the hero of the Ramayana epic, lived there for a time with his wife Sita and his brother Laksmana. Nasik is the site of the Pandu (Buddhist) and Chamar (Jaina) cave temples dating to the 1st century AD.
CATEGORY: chronology; language
DEFINITION: A political period of the Assyrian empire in the Iron Age, an extension of the Middle Assyrian. It lasted from Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) till Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and finally, Assurbanipal (668-627 BC). The Assyrian empire was destroyed by the Babylonians and Medes in 612 BC. The Neo-Assyrian period was the great era of Assyrian power, and the writing culminated in the extensive records from the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (c 650 BC). Neo-Assyrian is also the name of the cuneiform script of the time.
DEFINITION: Prehistoric site on the northern Deccan plateau in western central India with a Middle Palaeolithic industry, a regional Chalcolithic with Jorwe ware of the later 2nd millennium BC, and a settlement of the late 1st millennium BC with wares of late Iron Age southern India. Another phase shows trade with Rome by the early 1st millennium AD. Glass beads and bangles characteristic of the Hindu culture of about 200 BC have been discovered in Nevasa excavations.
Northwest Coast tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A series of prehistoric groups of the northern California coast, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and southeastern Alaska, with origins in the Fraser River delta and clearly established by 1000 BC. Their subsistence was based on hunting and gathering of riverine and marine food sources (mollusks, salmon, halibut, sea mammals). Characteristics in the archaeological record include bone and slate hunting tools, stone effigy carving, and woodworking tools. Totem poles and elaborately carved long houses are still a cultural feature in the area.
DEFINITION: Late Neolithic site of the Tisza culture, on the Körös River in eastern Hungary. There are many settlement features, including ovens, storage pits, rubbish pits, and burials.
Older Dryas
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A stadial of the Weichselian cold stage, dating to between c 12,000-11,800 bp.
Owasco tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The precursor to the Iroquois culture in New York state, dated to c 1000-1300 AD. It is characterized by ceramics with cord-wrapped paddles, smoking pipes with straight stems, and the growing of corn, beans, and squash. Their elongated houses were ancestral to the Iroquois longhouse.
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.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The earliest stone tool complex of the Ayacucho Valley, in the central highlands of Peru, which may represent man's earliest presence in South America. Radiocarbon dates of 17,620 BC and 12,730 BC were obtained from sloth bone found in association with crude stone tools and flakes of volcanic tuff. Choppers, bifacial tools, and waste flakes therefore dated between 18,000-12,000 BC.
CATEGORY: culture; language
DEFINITION: A theoretical early 'race' of Homo sapiens sapiens in northeastern Asia. This race included the postglacial Chulmun and Jomon inhabitants of Korea and Japan and the modern Ainu. The far northeastern region of Siberia is the home of the so-called Paleoasiatic peoples, including the Chukchi, Koryak, Itelmen, and Yukaghir. The term also refers to a language group; the languages of the indigenous peoples of the Eurasian Arctic and subarctic can be grouped into four classes: Uralic, Tungusic, Turkic, and Paleoasiatic.
DEFINITION: Minoan settlement site on the island of Crete, a Neopalatial town with no palace yet discovered. Palaikastro in eastern Crete was an important town with blocks of houses marked by colored stone foundations, narrow streets with drains, and pottery of exceptional quality.
DEFINITION: Large ceremonial area and major Early Horizon culture on the south coast of Peru, showing direct influence from Chavín - especially in the pottery (called Ocucaje in the Ica Valley). The pottery is a highly individual polychrome ware with designs executed in resinous paint applied after the pot was fired, including paint-filled incisions of Chavinoid deities. This early period pottery was not well-fired. Desert conditions have preserved all kinds of organic materials, including fine textiles, in rich burials. The best known graves belong to the closing stages of the culture and are of two types: deep shafts leading into underground chambers with several mummy bundles (Paracas Cavernas), and pits or abandoned houses filled with sand and containing more than 400 mummy bundles (the type site, Paracas Necropolis). These people also engaged in artificial deformation of the skull by binding the skull in infancy. Much of the material from the necropolis belongs to the earliest stage of the Nasca culture, which developed out of Paracas in about the 2nd century BC. The Paracas culture's earlier phase, called Paracas Cavernas, is dated 900 BC-1 AD; the Paracas cultures of the middle Early Intermediate Period (c 1-400 AD) are referred to as the Paracas Pinilla and the Paracas Necrópolis phases. There are no large temple structures at the type site.
DEFINITION: The first dynastic capital of the Achaemenian Empire, situated northeast of Persepolis in modern southwestern Iran. Traditionally, Cyrus II the Great (reigned c 559- 529 BC) chose the site because it lay near the scene of his victory over Astyages the Mede (550 BC). The buildings are scattered over a wide area; they include two palaces, a gatehouse and a square stone tower, as well as a religious area with a large fire altar. Trilingual inscriptions in Elamite, Babylonian (Akkadian), and Old Persian, all in the cuneiform script, occur on the palaces and gatehouse. Southwest of the palaces is the tomb of Cyrus, almost intact: an impressive rectangular stone chamber with a gabled roof, set on a high stepped plinth. At the extreme southern edge of the site, an impressive rock-cut road or canal indicates the course of the ancient highway that once linked Pasargadae with Persepolis. After the accession of Darius I the Great (522 BC), Persepolis replaced Pasargadae as the dynastic home.
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.
DEFINITION: A shell mound on the shore of Lake Tondano in northern Sulawesi, which is the best-preserved pre-Neolithic midden to be excavated in Indonesia. Dated to c 6500 BC, there are obsidian flake tools and bone points pre-dating the Toalian. Its inhabitants lived on shellfish and hunted the local fauna. Paso provides and important terminus post quem for the small flake and blade industries and Neolithic cultures (after 3000 BC) which later appear in the region.
Passo di Corvo
DEFINITION: A large Middle Neolithic settlement site on the Tavoliere plain in Puglie, southeast Italy, with a radiocarbon date of 5200 BC. The site is concentrically ditched (known as a villaggio trincerato) and encloses about 100 circular hut enclosures. The site has produced evidence of a mixed farming economy and abundant pottery of various types, including Impressed Ware and a variety of red painted wares.
DEFINITION: Middle Neolithic long mound cemetery in Yonne, France, with associated pottery and a date of c 3800 BC.
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.
Pastoral Neolithic
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Pastoral Neolithic of East Africa
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A complex of cultures that appeared in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania about 3500 BC; a general term for the pre-Iron Age food-producing societies of East Africa.. It remains unknown whether they also cultivated plants. The earliest sites are on the plains of northern Kenya and date to the mid-3rd millennium BC. About 1300 years ago, they were absorbed or replaced by iron-using pastoralists and mixed farmers. Disposal of the dead was by burial beneath a stone cairn or between rocks. Stone platters, bowls, and pestles occur on most sites. Settlements show a great range of size, as does the relative importance of herding cattle and small stock in comparison with hunting. Pastoral Neolithic settlement is attested as far to the south as the Serengeti Plain of northern Tanzania. The subdivision of the Pastoral Neolithic in the East African highlands is not clearly defined. Pastoral Neolithic traditions recognized, though not well defined chronologically, are: Elmenteitan, Kansyore, Narosura, Nderit, Njoro River Cave, Oldishi, Olmalenge, and Oltome.
Pecos classification
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A.V. Kidder's classification of Southwestern prehistory based on his Pecos excavation; a culture stage sequence devised at the first Pecos Conference of 1927 in an attempt to organize prehistoric material of the American Southwest. It is now restricted to the Anasazi tradition, including Basketmaker I-III and Pueblo I-V. Architecture and ceramics define the stages.
Petit-Chasseur, Sion
DEFINITION: Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic burial complex in Valais, Switzerland, with one large megalithic chamber and other smaller tombs. Many stelae have been found within tombs which have triangular daggers on them paralleling those in northern Italy in the 3rd millennium BC.
Phase I survey
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: An exploratory survey of an area to determine location and boundaries of any historic or archaeological site potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Phase II testing
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A thorough investigation of an historic or archaeological site to make recommendations regarding its eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Phase III data recovery
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: An excavation of an historic or archaeological site listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places prior to its demolition for new construction.
Piedras Negras
DEFINITION: Classic Lowland Maya site located on steep terraces on the Usumacinta River, Guatemala. There were ballcourts, temple pyramids, courtyards, and ceremonial sweatbaths (temescales). It is best known for the finely carved stone monuments in the form of hieroglyphic inscriptions on lintels, stelae, and wall panels. These art works were the main source in Tatiana Proskouriakoff's study which showed that certain hieroglyphs recorded historical rather than ceremonial events. Military themes occur frequently in the art; the seashells are from both the Pacific and Gulf coasts, and obsidian and jade attest to widespread trading. The terminal Long Count date for the site is 795 AD.
Post-Classic stage
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The final pre-Columbian period in New World cultural history, following the collapse of Classic period civilizations, start in 750/900 until 1520 AD. The period is characterized by metalworking, complex urban societies, advanced commerce, militarism, imperialism, and secularism. It is traditionally dated from the fall of the Classic Maya in 900, but the collapse did not occur simultaneously throughout Mesoamerica.
Praia das Macas
DEFINITION: Two Chalcolithic chambered tombs near Lisbon, Portugal. In its first phase it was a simple rock-cut tomb and subsequently a passage grave with partially corbelled chamber was added. The rock-cut tomb contained decorated slate plaques and other material of Late Neolithic or early Chalcolithic type with a date of c 2300 BC. The later tomb, which blocked the entrance to the earlier tomb, contained about 150 burials, Beaker pottery, Palmela points, and a tanged dagger. Its date is 1690 BC.
Prairie phase
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early Woodland-Middle Woodland group in southwestern Wisconsin, dated to c 100 AD. Prairie Ware, sandy-paste vessels with incised, corded, and fingernail-punctated decoration, was associated with it.
Pre-Classic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Formative period, Preclassic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period in Mesoamerican archaeology during which agriculture formed the basis of settled village life, c 2000 BC-250 AD. The earliest writing - glyphs - in Mesoamerica began in this period. The Olmec was the first culture to appear in the Preclassic. A similar level was attained in Peru at about the same time (Chavín). In many other areas life remained on a Formative level until the Spanish conquest. The final phase of the Pre-Classic cultures of the central highland forms a transition from the village to the city, from rural to urban life.
Protoclassic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: In Mesoamerica, the period at the end of the Preclassic and immediately before the Classic period, c 50 BC-250 AD. It refers to the cultures of the Maya area which were transitioning between Preclassic and Classic.
Purron phase
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: In the Tehuacán Valley, Mexico, a phase, c 2300-1500 BC, with food collecting and plant cultivation. The dates fall between the end of the Abejas and start of the Ajalpan phases. In the Purron phase, the first pottery was produced in vessel forms that duplicate earlier stone vessels.
Qasr Ibrim
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ancient Pedeme, Primis
DEFINITION: Site of a Lower Nubian fortified settlement, now located on a headland in Lake Nasser. Its occupation was almost continual and mainly military from as early as the New Kingdom. A Roman garrison has been excavated. It was abandoned in 1812 AD.
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.
Qasr es-Sagha
DEFINITION: Egyptian site in northern Fayyum with an undecorated temple, probably of the Middle Kingdom.
Ras al-Amiya
DEFINITION: A site near Kish in southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) which consisted of a small mound with pottery of Hajji Muhammad type, now regarded as an early phase of the 'Ubaid culture of the earlier 5th millennium BC. Architectural remains included rectangular houses arranged around courtyards.
DEFINITION: A Classic Period center with distinctive pottery, dating to the Late Formative and lasting until the Early Postclassic, southeast of El Tajin near Veracruz, Mexico. Best known are the mold-made 'smiling face' figurines and small wheeled animals. The figurines were turned out in incredible quantity for use as burial goods. Ball-game players and warriors are frequent subjects of the figurines, but women and children are also common. Locally available natural outcrops of asphalt were used as paint to highlight some features of the figurines. Examples of wheeled animals have been found as far afield as Nayarit and El Salvador. Further down the Gulf coast plain, the Remojadas tradition of hollow pottery figurines continued to be active in the Late Classic, with a particularly large production of the mysterious smiling figures of dancing boys and girls, which were intended as funerary offerings.
Riparo de Romito, Papasidero
DEFINITION: Cave site in Italy near Cosenze with Gravettian, Epigravettian (18,700 bp), and Romanellian (10,960 bp) material.
DEFINITION: Palaeolithic site in a quarry near Rome, Italy, which has yielded two human skulls. These are regarded as early or generalized Neanderthals (Neanderthaloid) and are believed to belong to the last Interglacial. The brain sizes of both skulls are smaller than classic Neanderthals. A few Mousterian stone tools were found associated with them.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Iranian steppe people from central Asia organized into a confederacy which, like that of the Scythians (to whom they were related), brought together tribes of agriculturists and of nomadic herdsmen. They took part in the great movement of peoples which swept away the Greek kingdom of Bactria in the mid-2nd century BC. After being repulsed by the Parthians, the Sakas settled in Drangiana (Seistan) and in the Indus Valley. They also held Kandahar for a short time.
Salinas La Blanca
DEFINITION: Early Formative village site on the left bank of the Narajo River near Ocos, Guatemala. The principal features of the site are two low house-mounds constructed of clay and household debris and dating to 1000-850 BC. A typical household cluster consisted of the house and outdoor hearth, a number of 'borrow pits' (dug to obtain clay) and a sherd-and-shell midden. Large numbers of primitive corn cobs indicate some farming.
Sankalia, Hasmukh D. (1908-1989)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Indian archaeologist whose field work and publications have been important to the development of Indian archaeology. Comprehensive surveys and research papers, especially on the prehistory of the Deccan, include "Archaeology in Rajasthan" (1988) "Prehistoric and Historic Archaeology of Gujarat" (1987) "The University of Nalanda" (1972) which recounts the history of one of the most important Buddhist monastic establishments.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The Persian dynasty which overthrew the Parthian empire in 224 AD and ruled until conquered by Islam in 651. The empire extended from India to Syria, where they fought with the Romans. Remains include rock reliefs, Sassanian metalwork, fine stamp seals, textiles. Archaeologically they are known from impressive architectural remains of palaces, temples, and fortifications and from the rock reliefs. Important Sassanian sites include Bishapur, Firuzabad, Naqsh-i Rustam, and Siraf.
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
Siassi Islands
DEFINITION: Islands between New Guinea and New Britain which were occupied by traders between 1500-2000 years ago. Located in the Vitiaz Strait, they send pottery west and obsidian and sago east.
Siwa Oasis
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ancient Sekhet-imit; Ammonium
DEFINITION: An oasis in the Libyan desert, west of the Nile, the seat of the oracle temple of Amon, which was already famous in the time of Herodotus and was consulted by Alexander the Great. The fragmentary remains of the temple, with inscriptions dating from the 4th century BC, lie in the ruins of Aghurmi. The oracle fell into disrepute during the Roman occupation of Egypt. Nearby is the ruined temple of Umm Beda (Um Ebeida), and there are also many Roman remains in the vicinity. The earliest remains date to the 26th Dynasty (664-525 BC). Two rock outcrops provide the sites of the old walled settlements of Siwa and Aghurmi, which are veritable fortresses.
Six Dynasties
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The period of Chinese history between the fall of the Han dynasty in 220 AD and the founding of the Sui dynasty in 589, during which six dynasties had capitals in the south at Nanjing, while North China was ruled by barbarian dynasties. They were: the Wu (222-280), the Eastern Chin (317-420), the Liu-Sung (420-479), the Southern Ch'i (479-502), the Southern Liang (502-557), and the Southern Ch'en (557-589). In the course of the Six Dynasties period, Buddhism came to be firmly established. Six Dynasties tombs have contributed notably to the study of ceramics and early pictorial art. Great advances were made in medicine, astronomy, botany, and chemistry - and major changes took place in the arts and architecture. Wheelbarrows and kites were invented, coal was first used as a fuel, and it was also during the Six Dynasties that the great aristocratic families began to arise in Chinese society.
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.
Strashnaya Cave
DEFINITION: Middle Palaeolithic site in the Altai region of Siberia with occupation probably prior to the Last Glacial. The artifacts are Levallois cores, scrapers, and denticulates.
DEFINITION: Settlement site of the Rzucewo culture, a regional variant of the Corded Ware culture dated to the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC and located in Pomerania, Poland. Several occupation layers are represented by overlapping rectangular timber-framed house plans. Microlithic flintwork is found associated with an amber industry.
Sui Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Ruling house, 581-618 AD, which reunified China after several centuries of fragmentation. Its capital was at Ch'ang-an and it laid the foundations for the T'ang Dynasty.
Sung Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Chinese dynasty (960-1279) that ruled the country (only in the south after 1127) during one of its most brilliant cultural epochs. The Sung dynasty was founded when Chao K'uang-yin, the military inspector general of the Chou dynasty, last of the Five Dynasties, gained control in a coup. China was reunified after the divisions of the 10th century and it was a period of great literary and artistic achievement, though constantly threatened by the Mongols.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The earliest known stage of lowland Maya culture, dated 2500-1300 BC. Most Swasey sites cluster in north Belize. The site at Cuello, a village of hunters and farmers, provides reasonably complete information. Maize, squash, root crops, and cacao were grown and timber structures were built on low platform foundations plastered with stucco. The dead were buried with imported seashells and jadeite beads. Swasey pottery developed into the Mamon style of the Maya Middle Pre-Classic period.
T'ang Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: One of the greatest Chinese Dynasties, ruling from its capital Ch'ang-an (Sian), over a large portion of central Asia from 618-907 AD. It succeeded the short-lived Sui dynasty and developed a successful form of government and administration and stimulated a cultural and artistic golden age. The dynasty reached its peak in the early 8th century.
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: A state in northeastern Mexico on the Gulf of Mexico with a series of caves having evidence of incipient agriculture in the Infernillo Phase. The earliest period had crude pebble tools (preprojectile points) and overlain by the Lerma Phase c 7000 BC which had projectile points similar to those of the Old Cordilleran tradition. Desert Culture materials have been found associated with the earliest known cultivated plants in the New World. Here, in the Infernillo phase, it appears that native American squash, peppers, and perhaps beans were being cultivated as early as 6500 BC. Manos and metates are found in increasing numbers in later phases, as well as flexed, wrapped burials. An early cereal, the foxtail millet, was probably domesticated around 4000 BC in Tamaulipas, but it was superseded by primitive maize, c 3000-2200 BC, during the La Perra phase.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An independent state of the Late Post-Classic Period centered in the mountains of the Michoacán province of Mexico, one of the very few to successfully resist Aztec incursions. It is also the name of the people there, who were linguistically unrelated to any other Mesoamerican group. Their capital, Tzinzunzan, was built overlooking Lake Patzcuaro, and appears to be a ceremonial center consisting of a huge platform mound surmounted by five pyramids. Fine gold and tumbaga jewelry and well-made copper and bronze tools have been found. The Tarascan state, with its later capital of Pátzcuaro, survived into historic times. They reached a level of social and political organization comparable to that of the Aztec and the Maya.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Small group of forest food collectors isolated in the rain-forests of Mindanao, the Philippines, first reported by anthropological investigators in 1971. Numbering 25 at the time, the Tasadays have a simple technology and food-gathering strategy. Linguistic studies suggest that they may instead have descended from an original horticultural population and simplified their own culture during about 700 years of isolation. The Tasaday were dressed only in loincloths and skirts made of orchid leaves, used only crude stone tools (axes and scrapers) and wooden implements (fire drills and digging sticks), and had no weapons for hunting or war.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Possibly the oldest-known cultural phase in Upper Egypt, c 4500 BC, known from evidence on the east bank of the Nile River at al-Badari and at Deir Tasa. A settlement of primitive farmers, it is now regarded as at best a local variant of the Badarian culture.
DEFINITION: Island that was part of the Australian continent during the late Pleistocene, then separated by rising sea levels which formed Bass Strait about 9000 BC. Occupation of southwestern Tasmania by 30,000 bp is now well established. At the time of European contact, Tasmanian aborigines had a simple tool kit of stone flakes and core scrapers, pebble choppers, wooden pointed spears, digging sticks, clubs, and throwing sticks. They lacked all the post-Pleistocene tools known on the mainland. At sites on the northwestern tip, deposits are dated to c 6000 BC with bone points, stone scrapers, and pebble tools. Around 1000 BC, bone points disappeared and there is evidence of fish exploitation. Pecked engravings at Mount Cameron West resemble the Panaramitee style of central Australia. The arrival of Europeans was disastrous, with Tasmanians becoming almost extinct in the 19th century.
Tassili n'Ajjer
DEFINITION: Site in southeast Algeria with famous but undated rock art covering most of the Saharan sequence. The art is in three styles - "archaic" paintings of large animal and human figures and geometric abstract symbols; a "naturalistic" style with humans and animals portrayed in great detail in scenes showing cattle running and herdsmen with bows; and a "cubist" style with dark shapes and light areas. Stone forms which were probably used as tomb sculpture have also been found at the Tassili site. There is much stone painting but not much stone carving or engraving. Scholars have been unable to decipher the hieroglyphic language that is engraved on the rocks.
Tassilo Chalice
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Copper-gilt chalice of Kremsmünster Abbey, Austria, which survived from c 778-788 AD. It is an outstanding and original object, possibly made by Northumbrian craftsmen, decorated with a combination of Hiberno-Saxon ornament typical of the period. The chalice is cast in bronze overlaid with gilt and silver Niello engravings.
Teleilat Ghassul
DEFINITION: Type site of the Ghassulian in the Jordan Valley (Palestine) near the Dead Sea, dated c 3800-3350 BC. It is known for polychrome geometric and figurative mural paintings in trapezoid-shaped mud-brick houses. The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small settlements of farming peoples whose pottery was elaborate in style, and included footed bowls and horn-shaped goblets. The Ghassulians also smelted copper.
Terrasse, Henri (1895-1971)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: French archaeologist who worked on Hispano-Moorish art from its beginnings to the 13th century. He is known as the discoverer of the Hispano-Maghreb world and a pioneer of systematic research.
Teshik Tash
DEFINITION: Middle Palaeolithic cave in Tadjikistan in the west Himalayas, with several Mousterian levels, and the skeleton of a Neanderthal child. The site is dated c 44,000 BP.
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.
Thinite dynasties
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The 1st and 2nd Dynasties of Egypt, c 3100-2686 BC, named by the Egyptian historian Manetho (3rd century BC) for Thinis, a city near Abydos, where some of its kings were allegedly buried. Menes (c 3100-3040 BC) is considered the traditional founder of the dynasty.
Thomas, Cyrus (1825-1910)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: American scholar who worked on the mounds of the U.S. Midwest and who demonstrated that they were built by ancestors of Native Americans.
DEFINITION: Site in Senegal, south of Dakar, with extensive undated microlithic industry. There may have been successive occupation phases, including a pre-pottery phase characterized by large backed tools, geometric microliths, and hollow-based and leaf-shaped bifacial projectile points.
Tsountas, Christos (1857-1934)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Greek archaeologist who excavated cemeteries of earlier phases of the Bronze Age on other Cycladic islands and continued the work begun by Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae. He also investigated settlement sites in Thessaly (Dhimini, Sesklo).
CATEGORY: site; culture
DEFINITION: Site in Transylvania, northwest Romania, that is the name of a Vinca culture variant.
DEFINITION: Early Iron Age town in Girona, Spain, founded in the 6th century BC. It consisted of a hilltop enclosure surrounded by a stone wall with circular towers; inside were stone-built houses, cisterns, paved streets, and a market. Greek pottery and coins are among the artifacts. Ullastret was destroyed by fire c 200 BC.
Unas (fl. 24th century BC)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The last ruler of the 5th Dynasty (c 2465-2325 BC) of Egypt whose funerary complex is the Step Pyramid of Djoser in north Saqqara. He was the first pharaoh to inscribe the interior of his pyramid with the Pyramid Texts. According to later king lists, Unas was the last ruler of the 5th Dynasty, but the innovations in his pyramid complex and the use of blocks from his predecessor's monuments in his own pyramid have led some to consider him the founder of the 6th Dynasty or possibly a transitional ruler. Unas' daughter married his successor Teti, whom the ancient sources considered the founder of the 6th Dynasty.
CATEGORY: culture; site
DEFINITION: Middle and Late Neolithic culture of southwest Rumania and northern Bulgaria in the late 5th millennium BC. The tell's stratigraphy includes an Aurignacian level, separated by a long hiatus from two Vadastra culture levels and a Salcuta culture level (early 4th millennium BC). There are large grain storage pits and evidence of draft animals pulling plows.
Vasic, Miloje (1869-1956)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Serbian archaeologist who worked at Vinca and recognized its importance within the Neolithic chronology of the western Balkans and in relation to the Aegean area.
DEFINITION: Minoan settlement on Crete with an Early Minoan II prototype palace of c 2600-2200 BC. Vasiliki pottery was an elaborately made mottled (through uneven firing) red, brown, and black ware.
DEFINITION: Sites in the Santa Elena peninsula region of southeast coastal Ecuador with unifacial stone gravers, denticulates, spokeshaves; cobble choppers and pestles c 5000 BC.
Vilcas Guamán
DEFINITION: Large Inca administrative center near Ayacucho, Peru, and the symbolic center of the Inca universe. There is a large four-stepped Usnu of dressed stone.
DEFINITION: Late Mesolithic fishing-hunting site located in the Iron Gates gorge of the River Danube in Serbia with occupation dates of 6000-5500 BC. Small circular tents are arranged near stone hearths around a central space or platform. Large numbers of Mesolithic burials are known from the site, mostly Cro-Magnon physical type with few grave goods.
DEFINITION: Migration Period settlement in southern Jutland, Denmark of the 4th-5th centuries, a planned village of longhouses. Each house was divided into three rooms with two or three minor buildings. There was also a series of sunken-floored workshops in the last phase. After its abandonment in the 5th century, the settlement was not reoccupied until the Viking period. In the 10th century, Vorbasse was turned into three major estates, each incorporating a large 'Trelleborg type' hall with associated workshops.
Vértes, Laszlo (1914-1968)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Hungarian archaeologist and expert on the Palaeolithic in Hungary. He worked at Vertesszollos, Istallosko, Szeleta Cave, Tata, and Jankovich.
DEFINITION: Military and commercial city of medieval Iraq, especially important during the Umayyad caliphate (661-750 AD). It was established as a military encampment in 702 on the Tigris River, between Basra and Kufah. A palace and the chief mosque were built and irrigation and cultivation were encouraged. Because of its location on the Tigris, Wasit became a shipbuilding and commercial center. Even after the caliphal capital was moved from Damascus to Baghdad, the city remained important. The only standing building is a shrine with a monumental portal flanked by minarets, datable to the 13th century. Excavations revealed a congregational mosque with four periods of construction, the earliest with a large courtyard surrounded on three sides by a single arcade and a sanctuary 19 bays wide and 5 bays deep. Adjoining the mosque was the Dar al Imara, or governor's palace.
Weeden Island phase
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A culture following Middle Woodland and preceding Mississippian that occupied much of north Florida, southwest Georgia, and southeast Alabama c 200-1000 AD. The pottery is among the finest of the eastern US.
Western Chin Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A phase of the Chin dynasty, ruling China from AD 265 to 317. Important tombs of this period have been excavated in Kiangsu and Chekiang provinces in southeastern China, as well as Yüeh ware and rare jewelry items.
Worsaae, Jens Jacob Asmussen (1821-1886)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: Danish archaeologist who laid the foundations for the study of prehistory. He was the successor to Christian J. Thomsen at the National Museum at Copenhagen and he applied the Three Age System to stone monuments. He wrote "Danmarks Oldtid oplyst ved Oldsager og Gravhøie" ("The Primeval Antiquities of Denmark" 1843) which introduced such other concepts as nomenclature typology and diffusion and discusses the value and principles of prehistoric research. He focused on the study of excavated artifacts particularly in their geographic and stratigraphic contexts. His standards and professionalism put him ahead of his time.
DEFINITION: Eastern Zhou (Chou) cemetery site in southwestern Honan province, China. Nine large tombs, five chariot burials, and 16 lesser tombs have been excavated. More than 200 bronze ritual vessels and bells were found in the large tombs and represent Chu bronzecasting. The Xiasi bronzes include the earliest cire perdue castings yet known from China, used to cast the openwork parts of a bronze table and the flamboyant handles, feet, and lid knobs of vessels. Dates are 6th century BC.
DEFINITION: The first city in the Angkor, Cambodia, area founded by king Yashovarman in 889 AD. It was Cambodia's capital until it was abandoned in the 15th century. His temple mountain, now called Bakheng, was built on a natural hill that overlooked the city, the rice-growing plain, and the Tonle Sap. Yashovarman built a large reservoir nearby; the city wall of Yashodharapura measured 2.5 miles (4 km) on each side.
Yassi Ada
DEFINITION: A graveyard of ancient ships off the Turkish coast near Bodrum, the most important being a Byzantine wreck of the 6th century. The 30-meter vessel was well-preserved and traces of the galley-end and of the cargo holds were found. Amphorae have illustrated trading of later Roman wares and olive oil between North Africa and Anatolia in the Justinian period. Peter Throckmorton, who discovered the site in 1958, developed the mapping of wrecks photogrammetrically with stereophotographs and using a two-man submarine, the Asherah launched in 1964. The Asherah was the first submarine ever built for archaeological investigation.
DEFINITION: Late Palaeolithic site in Shizuoka prefecture, Honshu, Japan, with hearths dated c 14,300 years ago. Over four hundred microblades made from conical cores were found.
Yorkshire vase food vessel
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Distinctive early Bronze Age ceramic vessel found mainly in eastern England in association with inhumation burials. Characterized by coarse fabrics made into thick-walled vessels with flat bases, decoration on the shoulder and rim, and often with perforated lugs. Dates for this style of pottery centre on the period 1800-1400 BC.
Young, Thomas (1773-1829)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: English physician, physicist, and Egyptologist who helped decipher the Rosetta Stone. He was the first modern scholar to translate the demotic script. Young began studying the texts of the Rosetta Stone in 1814 and after obtaining additional hieroglyphic writings from other sources, he succeeded in providing a nearly accurate translation within a few years and thus contributed greatly to deciphering the ancient Egyptian language.
Younger Dryas
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A stadial of the Weichselian cold stage, dated to between 11,000-10,000 bp. The last glacial recession (13,000-6,000 years ago) was interrupted by this sharp advance. It takes its name from a tundra plant called Dryas octopetala, fossil remains of which are common in deposits of the stadial. It was most evident around the North Atlantic and coincided with an apparent temporary diversion of glacial meltwater from the Mississippi River to the St. Lawrence drainage system. It has been postulated that this discharge of cold, fresh water disrupted the Atlantic Ocean circulation system that warms the North Atlantic.
Yüan Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Dynasty established in China (1206-1368) by Mongol nomads. Yüan rule stretched throughout most of Asia and eastern Europe, though the Yüan emperors were rarely able to exercise much control over their more distant possessions. The dynasty was established by Genghis Khan (c 1162-1227) and gained control of China under his grandson Kublai Khan (1215-1294). Peking was set up as the capital. The Yüan rebuilt the Grand Canal and there were new cultural achievements, including the development of the novel as a literary form. A renewed emphasis was placed upon traditional craft arts - silver, lacquer, ceramics, and other materials.
DEFINITION: Middle Palaeolithic rock shelters and caves in the Crimea, Ukraine, some with 6-7 occupation levels. Some are dated to an interstadial preceding the early cold maximum of the last glacial. Artifacts include bifacial foliates and Ak-Kaya culture sidescrapers. Neanderthal fossils have been found.
accelerator mass spectrometric technique
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: AMS technique; AMS radiocarbon dating
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A relatively new method of radiocarbon dating in which the proportion of carbon isotopes is counted directly (as contrasted with the indirect Geiger counter method) using an accelerator mass spectrometer. The method drastically reduces the quantity of datable material required.
acoustic vase
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Large earthenware or bronze vases which were used to strengthen actors' voices and were placed in bell towers to help boost the sound of church bells. A church in Westphalia contains fine 9th-century Badorf Wares and larger Relief-Band Amphorae were used in 10th- and 11th-century churches.
agate glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A striped-pattern glass created by mixing molten glass of different colors. The colored bands resemble those of natural agate.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A term used by Egyptologists for a type of white, semi-transparent or translucent, stone used in statuary, vases, sarcophagi, and architecture. It is a form of limestone (calcium carbonate), sometimes described as travertine. It was used increasingly from the Early Dynastic period for funerary vessels as well as statuary and altars. Alabaster is found in Middle Egypt, a main source being Hatnub, southeast of el-Amarna. The sarcophagi of Seti I (British Museum) is a fine example. An alabaster (also alabastron or alabastrum) is also the name of a small vase or jar for precious perfumes or oils made of this material. It was often globular with a narrow mouth and often without handles.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A Greek container made of alabaster but sometimes clay, used for unguents.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: Intentional or accidental inclusions in pottery clays before firing.
CATEGORY: branch
DEFINITION: The study of the relationship between prehistoric knowledge of astronomical events through calendars, observatory sites, and astronomical images in art and past cultural behavior. The field includes the study of mathematical correlations between archaeological features and the movements of celestial bodies. Some sites (Stonehenge, New Grange) show a definite interest in simple solar observations. Ancient astronomical knowledge can be inferred through the study of the alignments and other aspects of these archaeological sites.
CATEGORY: branch
DEFINITION: The study of parasites in archaeological contexts.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A small Roman bronze coin, four of which made a sestertius and sixteen a denarius
ascribed status
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ascribed leadership
DEFINITION: An individual's social standing or leadership which was inherited or assigned from his or her parents or other relatives, by sex, or some other fixed criterion.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: Volcanic material of less than 4 mm in diameter that falls quickly and can bury sites, preserving the stratigraphy, people, and artifacts. Ash is also the soft, solid remains of burned organic material as from cremation.
ash mound
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A site type found in India where the remains of Neolithic cattle pens of the 3rd millennium BC created by regular fires burning palisades enclosing cattle.
ash tuff
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: Rock formed from solidified volcanic ash, which often is re-formed after the eruption and deposited elsewhere by water runoff. It is an excellent stratigraphic indicator and, because of the presence of very small crystals, is used to obtain potassium-argon dates.
ashlar construction
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: achelor, astler, estlar
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: The construction of square blocks of hewn stone laid in regular courses for the facings of walls. It was dressed for building good, smooth-surfaced walls.
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A pit used primarily as a receptacle for ash removed from a hearth or firepit. In a pit structure, it is commonly oval or rectangular and located south of the hearth or firepit.
CATEGORY: artifact; ceramics
DEFINITION: An assymetric vessel, often squat and duck-shaped, with an off-center mouth, convex top, and single arching handle. It was originally shaped like a leather bottle (uter) for holding water, oil, or wine. Some example have two mouths, one for filling and one for emptying, and others are quite unbalanced and have strange mouths. It later assumed the form of an earthenware pitcher. Askos were popular in the Aegean from the Early Helladic to the Classical period.
aspartic acid racemization
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method for determining the absolute age of bone tissue by discovering the process of cumulative change in the form of amino acids, beginning at the death of an organism.
DEFINITION: A characteristic or component that constitutes one of the traits of a culture or community. The term also describes a group of components that display a great many of the specific elements (traits) of a culture.
DEFINITION: The wild ass was distributed widely in North Africa and Asia. In Asia, it was domesticated as a draft animal c 3000 BC. The modern donkey derives from an animal of Ethiopia and the Sudan, which the Egyptians imported from the 2nd millennium on. The earliest date of these for the African ass is an Egyptian tomb relief of 1650 BC. Remaining populations can be found in Iran (called the onager), northwest India (called the ghorkar), and Mongolia (called the kiang). Asiatic wild asses as a group may also be called onagers, kemiones, or half-asses. Artistic representation of the domestication of asses has been found, but little osteological evidence. The ass arrived in Europe during medieval times. The domestic ass, or donkey, may be hybridized with the horse: a male ass crossed with a female horse produces a mule, and a female ass crossed with a male horse produces a hinny and both hybrids are sterile.
CATEGORY: artifact; term
DEFINITION: A group of objects of different or similar types found in close association 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 archaeological context, 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.
assertive style
DEFINITION: Any style with only vague associations with social identity, such as a tendency to wear certain types of clothing or jewelry.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: archaeological assessment
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: An aspect of cultural resource management in which the surface of a project area is systematically covered by pedestrian survey in order to locate, document, and evaluate archaeological materials therein.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: In a sociocultural system, the integration of cultural traits from previously distinct cultural groups to the culture, ethnic identity, and language of the dominant cultural group.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: associated (adj.)
CATEGORY: term; technique
DEFINITION: The co-occurrence of two or more objects sharing the same general location and stratigraphic level and that are thought to have been deposited at approximately the same time (being in or on the same matrix). Objects are said to be in association with each other when they are found together in a context which suggests simultaneous deposition. Associations between objects are the basis for relative dating or chronology and the concept of cross-dating as well as in interpretation - cultural connections, original function, etc. Pottery and flint tools associated in a closed context would be grounds for linking them into an assemblage, possibly making the full material culture of a group available. The association of undated objects with artifacts of known date allows the one to be dated by the other. When two or more objects are found together and it can be proved that they were deposited together, they are said to be in genuine or closed association. Examples of closed associations are those within a single interment grave, the material within a destruction level, or a hoard. An open association is one in which this can only be assumed, not proved. Artifacts may be found next to each other and still not be associated; one of the artifacts may be intrusive.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An instrument, usually consisting of a disc and pointer, formerly used to make astronomical measurements, especially of the altitudes of celestial bodies and as an aid in navigation.
CATEGORY: related field
DEFINITION: Most ancient civilizations studied the skies for astronomical knowledge. Ancient astronomy has been studied by archaeologists in prehistoric Europe through monuments and in Central America through inscriptions and documents. Studies of prehistoric astronomy in Europe have concentrated on the megalithic monuments and stone circles, which have been proven to incorporate alignments of the sun, moon, and brighter stars - especially significant points in their cycles. Solar alignments occur at New Grange and Stonehenge, lunar orientations at the Recumbent Stone Circles of Aberdeenshire and the Carnac stones in Brittany. Many theories are discussed as to the accuracy of measurements and the degree of astronomical understanding achieved by these early societies. The ability to predict astronomical events would have enhanced political power, which is something suggested in Mesoamerica. The ability to predict events by the governing elite class increased their credibility as able rulers. The Mesoamerican people put great emphasis on the calendar and astronomy and were able to make extremely accurate measurements of the solar year, the appearance of eclipses, and the phases of the Moon. Buildings seen as observatories occur at Chichen Itza and at Palenque, and the Dresden codex is a detailed collection of calculations tracing the eclipses of the Moon and Sun and the cycles of Venus and possibly Mars and Jupiter. The Maya were even aware of the impreciseness of the 365-day year in their Calendar Round and added a correction factor to account for the quarter-day per year discrepancy. The cycle of the Moon, in comparison, was calculated with amazing accuracy (29.5302 days compared to the actual figure of 29.5306). The cycle of Venus (calculated at 583.92) was also pinpointed as accurately as measurements taken by modern astronomical methods. The ancient astronomers' awareness of long-term astronomical phenomena was astonishing.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: In Greek architecture, male figures which were so called for the story of Titan Atlas, in which humans were used instead of columns to support entablatures, balconies, or other projections. Such figures are posed as if supporting great weights, just as Atlas was bearing the world. The female counterpart is the caryatid, but it is not similarly posed. The earliest known examples of true atlantes occur on a colossal scale in the Greek temple of Zeus (c 500 BC) in Sicily. Atlantes were used only rarely in the Middle Ages but reappeared in the Mannerist and Baroque periods.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: low-relief, basso-relievo; low relief
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A low relief technique of sculpture or carved work in which the figures project less than half of their true proportions from the surface on which they are carved. The term also describes sculptures or carvings in low relief. Mezzo-relievo means projecting exactly half; alto-relievo more than half.
basal edge
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The proximal edge of a triangular or lanceolate projectile or stem of a stemmed type. There are eight major types of Basal Edges; Convex, Straight, Concave, Auriculate, Lobbed, Bifurcated, Fractured and Snapped.
basal grinding
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: The grinding of projectile points at their base and lower edges (so that the lashings will not be cut), a Paleo-Indian cultural practice. Basal thinning obtains the same result through the removal of small chips instead of grinding.
basal notch
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A flaking technique applied to accommodate hafting which involved the flaking of notches into the basal edge of a preform.
basal stones
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: The lowest stones in the continuous face of a wall.
basal thinning
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The intentional removal of small longitudinal flakes from the base of a chipped stone projectile point or knife to facilitate hafting or produced to remove small, longitudinal flakes from the basal edge of a projectile point in order that the tool or point could be more easily hafted or held.
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: geology
DEFINITION: A type of very hard, dark, dense rock, igneous in origin, composed of augite or hornblende containing titaniferous magnetic iron and crystals of feldspar. It often lies in columnar strata, as at the Giant's Causeway in Ireland and Fingal's Cave in the Hebrides. It is greenish- or brownish-black and much like lava in appearance. It is also abundant in Egypt and Greece.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: The lower portion of a vessel from the lower boundary of the body to the place that would normally be in contact with the surface on which the vessel rested, sometimes a foot or tripod.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of dagger, usually used by civilians in the medieval period, with a H shaped hilt.
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: An imaginary line or standard by which things are measured or compared; one of known measure or position used (as in surveying) to calculate or locate something.
baseward flaking
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The removal of flakes from the distal tip at a downward angle towards the basal edge.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: Originally a royal palace which consisted of a large oblong building or hall with double colonnades and a semicircular apse at the end, used for a court of justice and place of public assembly. It formed one side of the forum or marketplace. The term owes its original meaning to the fact that in Macedonia the kings, and in Greece the archon Basileus dispensed justice in buildings of this description. The Romans, who adopted the basilica from those countries, used it as a court, a branch of the forum, etc. The first basilica was built at Rome, 182/184 BC. One such building is the Basilica of Maxentius, which has survived in the ruins of the Forum in Rome. Its aisled-hall plan of which was adopted by many early Christian churches. The form of construction remained popular for a variety of religious purposes in Rome, Ravenna, and North Africa from the 4th-12th centuries. Constantine, the first Christian emperor, constructed several basilican churches in the 4th century, including the first St. Peters.
basin of deposition
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: The area which defines the pattern of deposition of layers, e.g. the shape of a cave, room, or pit.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A container that is usually woven and may have handles
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A class of artifacts created by the practice of weaving containers from vegetable fibers, twigs, or leaves. It was known in Mexico before 7000 BC and in Oregon before 8000 BC and the earliest recorded examples in the Old World are from the Fayum in Egypt c 5200 BC. But taking into consideration the perishability of basketry, even these may be comparatively late in the history of the technique. Basketry is not preserved in the same quantities as pottery and stone vessels.
bell glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A bell-shaped glass cover used, especially formerly, as a cloche
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: Systematic overestimate or underestimate of a parameter or measurement.
biased sample
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Sampling technique in which certain units have more chance of inclusion than others.
CATEGORY: flora; fauna
DEFINITION: The total weight of the plant and animal life (organic substances and organisms) existing at a given time in a given area.
bolas stone
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: bolas, bola; pl. bolases
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Weighted balls of stone, bone, ivory, or ceramic that are either grooved or pierced for fastening to rawhide thongs and used to hunt prey. The bolas, still found today among some of the peoples of South America and among the Eskimo, usually consists of two or more globular or pear-shaped stones attached to each other long thongs. They are whirled and thrown at running game, with the thongs wrapping themselves around the limbs of the animal or bird on contact. Bolas stones have been found in many archaeological sites throughout the world, including Africa in Middle and Upper Acheulian strata.
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.
brain endocast
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A cast of the cranial cavity (inner surface of the cranium) to produce an accurate image of and the approximate shape of the brain. These are made by pouring latex rubber into a skull. The fossil record can yield endocranial casts and, from them, possible brain volumes - especially of early man.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: The general name for alloys of copper with zinc or tin, with the proportions about 70-90% copper and 10-30% of the other base metal. It is possible that due to difficulties in introducing the zinc ore calamine into the melt, brass appeared later in use than bronze (copper and tin) and other copper alloys. Mosaic gold, pinchbeck, prince's metal, are varieties of brass differing in the proportions of the ingredients. Corinthian brass is an alloy of gold, silver, and copper.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A piece of armor covering the chest
button and loop fastener
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A fastener made of a metal circle connected to a metal loop fixed to an object and used to fasten to another object by means of a button or a loop. The usage of these items is unclear, could include use for animals or for dress.
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A public record of the extent, value, and ownership of land within a district for purposes of taxation.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The hollow shell of a gourd or pumpkin or the fruit of the calabash tree, used as a storage or drinking vessel. Such a shell was used for household utensils, water bottles, kettles, musical instruments, etc. It is round or oval and hard enough to be used in boiling liquids over a fire.
cameo glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A Roman artifact of layered, multicolored glass with the effect of a cameo cut from onyx. The Portland Vase in the British Museum is an important example.
casemate wall
CATEGORY: feature; structure
DEFINITION: A defensive wall consisting of parallel walls with a space or internal chambers in the thickness of the wall. Sometimes the chambers were rooms; sometimes they were filled with debris or left empty.
casing nail
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A nail similar to a finishing nail but heavier and used for trim where strength and concealment are required
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A strong wooden barrel
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A molded object
DEFINITION: Social class with clearly delineated boundaries; one is usually born into a caste and ascribed social and economic roles on the basis of caste affiliation. It is difficult or impossible to ascend from one caste to a higher one.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A pronounced vertical appendage on the rim of a vessel, much like the part of a castle wall.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A small swiveled wheel (often one of a set) fixed to a leg (or the underside) of a piece of furniture
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Casting consists of pouring molten metal into a mold, where it solidifies into the shape of the mold. The process was well established in the Bronze Age (beginning c 3000 BC), when it was used to form bronze pieces. It is particularly valuable for the economical production of complex shapes, from mass-produced parts to one-of-a-kind items or even large machinery. Three principal techniques of casting were successively developed in prehistoric Europe: one-piece stone molds for flat-faced objects; clay or stone piece molds that could be dismantled and reused; and one-off clay molds for complex shapes made in one piece around a wax or lead pattern (cire perdue). Every metal with a low enough melting point was exploited in early Europe, except iron and steel, was used for casting artifacts.
casting flash
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: casting jet, casting seam
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A thin irregular ridge of metal on the outer face of a casting, resulting from seepage of the molten metal into the joint between the separate components of the mould used in its manufacture. A casting jet is similar but is a small plug of metal that originally filled the gate or aperture used to fill the mould. During the final cleaning and finishing of a cast object the jet and flash are usually knocked off and filed smooth.
casting jet
CATEGORY: artifact; geology
DEFINITION: A plug of metal which is knocked out after an artifact is cast and which fits exactly into the opening (aperture or gate) of a mold. When casting metal into a bivalve or composite mold, the aperture through which the metal is poured into the mold becomes filled up with molten metal, and this plug of metal cools and hardens with the object. When the finished artifact is removed from the mold, the casting jet is still attached; in most cases it is knocked off and the scar polished down the metal plug being melted down for re-use. In some cases, however, it may be left on, particularly on neck rings and bracelets. Examples are sometimes in founder's hoards.
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.
casting-on technique
CATEGORY: artifact; geology
DEFINITION: A method used in a secondary stage of making metal objects for adding handles, legs, and hilts to complex artifacts. A clay mold is placed around part of an existing object and molten metal is then poured in and fuses onto the original object.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A medieval European structure, generally the residence of a king or a lord of the territory. The word 'castle' is derived from Latin 'castellum', a fortified camp, and there are various linguistic forms, including chateau, castello, castrum, and burg. These medieval strongholds developed rapidly from the 9th century. The word is sometimes applied to prehistoric earthworks, such as Maiden Castle, England. Castles developed with the feudal system which installed a societal classification in which land and other privileges were granted in return for military service. Castle architecture had three essential elements: a tower (keep or donjon), residence for the noble, and a fortified enclosure wall. The first late Carolingian types were likely modeled on the fortified homesteads of the Slavs, and in the 10th century the manor or principal house was then set up on a raised mound within the enclosure. This motte and bailey type was introduced to France in the 11th century. The Normans then it to the British Isles and southern Italy and also built stone keeps within their enclosures. Later 12th-century castles in France and England have large stone walls gateways modeled on Arabic and Byzantine forts and massive circular central keeps. Multiple walls with strengthened gateways are an invention of the mid-13th century. The introduction of the cannon and other firearms in the 15th and 16th centuries made castles vulnerable to attack. Castle architecture was revised with low walls which could be defended all around by artillery the guns mounted on bastions and redans.
DEFINITION: Portuguese term for a fortified site, ranging from the small walled citadels of the Copper Age (e.g. Vila Nova de Sao Pedro) to the hillfort settlements of the Celtic Iron Age.
casual find
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A nonscientific discovery of an archaeological object, as by an explorer or hunter.
casual tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Object used as a tool once or twice for a specific purpose and discarded with no purposeful modification
catastrophe theory
CATEGORY: term; related field
DEFINITION: A mathematical theory and branch of geometry which demonstrates ways in which a system can undergo sudden large changes as one or more of the variables that control it are continuously changed. I.e., the theory explains change through a succession of sudden catastrophes. A small change in one variable can produce a sudden discontinuity in another. Archaeologists use the theory to show how sudden changes can stem from comparatively small variations. It has been used to explain the dramatic change in settlement patterns and the collapse of Maya and Mycenaean civilizations by comparatively small changes without there being large causes such as invasions or natural disaster.
catastrophic profile
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: catastrophic age profile
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A table plotting the age and sex of animal bones which shows the natural distribution of animals in a herd, suggesting natural disaster or unselective slaughter.
centrally based wandering model
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A model for hunter-gatherer cultures centered around base camps.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A technique for the decoration of metalwork by engraving on the outside of the raised surface. The metal is worked from the front by hammering with tools that raise, depress, or push aside the metal without removing any from the surface. Chasing is the opposite of embossing, or repoussé, in which the metal is worked from the back to give a higher relief. Strictly chasing refers to line decoration applied to the face of repoussé work with a tracer, but the term is frequently used more generally to describe any hammered or punched decoration on metal.
chasing tool
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A kind of punch used in metalworking to create repousse style ornament.
DEFINITION: A term used in the later Roman Republic and under the Roman Empire for a favored provincial community. Some were exempted from tribute payment and Roman judicial jurisdiction. Others received grants of self-government and were not subject to military occupation. The term also referred to citizenship in ancient Rome.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A device with interlocking parts for fastening; also, a buckle or brooch
CATEGORY: typology; technique
DEFINITION: A general group of artifacts, like hand axes which can be broken down into specific types like ovates, etc.
classic example
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A subjective term used to refer to a specific point specimen which represents the truest form of a particular point type or blade.
classic order of architecture
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: order of architecture
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: The Grecian Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian and the Roman Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite orders as defined by the particular type of column and entablature in one basic unit. A column consists of a shaft together with its base and its capital. The column supports a section of an entablature, which constitutes the upper horizontal part of a classical building and is itself composed of (from bottom to top) an architrave, frieze, and cornice. The form of the capital is the most distinguishing characteristic of a particular order. The five major orders are: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite.
classical archaeology
CATEGORY: branch
DEFINITION: A field within historical archaeology specializing in the study of Old World Greek and Roman civilizations, their antecedents and contemporaries.
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The ordering of archaeological data that share certain attributes or characteristics into groups and classes; the divisions arrived at by such a process. Classification is the first step in the analysis of archaeological data - when particles or objects are sorted or categorized by established criteria, such as size, function, material, or color.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: An individual grain of a rock that becomes part of a sediment. Archaeological debris often consists of rocks or grains resulting from the breakdown of larger rocks. A clastic deposit is made up of fragments of preexisting rock.
clastic rock
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A rock composed of broken pieces of older rocks
closed association
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The relationship of two or more objects that are found together and that can be proved to have been deposited together.
compass map
DEFINITION: A map of a region or site created by using a compass to control geographical direction and, usually, pacing or tape measures to control distances, but not elevation.
core-formed glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of glass made by twisting melted glass around a core, often with different colors. This technique was used especially in the Classical and Hellenistic periods of the eastern Mediterranean.
corrugated fastener
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A fastener used in making light-duty miter joints, such as on screens and large picture frames
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A flat edged blade used in leatherworking
crown glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A traditional window glass made by spinning a bubble of molten glass on the end of a rod until it forms a flat disk
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A piece of armor to protect the torso, both front and back, and often molded to the contours of the body. Originally made of thick leather, it was variously made of laminated linen, sheet bronze, or iron, or scales of horn, hide, or metal. In Homeric and Hellenistic times, it was made of bronze. Cuirasses of leather as well as iron were worn by officers in the armies of the Roman Empire. Later made of steel, the cuirass was forerunner to body armor worn to deflect bullets.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A flat heavy slightly curved blade.
cylindrical tripod vase
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A ceramic form popular in the Early Classic Period in Mesoamerica and an important artifact of Teotihuacan. It is cylindrical in shape and stands on three slab or cylindrical legs and frequently has a knobbed lid.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The art of incrusting one metal on another, in the form of wire, which by undercutting and hammering is completely attached to the metal it ornaments. The process of etching slight ornaments on polished steel wares is also called damascening. Although related to pattern-welding, this technique used in the manufacture of sword blades probably developed independently. First a high-carbon steel is produced by firing wrought iron and wood together in a sealed crucible; the resulting steel, or wootz, consists of light cementations in a darker matrix, and this, together with a series of complicated forging techniques at relatively low temperatures produced the delicate 'watered silk' pattern with the alternating high- and low-carbon areas. Damascene steel was very strong and highly elastic.
CATEGORY: database design
DEFINITION: A compilation or storage system for information that is used for decision-making, inferences, interpretation, and testing hypotheses.
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.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: depas amphikypellon
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The Homeric term which Schliemann used to describe the two-handled cups which he found in the Early Bronze Age contexts at Troy
deposited assemblage
DEFINITION: Set of carcasses or body parts deposited on a site.
DEFINITION: The dispersion of people, either forced or voluntary, from a central area of origin to many distant regions. In particular, the dispersion of Jews among the Gentiles after the Babylonian Exile or the aggregate of Jews or Jewish communities scattered in exile outside Palestine or present-day Israel.
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.
domus de janas
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: The Sardinian name for a kind of rock-cut chamber tomb, often with many interconnecting rooms, found on the island from the Copper Age and Early Bronze Age. The term means 'house of the fairies' and describes often complex, multi-chambered tombs.
DEFINITION: Any line of rulers whose right to power is inherited; usually a line of kings, related by blood, who succeed each other on a throne. Egyptian history was divided into 31 dynasties by Manetho in the 3rd century BC when he wrote a history of Egypt. The dynasties of Mesopotamia were distinguished by their places of origin rather than their relationships, e.g. those of Ur, Larsa, etc. In China the dynasties were longer-lived and often encompassed only regions, those of Shang and Chou spanning twelve centuries. The term is sometimes used for rulers from a single city or ethnic group.
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: An internal cast, as of the inside of the human skull. A cast of the cranial cavity showing the approximate shape of the brain.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: In architecture, the exaggerated convex curve of a column, spire, or similar upright member, intended to give the optical illusion of straight sides. Almost all Classic columns use entasis. It was exaggerated in Doric work. Entasis is also occasionally found in Gothic spires and in the smaller Romanesque columns.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: Changes in sea level on a global basis, usually as the result of a major event such as the end of a glaciation. In such a case a eustatic rise due to the melting of the glaciers can be expected in a post-glacial period. These sea-level movements can be independent of any change in the height of the land, but isostasy can happen contemporaneously as a result of the same phenomenon. This worldwide alteration in sea level is independent of any isostatic movement of the land. At the end of a glaciation melting of the water previously held in the ice sheets raises sea levels (eustatic rise), and a high level can often be correlated with an interglacial period or with the postglacial phase. Such fluctuations have occurred throughout the Quaternary, due to changes in the extent of ice sheets and thus in the volume of water locked up as ice. The larger the ice sheets, the less water available to the sea, and so sea level is lower during glacials than during interglacials. Evidence exists for a whole series of eustatic sea level fluctuations, but the most widespread is the 'high stand' in c 120,000 bp, just before the start of the last cold stage, when sea levels were between 2-10 meters higher than at the present day. During the maximum extent of the ice-sheets of the last cold stage, eustatic sea level was much lower than that of today. Large areas of continental shelf were exposed, some being occupied by the ice sheets themselves. Recovery of sea level at the end of the last cold stage is relatively well known from deposits in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and Scotland, but is complicated by isostatic changes. The North Sea and English Channel flooded, separating Britain from the Continent, by about 7000 bp. Ireland became a separate island at about the same time. Scandinavia had a complicated series of different seas and lakes, until a sea similar to today's Baltic became established around 7000 bp. The main factors that influence sea level are global ice volumes, plate tectonics, changes in ocean volumes and dimensions, and the movement of mantle material.
DEFINITION: Literally, "outside the body," nonbiological and nongenetic.
fast ray
DEFINITION: The component of light passing through an anisotropic mineral with the lower index of refraction.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A device that closes or secures something
faunal association
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A relative age determination technique based on archaeological associations with remains of extinct species.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The thin rough-edged projections on a casting made from a piece mold from which the cast metal has seeped or forced its way into seams, joins or cracks in the mold. On the exterior of a cast these are generally sawn off and filed down
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A narrow-mouthed jar without handles.
flat-file database
CATEGORY: database design
DEFINITION: A set of data records stored in a single large table.
fossil assemblage
DEFINITION: The part of a deposited assemblage that survives in a site or locality until discovery.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Special chipping technique that knocked off long thin slivers of flint from point edges, usually done on base bottom, occasionally on lower shoulders
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A stone or pebble ingested by a fish, reptile, or bird for the purpose of grinding food to aid digestion.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A hard, amorphous, inorganic, usually transparent, brittle substance made by fusing silicates, sometimes borates and phosphates, with certain basic oxides and then rapidly cooling to prevent crystallization. It was first developed from faience about 4,000 years ago in the Near East, but was rarely used for anything larger than beads until Hellenistic and Roman times. Glass bottles in Egypt are represented on monuments of the 4th Dynasty (at least 2000 BC). A vase of greenish glass found at Nineveh dates 700 BC. Glass is in the windows at Pompeii and the Romans stained it, blew it, worked it on lathes, and engraved it. Natural glasses, such as obsidian, are rare, but cryptocrystalline materials, with fine crystal structures somewhat like glasses, are relatively common (e.g. flint).
glass layer counting
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A dating technique for glass based on the idea that the layers present in the surface crust of ancient glass were added annually and that counting them would yield a chronometric date. Research showed different numbers of layers on different parts of the same piece, and for some pieces of known date, not enough layers to suggest annual growth. Therefore, an understanding of the processes which lead to the formation of the layers is necessary before the technique can be used with any confidence.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Denoting a technique used to decorate Greek silver plate with gold foil. Some of the more important examples of the technique, which include cups, a phiale, and a kantharos, have been found at Duvanli and Semibratny with complex figured scenes like chariot races. Detail is incised in the gold foil. It is used particular on Athenian pottery.
grass-marked pottery
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: grass-tempered pottery
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: Pottery either marked or tempered with grass. In western Britain, there are examples of pottery covered with 'grass' impressions from Ulster, the Hebrides, and Cornwall, especially around the 5th-6th centuries AD. The term also refers to crude handmade ware made in various parts of Frisia in the Migration Period and in certain parts of southern England in the Early Saxon period in which ferns and other organic material was used as tempering.
grass-tempered ware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Pottery embodying chopped grass or straw in its fabric as a tempering agent. Grass-tempered wares are well represented amongst pagan Saxon communities of the immediate post-Roman period in southern and eastern England; indeed the presence of such pottery is the basis upon which sites of the period are recognized.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: An area in ancient Greek used as a sports ground. It could be within or outside the city and normally had a palaestra, running track, dressing rooms, bathrooms, and other rooms for exercise and ball games. It was for men only, except at Sparta, and was also a center of education (philosophy, literature, and music). The Academy of Plato and the Lyceum of Aristotle were both gymnasia. The combination of health for the body and education for the mind might represented an ideal to the Greeks. The literal meaning of the word 'gymnasion' was "school for naked exercise" and every important city had one.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Denoting true porcelain made of fusible and infusible materials (usually kaolin and china stone) fired at a high temperature. Developed in early medieval China, it was not made in Europe until the early 18th century.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A hinged or looped clasp that fits over a staple and is secured by a pin, bolt or padlock.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A spear or shaft used for thrusting, or as a missile for hurling from the hand, or as a bolt from an engine. Hastile is the shaft of the spear.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: Of a Classical building, having six columns on the facade.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A metal fastener used to hold a tile or stone against a spacer and driven into a wall thus forming a flue between the wall and the tile or stone. Also used to hold timber together
DEFINITION: A term used to describe a relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism, population, or group. In systems thinking, it is used to describe the action of negative feedback processes in maintaining the system at a constant equilibrium state.
hourglass perforation
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: hour-glass perforation
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A type of perforation found in many prehistoric stone artifacts in which holes are drilled from opposite sides of the artifact. The perforation tends to be biconical or hourglass in form.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A type of early pottery of Etruria, made from unrefined clay and fired to a dark brown or black, especially during the Villanovan period. Some were biconical urns and hut models and were used for cremations. Impasto is also a paint that is applied to a canvas or panel in quantities that make it stand out from the surface. It was used frequently to mimic the broken-textured quality of highlights - i.e., the surfaces of objects that are struck by an intense light.
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.
inductively coupled plasma emission spectrometry
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A technique used to identify trace elements in stone, pottery, and metal artifacts in an attempt to trace the components' origins. It is based on the same basic principles as optical emission spectrometry, but the generation of much higher temperatures reduces problems of interference and produces more accurate results.
infrastructural determinism
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A research strategy used by cultural materialists, in which priority is assigned to modes of production and reproduction. Technological, demographic, ecological, and economic processes are the most important elements for satisfying basic human needs (the 'independent variable'); the social system is the dependent variable. These primary elements lie at the causal heart of every sociocultural system. Domestic and political subsystems (the 'structure') are considered to be secondary. Values, aesthetics, rituals, religion, philosophy, rules, and symbols (the 'superstructure') are tertiary.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: An alteration in the height of the land relative to the sea; the distribution of mass within the Earth's crust is balanced by large-scale topography. These variations are not necessarily associated with changes in sea-level (eustasy), but a major event such as glaciation can affect both land and sea. The weight of ice sheets can cause a lowering in the height of the land, but a thaw at the end of a glaciation frees the land of this pressure and it rises. Continental crust behaves like a body 'floating' on the denser underlying layers. Loading of one area may cause down-warping of the crust, which is compensated by uplift elsewhere. Removal of the load causes the crust to readjust to its former state. It is a theory that the condition of approximate equilibrium in the outer part of the earth is approximately counterbalanced by a deficiency of density in the material beneath those masses, while deficiency of density in ocean waters is counterbalanced by an excess in density of the material under the oceans. This phenomenon has occurred during the Quaternary, due to the development of large ice-sheets. The enormous weight of ice has caused downwarping of the continental crust beneath. At the ice-sheet margins, there was a compensatory uplift. On melting of the ice-sheets, the crust readjusted by uplift in the areas directly underneath and downwarping at the edges. This process is continuing today, for example in northern Europe.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A high-quality chert or agate often used as raw material for the manufacture of stone tools. It is an opaque, fine-grained or dense variety of the silica mineral that is mainly brick red to brownish red. Jasper has long been used for jewelry and ornamentation, has a dull luster but takes a fine polish. Its hardness and other physical properties are those of quartz.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The colossal stone, part-human, part-animal, figures carved on the doorways of Assyrian and Achaemenid buildings, as at Nineveh. These were guardian figures.
leaching cast
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: Soil or sediment leached down from above by some mechanism.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A large vessel shaped like the cylix but resting on a broad stand, used for holding pure wine.
life assemblage
DEFINITION: The living community of animals from which fossils are derived.
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: Patches of vegetation outside of valleys that were watered at that season by fogs. The Peruvian coast was covered with areas of this type of vegetation which could live off the moisture from the fog in the air. Lomas were created as a result of climatic shift at end of Pleistocene. Lomas culture was developed in these areas by hunters who turned to exploitation of this vegetation as their economic basis. They set up seasonally occupied camps during the winter months. The lomas provided wild seeds, tubers, and large snails; deer, camelids (probably guanaco), owls, and foxes were hunted. Milling stones, manos, mortars, pestles, and projectile points frequently occur in the assemblages. Around 2500 BC, a further climatic change made much of the lomas dry up, and the area became a desert. Lomas sites were abandoned in favor of permanent settlement at the littoral zone along the coast, where maritime resources were exploited. The deposits are not thick enough to show stratification, but they have been arranged in chronological order by comparing the implement types and noting their distribution within the shrinking patches of vegetation.
lustral basin
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: In Minoan architecture, a sunken room reached by a short flight of steps and often screened off by a parapet. They were either bathrooms or used for ritual purification.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An object worn, or carried, to cover the face.
masonry construction
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: An architectural construction method in which stones are laid on top of one another. Dry-laid are stones laid without mortar, dry-laid/daubed are dry-laid with daub pressed into the joints, and wet-laid are stones set in wet mortar.
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: A measure of the amount of material, independent of gravity, measured with a balance.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A standing stone or group of stones in the Levant similar to a dolmen. There was probably a cult purpose when erected by Canaanites (as at Gezer, Hazor). When set up by the Israelites, it was likely commemorative.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: The Arabic word for 'bench', a mudbrick superstructure of Egyptian tombs, mainly of the Archaic Period and Old Kingdom, including the royal tombs of the 1st and 2nd Dynasty. It was a low, rectangular building with a flat roof and vertical or slightly inclined walls that enclosed the shaft to the underground burial chamber. Later versions were reinforced with stone and more elaborate. It often contained a chapel, a statue of the deceased, and sometimes large numbers of rooms. The pyramids were a direct development from them. At first, kings as well as their nobles and officials were buried in mastabas, but from the 3rd Dynasty, pharaohs had pyramids and the mastabas of their eminent subjects were built around the pyramids.
DEFINITION: Any of the various now-extinct species of large mammals related to elephants. It looked like a stocky, long elephant, had long reddish-brown hair, and shorter, straighter tusks than the mammoth. The American mastodon (Mammut americanum), is classified as a browser from its low-crowned teeth, as opposed to the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), which because of its high-crowned teeth, is classified as a grazer. It lived on spruce and pine. The mastodon had large hemispherical cusps on the surface of each molar tooth. They first appeared in the early Miocene and continued in various forms through the Pleistocene Epoch (from 1,600,000-10,000 years ago). In North America, mastodons probably persisted into post-Pleistocene time and were contemporaneous with historic North American Indian groups. Mastodons had a worldwide distribution; their remains are quite common and are often very well preserved. Hunting may have led to its extinction.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A breast-shaped drinking cup, usually with one horizontal and one vertical handle. In Athens, black-glossed and figured-decorated examples have been found.
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: An observation made by reference to a standardized scale.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: mile fort, mile castle
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A fortlet (small fort) set at intervals of one Roman mile along a major well-defended frontier - such as Hadrian's Wall. They measured 60-70 x 50-60 ft. A roadway passed through the center of the milecastle and through the wall itself, with gateways at both entrances. There were two barrack buildings parallel with the road. In one corner, next to the wall, was a stairway up to the wall top; in the other was the cookhouse. It is estimated that 30-100 men could be accommodated in each milecastle.
millefiori glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Decorative glass formed by cutting slices from bundles of thin multi-colored glass rods, fused together (the word literally means ?a thousand flowers'). The slices were then set into a background mount of metal or enamel. The technique seems to have been developed by Anglo-Saxon craftspeople.
CATEGORY: typology
DEFINITION: Incorrect assignment of an observation at the nominal or ordinal scale; attributing to the wrong class or category.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A soft leather slipper or shoe, having the sole turned up and sewn to the upper in a gathered seam, originally worn by North American Indians
muff glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A flat piece of window glass made by blowing a bubble of glass. The bubble was swung to and fro on the blow-pipe as it was being blown so that it became a long cylindrical bubble. The ends were cut off the cylinder which was then split along the middle and allowed to uncurl on a flat surface in an oven to produce a flat sheet of glass.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A container in which needles are held.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Material in a clay, mineral or organic, which by virtue of generally large particle size lacks the property of plasticity and reduces the stickiness of the clay
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: A fertile patch in a desert. There are five major oases in western Egypt: Siwa, Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla, and Kharga. Except for some Old Kingdom and First Intermediate settlements in Dakhla, most of the oases were probably not occupied until the 1st millennium BC. Two-thirds of the total population of the Sahara are sedentary peoples living in oases and these areas have vegetative growth. In all Saharan oases the date palm constitutes the main source of food, while in its shade are grown citrus fruits, figs, peaches, apricots, vegetables, and cereals such as wheat, barley, and millet.
oasis hypothesis
DEFINITION: A theory about the origins of agriculture that domestication began as a symbiotic relationship between humans, animals, and plants at oases during the drying of the Near East at the end of the Pleistocene; associated with V. Gordon Childe and others. Both humans and animals and plants would have gathered around the few oases or water sources, and humans would gradually come to control many other species.
omphalos-based jar
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Ceramic vessels with a prominent hollow dome raised into the base of the pot.
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A Greek thesaurus of terms, a type of ancient text consisting of lists of various categories of names, from plants and animals to cities or professions. The onomastica were presumably intended to serve both as repositories of knowledge and as training exercises for scribes.
open association
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: An assumed relationship between two or more artifacts that are found together, when it cannot be proved that they were deposited together.
painted glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Glass which has been colored and decorated by painting
paradigmatic classification
CATEGORY: typology
DEFINITION: A type of systematics that employs a preconceived set of classes defined by the intersection of dimensions or attributes.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: In a Greek theater, the side wings of the skene - which was originally a mask-changing building and developed into an edifice decorated with columns, with three doors used for entrances and exits and the appearance of ghosts and gods.
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: An opening similar to a doorway but too small for an adult to fit through. It occurs at or below the vertical midpoint of a wall.
passage grave
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A category of megalithic or chambered tomb in which there is a burial chamber and a separate passage into the tomb; the chamber is reached from the edge of the covering mound via a long passage. It includes the earliest known megalithic graves of Europe, dating from about 5000 BC (in Brittany). The diagnostic features are a round mound covering a burial chamber (often roofed by corbelling) approached by a narrower entrance passage. The distinction between passage and funerary chamber proper is very marked. The origin of the passage grave is unclear. Passage graves occur throughout the area where megalithic tombs occur in Europe, but have a predominantly western distribution. In some areas, passage graves were still being constructed in the Bronze Age.
passive remote sensing
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any geophysical sensing method which measures physical properties such as magentism and gravity without the need to inject energy to obtain a response.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: The clay substance of pottery excluding temper/filler additives.
paste texture
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: In ceramic analysis, the appearance of the ceramic paste as determined by clay particle size.
DEFINITION: An economy based on livestock raising, in which the bulk of the food supply is derived from domesticated animals, often in the form of secondary products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
CATEGORY: people
DEFINITION: An animal herder, esp. sheep or cattle.
DEFINITION: Any person who cultivates land in rural areas for their basic subsistence and pays tribute to elite groups.
CATEGORY: term; technique
DEFINITION: A term generally referring to an archaeological unit defined by artifacts and cultural traits that distinguish it from other units. It is an archaeological unit defined by characteristic groupings of culture traits that can be identified precisely in time and space. It lasts for a relatively short time and is found at one or more sites in a locality or region. Therefore, it is an interval of time in the archaeological record, especially a relatively limited time within a specific locality or region and often used to represent a distinct prehistoric people. The archaeologist abstracts the phase from a number of components which occupy a certain area in space and the same span in time and which share many or most of their distinctive features with each other. These components may represent units as small as tribal camps or as large as cities. It is similar to "focus" in the Midwestern Taxonomic System and to "culture" in the Old World.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Greek vessel of a flattened ovoid form, with a long spout, and a handle at the top, like the askos.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A rectangular column attached to a wall, partly embedded in it, with one-fourth or one-fifth of its thickness projecting. In classical architecture, a pilaster normally observes the form of one of the architectural orders, such as Ionic or Corinthian, and supports roof beams. The anta of ancient Greece was the direct ancestor of the Roman pilaster. In ancient Roman architecture the pilaster gradually became more and more decorative rather than structural. The fourth-story wall of the Colosseum in Rome contains examples of the Roman use of pilasters. These pillar-like structures were also in the inside walls of Anasazi kivas.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A mixture of sediment and water for covering structural surfaces.
plastered skull
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Skulls found at Jericho, Israel, which were covered in plaster and painted as well as decorated with cowry shells in the orbits. They were found in PPNB contexts at several sites in Syro-Palestine.
plastic limits
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The range in the amount of water that may be added to a dry clay in order to develop a satisfactorily plastic mass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The property of a material that enables it to be shaped when wet and to hold this shape when the shaping force is removed
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A sediment caused by farming activities in breaking up the soil on hills or slopes. The cultivation of soil for crops, or the intensive pasturing of animals, causes a change in the structure of the soil which may result in poor drainage; combined with the lack of vegetation, causing the soil to move downhill.
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.
potash-lime glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Glass made using potash derived from burning wood.
potassium-argon dating
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: K-A dating; potassium argon dating; radiopotassium dating
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: An isotopic method of dating the age of a rock or mineral by measuring the rate at which potassium-40, a radioactive form of this element, decays into argon. It is used primarily on lava flows and tuffs and for ocean floor basalts. Potassium, which is present in most rocks and minerals, has a single radioactive isotope, K 40. This decays by two different processes into Calcium 40 and Argon 40. Though 89% decays to Calcium 40, it is not suitable for measurement since most rocks contain Calcium 40 as a primary element, and the amount caused by the decay of K 40 cannot be determined. The remaining 11% decays into the gas Argon 40, and this can be measured, along with the amount of potassium in the sample, to get a date. Dates produced by using this technique have been checked by fission track dating. The technique is best used on material more than 100,000 years old - such as the dating of layers associated with the earliest remains of hominids, notably in the Olduvai Gorge. Lava flows embedded with the deposits containing archaeological material have been dated.
pre-Dynastic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Pre-Dynastic Egypt; Predynastic
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: The period before recorded history in Egypt and before it became a unified state in c 3100 BC. The term predynastic denotes the period of emerging cultures that preceded the establishment of the 1st dynasty in Egypt. In the late 5th millennium BC there began to emerge patterns of civilization that displayed characteristics deserving to be called Egyptian. The accepted sequence of predynastic cultures is based on the excavations of Sir Flinders Petrie at Naqadah, al-'Amirah (el-'Amra), and al-Jazirah (el-Gezira). Another somewhat earlier stage of predynastic culture has been identified at al-Badari in Upper Egypt. Until recently, most of our knowledge of pre-Dynastic Egypt was derived from the excavation of graves. Pre-Dynastic communities appeared in the section of the Nile Valley immediately south of Asyut. Large settlements were established, notably that at Hierakonpolis. Some time after 5000 BC the raising of crops was introduced, probably on a horticultural scale, in small, local cultures that seem to have penetrated southward through Egypt into the oases and the Sudan. The food-producing economy was based on the cultivation of emmer wheat and barley and on the herding of cattle and small stock, together with some fishing, hunting, and use of wild plant foods. Highly specialized craftsmen emerged to build vessels, make copper objects, weave linen, and make basketry and pottery. A series of small states arose until around 3100 BC, the unified kingdom of Ancient Egypt came into being.
primary classification
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any classification based on directly observable attributes, often carried out by archaeologists in the field.
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method of protein analysis in which it is possible to identify protein molecules surviving in fossils which are thousands and even millions of years old.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A tool for smoothing objects
raster format
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The holding of data within a map layer as points, lines, and polygons.
relational database
CATEGORY: database design
DEFINITION: A structured system of data files organized by controlled redundancy (key attributes and attribute pointers).
rite of passage
DEFINITION: A ritual symbolizing a transition in the life of an individual and his or her altered relationships to others.
rough-cast ware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Pottery decoration consisting of small particles of dried clay or gritty material dusted over the surface of a vessel, generally under a slip coating.
sample assemblage
DEFINITION: The portion of the fossil assemblage that has been excavated or collected and then analyzed.
sand glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A reversible device for measuring time by the transfer of sand from upper to lower glass bulb.
sandwich glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Any of various forms of glassware manufactured at Sandwich, Mass., from 1825 to c1890.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The single-edged knife often accompanying male Anglo-Saxon burials, a cross between an iron hacking sword and a dagger, with an angled back. It apparently served as general purpose knife or dagger. They commonly occur in Migration Period and Anglo-Saxon contexts until about the 10th century. They tended to become increasingly elaborate: many were finely inlaid with a variety of metals and some had very distinctive pommels.
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 classification
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A classification based on inferred or analytic attributes, often carried out by technicians in specialized laboratories.
shoe-last adze
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A long thin stone adze (chisel-shaped ground-stone tool) employed by the Danubian farmers of the Early Neolithic, possibly as a hoe for cultivating their fields. It is a common stone tool found in Early Neolithic Linear Pottery contexts throughout Europe. It might also have been used as an adze for carpentry.
size classification
CATEGORY: typology
DEFINITION: A categorization of faunal remains into categories based on body size: 1) rodent- and rabbit-sized, 2) wolf- and pronghorn antelope-sized, 3) mule deer and bighorn sheep, 4) bison- and elk-sized, and 5) giraffes and elephants
slash and burn
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: slash-and-burn agriculture, swidden agriculture (North American), shifting cultivation, roza (Spanish American), Brandwirtschaft (German), slash and burn agriculture, swidden agriculture
DEFINITION: A primitive and widespread form of agriculture in which forest was cleared by chopping and burning small trees. It is one of the earliest forms of cultivation. The clearance would be followed by planting of crops in the clearance - seeds planted in holes poked into the ashes - and their harvesting and replanting for a few years. Without fertilizers, however, the land soon loses its nutritional value and the clearance must be left fallow, to grow over again, while other areas of forest are cleared. A return to the original plot may be made after a reasonable length of time, hence it is also called shifting cultivation and cyclic agriculture. In temperate regions it is a wasteful method since soil fertility and crop yields, though initially high, decline rapidly, after which a new stretch of forest must be cleared.
slashed cup
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Type of miniature cup or accessory vessel found in early Bronze Age (Wessex II) graves in southern England. Generally less than 15cm across, slashed cups are characterized by having a narrow base, narrow mouth, and an expanded body with vertical slots cut in the side
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A type of sediment formed by soil and rubble being moved down hillslopes. The deposit may be caused by solifluxion or by plowwash. The poorly sorted deposit can sometimes carry the remains of archaeological sites downhill with it, resulting in a false location and mixed material.
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.
snapped base
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A term used to describe points that have a part of the base intentionally removed or fractured off as part of the intentional design by the original knapper.
soda-lime glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Glass produced using soda derived by burning seaweed and kelp.
soft paste
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Artificial porcelain, made in Europe before the discovery of kaolin, one of the ingredients necessary for true, or hard-paste, porcelain. It was manufactured from white clays, mixed with ground glass to give it translucency. It was first produced at the Medici factory in Florence between 1575 and 1587 and then in France in the early 18th century. The Sèvres factory made only soft-paste for its first thirty years and it was the main type of porcelain produced in England in the 18th century.
stained glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Colored glass used for making decorative windows and other objects through which light passes, created since early Christian times. It was not an important art until about the 12th century.
status, ascribed
DEFINITION: The social rights and duties attributed to an individual at birth, regardless of ability or achievement. An individual would be born into a particular class or family to have ascribed status.
CATEGORY: term; technique
DEFINITION: A grouping or association of artifacts, based on form and functional criteria. A subassemblage is assumed to represent a single occupational group within a prehistoric community.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: In classical building, having four columns on the facade. Also, in Roman architecture, four columns placed in a square pattern, as at four corners.
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.
triple vase
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Vessel comprising three small jars, either attached to the top of a tubular ring-base which is often hollow, or joined together at the body. Such vessels have also been described as flower vases. Roman in date
tulang mawas
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Literally, "monkey bone" a long-shafted socketed iron ax of Iron Age peninsular Malaysia c 300 BC.
unguent flask
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A small narrow-necked vessel, usually in a rough fabric, used as a container for ointment or perfume. Because of what they contained, such vessels are often found long distances from source as evidence of trade and exchange.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A decorative container without handles, typically made of glass or china and used as an ornament or for displaying cut flowers.
vase support
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A pottery vessel with a hollow cylindrical base which supports a dishlike upper surface; the name for a pottery pedestal or ring made to support round-based pottery which could not stand by itself on a flat surface. The term is used especially in European prehistory to describe highly decorated incised examples from the French Middle Neolithic Chasséen culture.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A small disc or flat ring of metal, wood or leather.
waste flake
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A by-product, eliminated or thrown away as worthless after the making of a stone tool; either a larger piece flaked off from the original stone (primary waste flake) or a smaller piece removed during finishing (secondary waste flake).
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A name for the waste product of the pottery manufacturing process. This could occur when the clay choice was bad or there was a problem in the mixing of clays or problems in firing. These find may suggest the presence of kilns or other pot-firing structures. Any refuse deposit of vessels or fragments of vessels that were cracked, warped, or otherwise damaged and made unusable during firing.
water of plasticity
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The water required for a clay material to develop optimal plasticity
window glass
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Sheet glass cut in shapes for windows or doors
wrist clasp
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of metal object in pagan Saxon graves in the Anglian areas of England and on the European continent. They are flattened rectangular or triangular pieces of bronze, often gilded or inlaid with silver and decorated with animal ornament. They were used to fasten the cuffs of tunics.

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