SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: archaeological context CATEGORY: term; technique DEFINITION: The time and space setting of an artifact, feature, or culture. The context of a find is its position on a site, its relationship through association with other artifacts, and its chronological position as revealed through stratigraphy. Certain features or artifacts may be normally associated with particular contexts, for example a potterytype may be found in the context of certain burials. If such an artifact is found out of context, it may suggest the previous presence of a burial, the robbery of a burial, or a place of manufacture of the pots that accompanied burials. An artifact's context usually consists of its immediate matrix (the material surrounding it e.g. gravel, clay, or sand), its provenience (horizontal and vertical position within the matrix), and its association with other artifacts (occurrence together with other archeological remains, usually in the same matrix). The assessment of context includes study of what has happened to the find since it was buried in the ground.
CATEGORY: term; technique DEFINITION: Artifacts and features as they functioned in the behavioral system that produced or used them.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: sequence dating CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A seriation technique, also called sequence dating, pioneered by Sir Flinders Petrie in the 19th century, in which artifacts are arranged according to the frequencies of their co-occurrence in specific contexts -- usually burials. This relative dating method, based on shared typological features, enabled Sir Flinders Petrie to establish the temporal order of a large number of Egyptian graves.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The affinity of an object to a general class of objects sharing general characteristics of form.
natural secondary context
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A secondary context resulting from natural transformational processes such as erosion or animal or plant activity.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ADT CATEGORY: database design DEFINITION: A class of data that does not conform to alphanumeric, numeric, Boolean, text, or string types; includes time and date fields as well as special data types for ordinal time, statistical dates, stratigraphic order, and spatial context.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: archeofauna CATEGORY: technique; fauna DEFINITION: Any assemblage of animal remains recovered from a single archaeologicalcontext.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: archeological chemistry CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The application of chemical theories, processes, and experimental procedures to obtaining archaeological data and to solutions of problems in archaeology. This field includes laboratory analysis of artifacts and materials found in archaeological context.
CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The use of geological techniques and methods to archaeological work. It is different from geoarchaeology in that the latter is a subfield of archaeology focusing on the physical context of deposits.
CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The study of parasites in archaeological contexts.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: zooarchaeology CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The study of animal remains, especially bones, from archaeological contexts, including the identification and analysis of faunal species as an aid to reconstructing human diets, determining the impact of animals on past economies, and in understanding the environment at the time of deposition. Animal remains are collected, cleaned, sorted, identified, and measured for their study and interpretation. The study of bones involves calculations of minimum numbers of individuals belonging to each species found; their size, age, sex, stature, dentition, and whether the bones have any marks from implements implying butchering and eating. Archaeologists attempt to answer questions such as how many species of domesticated animals there were, how far wild animals were exploited, how many very young animals there were to determine kill patterns and climate changes, in what way bones were butchered, what the sex ratios there were in determining breeding strategies, and if there were any animals of unusual size. By analyzing remains from different parts of a site it may be possible to understand some of the internal organization of the settlement, while a comparison between sites within a region may show areas of specialization.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Archaic, Archaic period, Archaic tradition CATEGORY: chronology; culture DEFINITION: A term used to describe an early stage in the development of civilization. In New World chronology, the period just before the shift from hunting, gathering, and fishing to agricultural cultivation, pottery development, and village settlement. Initially, the term was used to designate a non-ceramic-using, nonagricultural, and nonsedentary way of life. Archaeologists now realize, however, that ceramics, agriculture, and sedentism are all found, in specific settings, within contexts that are clearly Archaic but that these activities are subsidiary to the collection of wild foods. In Old World chronology, the term is applied to certain early periods in the history of some civilizations. In Greece, it describes the rise of civilization from c 750 BC to the Persian invasion in 480 BC. In Egypt, it covers the first two dynasties, c 3200-2800 BC. In Classical archaeology, the term is often used to refer to the period of the 8th-6th centuries BC. The term was coined for certain cultures of the eastern North America woodlands dating from c 8000-1000 BC, but usage has been extended to various unrelated cultures which show a similar level of development but at widely different times. For example, it describes a group of cultures in the Eastern US and Canada which developed from the original migration of man from Asia during the Pleistocene, between 40,000-20,000 BC, whose economy was based on hunting and fishing, shell and plant gathering. Between 8000-1000 BC, a series of technical achievements characterized the tradition, which can be broken into periods: Early Archaic 8000-5000 BC, mixture of Big Game Hunting tradition with early Archaic cultures, also marked by post-glacial climatic change in association with the disappearance of Late Pleistocene big game animals; then Middle Archaic tradition cultures from 5000-2000 BC, and a Late Archaic period 2000-1000 BC. In the New World, the lifestyle lacked horticulture, domesticated animals, and permanent villages.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: The placement of materials in a geographic, temporal, etc. context with other similar artifacts; the study of artifact classes with common characteristics; classification according to artifact type.
CATEGORY: site 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.
CATEGORY: artifact; term DEFINITION: A group of objects of different or similar types found in closeassociation with each other and thus considered to be the product of one people from one period of time. Where the assemblage is frequently repeated and covers a reasonably full range of human activity, it is described as a culture; where it is repeated but limited in content, e.g. flint tools only (a set of objects in one medium), it is called an industry. When a group of industries are found together in a single archaeologicalcontext, it is called an assemblage. Such a group characterizes a certain culture, era, site, or phase and it is the sum of all subassemblages. Assemblage examples are artifacts from a site or feature.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: associated 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: site; culture DEFINITION: A large cave of southwestern Zimbabwe, where excavations have revealed a long sequence of occupation over the past 50,000 years. The site gives its name to a stoneindustry and potterytype, but they are widely separated periods. There are rock paintings on the cave walls and sheep bones, found in the same archaeological levels as pottery, have been dated to 150 BC. The Bambata industry, dated between the 50th-20th millennia BC, used prepared cores to produce (unretouched) flakes for scrapers and slender unifacial or bifacial lances or spear points. Its distribution extended north to Zambia and south to the Orange Free State and perhaps the Cape. Bambata potteryware is known only from contexts of the 1st millennium ad in Zimbabwe. It is elaborately decorated with stamped designs.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: calendrics CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A cyclical system of measuring the passage of time. The day is the fundamental unit of computation in any calendar. Most ancient civilizations (and perhaps some non-literate prehistoric societies) developed calendrical systems to mark the passage of time and various methods have been employed by different peoples. Where these were both carefully calculated and written down, as in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica, they are of considerable assistance to archaeologists for dating purposes. In the Americas, the origins of calendrics are still obscure, but evidence from Monte Albán suggests that the 52-year Calendar Round was known by the 6th century BC. The Long Count system was in use by c 1st century BC if not before. Ancient Near Eastern calendars varied from city to city and from period to period. In most cities the year started in the spring and was divided into 12 or 13 months. In some places the months were of fixed length; in others they were lunar months starting at the first sighting of the crescent of the new moon. As there are more than 12 lunar months in a solar year additional, or intercalary, months were included so that every third year contained 13 months. The earliest Egyptian calendars were based on lunar observations combined with the annual cycle of the Nileinundation, measured with nilometers. On this basis, the Egyptians divided the year into 12 months and three seasons: akhet (inundation), peret (spring/ crops), and shemu (harvest). The Egyptians had 30-day months and 5 intercalary days in their solar or civil calendar. For agricultural purposes and for determining religious festivals, they used a different calendar based on observations of Sirius, the dog star. The calendar in use in ancient Mesopotamia and the Levant was lunar, based on 12 months of 30 days each. This produced a year of only 354 days, about 11-1/4 days short of the true solar year; the necessary correction was made by the addition of seven months over a period of 19 years. This type of calendar is still used in both Judaism and Islam for religious purposes, though many countries now also employ the Gregorian solar calendar for secular purposes. The origin of the calendric system in general use today -- the Gregorian calendar -- can be traced back to the Roman republican calendar, which is thought to have been introduced by the fifth king of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus (616-579 BC). This calendar was likely derived from an earlier Roman calendar -- a lunar system of 10 months -- that was supposedly devised about 738 BC by Romulus, the founder of Rome. In the year 46 BC, Julius Caesar corrected the calendar by having a year of 445 days (known as the ultimus annus confusionis' or 'the last year of the muddled reckoning'). He then adapted the Egyptian solar calendar for Roman use, inserting extra days in the shorter months to bring the total up to 365, with the addition of a single day between the 23rd and 24th February in leap years. This calendar, known as the Julian Calendar, remained in use until the time of Gregory XIII in 1582, who made a further correction (of eleven days) and instituted the calendar which is in general use today. Very useful to Mesoamerican archaeologists is the Maya Long Count or Initial Series, which was a means of recording absolute time. Its starting date of 3113 BC (using the Goodman-Thompson-Martinex correlation) marks some mythical event in Mayahistory and itself stands at the beginning of a cycle 13 Baktuns long. A Baktun at 144,000 days in the largest unit of time in the calendar and is further divided into smaller units: the Katun (7200 days); the Tun (360 days); the Uninal (20 days) and the Kin (a single days). Thus Long Count dates are expressed in terms of these units in a five place notation. Therefore the date 188.8.131.52.0. indicates the passage of 9 x 144,000 plus 18 x 7200 days since the initial date of 3113 BC. In cultural contexts, however, the dates are inscribed as a series of hieroglyphs which incorporate numeration via bars (units of five) and dots (units of one). Short count dating replaced the Long Count after 900 AD and the Katun replaced the Baktun as the largest unit. It is less precise, however.
carved stone ball
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Roughly spherical or slightly lobate artificially shaped carved stones dating to the later Neolithic and found only in Scotland. Where decorated, the motifs used are similar to those in MEGALITHIC ART. Unornamented stone balls are, however, found in other areas of the British Isles in 4th and 3rd millennia BC contexts.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Chanhudaro, Chanhu-daro CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A city of the Harappan civilization of the 3rd millennium BC that is located in the Indus Valley south of Mohenjo-Daro in modern Pakistan. First excavated in the 1930s, it was characterized by a gridiron street plan and drainage system of typical Harappan towns. Evidence was found for the processes of sawing, flaking, grinding, and boring of stone beads. Occasional copper or bronze weapons of foreign" type are found in late contexts at Chanhu-daro. Excavation also showed that like Mohenjo-Daro Chanhu-Daro had been inundated by floods: it was twice destroyed and subsequently rebuilt on a different plan. After the end of the Indus Valley civilization it was reoccupied by the Jhukarculture."
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A method of studying charcoal, frequently found in archaeological contexts, to identify the type of tree from which it came. Charcoal is partly burned ('charred') wood, consisting mostly of carbon, sometimes found in situ as burned timbers of buildings and other structures or in hearths, but more frequently widely disseminated through the deposits. Its transverse, radial, and tangential sections are examined, as each type of wood has a characteristic structure. The main value of charcoal identification will be for showing the use made of different resources by ancient man. Charcoal survives because carbon cannot be utilized by organism decomposition.
CATEGORY: chronology; technique DEFINITION: Any method used to order time and to place events in the sequence in which they occurred. A sequential ordering that places cultural entities in temporal, and often spatial, distribution. It involves the collection of dates or successive datings establishing the position in time of a series of phenomena such as the phases of a civilization or the events of the history of a state. A chronology is relative/floating when only the order of a succession of facts is known, but not their dates, and absolute when the opposite is true. For periods or areas for which no textual evidence is available, relative chronologies have to be established and these are mostly based on pottery sequences and typology. Relative chronology is also based on the application of the principles of stratigraphy and cross-dating. The discovery of inscribed monuments and calendars associated with dated astronomical observations contributed to the development of an Egyptian chronology and it has served as a framework -- through cross-dating -- for all other Near Eastern chronologies. Inscribed Egyptian objects found in Near Eastern contexts have allowed the latter to be dated. Absolute chronology is based on scientific methods such as radiocarbon dating, thermoluminescencedating, and archaeomagnetism. Dates are often calibrated with dendrochronological dates. For dates after 1500 BC, an absolute chronology is not likely to change by more than ten years.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The act of referring to another scholar's work within the text of one's own work, allowing a scholar to situate their work in the context of previous work.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Groups of artifacts which are in original depositional context with each other. The artifacts recovered from a ceremonial offering, for instance.
CATEGORY: artifact; ceramics DEFINITION: A type of urn used in the British Early Bronze Age, also called an 'overhanging rimurn'. It has a developed rim which may be straight, convex, or slightly concave in profile. Decoration is normally on the rim or the upper half of the vessel. Collared urns often contained cremation burials, though some have been found in domestic contexts.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A methodological alternative to traditional normativearchaeology, developed by Walter W. Taylor in 1948. In it, the full range of a culturesystem is to be taken into consideration in explanatory models, with explicit connection of archaeological objects within their cultural contexts. Ancient behavior is reconstructed by defining functional sets of archaeological data.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A table for classifying elements of a population according to two variables -- recording the relationship between two classes of items, each entry counting the number of specific occurrences of the possible combinations. The rows correspond to one variable and the column to the other. The classes compared in such a cross tabulation might be, for instance, sites in different ecological zones, artifacts in different contexts, or the coincidence of different decorative traits and fabric types in a potteryassemblage. Various statistics can be calculated from such a table, especially to test the significance of the observed correlations; the chi-square test is often used to do this.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: convergent evolution; antonym: diffusion CATEGORY: term; technique DEFINITION: Term used to describe the appearance of similar traits in different areas or at different times or in different contexts, as a result of parallel or converging evolution. For example, rocker pattern was used for decorating pottery in widely separated contexts.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: cross dating CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A correlationdating technique that can yield a relative or absolute age or chronology. The basis of cross-dating is the occurrence of finds in association. The assumption is that a particular type of artifact, for example a type of sword, when found in an undated context will bear a similar date to one found in a dated context, thus enabling the whole of the undated context to be given a chronological value. The method is based on the assumption that typologies evolved at the same rate and in the same way over a wide area or alternatively on assumptions of diffusion. Many of the chronologies constructed before the advent of chronometric dating techniques were based on cross-dating. New techniques such as radiocarbon dating showed some of the links established by cross-dating to be invalid, so the method has become somewhat discredited. However, its use is still helpful where recognizable products of dateable manufacture are found in undated contexts with no possibility of using a chronometric dating technique. So in the absence of geochronology, two cultural groups can only be proved contemporary by the discovery of links between them. If in culture A an object produced by culture B is found, A must be contemporary with, or later than, B. The term cross-dating ought strictly to be used only when an object of culture A is also found in proved association with culture B, when overlap of at least part of the time span of each is proved. Items having an established date, such as dated coins or buildings, or ceramics of known manufacture are most often used. By itself, a cross-dated chronology does not give absolute dates, but it may be calibrated by reference to other dating methods. A type of cross-dating has always been used in geology and stratigraphical sequences are often correlated by the assemblages of fossils they contain; this is known as biostratigraphy. The archaeological versions of cross-dating may have been developed directly out of the geological method and may have been based on a false analogy between biological fossils and archaeological artifacts.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A type of bronze dress fastener characterized by a simple shaft with a short cross-piece set in the form of a T. Some examples have decoration on the upper part of the shank and head. Dating to the 15th century BC they are found in southern Britain in association with Wessex Culture II graves and on the continent in Rienecke A2 contexts.
cultural disturbance process
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: Any human behavior that modifies artifacts in their archaeological context, e.g. digging canas, hearths, houses, etc.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: curated technology CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: Deliberate attempts by prehistoric peoples to preserve key artifacts and structures for posterity. These artifacts that are reused and transported so often that they are rarely deposited in contexts that their original locations of manufacture and use are no longer known.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: Archaeological data found in association and in primary context and used to define areas and kinds of ancient activity. Such information may be divided into composite, differentiated, and simple data clusters.
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
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: depositional process CATEGORY: geology; term DEFINITION: Any of the various processes by which artifacts move from active use to an archaeologicalcontext, such as loss, disposal, abandonment, burial, etc. It is the laying, placing, or throwing down of any material. In geology, it is the constructive process of accumulation into beds, veins, or irregular masses of any kind of loose, solid rockmaterial by any kind of natural agent (wind, water, ice). The transformation of materials from a systemic to an archaeologicalcontext are directly responsible for the accumulation of archaeological sites and they constitute the dominant factor in forming the archaeological record. Deposition is the last stage of behavioral processes, in which artifacts are discarded.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: diagnostic CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: Artifacts that can be used as index fossils in a cultural context.
differentiated data cluster
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A method of clustering data that are heterogeneous and patterned in regard to two or more activities reflective of age or sex differences; e.g., a house floor with cooking utensils and hunting weapons in primary context.
direct historical approach
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: DHA CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The technique of working backwards in time, from the present into the past, from historic sites of known age into earlier times. This method of chronological ordering is based on the comparison of historically documented or contemporary artifacts with those recovered from archaeological contexts. An analogy or homology is made using historical records or historical ethnographic data for the site and the surrounding region. This technique was developed by W.D. Strong in the 1930s.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: disturbance process CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The changing or altering of an archaeologicalcontext by the effect(s) of an unrelated activity at a later time. Examples include dam building, farming, and heavy construction, as well as noncultural activities such as freeze-thaw cycles, landslides, and simple erosion. Disturbance is also the nonscientific removal of an artifact from its archaeologicalcontext.
Dong Zuobin (1895-1963)
CATEGORY: person DEFINITION: Chinese archaeologist who specialized in oracle bone inscriptions from the Shangdynasty (1400-1100/1027 BC). He tried to reconstruct the bones' context and establish criteria for determining fakes. He found 10,000 complete or fragmentary oracle bones.
CATEGORY: flora DEFINITION: A primitive variety of wheat, similar to einkorn. It was cultivated by early farmers and is a hulled species (i.e. threshing does not remove the glumes from the grain). It is found in archaeological contexts in its wild and its cultivated form from the eighth millennium BC onwards. It is still grown in mountainous parts of southern Europe as a cereal crop and livestock food. It is thought to be the ancestor of many other varieties of wheat.
CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: A subfield of archaeology which is the study of the environment in archaeological contexts. It includes not only the study of past flora (pollen analysis, palaeobotany, palaeoethnobotany, archaeobotany), and fauna (archaeozoology), but also that of insects (insect analysis), fish (fish bone analysis), and snail shells (molluscan analysis). All are studied in an attempt to recover the total environment of a past society and to understand man's impact on, and changes to, that environment. It is a field in which interdisciplinary research, involving archaeologists and natural scientists. Many disciplines are involved in this study: climatology, Quaternarygeology, soilscience, palaeobotany, zoology, and human biology.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ethnoarchaeological studies CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The study of contemporary cultures with a view to understanding the behavioral relationships which underlie the production of material culture. It is the use of archaeological techniques and data to study these living cultures and the use of ethnographic data to inform the examination of the archaeological record. It is a relatively new branch of the discipline, followed particularly in America. It seeks to compare the patterns recognized in the material culture from archaeological contexts with patterns yielded through the study of living societies. The ethnoarchaeologist is particularly concerned with the manufacture, distribution, and use of artifacts, the remains of various processes that might be expected to survive, and the interpretation of archaeological material in the light of the ethnographic information. Less materially oriented questions such as technological development, subsistence strategies, and social evolution are also compared in archaeology and ethnology under the general heading of ethnographic analogy. Lewis Binford's study of the Nunamiut Eskimo is one of the best known studies in ethnoarchaeology.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The systematic and scientific recovery of cultural, material remains of people as a means of obtaining data about past human activity. Excavation is digging or related types of salvage work, scientifically controlled so as to yield the maximum amount of data. It is the main tool of the archaeologist. The excavation of a site, however, involves the destruction of the primary evidence, which can never be recovered. Excavation should therefore never be undertaken lightly or without an understanding of the obligations of the excavator to the evidence he destroys. The first decision is whether to excavate a site at all, a question of particular interest when sites are being rapidly destroyed by farming methods and road and town building. The nature and scale of the undertaking is the next decision. If time and/or money is short, sampling of the site may be all that is possible. If a large-scale excavation is to be undertaken, the approach will be either area (open) excavation, grid method, quadrant method, rabotage, sondage, etc. Removal of the topsoil will either be carried out by hand or machine. After an initial plan has been made of all visible features before excavation, digging proceeds according to the dictates of the site: sections may be taken across areas of feature intersection, or across individual features. A permanent record of the whole process should be kept: plans, drawings, notes, photographs. Excavation is only the first part of the process. For years, excavation was regarded as merely a method of collecting artifacts. Pitt Rivers in Britain and Petrie in the Near East first placed emphasis on evidence rather than artifacts, not what is found but where it was found relative to the layers of deposit (stratigraphy) and to other objects (association) -- the context. The excavator can only justify his destruction if it is done with meticulous care so that every artifact, be it an ax or a posthole, is discovered and if possible preserved; if it is recorded accurately enough for all information to remain available after the site has disappeared; and if this record is quickly made available by publication. In short, excavation is the digging of archaeological sites, removal of the matrix, and observance of the provenience and context of the finds therein, and the recording of them in a three-dimensional way.
CATEGORY: typology DEFINITION: Any attribute of an object that is not inherent in the object -- context in time, space, function, society, psychological state in which object was found, made, used, seen, or discarded.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: faïence, fayence; frit, paste CATEGORY: ceramics DEFINITION: A name used for the medieval pottery of Faenza in northern Italy, one of the chief seats of the ceramicsindustry in the 16th century; it was an early majolica. It is also used for the tin-glazed earthenware made in France, Germany, Spain, and Scandinavia as distinguished from Faenza majolica, and that made in The Netherlands and England, which is called delft. But most accurately, it is the primitive form of glass developed in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC and then, almost as early, in Egypt; it is sometimes called Egyptian faience. It is a substance composed of a sand and clay mixture baked to a temperature at which the surface begins to fuse to a bluish or greenish glass. It was colored with copper salts to produce a blue-green finish and used especially for beads and figurines, particularly in the second millennium BC. Its main use in the Bronze Age was for beads, seals, figurines, and similar small objects. The glazed material could be comprised of a base of either carved steatite (soapstone) or molded clay with a core of crushed quartz (or quartz and soda-lime) fired so that the surface fuses into a glassy coating. Examples occur also in Bronze Age contexts in Europe, including the Wessex Culture.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A number assigned to any object found in stratified contexts, indicating the unit of stratification in which they were found.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: andiron CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: An instrument consisting of an iron bar held horizontally at one end by an upright support, used to ensure the proper burning of a fire. A pair of these was put at each side of the hearth or fireplace to support burning wood; the end of a log could rest on the crosspiece, which was supported by two uprights. Decorative iron examples come from La Tene Iron Age contexts, mostly in graves. In a kitchen fireplace, the upright support might hold a rack in front for the spit to turn in.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A type of implement found in late Bronze Age and Iron Age contexts in Europe which comprises a long bronze shank, sometimes heavily decorated and ornamented with attachments, one end of which is bent and worked to form between one and three sharpened hooks. They are often associated with bronze buckets and cauldrons and it is believed they were used as serving implements to distribute choice cuts of meat at a feast.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: fluorine test CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A relative dating technique used on bone. Bone absorbs fluorine from groundwater at a rate proportional to the time since burial -- if groundwater migration rates remain constant. Fluorine concentrations are chemically analyzed by the gradual combination of fluorine in groundwater with the calcium phosphate of the buried bonematerial. Bones from the same stratigraphical context can be dated relatively by comparison of their fluorine content. The Piltdown forgery was finally exposed by this method.
Fort Rock Cave
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Fort Rock Basin CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An ancient Pleistocenesite in Oregon dated to over 13,000 BP and associated sites with a long sequence of occupation in the same lake basin. Deposits of pumice from an eruption of nearby Mount Mazama in c 5000 bc provided excellent chronological control for these sites. Associated artifacts, including a mano and metate, projectile points, and other stone artifacts indicate an early hunting and gathering subsistencepattern for this period. Later contexts contain artifacts of the Desert Tradition. Occupation continued into historic times, but looting has caused the archaeological record to be unreliable after c 1000 BC.
CATEGORY: ceramics DEFINITION: A flat ceramicplate used in the final stage of detoxifying manioc. After grating and pulping, thin disks of manioc are baked on the griddle into a kind of unleavened bread. Although there are other methods of preparation, use of the griddle is especially common in northeastern South American contexts, where the artifact signifies agricultural practice.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: Post-processual archaeology using coherence of data and context in an attempt to understand the meaning of archaeological evidence, as distinct from both the more extreme relativist, post-structural archaeology and processual archaeology.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A style of tool-making representing the maker's particular choices among alternatives in a particular cultural context.
CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: A name applied to two distinct minerals, nephrite and jadeite; a general term for a semiprecious stone used in East Asia from the Neolithic onwards. Jade, in the form of polished axes, was traded in Neolithic Europe but chiefly known from contexts in China and Mesoamerica. It is too hard to be cut or flaked, but may be worked by abrasion. The most highly prized of the two is jadeite.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A long flake with abrupt blunting retouch along one margin. Ethnographic specimens have handgrips of skin or resin and are documented from western, central, and eastern Queensland, Australia. They are very rare in archaeological contexts and are only known from the last few hundred years.
CATEGORY: language DEFINITION: A term used for any text recording the names and titles of the rulers of Egypt and the length of their reigns. The most important include the Sumerian King List, which recorded the dynasties ruling southern Mesopotamia from the mythical period before the Flood to the Isin-Larsaperiod, and the Assyrian King List, which listed the rulers of Assyria from before 2000 BC to the Late Assyrianperiod. There were also lists in Egypt which incorporate information on principal events of individual reigns. Virtually all of the surviving examples are found in religious or funerary contexts and often relate to the celebration of the cult of royal ancestors, whereby each king established his own legitimacy and place in the succession by making regular offerings to a list of the names of his predecessors. The lists are often surprisingly accurate, although they are also noticeably selective, regularly omitting certain rulers who were considered to have been in any way illegitimate or inappropriate, such as Akhenaten (1352-1336 BC).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: pl. korai CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A type of freestanding statue of a maiden -- the female counterpart of the kouros, or standing youth -- that appeared with the beginning of Greek monumentalsculpture in about 660 BC and remained to the end of the Archaic period in about 500 BC. It evolved from a highly stylized form to a more naturalistic one. The statue was usually draped, carved from marble, and painted in its original form. These are often dedications in sanctuaries and some are found in funeral contexts. Important series were in the temple of Hera on Samos and on the Acropolis in Athens.
Lartet, Edouard (1801-1871)
CATEGORY: person DEFINITION: A French scholar, one of the pioneers of Palaeolithicarchaeology, known as the founder of the science of palaeontology. He proposed a classification scheme for the Palaeolithicperiod based on animal bones: the Cave Bear period; the Woolly Mammoth and Rhinoceros period; the Reindeer period and the Aurochs or Bison period. He collaborated with Henry Christy in excavating many of the well-known rock shelter sites of southern France and was one of the first to recognize in situ mobiliary art; the publication of these objects from well-excavated contexts made it easier for scholars to accept the authenticity of cave art. With Christy, he carried out the first systematic study of south French caves, and excavated many of the most famous sites in the Dordogne (Laugerie-Haute, Le Moustier, La Madeleine). Their results appeared in several important articles, and also, during the decade 1865-1875, in the volumes of Reliquiae Aquitanicae"."
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: An early kind of key, found in Roman and early medieval contexts, it is simply a bent piece of ironrod with an expanded end that could be pushed through a hole in a wooden door to raise a catch-bar on the inside.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Any unit of collection in which artifacts are presumed to share the same particular context, typically, a level of a trench
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The number assigned to an archaeological collection that identifies an aspect of context within a collection; part of the catalog number.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A technique used in the analysis of artifact composition, particularly iron-bearing minerals in pottery. It involves the measurement of the gamma radiation absorbed by the iron nuclei, which provides information on the particular iron compounds in the sample, and hence on the conditions of firing when the pottery was being made. Samples are bombarded with gamma rays and a record made of the detected amount of absorption by iron nuclei. The use of this method of physical analysis has been confined mainly to the examination of iron compounds, though other uses have been suggested. The Mössbauer effect of recoil-free emission and absorption of gamma rays only occurs with a limited number of isotopes, of which one of the iron isotopes is useful in archaeological contexts. Because of its sensitivity to short-range crystalline order, the technique is better for examining poorly crystallized iron-bearing minerals than X-ray diffraction. This type of spectroscopy is also used for the study of nuclear hyperfine structure, chemical shifts, and chemical analysis.
CATEGORY: site; culture DEFINITION: A series of early Formative Period sites on the coast of Ecuador of c 2000 BC, known chiefly through ceramics -- the distinctive Macalilla ceramic complex. Traded sherds found in both Valdivia C and Late Tutish-Canyno contexts suggest mid- to late 2nd millennium BC. Machalillaceramics, in contrast to Valdivian, are painted (red banded and black-on-white) and figurines are rare and crudely made. Wattle-and-daub fragments in middens indicate that houses existed, but no foundations have been defined.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: lower grindstone, concave quern, stone saddle quern CATEGORY: lithics DEFINITION: A ground-stoneslab with a concave upper surface used as a lower millstone against which another stone is rubbed to grind vegetable material such as cereal grains, seeds, nuts, etc. A metate is one of a two-part milling apparatus -- the other part being with a mano (handheld upper grindstone). Metates are found in agricultural and preagricultural contexts over much of the world and are often made of volcanic rock in Mesoamerica. It is a Spanish term for the smoothed, usually immobile, stone with a concave upper surface and is mostly associated with the grinding of maize. It is a hallmark artifact in the definition of prehistoricsubsistence patterns.
Mount Mazama ash
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: 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.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The concept that an artifact can have different meanings depending on its context.
CATEGORY: ceramics DEFINITION: A type of spouted vase or lustration vessel usually used in ritual contexts such as the opening of the mouth ceremony, which was a ritual intended to instill life into funerary statues or mummies.
neutron activation analysis
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: NAA CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A physical method of chemical analysis used to determine the composition of various substances such as flint, obsidian, pottery, coins, etc. found in archaeological contexts. It can be totally nondestructive to the sample and involves the excitation of the atomic nuclei rather than the atomic electrons. The specimen is bombarded with neutrons which interact with nuclei in the sample to form radioactive isotopes that emit gamma rays as they decay. The energy spectrum of the emitted rays is detected by a scintillation or semiconductor counter. Constituent elements and concentrations are identified by the characteristic energy spectrum of emitted rays and their intensity. The time between the neutron activation of the sample and the measurement of the gamma rays depends on the half-lives of the radioactive isotopes, which may range from seconds to thousands of years: often a few weeks may be necessary before measurement takes place. Neutron activation analysis has an advantage over X-ray fluorescence spectrometry since it analyzes the whole specimen as opposed to the surface only. Care must be taken that the neutron dose is not so great as to make the specimen radioactively unsafe for handling. The method is particularly useful for the identification of trace elements; however, it is not universally applicable since some elements have too short a half-life for measurement, and others do not form radioactive isotopes. The method is accurate to about plus or minus 5 percent. Neutron activation analysis of certain Hopewell artifacts made of obsidian has proven that the source of the obsidian was in what is now Yellowstone National Park.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: off-site archaeology; landscape archaeology CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The recovery and analysis of unclustered physical remains produced by human activities. Non-sitearchaeology generally concentrates on remains recovered in a surface or plow zone context. It is an approach, especially in archaeological survey, where the unit of analysis is the artifact rather than the site. Practitioners document the distribution of humanly-modified materials across the landscape.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: non-site archaeology; off-site archaeology; landscape archaeology CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The recovery and analysis of unclustered physical remains produced by human activities. Non-sitearchaeology generally concentrates on remains recovered in a surface or plow zone context. It is an approach, especially in archaeological survey, where the unit of analysis is the artifact rather than the site. Practitioners document the distribution of humanly-modified materials across the landscape.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: non-site archaeology, landscape archaeology CATEGORY: branch; technique DEFINITION: The recovery and analysis of unclustered physical remains produced by human activities. Non-sitearchaeology generally concentrates on remains recovered in a surface or plow zone context. It is an approach, especially in archaeological survey, where the unit of analysis is the artifact rather than the site. Practitioners document the distribution of humanly-modified materials across the landscape.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Perigordian CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A French classification for the Upper Palaeolithictradition of western Europe, from its identification with the Perigord region of southern France. The flintindustrysequence begins with the Chatelperronian (or Early Périgordian) from which, according to some, developed the first of the 'Upper Périgordian' industries (Gravettian, or Périgordian IV). The later stages are represented by industries with Font Robert points and Noailles burins, and finally by the Proto-Magdalenian. The Périgordian tradition comes to an end in western Europe with the intrusion of a new Solutreanstyle of flintwork. No known site has a complete and unbroken 'Périgordian' sequence, and in many caves the Lower and Upper 'Périgordian' levels are separated by strata of the intrusiveAurignacianindustry, which must represent a break of several thousand years. The French scheme requires the Périgordian and Aurignacian people to have lived side by side with each other for millennia without any apparent contact between them. In the 1930s, Denis Peyrony advocated the view that the Aurignacian or early Upper Palaeolithic in France consisted of a true Aurignacian and a separate line of cultures, the Perigordian, beginning before the Aurignacian but co-existing alongside it down the time of the Solutrean. It is not known what kind of man was responsible for the Perigordian, but it is usually assumed that it was Cro-Magnon man, at least in the latter part. A Neanderthal-like skull has been found with the early Perigordian, or Chatelperronian. Art is found in a few later Perigordian contexts. The Perigordian scheme is not now widely accepted as it is based on artifact typology rather than stratigraphic evidence.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: palaeoentomology CATEGORY: related field DEFINITION: The study of insects from archaeological contexts. The survival of insect exoskeletons, which are quite resistant to decomposition, is an important source of evidence in the reconstruction of paleo-environments
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: palaeopedology CATEGORY: related field DEFINITION: The study of the creation, character, stratigraphy of buried fossil soils (palaeosols), which includes material in both geological and archaeological contexts and their geomorphic, temporal, and palaeoenvironmental significance. Soil scientists can assist archaeologists by explaining the natural and man-influenced processes on sites, such as the manner of filling of certain types of feature. Information may be deduced about climatic and environmental variation, which can lead to conclusions about the manipulation of the land by man.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: pattern-welding CATEGORY: geology DEFINITION: A post-Roman period technique of ironworking used particularly in the manufacture of weapons, mainly swords, developed to overcome the problems of brittleness caused by trying to diffuse carbon into iron. It produced blades that were both strong and decorative. In the manufacture of a sword, for example, the central part would typically be a core of carbon steel, with soft iron welded to it. Wire and strip metal, sometimes in varying combinations of type and color, were welded together and hammered out to produce a blade with patterned effect. The pattern derives from the difference in the carbon content between the uncarburized cores and the carburized surfaces of the welded strips, which is exposed during the forging and grinding of the weapon. A sword of this quality could have taken some 75 hours to make. The finest examples have been attributed to Frankish workshops, although notable examples are also known from Anglo-Saxon and Viking contexts.
CATEGORY: related field DEFINITION: The study of soils and their structure, especially the creation, characteristics, distribution, and uses of soils. Archaeology depends an identification of soils to come up with the proper interpretation of the context and integrity of deposits. This scientific discipline is concerned with all aspects of soils, including their physical and chemical properties, the role of organisms in soil production and in relation to soil character, the description and mapping of soil units, and the origin and formation of soils.
CATEGORY: chronology DEFINITION: Any specific interval of time in the archaeological record, such as the Upper Paleolithic period. This term is often confusingly used interchangeably with phase and stage. A period is a true time division of the history of a large region (such as the Valley of Mexico or southern China) and does not necessarily imply any developmental characteristics. In archaeological context, it is a major unit of prehistoric time, usually containing several phases and pertaining to a wide area. It is a convenient term used to discuss the history of a complexarea.
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.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: A basic method of recording context where every artifact or ecofact is individually recorded (point-plotted) according to its horizontal and vertical location.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: post-processual explanation, postprocessual approach CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A relatively new school of archaeological thinking that uses the ideational strategy and cautions against the shortcomings of scientific methods and the new (or processual) archaeology. It was formulated in reaction to the perceived limitations of functional-processual archaeology and pushes for an individualizing" or "idiosyncratic" approach that is influenced by structuralism critical theory and neo-Marxist thought. It emphasizes social factors in human societies both the active role of individuals as decision makers and the meaning-laden contexts in which decisions are made. It is based on the notions that culture must be understood as sets of symbols that evoke meanings and that these vary depending on particular contexts of use and the histories of artifacts and the people who use them."
Pre-Pottery Neolithic A
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: PPNA CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: Palestinian village-based culture dated 8500-7600 BC, first defined at Jericho. It is derived from the Natufianculture, making use of and developing Natufian architecture (round houses). It offers evidence of first attempts at agriculture in the near East, though still in a hunting context.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The protection of artifacts and archaeological sites through activities that minimize deterioration and damage and that prevent loss of context and content.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Unwanted objects or materials found in the context where it was used and discarded.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A shell midden site on the Caribbean coast of Colombia which offers evidence of a pottery-making culture as early as 3000 BC. Fiber-tempered pottery in an Archaic context from the site has radiocarbon dates between 3880-3310 BC (also 3090-2552 BC), one of the oldest wares in the Americas, rivaled only by Valdiva of Ecuador and Mina of Brazil. Much of the pottery's decoration was by impression, incision, or punctation
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: General term referring to bow-brooches with a semi-circular headplate decorated with a row of radiating knobs. Two major types are the radiatebrooch with a straight-sided footplate (found in Frankish territories) and that with a lozenge-shaped footplate (found in Lombardic contexts).
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: reclamation process CATEGORY: term; technique DEFINITION: Any of various processes by which artifacts move from an archaeologicalcontext to an active status, i.e. are reclaimed" as when a later society makes use of objects deposited earlier. It is the transition of cultural materials from the archaeological record back into the systemic context such as the scavenging of archaeological artifacts for reuse by both nonindustrial and industrial peoples. The act of archaeologicalexcavation is actually reclamation."
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: The transition of cultural materials from the archaeological record back into the systemic context; archaeological excavation itself is reclamation
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: Any human behavior that recycles and resuses artifacts before the artifact enters an archaeological context
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Bronze or iron dress-fitting comprising a slender shaft typically 5-10cm in length with a point at one end, while the other end has been bent round onto itself to form a loop or ring. Found in middle and later Iron Age contexts in the British Isles.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Sambungmatjan CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: The find-site on the Solo River, Java, of Homo erectus ancestor fossils (specifically a cranium) with Middle or Upper Pleistocene faunal associations. It is perhaps slightly earlier than the population from Ngadndong, further downstream on the Solo River. Some stone tools were found at Sambungmachan, believed to be the first found in the same context as Homo erectus in Java.
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.
CATEGORY: culture; language DEFINITION: A name applied to the speakers of a set of related languages who inhabited portions of southwestern Asia since the time of the first cities. Semitic languages are characterized by the importance of the consonants, usually three forming the root of each word. The vowels are omitted altogether in a number of the scripts. The Semites are first recorded on the steppe margins of the Arabian desert, encroaching upon the Sumerians to form the kingdom of Akkad c 2400 BC. The Amorites appear c 2000 in the same area and in Syria-Palestine, where they settled to become the Canaanites. The Khabiru (Hebrews) appear in the same context. In the 12th century BC, the Amorites were followed by the Aramaeans, particularly in inland Syria. The Phoenicians from the 9th century BC carried their Semiticlanguage over much of the Mediterranean. Arabic and Hebrew are the most important surviving Semitic languages. Most, probably all, alphabetic scripts derive from the Semiticalphabet, created sometime in the 2nd millennium BC. The Semiticscript was invented by speakers of some Semiticlanguage, possibly Phoenician, who lived in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: palace facade decoration CATEGORY: language DEFINITION: Hieroglyphic symbol comprising the recessed paneling described in modern times as 'palace facade' decoration. It is the image of a brick facade to a palace or enclosure, with a rectangular space above. It is believed to have been modeled on the design of the earliest royal residences beginning in the Early Dynastic Period. It is found on mastaba tombs, false door stelae, coffins, sarcophagi, and numerous other funerary and ceremonial contexts throughout Egyptian history. A falcon (the sign for Horus) perches on the top horizontal of the rectangle, which encloses a king's Horus name (the first name in a king's titulary).
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A relative dating technique in which artifacts or features are organized into a sequence according to changes over time in their attributes or frequency of appearance. The technique shows how these items have changed over time and it is a way to establish chronology. Archaeologicalmaterial, such as assemblages of pottery or the grave goods deposited with burials, are arranged into chronological order. The types that comprise the assemblages to be ordered in this way must be from the same archaeologicaltradition, and from a single region or locality. Once the variations in a particular object have been classified by typology, it can often be shown that they fall into a developmental series, sometimes in a single line, sometimes in branching lines more as in a family tree. The order produced is theoretically chronological, but will need archaeologicalassessment. Outside evidence, such as dating of two or more stages in the development, may be needed to determine which is the first and which the last member of the series. There are several types of seriation: frequency seriation, contextual seriation, evolutionary seriation, and similarity / stylistic seriation -- based on different changes. A seriation technique, called sequence dating, based on shared typological features, enabled Sir Flinders Petrie to establish the temporal order of a large number of Egyptian graves.
CATEGORY: site; artifact DEFINITION: Neolithic village in Basilicata, Italy, on a hill defended by three concentric ditches. It has yielded a distinctive painted pottery of the same name, c 4500-3500 BC. Geometric designs with diagonal meanders and solid triangles are painted in black or purple-brown on a buff surface. A frequent motif is a zigzag line between parallels (linea a tremolo marginato"). Jars and handled cups are the standard forms and the elaborate handles are horizontal tubular with zoomorphic additions on the top. In the later phase a thin and markedly splayed trumpetlug was adopted from the DianaWare of Lipari. The high quality of the ware and the fact that it most often occurs in graves and other ritual contexts suggests that it was produced for special purposes. It was traded over a wide area occurring in SicilyLipari Lake Garda Malta and in central Italy."
Serra d'Alto pottery
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Neolithic village in Basilicata, Italy, on a hill defended by three concentric ditches. It has yielded a distinctive painted pottery of the same name, c 4500-3500 BC. geometric designs with diagonal meanders and solid triangles are painted in black or purple-brown on a buff surface. A frequent motif is a zigzag line between parallels (linea a tremolo marginato"). Jars and handled cups are the standard forms and the elaborate handles are horizontal tubular with zoomorphic additions on the top. In the later phase a thin and markedly splayed trumpetlug was adopted from the Dianaware of Lipari. The high quality of the ware and the fact that it most often occurs in graves and other ritual contexts suggests that it was produced for special purposes. It was traded over a wide area occurring in SicilyLipari Lake Garda Malta and in central Italy."
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: shoe-last celt CATEGORY: lithics DEFINITION: A long thin stoneadze (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.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The arrangement of the various components of an archaeological site, including artifacts, features, and structures. Site structureanalysis identifies how a space was organized and used and how it related to aspects of the cultural system. Site structure analyses are used to make warranting arguments in the context of the archaeological record and are often done in ethnoarchaeological studies.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A weapon consisting of two thongs attached to a pouch, one of the first missile weapons in warfare. The weapon was whirled and a thong released, hurling a stone from the pouch with considerable velocity. Except in desert areas, such as the Peruvian coast, the sling itself does not survive but sling-bolts or shot of stone, terra-cotta or lead are present as artifacts. It is rarely found in the same cultural contexts as the bow and arrow. In another type, the sling was attached to a short staff that was held in both hands; it was used for heavier missiles, especially in siege operations during the European Middle Ages.
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: Study of the interaction of pedogenic and geomorphic processes to interpret landscapes. The physical context of archaeologicalmaterial is determined and evaluated by soil geomorphic techniques.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The extrusion of liquid fiber-forming material, followed by hardening to form filaments; a technical process by which fibers are twisted together to make continuous threads. The wool was fixed as a mass on the distaff. A thread was drawn out by one hand and fixed on the spindle. Attached to this last was a stone spindle whorl. As the spindle was spun around the whorl gave momentum on the flywheel principle. The thread from the distaff was twisted and then wound on to the spindle. Rarely are the threads, or cloth woven from them, are found in archaeological contexts, unless preserved by desiccation, waterlogging, or metal corrosion products. Proof of spinning comes more commonly from the discovery of a spindle whorl, loomweight, or comb. Spinning was engaged in during Neolithic times.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: spondylus CATEGORY: fauna DEFINITION: Mediterranean mussel shell from which ornaments (bracelets, beads, disks) were made, found all across the Balkans, up the Danube Valley, and even on the Saale and the Main. It was traded for this purpose into central Europe in the Early Neolithic. Spondylus shell ornaments occurred in contexts of the First Temperate Neolithic and Linear Pottery culture (Czechoslovakia, Germany, the Netherlands).
spout and bridge pot
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: spout-and-bridge vessel CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A distinctive closed vessel with two spouts connected by a strap handle, popular in southern coastal Peruvian cultures with antecedents in the Initial Period ceramics of the Hacha complex. Typically it is a closed kettle-shaped vessel, but its defining characteristic is a pair of vertical tubular spouts joined to each other by a strip or bridge. Sometimes, however, one spout terminates as a whistle or as a modeled life figure. It was particularly popular with the Nasca and Chimu but has been found in many other New World contexts (e.g. Paracas).
CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The natural statistical distribution of a series of measurements around an arithmetic mean value; a measure of the scatter (variability, dispersion, spread) about the mean in a distribution. In archaeology, it is used in association with chronometric dating techniques like radiocarbon dating, where each measurement is a calculation of date for the sample, and the final date given, e.g. 2,400 ? 200, is a statistical description of a 'real' date. The standard deviation (?) as quoted means that there is a 66% chance of the real date lying within that range (for the above example, between 2,600-2,200). For greater probability, the date must be taken to two standard deviations (there is a 95% certainty that the date lies between 2,800-2,000) or three standard deviations (99% certainty). A single date with a relatively large error is generally of less use than a series of dates from the same context, which may show a clustering around a central date.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A site west of the Air Mountains in the Tamesna of Niger, Africa, where pottery occurs in one of its earliest known Saharan contexts c 7300 BC. The sherds were found in association with barbed boneharpoon heads. Also, bone harpoons associated with lucustrine fauna have been dated to c 9400 bp.
Taylor, Walter W. (1913- )
CATEGORY: person DEFINITION: American archaeologist who believes in the conjunctive approach to archaeology, emphasizing the connection of objects to their cultural contexts.
tertiary cultural deposit
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A cultural deposit that has been completely removed from its original context and may have been reused.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A small convexscraper the size and shape of a thumbnail, found in both Pleistocene and Holocene contexts in Australia. Finely worked examples are part of the Australian Small Tool Tradition. Increasingly reported from Pleistocene sites and distinctive feature of southwestern Tasmanian Pleistocene and Victoria assemblages from about 24,000 years ago.
CATEGORY: deity DEFINITION: Mesoamerican rain and fertility god, usually depicted wearing a fringed mouth-mask or a spectacle-shaped frame round his eyes, recognized this way in the art of the Aztec people of Teotihuacán. Under various names Tlaloc was worshipped by other of the Mexican tribes: Chac (Lowland Maya), Tajin (Totonacs) and Cocijo (Zapotecs). Images of Tlaloc occur in many contexts over a considerable period of time, e.g. at Copán, Monte Alban, Kaminaljuyu and Chichen Itza. During the Classic Period his image appears on pottery, wall painting, and architecture.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A miningarea and village in Zaire on the Kasai River where Early Iron Age pottery vessels of Urewe type were found in an undated context and without further archaeological associations. The discovery has been used as evidence for an early spread of Early Iron Age industries along the southern fringes of the equatorial forest.
CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: In Roman architecture, the name of a farm or country house or a farming residence with luxurious private, urban, and humble rural dwellings. In the Roman context, the farmstead had ancillary buildings and one main residential structure. In a Minoancontext, a villa was a rural residence with some local administrative functions. The residential villas were often in an area of beauty or on the seashore. Many villas existed throughout the Roman Empire, and references to them are common in the works of Roman writers, especially Cicero, who had seven villas, and Pliny, who described his villas in Tuscany and near Laurentum. The most famous villa is Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli (c 120-130 AD).
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: Simple musical instrument comprising a hollow tube, often of bone or wood, down which air can be blown; one or more holes in the side of the tube can be covered and uncovered with the fingers to alter the flow of air and thus produce a range of different sounds. When the holes are placed at proportioned intervals, a simple chromatic scale can be produced. Some of the earliest examples known include the hollowed femur of a cave bear with three holes, one in the posterior surface and two in the anterior, from an Upper Palaeolithiccontext in the Istállóskö Cave, Hungary. It provides a musical range Aiii, Biii, Biii, Eiii. The basic design involving a hollowed bone provided with holes is represented throughout later prehistory by many examples from findspots scattered widely across Europe. Also, a small tube in which there is a fixed constriction such that when blown a shrill sound is produced. The earliest examples, perhaps decoy whistles, are from Upper Palaeolithic occupation sites in France and parts of central Europe. All are made from reindeer phalanges pierced on one surface.
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."
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: bracer CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A rectangular plate of bone or stone, perforated on the ends and strapped to the forearm of an archer to prevent injury when the bowstring recoils. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish a wristguard from a whetstone. They occur commonly in Beaker contexts in Europe.
X-ray diffraction analysis
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: x-ray diffraction analysis CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A technique used to identify minerals present in an artifact's raw materials; it can also be used in geomorphologic contexts to identify particular clay minerals in sediments and thus the source from which the sediment was derived. The technique identifies the major chemical components of an artifact, mainly on pottery though stone and weathering products on metal have also been analyzed. A sample is powdered and then bombarded with X-rays and a diffraction pattern is reflected onto and recorded as a series of arcs by photographic film. The patterns are compared with reference standards to identify the minerals present; mineral identification is based on the spacing between the arcs. X-ray diffraction can yield information on the manufacturing processes of pottery and metal and for this purpose the back-reflection diffraction method is used, which is totally non-destructive.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: archaeozoology CATEGORY: branch DEFINITION: The study of animal remains, especially bones, from archaeological contexts, including the identification and analysis of faunal species as an aid to reconstructing human diets, determining the impact of animals on past economies, and in understanding the environment at the time of deposition. Animal remains are collected, cleaned, sorted, identified, and measured for their study and interpretation. The study of bones involves calculations of minimum numbers of individuals belonging to each species found; their size, age, sex, stature, dentition, and whether the bones have any marks from implements implying butchering and eating. Archaeologists attempt to answer questions such as how many species of domesticated animals there were, how far wild animals were exploited, how many very young animals there were to determine kill patterns and climate changes, in what way bones were butchered, what the sex ratios there were in determining breeding strategies, and if there were any animals of unusual size. By analyzing remains from different parts of a site it may be possible to understand some of the internal organization of the settlement, while a comparison between sites within a region may show areas of specialization.