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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 pottery type 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.
context, systematic
CATEGORY: term; technique
DEFINITION: Artifacts and features as they functioned in the behavioral system that produced or used them.
contextual seriation
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.
formal context
DEFINITION: The affinity of an object to a general class of objects sharing general characteristics of form.
natural secondary context
DEFINITION: A secondary context resulting from natural transformational processes such as erosion or animal or plant activity.
primary context
DEFINITION: An undisturbed association, matrix, and provenience; the condition when they have not been disturbed since the original deposition of archaeological data.
secondary context
CATEGORY: technique; term
DEFINITION: A context of an archaeological find that has been disturbed by subsequent human activity or natural phenomena. The provenience, association, and matrix of such archaeological data have been wholly or partially altered by transformational processes after original deposition.
spatial context
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The location of an object and its spatial relation to other objects in the archaeological record.
systemic context
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Behavioral system wherein artifacts are part of an ongoing system of manufacture, use, reuse, and discard
temporal context
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The age or date of an archaeological finds and its temporal (time) relation to other objects in the archaeological record.
transposed primary context
DEFINITION: In midden formation, a primary context resulting from depositional activities.
DEFINITION: A primary context resulting from abandonment of materials during either manufacturing or use activities.
DEFINITION: A secondary context resulting from disturbance by human activity after original deposition of materials.

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