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Avebury, Lord (formerly Sir John Lubbock) (1834-1913)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: British archaeologist whose book "Prehistoric Times" (7 editions between 1865-1913) achieved bestseller status. An early convert to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution Lord Avebury popularized prehistory both as a term and a subject. He introduced the words "Palaeolithic" (old) and "Neolithic" (new) thereby expanding the three-age system (Thomsen and Worsaae) to a four-age system dividing the Stone Age into old and new periods. He also interpreted cultural change as evidence of invasion from the east and the development of society as the result of economic advance.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The movement and redistribution of material culture by human agencies.
Dressel form
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A system for classifying the shape of ceramic amphorae developed by H. Dressel (1845-1920) which was published in 1899. The system is still in use, although continually being expanded as new varieties are found.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Pre-Classic, Formative period; Preclassic
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A cultural stage in North America when agriculture and village settlement were developed, accompanied by pottery, weaving, stonecarving, and ceremonial objects and architecture. In the New World, especially Mesoamerica, it is also called the Pre-Classic period and preceded the Classic period. The period was also characterized by initial complex societies (chiefdoms) and long-distance trade networks. In Mesoamerica, it is divided into Early (2000-1000 BC), Middle (1000-300 BC), and Late (300 BC-300 AD). In Andea South America, the period is usually framed within the period 1800-1 BC - and includes the Initial Period and Early Horizon. It begins with the introduction of ceramics. This occurred c 7600 bp in Amazonia and c 5200 bp in northwest Columbia.
Geographic Information Systems
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Computer-generated mapping systems that allow archaeologists to plot and analyze site distributions against environmental and other background data derived from remote sensing, digitized maps, and other sources. It is computerized technology for storage, analysis, and display of geographically referenced information.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The movement and reposition of cultural material on an archaeological site by natural agencies, such as animals or freeze-thaw action.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: uniformitarianism
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A fundamental philosophy of geologic science, the principle that the earth was formed by the same natural geological processes that are still going on today. This principle - that existing processes acting in the same manner and with essentially the same intensity as at present are sufficient to account for all geologic change - provided the cornerstone of modern geology. William Whewell introduced the term in 1832.
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.
cruciform brooch
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A bow-brooch with a small headplate and long footplate. From the headplate protrude three knobs; the footplate is normally shaped into an animal head with eyes and nostrils. Found in Jutland and Holstein from the late 4th century. During the 5th and 6th centuries AD cruciform brooches spread across the North Sea to Britain.
cruciform chamber
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A megalithic tomb, characteristic of the passage-tomb tradition in Ireland, in which a passage, a chamber, and three apses form a cross-shaped structure.
cultural formation process
DEFINITION: The deliberate and accidental activities of humans that affect how archaeological materials are buried.
cultural transformation
DEFINITION: A change in the archaeological record resulting from later human behavior, such as digging a rubbish pit into earlier levels.
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: The characteristic wedge-shaped writing of western Asia, used for over 3000 years, emerging in the 4th millennium BC in southern Mesopotamia as a system of accounting during the Uruk period. It consisted of triangular markings pressed on a clay tablet with a split reed. The word itself comes from Latin 'cuneus' meaning "wedge-shaped" "wedge". The pictographic script of the Uruk period the oldest known in the world was reduced to angular forms to make it more suitable for impressing in wet clay with a split reed. The nature of the script was very like that of the Egyptians with ideographs phonograms and determinatives. The script was used for a number of languages (Sumerian Akkadian Elamite Hittite Old Persian etc.) even being adapted to serve as an alphabet at Ugarit. The first success in its decipherment was by Georg Grotefend a German philologist in 1802. In inscriptions from Persepolis he recognized the names of Darius and Xerxes and the Old Persian word for 'king'. In 1844-1847 further progress came through the recording and study of Darius's rock inscriptions at Behistun by Henry Rawlinson. He was able to translate the Old Persian version; Westergaard in 1854 tackled the Elamite text and Rawlinson with others cracked the Babylonian in 1857. This was much the most important of the three as it led directly back through the many cuneiform inscriptions at that time coming to light to the first written records those of ancient Sumer. Cuneiform texts have been found in Egypt at el-'Amarna and on various objects of the Persian Period. In the Near East cuneiform tablets from Egypt have been found at Bogazkoy in Anatolia and Kamid el-Loz in Syria. A consonantal alphabet developed at Ugarit which vanished with the town at beginning of 12th c BC; and syllabary script was used solely by Achaemenid Persians to transcribe their language from 6th-4th c BC.
digital information language
CATEGORY: database design
DEFINITION: Information language that uses symbolic representation of data to reduce data to a conventional representation and to store it, but to facilitate data retrieval by allowing amplification of a query.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A geological term referring to a weathered surface of a soil or rock stratum covered by an overlying stratum. This type of unconformity separates two parallel strata is characterized by the weathered surface of the older stratum and indicates a lapse of time before the deposition of the younger stratum. Its recognition is important in site stratigraphy.
doctrine of uniformitarianism
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A theory that asserts that the processes now modifying the earth's surface are the same processes from all geological past. This principle provided the cornerstone of modern geology.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: formal difference, formal dimension, form attribute, form analysis, form type
DEFINITION: The physical characteristics - size, shape, composition, arrangement - of any archaeological find or any component of a culture. Form is an essential part of attribute analysis; in archaeological research, the first objective is to describe and analyze the physical attributes of data to determine distributions in time and space and leads to form classifications. For example, the shape of a pot or other tool directly reflects its function.
form attribute
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Attribute based on the physical characteristics of an artifact, including overall shape, shape of parts, and measurable dimensions - leading to form classification
form type
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An artifact class based on form attributes
formal analogy
DEFINITION: Any analogy justified by similarities in the formal attributes of archaeological and ethnographic objects and features
formal analysis
DEFINITION: The process of describing the overall shape of an item as objectively and with as much detail as possible.
formal context
DEFINITION: The affinity of an object to a general class of objects sharing general characteristics of form.
formative stage
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Any culture having the presence of agriculture or other subsistence economy of comparable effectiveness; also, the successful integration of such an economy into well-established, sedentary village life.
formula dating
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Absolute dating using artifact attributes, especially applied to pipe stems and ceramics.
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The first stage in archaeological research design, involving definition of the research problem and goals, background investigations, and feasibility studies. It is the process of making decisions about a research project prior to formal research design.
graphical information language
DEFINITION: A set of conventions for describing entities, such as artifacts, pictorially and in a consistent way.
information language
CATEGORY: database design
DEFINITION: A language artificially created in databases to ensure unambiguous communication of information.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A natural feature of a land surface; a feature of the earth created by an erosional or depositional process or series of processes. Landforms together comprise a landscape.
multifaceted platform
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A platform with more than one plane of detachment, such as on the margins of some bifaces or multidirectional cores.
natural transformations
DEFINITION: Changes in the archaeological record resulting from natural phenomena that occur after the artifacts are deposited in the ground.
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A row of rocks or boulders configured on the ground in the shape of an animal, mythological figure, etc.
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: The place on a core or flake where it was struck by a hammer.
platform angle
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: The angle between the plane of the platform and the exterior (dorsal) surface of a flake or core.
platform burial
DEFINITION: The practice of placing a corpse on an artificial, above-ground structure; the body was sometimes retrieved at a later date for interment.
platform mound
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A platform of earth and stone, usually rectangular in shape and flat-topped, that forms a base for the construction of a building, such as a palace or temple. The buildings served as habitation and/or ceremonial structures.
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A bifacially flaked piece of stone that exhibits both percussion and pressure flaking, and which usually is triangular in shape, indicating that it was being fashioned into a projectile point or knife.
primary forming
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: In ceramics manufacture, the technique used to build up the overall shape of vessel. Secondary forming techniques are used to refine this shape and thin the walls.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Pear-shaped
raster format
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The holding of data within a map layer as points, lines, and polygons.
rejuvenated platform
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Cores are 'rejuvenated' by removing the platform to decrease the platform angle to allow blade production to continue. Core is struck on the platform and blades removed to create a new platform and increase the angle between the platform and the face of the core a 'core tablet' is struck off from the side of the core.
secondary forming techniques
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: In ceramics manufacture, techniques used to complete or refine the shape of a vessel after primary forming either roughed out the vessel shape or produced the vessel's components.
single-facet platform
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A platform on a biface or core with a single plane of detachment.
site-formation processes
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: site formation process; formation process
DEFINITION: The total of the processes - natural and cultural, individual and combined - that affected the formation and development of the archaeological record. Natural formation processes refer to natural or environmental events which govern the burial and survival of the archaeological record. Cultural formation processes include the deliberate or accidental activities of humans. On a settlement site, for example, the nature of human occupation, the activities carried out, the pattern of breakage and loss of material, rubbish disposal, rebuilding, or re-use of the same area will all influence the surviving archaeological deposits. After the site's abandonment, it will be further affected by such factors as erosion, glaciation, later agriculture, the activities of plants and animals, as well as the natural processes of chemical action in the soil. Reconstruction of these processes helps to relate the observed evidence of an archaeological site to the human activity responsible for it.
standardized form
DEFINITION: Any preformatted information sheet to be completed in the field for recording archaeological data, especially during data acquisition, data processing, and analysis.
striking platform
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: The area on a store core which is struck to remove a flake or blade in toolmaking. Part of the original platform is removed with the detached flake. The platform itself is prepared by the removal of one or more flakes, and in the latter case is described as a faceted striking platform.
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: Expression of data in different units, typically nonlinear ones like the square root or logarithm of the measurements.
transformational process
DEFINITION: Any process, natural or human-caused, that transforms an abandoned prehistoric settlement into an archaeological site over time. This includes the conditions and events that affect archaeological data from the time of deposition to the time of recovery.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A surface representing a major period of erosion before new sediments are deposited; a surface of non-deposition that is a break between two rock or sediment units. They may represent substantial periods for which a depositional record is lacking.
uniform distribution
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: A probability density function whereby all potential observations within a specified range have an equal probability of occurring.
vector format
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The holding of data within a map layer as a grid of cells.
year formula
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: date formula; year-name
CATEGORY: language
DEFINITION: A phase in Mesopotamia when cuneiform documents provide dates for significant events in relation to a given year in a king's reign. Dating by year formula, done from Akkadian through Old Babylonian times, provides a basic framework for the political history of southern Mesopotamia. The Assyrians did not, unlike the Babylonians, use year formulas containing interesting historical details; instead, every year was designated by the name of a high official (eponymic dating). The reconstruction of Hammurabi's rule is based mainly on his date formulas; years were named for a significant act the king had performed in the previous year or at the beginning of the year thus named.

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