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DEFINITION: A Middle Neolithic settlement on a mound in Boeotia, Greece, with distinctive red-on-cream pottery. The site has a stone lion which guards the tomb of Thebans killed in a battle in 338 BC.
Iron Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The period during which iron was utilized by early man, beginning about 3000 years ago, following the Stone Age and Bronze Age in the Three-Age System. In this period, tools, implements, and weapons were first made of iron. Iron had many advantages over bronze, so its spread was rapid. The Iron Age began at different times in different parts of the world according to the availability of iron ore and the state of knowledge. In Europe, the earliest iron appears around 1100 BC. The traditional timing of the transition from bronze to iron is placed in the early 1st millennium BC. The age began about 1500 BC in the Middle East, about 900 BC in southern Europe, and after 400 BC in northern Europe. In most of Asia the Iron Age falls entirely within the historic period. In America, iron was introduced by the arrival of Europeans; in Africa, it began before the earlier metal ages. The southern African Iron Age is divided into the Early Iron Age, 200-1000 AD and the Late Iron Age, 1000 AD till the 19th century. The term is general and arbitrary. There is evidence that meteorites were used as a source of iron before 3000 BC, but extraction of the metal from ores dates from about 2000 BC.
Ironstone china
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A hard heavy durable white pottery developed in England early in the 19th century
Natal Early Iron Age
DEFINITION: A South African province of Natal which has traces of the furthest southeastern extension of the Early Iron Age complex of sub-Saharan Africa, which has been linked with the dispersal of peoples speaking Bantu languages. Evidence for Early Iron Age settlement is found in the fertile areas of the lower river valleys and dates from about the 4th century AD. Closely related sites are known from the Transvaal, as at Broederstroom and Lydenburg.
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Late prehistoric culture of northeast Colombia in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The Taironas were organized into small political states (chiefdoms) and had one of the most advanced cultures of the Caribbean mainland. Their crafts were ceramic ware (black and red painted with zoomorphic design and appliqué); stone utensils (metates); bone and shell ornaments; and beads, buttons, and jewelry made of gold, copper, and gold-copper alloy (tumbaga). Most sites, like Pueblito and Buritaca-200, have hundreds of stone foundations for circular houses. There are also remains of tombs, stone-built retaining walls, bridges, stairways, roads, agricultural terraces, and irrigation canals. A central feature of most villages was a ceremonial building, usually on a platform-mound, and often of dressed masonry. The town site at Pueblito had all these features and, in addition, paved streets, the remains of large irrigation projects, and urn burials. Specialized funerary vessels are often modeled with life forms which are similar to Mesoamerican motifs. Populations in the thousands occupied Tairona towns and villages at the time of the Spanish conquest.
bar iron
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A piece of iron cut from blooms and lengths of bar, probably for transportation, which were then reworked.
biological environment
CATEGORY: flora; fauna
DEFINITION: Those elements of the habitat consisting of living organisms; the living component of the total environment.
bog iron
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: lake ore, limnite, marsh ore, meadow ore, morass ore, swamp ore, bog iron ore
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A workable, porous type of brown hematite (impure hydrous oxides) found in bogs (and also in marshes, swamps, peat mosses, and shallow lake beds). This deposit is formed when iron-bearing surface waters come into contact with organic material and iron oxides are precipitated through oxidation of algae, iron bacteria, or the atmosphere. It is frequently found in areas with subarctic or arctic climatic conditions.
branding iron
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A heated iron used to label, burn or mark animals, slaves, criminals etc.
cultural environment
DEFINITION: Those elements of the habitat created or modified by human cultures; a component of the total environment as seen by cultural ecology.
depositional environment
CATEGORY: term; geology
DEFINITION: Any stratum or unit making up a separate layer of material at an archaeological site; the total of sedimentary and biological conditions, factors, and processes that result in a deposit(s). A depositional history is the order in which objects are deposited at a site.
DEFINITION: The complex of physical, chemical, and biological factors that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival. The pace of environmental change quickened dramatically with the introduction of agriculture from 7000 years ago onwards: forests were cut down and cultivation led to soil degradation and erosion. New species were introduced, both as crops and weeds, and the relentless growth of population ensured that man's activities made an ever-increasing impact on the landscape.
environmental archaeology
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, Quaternary geology, soil science, palaeobotany, zoology, and human biology.
environmental circumscription
DEFINITION: An explanation for the origins of the state that emphasizes the fundamental role exerted by environmental constraints and by territorial limitations.
environmental indicator
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method in which species of plants and animals are used to indicate a feature of the environment. If the modern environmental requirements are known, the presence of preserved remains of the same species in ancient deposits and soils may suggest that similar conditions prevailed in the past. Many such indicator fossils are used to reconstruct temperature. However, the absence of an environmental indicator does not imply lack of the conditions which it is supposed to indicate. The method is only reliable when whole communities, comprising many different species, all indicate the existence of a particular environment.
grappling iron
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A device with hooks or claws attached to a rope and used for dragging or grasping.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A ductile, malleable, magnetic metallic element, used to make artifacts of both practical and decorative function. Its oxide form, hematite, is found naturally and the technique of ironworking was mastered around 1500 BC by the Hittites. Iron began to spread and replace bronze for man's basic tools and weapons - the start of the Iron Age. Early in the 1st millennium BC, iron industries were established in Greece and Italy, and by 500 BC, iron had replaced bronze for the manufacture of tools and weapons throughout Europe. The pre-Columbian New World, however, did not develop iron technology. Iron smelting is more complicated than for copper or tin, since the first smelt gives only slaggy lumps, the bloom. Hammering at red heat is then required to expel stone fragments and combine carbon with the iron to make in effect a steel; the resulting metal is far superior to copper or tin. The two basic methods of working it are by forging - hammering into shape at red heat - and casting. The Chinese used the latter method as early as the 5th century BC, but it was not employed in Europe until the Middle Ages. The first evidence of iron smelting in Egypt dates to the 6th century BC. Large-scale steel manufacture depends on the production of cast iron, which in Europe dates only from the 14th century AD. The West did not enter the 'Age of Steel' until the 19th century with the invention of the Bessemer and Siemens processes, which are industrial processes for obtaining liquid metal of any desired carbon content by the decarburization of cast iron. Steel was made in China within a few centuries of the first known use of smelted iron. In principle, modern techniques descended from China's casting techniques.
iron pyrites
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A nodule of iron pyrites used to create fire in combination with tinder and flint or another nodule of iron pyrites.
iron-making, direct process
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: The technique of smelting iron ore in a furnace with charcoal and limestone to produce a spongy, low-carbon form of iron known as a bloom. This ductile material can be forged into tools and weapons.
iron-making, indirect process
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: The technique of smelting iron ore in a furnace at a very high temperature to yield a molten, high-carbon form of iron. The high-carbon content makes it too brittle for most direct uses, so it must undergo a secondary process, oxidization, to make it more ductile. It can then be forged into weapons and tools. The indirect process of iron-making was developed in China early in the first millennium BC. The Chinese made iron artifacts, heating blooms in a fire and hammering the red-hot metal to produce the desired objects; iron made in this way is known as wrought iron.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A hard sedimentary rock rich in iron, especially a siderite in a coal region. This ore of iron, commonly a carbonate, has clayey impurities. Ironstone china is a hard heavy durable white pottery developed in England early in the 19th century.
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: A small or relatively small, usually distinctly specialized and effectively isolated habitat - as a forest canopy. It is a characteristic biotic assemblage, often exploited as a distinctive ecological niche. These minimal subdivisions of the environment allow alternative opportunities for exploitation.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: palaeoenvironment
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: The ancient environment, which can be reconstructed using techniques such as archaeozoology and palynology.
paleoenvironmental reconstruction
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: palaeoenvironmental reconstruction
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The determination of the prehistoric environment of an archaeological site, using the methodologies of geology, botany, palynology, and archaeozoology. The paleoenvironment is the ancient environment.
perceived environment
DEFINITION: The physical environment as perceived by a human society, not by archaeologists.
physical environment
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: Nonbiotic elements of the habitat created or modified by natural forces; a component of the total environment as seen by cultural ecology.
snarling iron
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A rod used to create repousee work on metal vessels. The rod is Z shaped.
wrought iron
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Iron having a low carbon content that is tough and malleable and so can be forged and welded

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