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Amarna period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A phase in the late 18th Dynasty, including the reigns of Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamun, and Ay (1379-1352 BC), when important religious and artistic changes took place. The name is derived from the site of Akhenaten's capital at Tell el-Amarna.
Atlantic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Atlantic phase, Atlantic climatic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: In Europe, a climatic optimum following the Boreal, the warmest period of the Holocene. This period was represented as a maximum of temperature and evidence from beetles suggests it being warmer than average for the interglacial. It seems to have begun about 6000 BC, when the average temperature rose. Melting ice sheets ultimately submerged nearly half of western Europe, creating the bays and inlets along the Atlantic coast that provided a new, rich ecosystem for human subsistence. The Atlantic period was followed by the subboreal period. The Atlantic period, which succeeded the Boreal, was probably wetter and certainly somewhat warmer, and mixed forests of oak, elm, common lime (linden), and elder spread northward. Only in the late Atlantic period did the beech and hornbeam spread into western and central Europe from the southeast.
Bubalus period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The earliest phase of rock art in northern Africa, between 12,000-8,000 BC, in which large-scale carvings of animals appeared. These early engravings - in southern Oran, in Algeria, and in Libya - reflect a hunting economy based on the now-extinct giant buffalo Homoioceras antiquus or Bubalus antiquus (hence the name).
Burial Mound Period
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: The penultimate period of eastern North American prehistoric chronology, from 1000 BC to 700 AD. Formulated in 1941 by J.A. Ford and Godon Willey, the total chronology, from early to late, is Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Burial Mound, and Temple Mound. The Burial Mound Period I (1000-300 BC) covers the period of transition from Late Archaic to Early Woodland ways of life and is associated especially with the Adena culture. Burial Mound II (300 BC-700 AD) is associated especially with Middle and Late Woodland groups, especially Hopewell.
Coptic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Chronological phase in Egypt lasting from the end of the Roman period, c 395 AD, until the Islamic conquest, c 641 AD. It is also described as the 'Christian' period and is roughly equivalent to the Byzantine period elsewhere in the Near East.
Dynastic Period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Dynastic Egypt
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period of ancient Egypt's history tied to a framework of 30 dynasties (ruling houses) of kings, or pharaohs, who rule from the time of the country's unification into a single kingdom in c 3100 BC until its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. The two Predynastic kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were united by the legendary king Menes, possibly to be identified with the historical King Narmer. The Dynastic Period was followed by a Greek Period when the country was ruled by the Ptolemys, descendants of Alexander the Great's general. The Ptolemaic Period and Egypt's independence were brought to an end in 30 BC when Queen Cleopatra VII died and the country was absorbed into the Roman Empire. The political history, largely derived from written sources, has a detailed and, for the most part, precise chronology. From the 21st Dynasty onwards, Egypt's cohesion broke, and from the 11th-7th centuries BC, Libyan, Asian and Nubian contenders vied with Egyptians for control of the state. The divine ruler, the pharaoh, was ultimately responsible for the complex bureaucracy and was also the figurehead of the official religion, the personification of the sun god Ra, counterpart of Osiris, the god of the land of the dead. Because of their belief in the afterlife, the royal tombs of the pharaohs in particular reflect the great wealth and concentration of resources at the pharaoh's disposal. Much of our information about ancient Egyptian history comes from the records that were carefully maintained by the Egyptians themselves, notably by the priests who were regarded as the guardians of the state's accumulated wisdom.
Early Dynastic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Archaic Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A chronological phase in southern Mesopotamia between c 2900-2330 BC, ending with the founding of the Dynasty of Akkad. It was also known as the Pre-Sargonid period. The Sumerian city-states flourished under their separate dynastic rulers - Ur, Umma, Kish, and Lagash. The period is 3100-2450 BC on what is called the "high chronology" (the other being the "medium chronology"). The term itself is derived from the Sumerian 'king list' which implies that Sumer was ruled by kings at this stage although archaeological evidence for the existence of kingship is meager before the middle of the period. Traditionally it is divided by archaeologists into three subdivisions - ED I II and III - each of approximately 200 years duration. The Royal Tombs of Ur belong the ED III period. The Early Dynastic phase shows clear continuity from the preceding Jemdet Nasr and represents a period of rapid political cultural and artistic development. Within the period the pictographic writing of the earlier period developed into the standardized cuneiform script. This period represents the earliest conjunction of archaeological and written evidence for the history of southern Mesopotamia.
Early Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period of development of distinctive regional cultures in the central Andes of South America, c 1-600 AD (also said to be c 300-600 AD). The period was characterized by nationalism, full population, first large-scale irrigation works in coastal valleys, interregional warfare, construction of forts, craft specialization, social class distinctions, rise of first great Peruvian cities. Two of the better-known cultures are the Moche and Nasca civilizations. The Middle Horizon emerged from these expansions.
Eastern Zhou period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Eastern Chou period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The latter part of the Zhou dynasty, from 770 BC to the extinction of the Zhou royal house in 256 BC. The term also refers to the period up to the founding of the Qin dynasty in 221 BC.
First Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Chronological phase, c 2130-1938 BC) between the Old Kingdom (2575-2130 BC) and the Middle Kingdom (1938-1600 BC), which appears to have been a time of relative political disunity and instability. The period includes the 9th dynasty (c 2130-2080 BC), 10th dynasty (c 2080-1970 BC), and the 11th dynasty (c 2081-1938 BC). The 9th dynasty (c. 2130-2080 BC). (The period corresponds to Manetho's 7th to 10th Dynasties and the early part of the 11th Dynasty.) After the end of the 8th dynasty, the throne passed to kings from Heracleopolis, who made their native city the capital. Major themes of inscriptions of the period are the provision of food supplies for people in times of famine and the promotion of irrigation works. In the 10th dynasty, a period of generalized conflict focused on twin dynasties at Thebes and Heracleopolis. The 11th dynasty made Thebes its capital. In the First Intermediate Period, monuments were erected by a larger section of the population and, in the absence of central control, internal dissent and conflicts of authority became visible in public records. Nonroyal individuals took over some of the privileges of royalty, notably identification with Osiris in the hereafter and the use of the Pyramid Texts. These were incorporated into a more extensive corpus inscribed on coffins - the Coffin Texts - and continued to be inscribed during the Middle Kingdom.
Five Dynasties period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: In Chinese history, period of time between the fall of the T'ang dynasty (AD 907) and the founding of the Sung (Song) dynasty (960), when five would-be dynasties followed one another in quick succession in North China. The era coincides with the Ten Kingdoms - the 10 regimes which dominated separate regions of South China - during the same period.
Great Tombs period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Kofun
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period in Japanese history, 4th-7th century AD, known for round tombs covered by a mound with a square platform off to the side, making a keyhole shape. Towards end of period, tombs were very large and surrounded by a moat, and earthenware figures and models (Haniwa) were placed in a series of concentric rings around the tomb. Inside was a chamber of stone slabs, probably adopted from cist tomb of northeast Asia. Burial goods included bronze mirrors, Chinese-type swords, magatama (fine polished stone ornaments), and Sue Ware pottery.
Hellenistic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Hellenistic and Roman period; hellenistic
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: Period of widest Greek influence, the era between the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) and the rise of the Roman Empire (27/30 BC), when a single, uniform civilization, based on Greek traditions, prevailed all over the ancient world, from India, in the east, to Spain, in the west. During these three centuries, Greek culture crossed many political frontiers and spread through many cities founded at that time, especially the new capitals of Alexandria, Antioch, and Pergamum. A common civilization became established throughout the known world for the first time, one which integrated the cultural heritage of each region and subsequently left a deep impression on the institutions, thought, religions, and art of the Roman, Parthian, and Kushan empires. Hellenistic cultural influence continued to be a powerful force in the Roman and Parthian empires during the early centuries AD. A common form of the Greek language, Koine [Greek: 'common'] developed, which was largely indebted to Attic Greek. The term 'hellenistic art' is applied to the post-classical material outside this geographic area, such as in Etruria or southern Italy.
Initial Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The period of 1800-900 BC marking the introduction of pottery in Andean South America. It was also the time when agriculture and animal husbandry began to be the subsistence base for most cultures in the area. It is one of a seven-period chronological construction used in Peruvian archaeology. Its close is marked by the occurrence of Chavin materials and the abandonment of many of the coastal centers. Many of the traits that make up the Peruvian cultural tradition such as intensive agriculture, the widespread use of textiles, monumental ceremonial architecture, and larger and more numerous population centers, occurred during this period.
Integration Period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Late Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The last stage of Ecuadorian prehistory, from about 500 AD to the Inca conquest (1550), characterized by greater cultural uniformity over wider areas. There is evidence for urban centers, class distinction, intensive agriculture, and high quality metallurgy throughout the region. The absorption of Ecuador into the Inca empire was the culmination of this trend. It is part of the chronological continuum - Formative, Regional Development, Integration - formulated by Betty Meggers.
Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: One of the three periods in Egyptian history when the country was divided into regional potentates instead of united. These periods occurred between the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, and Late Period. The First Intermediate Period was 2130-1938 BC, Second Intermediate Period was 1630-1540 BC, and the Third Intermediate Period was 1075-656 BC. In Andean/Peruvian archaeology, there were also Intermediate Periods. The Early Intermediate Period (200 BC-600 AD) was characterized by the rise of the first great city states, such as Moche and Nasca. The Late Intermediate Period (1000-1476 AD) was characterized by the presence of numerous fractionalized corporate units which arose after the decline of Tiahuanaco and Huari, e.g. Chimu and Aymara.
Japanese periodization
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A classification used by archaeologists and historians: Jomon 10,000-300 BC, Yayoi 300 BC-300 AD, Kofun 300-710, Nara 710-794, Heian 794-1183, Medieval (Kamakura, Muromachi, Momoyama) 1183-1603, Feudal (Edo/Tokugawa) 1603-1868, Meiji 1868-1914, Taisho 1914-1925, Showa 1925-1988, and Heisei 1989-present.
Korean periodization
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Classification of the eras of Korea by archaeologists and historians. The major divisions following the Palaeolithic are: Chulmun, 7000-1000 BC; Bronze Age, 700 BC-0 AD; Iron Age, 400 BC-300 AD; Proto-Three Kingdoms, 0 -300 AD; Three kingdoms, 300-668; United Silla, 668-935; Koryo, 935-1392; Yi, 1392-1910; Japanese Colonial, 1910-1945; Modern, and 1945-present.
Late Glacial period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The closing stages of the Pleistocene Ice Age, when the glaciers had begun their final retreat and when much of northern Europe was tundra. This period lasted from c 13,000-8500 BC. The substages in northern Europe are the Oldest Dryas (13,000-10,450), the Bølling oscillation (10,450-10,050), the Older Dryas (10,050-9850), the Allerød oscillation (9850-8850), and the Younger Dryas (8850-8300). Cultures of the Late Glacial period include Ahrensburgian, Creswellian, Federmesser, and Hamburgian.
Late Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A division of time in central Andean chronology, 1000-1450 AD, which was a period of regional diversification on the coast and in the highlands. New styles, cultures, and kingdoms arose after the collapse of the Middle Horizon empires. The period began with the dying out of the signs of unity imposed by Huari. Warfare, secularization of urban centers, rectangular enclosure plan were prominent. The cultures and styles were Chimú, Chancay, Pachacamac, Chincha, Ica; Cajamarca, Chanca, Killke, Lucre, Colla, Lupaca. The various empires that developed during the Late Intermediate Period were conquered by the Inca Empire.
Late Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A phase of Egyptian history, c 664-332 BC comprising the 26th-31st Dynasties, stretching from the end of the Third Intermediate Period to the arrival of Alexander the Great. Shabaqo (716-702 BC), the second ruler of the Kushite 25th Dynasty, exerted Nubian influence by moving the administrative center back from Thebes to Memphis. In writing, the demotic script, the new cursive form, was introduced from the north and spread gradually through the country. Hieratic was, however, retained for literary and religious texts, among which very ancient material, such as the Pyramid Texts, was revived and inscribed in tombs and on coffins and sarcophagi. The Late Period also saw the greatest development of animal worship in Egypt.
Late Woodland period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period of time, c 400-1000 AD, in the American Midwest, when populations spread west to the eastern slopes of the Rockies and were in contact with eastward-moving Puebloan people. A favorable agricultural period was indicated by the marked increase in village size and in population density. Areas along major streams were occupied by various interrelated cultural groups collectively known as the Plains Mississippian cultures. Part of this complex was connected to the developing Mississippi complexes to the east by diffusion and, to some degree, by a migration of such groups as the Omaha and Ponca from the St. Louis area by about 1000 AD. It follows the Middle Woodland era but lacks the elaborate Hopewellian artifacts and structures.
Magellan periods
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Magellan complex
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: A chronological sequence covering 8000 BC-1000 AD constructed on the basis of assemblages from Fell's Cave and the Palli Aike Cave in Patagonia, South America. The sequence is divided into five phases, describing a series of hunting and marine adaptations. The earliest assemblage (Magellan I) contains fishtail projectile points, signifying Paleoindian activity. Horse and sloth bones and the remains of three partly cremated Dolichocephalic humans, found in association with these points, have produced a single radiocarbon date of c 8700 BC. A shift to willow-leaf points occurred in Magellan II c 8000-4000 BC, which coincides with the disappearance of Pleistocene megafauna and widespread climatic change. Magellan IV-V are ill-defined but represent a continuing hunting strategy blending into a period of ceramic use.
Middle Woodland period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A term sometimes used to describe the time period during which the Hopewell culture flourished throughout the American Midwest, from roughly 50 BC to 400 AD.
Migration Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The period of large-scale movement of peoples in western Europe during the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries AD - including the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England. These movements are associated with the collapse of the Roman empire. Barbarians from beyond the Roman frontiers settled within many of the former provinces. The Migration Period is often extended to cover period from 3rd century AD to accession of Charlemagne in 800 AD.
Nara period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A period in Japanese history, 710-794 AD, named after the new capital of Nara (or Heijo as it was then known), to which the court moved from Fujiwara. The capital was established there to secure greater centralized power. The palace buildings - the dairi (the Imperial living quarters), buildings for ritual, and governmental buildings for administrative business - were arranged in a plan imitating that of the T'ang capital of Ch'ang-an. No palace building is in existence now; but the lecture hall (Kodo) of the Toshodai Temple in Nara, believed to have originally been the Chosu-den (for court officials' important ceremonies) of the Heijo Palace, is suggestive of palace architecture of the time.
Neogene period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The upper division of the Tertiary system including the Miocene and Pliocene periods; latest of the two divisions of the Cenozoic Era (66.4 million years ago to the present). The Neogene includes the Miocene and Pliocene epochs (23,700,000-1,600,000 years ago) and is considered by some to encompass the time up to the present. The Neogene, which means new born was designated as such to emphasize that the marine and terrestrial fossils found in the strata of this time were more closely related to each other than to those of the preceding period called the Paleogene. The term Neogene is widely used in Europe as a geologic division, but is generally not employed in North America, where the Cenozoic Era is simply divided into the Tertiary Period (66,400,000-1,600,000 years ago) and the Quaternary Period (1,600,000 years ago to the present).
Old Babylonian period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Chronological period of c 2000-1600 BC when there were competing kingdoms in southern Mesopotamia which were eventually conquered by Hammurabi of Babylon. The kingdoms included Isin and Larsa, important during the first half of the period, and the large kingdom created by Hammurabi, which flourished in the second half. The period was a time of increasing intellectual endeavors in literature, astronomy, mathematics, law, etc.
Pharaonic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The entire history of Egypt from the establishment of the monarchy in 2925 BC to the invasion of Alexander in 332 BC.
Postglacial period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: postglacial
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period occurring following a glacial episode, especially that from the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age c 8300 BC to the present. The substages in northern Europe are: Pre-Boreal (c 8300-7700 BC), Boreal (7700-5550 BC), Atlantic (5550-3800 BC), Sub-Boreal (3800-1200 BC), and Sub-Atlantic (1200 BC to present).
Pre-Axumite period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A term applied to the developed societies of south Arabian origin in the northern part of the Ethiopian plateau, c 5th century BC - 1st century AD. South Arabian elements assimilated through influence of kingdom of Sheba into a culture developed from Neolithic. Texts engraved on stone using south Arabian script have been found. There is evidence of influence from Meroe, with Ethiopia as a crossroads for trade, traffic, and culture. These societies provided the base from which the kingdom of Axum rose to prominence during the first centuries ad.
Pre-Classic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Formative period, Preclassic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period in Mesoamerican archaeology during which agriculture formed the basis of settled village life, c 2000 BC-250 AD. The earliest writing - glyphs - in Mesoamerica began in this period. The Olmec was the first culture to appear in the Preclassic. A similar level was attained in Peru at about the same time (Chavín). In many other areas life remained on a Formative level until the Spanish conquest. The final phase of the Pre-Classic cultures of the central highland forms a transition from the village to the city, from rural to urban life.
Preceramic Period
CATEGORY: culture; chronology
DEFINITION: The earliest of a seven-period chronological construction used in Peruvian archaeology, c 9000-1800 BC, starting with the first human occupation and ending with the introduction of ceramic artifacts. It is usually subdivided into six periods and is characterized by a variety of subsistence patterns and by a lack of ceramics. The first two periods (up to 8000 BC) represent a subsistence based on hunting. The third period, c 8000-6000 BC is seen as transitional from hunting to hunting and gathering. Period four c 6000-4000 BC had cyclical, seasonal migration. In Preceramic V, c 4000-2500 BC, the lomas dried up and people tended to be sedentary; agriculture supplied an increasing part of the diet. Large habitation sites, ceremonial centers and agriculture appear increasingly in Preceramic VI c 2500-1800 BC. There are lithic complexes in the Early Preceramic, followed by an Archaic Period with foraging populations and the beginning of domestic and ceremonial architecture. The Preceramic was followed by the Initial Period.
Protoclassic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: In Mesoamerica, the period at the end of the Preclassic and immediately before the Classic period, c 50 BC-250 AD. It refers to the cultures of the Maya area which were transitioning between Preclassic and Classic.
Regional Development period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A term used in Ecuadorian archaeology for the period 500 BC-500 AD, when local adaptation led to the proliferation of regional cultures. The continuum Formative, Regional Development, Integration Period has also been applied to neighboring parts of South and Central America. Some of the Ecuadorian coastal variants produced fine pottery, elaborate figurines, and many small art objects. There are hints of Asiatic influence in the cultures of Bahía and Jama-Coaque, which occupied the coastland from La Plata island to Cape Francisco. The period is characterized by changes in socio-political organization and art styles and technology, which gave rise to region-wide rather than purely local cultures.
Roman period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The period of Roman political and military control, generally between 200 BC and 400 AD, but varying for different regions, depending on the date of conquest.
Second Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The time, 1630-1540 BC, when groups of Asiatic people appear to have migrated into the Egyptian Delta and established settlements. The Second Intermediate Period began with the establishment of the 15th Dynasty, called the Hyksos (c 1630-c. 1523 BC), with its capital at Avaris (Tall ad-Dab'a) in the Delta, and ended with the 17th Dynasty (c 1630-1540 BC), ruling from Thebes. The Second Intermediate Period was the consequence of political fragmentation and immigration and the time may have been somewhat impoverished.
Temple Mound Period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Mississippian
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: Time period from c 800 AD to European colonization when Native Americans of the Mississippian tradition built large flat-topped earthen structures (platform mounds) designed to function as artificial mountains elevating their temples above the landscape. This period followed the Burial Mound period and is the most recent period of a chronological construction relating to the whole of eastern North American prehistory (formulated by J.A. Ford and Godon Willey). The periods are: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Burial Mound, and Temple Mound. The Temple Mound period is divided into two sub-periods: Temple Mound I (800-1200 AD), the establishment and rise of the Mississippian Tradition; and Temple Mound II (1200-1700 AD), the peak and then demise of the Mississippian.
Third Intermediate Period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A chronological phase (1075-656 BC) following the New Kingdom, when Egypt was divided. The north was inherited by the Tanite 21st dynasty (c 1075-950 BC), and much of the Nile Valley came under the control of the Theban priests.
Ur III period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The third dynasty of Ur according to the Sumerian king lists, a time when Ur controlled much of Mesopotamia and the Zagros highlands. It began with Ur-nammu (2112-2095 BC) and the period is noted for the numerous economic texts from its administrative centers. Ur III collapsed under attack by the Elamites and Amorites.
Urnfield period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Urnfield period; Urnfield; Urn culture, Urnfield complex
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A widespread group of related Bronze Age cultures practicing burial by cremation in pottery urns, at first in central and eastern Europe and later spreading to northern and western Europe. Such funerary urns were buried in a cemetery of urns (urnfields) and the practice dates from c 1300 BC to c 750 BC. Other features of the Urnfield period include copper-mining, sheet bronze metalworking, and fortified settlements. At the start of the Iron Age, inhumation once again became the dominant form of burial in many areas. A small pot with holes in it is often found interred with the urn, which may have been the ritual fire igniter or an incense burner. The Urnfield cultures succeeded the Tumulus culture in central Europe and developed into the Hallstatt Iron Age culture.
Vendel Period
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A term for a main phase of the Migration Period, the 7th and 8th centuries AD in Scandinavia, the last phase of the Iron Age before the Viking Age. It takes its name from a site in central Sweden with rich burials. Other cemeteries of the Vendel Period are at Valsgarde and Old Uppsala, with burials often in boats with rich treasures.
Warring States period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Contending States
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A division of the Zhou/Chou Dynasty, 475-221 BC, the latter part of the Eastern Zhou period, made up of six or seven small feuding Chinese kingdoms. The Warring States period saw the rise of many of the great philosophers of Chinese civilization, including the Confucian thinkers Mencius and Hsün-tzu, and the establishment of many of the governmental structures and cultural patterns that were to characterize China for the next 2,000 years. The Warring States period is distinguished from the preceding age, the Spring and Autumn (Ch'un Ch'iu) period (770-476 BC), when the country was divided into many even smaller states. In 223 BC, Ch'in defeated Ch'u and two years later established the first unified Chinese empire.
Western Zhou period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Royal Zhou, Western Chou period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A division of the Zhou/Chou Dynasty, 1027-771 BC, the earlier part of the Zhou dynasty, starting with the fall of the Shang dynasty. The first Zhou/Chou rulers parceled out their expanding territory among feudal lords. As the feudal states rose in power and independence, so did the central Zhou/Chou itself shrink, to be further weakened by the eastward shift of the capital from sites in the Wei River valley near modern-day Sian to Lo-yang in 771 BC. Thereafter, the Zhou/Chou empire was broken up among rival states.
Woodland period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Woodland tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Stage in eastern North America c 1000 BC-800 AD that is a period in Native American history and culture. It is characterized by hunter-gatherers, elaborate burial mounds, beginning of substantial agriculture (corn, beans, squash), and pottery decorated with cord or fabric impressions. It is a term restricted to the cultures of the Eastern Woodlands (south and east of Maritime Provinces of Canada to Minnesota and south to Louisiana and Texas) and important sites are Adena, Hopewell, and Effigy Mound. From c 700 AD, the southern part of the Woodland territory shows strong influence from the Mississippian culture, but elsewhere the Woodland tradition continued until the historic period.
contact period
CATEGORY: chronology; term
DEFINITION: The period in the history and culture of the Americas when the first impact of the Europeans was made.
fallow period
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: The time allowed for a field to rest, when no crops are grown on it.
historic period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Any period of the past that can be studied from its written documents.
period
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 complex area.
period interface
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: The composite interface of a number of units of stratification which make up the surface of a period.
periodization
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: phasing
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The process by which the stratigraphical material from a site is arranged into periods and phases based upon stratigraphic, structural, and artifactual data.
pre-Dynastic period
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Pre-Dynastic Egypt; Predynastic
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: The period before recorded history in Egypt and before it became a unified state in c 3100 BC. The term predynastic denotes the period of emerging cultures that preceded the establishment of the 1st dynasty in Egypt. In the late 5th millennium BC there began to emerge patterns of civilization that displayed characteristics deserving to be called Egyptian. The accepted sequence of predynastic cultures is based on the excavations of Sir Flinders Petrie at Naqadah, al-'Amirah (el-'Amra), and al-Jazirah (el-Gezira). Another somewhat earlier stage of predynastic culture has been identified at al-Badari in Upper Egypt. Until recently, most of our knowledge of pre-Dynastic Egypt was derived from the excavation of graves. Pre-Dynastic communities appeared in the section of the Nile Valley immediately south of Asyut. Large settlements were established, notably that at Hierakonpolis. Some time after 5000 BC the raising of crops was introduced, probably on a horticultural scale, in small, local cultures that seem to have penetrated southward through Egypt into the oases and the Sudan. The food-producing economy was based on the cultivation of emmer wheat and barley and on the herding of cattle and small stock, together with some fishing, hunting, and use of wild plant foods. Highly specialized craftsmen emerged to build vessels, make copper objects, weave linen, and make basketry and pottery. A series of small states arose until around 3100 BC, the unified kingdom of Ancient Egypt came into being.
soaking period
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The time during which the highest temperature of firing is sustained
speculative period
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: The period in history of archaeology in the New World between 1400-1840, characterized by unsystematic and speculative interpretations about the past.

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