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Bering Land Bridge
DEFINITION: The present-day floor of the Chukchi and Bering Seas, which emerged as dry land during Late Pleistocene glacial advances. It is the only route for faunal exchange between Eurasia and North America as it united Siberia and Alaska. It seems to have been breached only in the past 2.5 million years, with the earliest immigrants crossing it about 40,000-15,000 years ago. They were part of a migratory wave that later reached as far south as South America (about 10,000 years ago). During the Ice Age the sea level fell by several hundred feet, making the strait into a land bridge between Asia and North America, over which a considerable migration of plants and animals, as well as man, occurred. That period also allowed the transit of cold water currents from the Pacific into the Atlantic.
DEFINITION: The part of the continental shelf that connects Northeast Asia with present-day Alaska. These were the polar continental shelves that escaped glaciation during the ice ages but which were exposed during periods of low sea level, which facilitated migration of people to North America from Asia, and in the Laptev and East Siberian seas. When exposed at the time of the last glacial maximum, it was a large, flat, vegetated landmass. In 1993, investigations on the climatic interstadial of 11,000-12,000 years ago in Beringia (now submerged under the Bering Strait) and the way it provided for the peopling of the New World from Asia were reported. Traces of starch from an apparently domesticated variety of the taro plant on flint tools from the Solomon Islands suggested that conscious planting was being done in the Pacific as long ago as 28,000 years before the present.
Beringian tradition
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A culture in existence approximately 12,000 years ago between Siberia and temperate Alaska. The term was used by H. West to cover various Alaskan and Siberian archaeological formations which had developed from the Siberian Upper Paleolithic period, an area now largely submerged under the Bering Strait. Chronologically these formations lie between the middle of the Holocene period (c 35,000-9/10,000 BP), depending on the area. West's categorization includes the Bel'kachi, Diuktai, and Lake Ushki cultures in Siberia, the Denalian culture and American Paleo-Arctic formations in Alaska and the Yukon. Although Alaska is generally thought to be the gateway through which humans entered the New World, the earliest undisputed evidence for people there dates later than 12,000 years ago, well after the climax of the last major glacial advance but while glaciers still covered much of Arctic Canada. Artifacts of 11,500 to 9,000 years ago are known from a number of Alaskan sites, where hunters of caribou (and, in one case, of an extinct form of bison) manufactured blades.
DEFINITION: A Neolithic site in northeast Siberia with burials of the Ymyakhtakh culture and an assemblage of quartzite cores, pebble tools, and flakes.
Durrington Walls
DEFINITION: A Neolithic (late 3rd millennium BC) henge monument in Wiltshire, England, with a large twin-entrance, and first occupied by people who made pottery of the Windmill Hill, Grooved Ware, and Beaker styles. Inside, the excavators found remains of two large circular timber structures, each of which had evidence for several different phases of construction.
DEFINITION: A Middle Pleistocene site in eastern Germany near Weimar. A badly broken skull and other human remains have been found with stone tools resembling the Mousterian. The fossil man is of generalized Neanderthal type and the artifacts include scrapers, points, and bifaces which were typical of the Middle Palaeolithic. Often ascribed to the last interglacial (about 120,000 years ago), the remains have also been dated by the uranium series method to about 225,000 years ago.
DEFINITION: A peat bog on the Danish island of Als where a votive deposit with a boat or war canoe was deposited in c 200 BC (pre-Roman Iron Age). With the boat were many shields, spears, and swords. The boat was plank-built, sewn together without the use of nails, with room for about 50 oarsmen. The bow and stern were upturned and had ramlike projections. There were also everyday items such as bowls, boxes, and smith's tools.
Lamb Spring
DEFINITION: Palaeoindian site in Colorado with camel bones dated to c 13,000 BP. There are also mammoth, bison, and horse bones and later Palaeoindian components.
DEFINITION: A Middle Palaeolithic site near Bremen in north Germany (Lower Saxony), where organic muds revealed a pollen diagram of the last Interglacial. In these muds, a yew wood spear broken into several pieces was found. It passed between the ribs of the skeleton of an Elephant of Elephas antiquus type. The tip was finely shaved to a point and fire-hardened; the spear was evidently used for thrusting.
Lime Springs
DEFINITION: Site in northeast New South Wales, Australia with evidence of diprotodon, protemnodon, and other megafauna in association with artifacts. Kartan material is dated to 19,300 bp.
Little Salt Spring
DEFINITION: A prehistoric site in Florida with hearths, a boomerang, projectile point, and shell of extinct giant land tortoise from the Palaeoindian period (12,000-8500 BP). There was an Archaic occupation (6800-5200 BP) with burials of 1000 individuals preserved in peat.
Old Bering Sea Culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An Eskimo subculture that settled in northern Alaska and northeast Siberia between 1500-2000 years ago, and is best known for its ivory objects. The earliest sites were in Bering Strait area and the major type site is on St. Lawrence Island. It is an early manifestation of the western Arctic Thule tradition, often linked with the possibly contemporaneous Okvik culture. Although both share similar traits - a highly evolved art style, polished slate tools and pottery - the relationship between the two is still uncertain. The art style appears to have flourished between 100-500 AD.
DEFINITION: Unusual Late Mesolithic (Ertebolle) site in Denmark, about 10 km inland but with evidence of contact with the coast.
Sulphur Spring
CATEGORY: culture; site
DEFINITION: The earliest of three stages of the Cochise culture, named for a cluster of sites in southeast Arizona, and dating from 6000 / 7000 BC to c 4000 BC. Evidence of plant food processing (cobble manos) together with split and burnt faunal remains, imply an Archaic lifestyle, although there are almost no projectile points, blades, or knives. Besides milling stones, it is characterized by various scrapers. The remains of food animals indicate that some hunting was done.
Titterington culture
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A non-ceramic Late Archaic culture of the Midwest, c 2500-1900 BC, with small hunting and processing camps, base settlements, and mortuary sites. The artifacts include bifaces and were not heat-treated.
Tule Springs
DEFINITION: Site near Las Vegas, Nevada, with traces of human occupation c 11,000 BP - in the form of hearths and artifacts.
Warring States period
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.
DEFINITION: Royal seat of the Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, England, in the 7th century AD and site of an impressive group of buildings. Great timber halls and a semicircular timber grandstand for meetings and assemblies have been excavated. Of the smaller buildings uncovered, one is thought to have been converted from a pagan temple into a church. It has advanced our knowledge of Saxon timber architecture.
annular ring nail
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A nail with sharp-edged ridges that lock into wood fibers and greatly increase holding power
attribute clustering
CATEGORY: typology
DEFINITION: Any grouping method based on associations between attributes and including Spaulding's configurationist typology and factor analysis.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An ancient military engine used for smashing in doors and battering down walls. It consisted of a beam of wood with a head of iron - originally a ram's head but later in the form of a ram's head - and swung by chains from an overhead scaffolding. It had a roof to protect those working it from the missiles of the garrison.
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: A direction or relative position; a horizontal direction expressed in degrees east or west of a true or magnetic north or south direction.
beta-ray backscattering
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A non-destructive physical method of chemical analysis which, though limited in its application, has been used successfully to determine the lead content of glass and glaze. A specimen is subjected to a beam of electrons from a weak radioactive beta source and some electrons are absorbed while others are backscattered from the surface of the sample and can be counted with a Geiger counter. The percentage of electrons backscattered depends on the atomic number of the elements making up the surface layer of the artifact. Therefore if an element with a high atomic number is known to be present (e.g. lead) an estimate can be made of its concentration. The equipment cannot distinguish between high concentration of elements with medium atomic numbers and low concentrations of elements with high atomic numbers. The equipment cannot sense very small amounts of an element. Factors such as the thickness of a glaze affect the amount of backscattering. The technique carries advantages in its cheapness and portability of the equipment and is considered a useful technique for analyzing material like glass.
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: The difference between the indices of refraction of the fast ray and slow ray as light passes through an anisotropic mineral, causing the velocities of the two light components, oscillating at right angles to one another, to differ.
centrally based wandering model
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A model for hunter-gatherer cultures centered around base camps.
clearing excavation
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any excavation designed primarily to reveal the horizontal and, by inference, functional dimensions of an archaeological site - such as the extent, distribution, and patterning of buried data.
cold hammering
CATEGORY: geology; artifact
DEFINITION: A technique for making metal artifacts in which the metal is shaped by percussion without heating. Most metals, such as copper, bronze, gold, and silver, are soft enough to be worked while cold. Operations such as hammering and beating could be carried out without any heating to make the metal softer. These softer metals, however, cannot be cold-worked indefinitely because the metal becomes brittle and eventually fractures. It can be counteracted by gentle heating called annealing. Annealing allows crystals within the metal to recrystallize and distribute the stress that has built up. Cold working can then go on until the metal becomes brittle again. Metallographic examination, the study of crystal structure, can give information about the cold working and annealing processes in the last stages of the making of an artifact. Pure gold is one of the few metals that can be cold worked indefinitely without annealing.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A part of wheel-throwing a vessel that involves using both hands to apply inward pressure on the rotating body to narrow it and form a neck or closure.
complacent ring
DEFINITION: The tree rings of a particular species of trees (as oak) which show no visible difference in ring patterns.
compression ring
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Any faint line on the dorsal side of a flake, indicating the direction of force.
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Driving a hollow tube into the ground to get a stratigraphic sample of the subsoil.
cup-and-ring mark
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: cup mark, cup and ring mark
CATEGORY: artifact; lithics
DEFINITION: The commonest form of rock carving in the British Isles, consisting of a cup-like depression surrounded by one or more concentric grooves. Cup-and-ring marks are found on standing stones, singular or in stone circles, and on the slabs of burial cists, as well as on natural rock surfaces. In its classic form most cup-and-ring art belongs in the Bronze Age, but the motif occurs on passage graves, for example in the Clava tombs and on the capstones at Newgrange, where it may show links with similar rock carvings in northwest Spain. They are also found in Ireland and Scotland and can be dated to the Neolithic period of the 4th-3rd millennium BC.
cut flooring nail
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A nail with a rectangular cross-section and a blunt tip, used to blind-nail flooring through edges without splitting
electronic distance measuring devices
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any surveying or mapping instrument using electronics and infrared or laser beams in measuring and calculating distances, points, and angles. They often work with computers.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An effect obtained by trailing a feather through wet slip decoration in pottery-making
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: The process of heating raw ceramics to a high temperature, driving all the water out of the paste and (depending on the composition of the paste and tempering) causing new chemical bonds to form within the paste.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A low pedestal-like ring formed on the base of a vessel to enable it to stand more securely.
funerary offering
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Any items provided initially by mourners and later, magically, through inscriptions and pictures in the tomb. Funerary offerings are essential for the well-being of the 'ka' in Egyptian tradition. Funerary offerings present rich documentary evidence of a culture.
grit tempering
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: The addition of small pieces of rock or sand to the paste used in creating a ceramic object.
grog tempering
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: The addition of small pieces of crushed ceramic to the paste used in creating a ceramic object.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A pottery-forming technique that involves use of a rotating mold that leaves its impression on either the interior or exterior surface of the vessel, which is otherwise shaped by wheel-throwing. When the clay body is placed within a concave mold, the process may be called jollying.
kiln firing
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A method of firing ceramics in which the ceramics are exposed to the heat from a fire within an oven-like structure called a kiln rather than to a direct flame.
kula ring
DEFINITION: A system of ceremonial, non-competitive, exchange practiced in Melanesia to establish and reinforce alliances. This exchange system began among the people of the Trobriand Islands of southeast Melanesia, in which permanent contractual partners trade traditional valuables following an established ceremonial pattern and trade route. In this system, described by the British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, only two kinds of articles, traveling in opposite directions around a rough geographical 'ring' several hundred miles in circumference, were exchanged. These were red shell necklaces and white shell bracelets. Kula objects, which sometimes had names and histories attached, were not owned in order to be used but rather to acquire prestige and rank. Malinowski's study of this system was influential in shaping the anthropological concept of reciprocal exchange. The partnerships between men, involving mutual duties and obligations, were permanent and lifelong. The network of relationships based on the kula served to link many tribes by providing allies and communication of material and nonmaterial cultural elements to distant areas.
lock ring
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Small penannular (almost complete ring) ornament of gold or bronze popular in the Early to Middle Bronze Age in northern Europe. They are thought to have been used as hair ornaments.
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Minute patterns of edge damage on a stone tool, often suggesting how that tool was utilized.
DEFINITION: Making periodic checks on the condition of collections, recharging exhausted silica gel and taking action on deteriorated objects where necessary.
neutron scattering
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A remote sensing technique involving the placing of a probe into the soil in order to measure the relative rates of neutron flows through the soil. A beam of neutrons is aimed at the target material and the resultant scattering of the neutrons yields information about that material's atomic structure. Since stone produces a lower count rate than soil, buried features can often be detected.
object clustering
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: An approach to typology based on clusters of human artifacts that are seen as specific classificatory types.
offering table
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An important element of the Egyptian private tomb throughout the Pharaonic and Greco-Roman periods. It was usually placed in an accessible location, such as the chapel, so that offerings could be brought to it by the funerary priests or relatives of the deceased.
open-air firing
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: The heating and hardening of ceramics in pits or simple, above-earth temporary structures.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The arranging of artifacts in logical classes and in chronological order
paring chisel
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of tool made of stone or, more usually, metal with a shaped narrow blade that can be used carefully to remove thin strips or shavings of wood when fashioning a joint or shaping a block.
pit firing
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A method of firing ceramics using an open or exposed flame as opposed to a kiln.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A small bowl, often with a handle, used for soup or similar dishes.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A small circular band, typically of precious metal and often set with one or more gemstones, worn on a finger as an ornament or a token of marriage, engagement, or authority
ring building
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type of coiling in which individual coils or annular rings are placed as separate 'courses' to build up a vessel
ring neck
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A flagon neck with moldings forming a series of superimposed horizontal rings; not to be confused with a screw neck.
ring-headed pin
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.
CATEGORY: structure; feature
DEFINITION: A circular entrenchment, the most modest form of medieval castle, originating in Germany in the later 10th century. Excavations of several of the hundreds of 10th-13th-century ringworks have shown them to be fortified manors. The first ringworks in England were constructed just before the Norman Conquest; after the Conquest hundreds of ringworks, were erected to defend timber and masonry buildings.
DEFINITION: A natural method of seed dispersal.
shell tempering
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: The addition of small pieces of crushed shell to the paste used in creating a ceramic object.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A pottery defect caused by compressive stress, resulting in incomplete coverage or peeling of the glaze
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: Adding a new member to a group on the basis of a high coefficient of similarity to only one existing member of the group.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: A process in which the edges of the clay particles soften and adhere to one another. This process begins at about 350 degrees C and is completed by 700 degrees C.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Method for joining two or more pieces of metal together using a fusible alloy that attaches to both parts and forms a solid bridge between or around then. First recognized during the middle Bronze Age.
string mark
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The marks on the base of a vessel caused by the potter detaching the pot from the wheel by means of a wire or string.
CATEGORY: geology; ceramics
DEFINITION: One of the processes in the manufacture of steel and other metal artifacts, the heat treatment of hardened steels to improve toughness and reduce brittleness. The steel is reheated to a temperature of around 450? C and then rapidly cooled by quenching. Also, the material added to the paste of a ceramic to make it stronger and give it properties it does not naturally have.
tipi ring
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: Any circle of stones found in the Northern (Great) Plains of North America, thought to be the remains of weights used to hold up a tipi (tepee).
tree-ring dating
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The use of annual growth rings in trees to date archaeological sites.
DEFINITION: The process whereby materials are altered through time. This can occur at various speeds, depending on the composition of the objects, the environment in which they are buried, and changes in the environment.

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