Archeological Investigations

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Essay Answer for Question #1

Archaeologists set out to investigate the secrets of our past by examining the evolution of cultures that increase our knowledge and “understanding of formal and structural change in cultural systems” (Binford 425). To answer these antecedent questions, archaeologists must first sift through and analyze the important artifacts, ecofacts, and features that are found at their archeological sites., and find, categorize, and interpret the materials and findings at these sites.
To analyze the important artifacts, ecofacts, and features found at a site, an archaeologist must first examine, categorizes, and determine an item’s level of importance in facilitating the hypothesis and “completing the picture of past human
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“One of the most common ways is by accident” (Jew 8); but other more scientific methods utilized are: surveys, remote sensing, and aerial (lidar mapping). Once a site is found it is categorized “according to four categories: location, age, function, cultural group” (Jew 5); and an interpretation of the site is then made based on these categorizes, and the data and materials collected. Three methods used by archeologist to interpret archeological data are radiocarbon dating, soil geochemistry, and palynonology. Radiocarbon dating, the “unstable radioactive isotope of carbon, is ever present in the earth’s atmosphere, and is absorbed into the tissuess of all living organisms as part of the life process” (Aikens 4). When a living being dies it stops accumulating carbon, and the rate at which the retained carbon isotope deposits deteriorate can be used to “calculate how long it has been since death or deposition” (Zielinski 20). An archeological site that utilized this method was the Paisley Caves in south-central Oregon, where they used radiocarbon dating to appropriate found coprolites to be14,300 years old. Soil geochemistry utilizes the trace elements that a natural occur and are contained in human remains and feces. These trace elements can be deposited and stored in soil resources for decades, and they allow researchers to measure for variations in soil pH levels due to human activity. An example …show more content…
This gave rise to the Coastal route theory to which Simon Fraser University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology states, “The coastal route hypothesis is based on the idea that the first people to inhabit North America traveled by boat down the Pacific coast, living in areas of ice-free land, called refugia, along the way. They may have hunted some land animals, but they also would have fished and hunted sea mammal.” Those that believe in the Coastal migration route theory believe that the alternatively suggest ice-free corridor was closed during the time of proposed migration. This hypothesis is headlined by the archeological discoveries of the Port Eliza caves in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where researchers believe “that raised sea caves can provide direct information that can be used to help solve questions of glacial history and past fauna and climate (Larsen et al., 268). The researchers found “2 m of laminated clay, representing deposition in a subglacial lake. From immediately below this clay a diverse vertebrate fauna of marmot, vole, marten, cervid and various species of birds and fish was recovered, yielding ages of 18–16 ka. The fish species indicate that relative sea level was close to the cave and that salmon runs were likely present” (Ward et al., 1383). They concluded, “These

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