Period Influence In Archaeology

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Question 11: Culture History Period Influence on Zooarchaeology
The culture history period of American Archaeology occurred from 1935 to 1960. During this time, we see a shift in the types of artifacts that were mainly collected. This is due to the intentions of archaeology at the time. Archaeologists were interested in the sequences of people, meaning who lived where and what they did there. Because of this, we see the development of Frequency Seriation by Alfred Kreober. Frequency Seriation looks at the relative frequencies of similar styles. It is used often in pottery. The main model of Frequency Seriation was that a type of pottery will start out at a low frequency, grow to a higher frequency as it grows in popularity, and then peter out
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Rather than just describe past cultural phenomena, archaeologists sought to explain and reconstruct it. New Archaeology also sought to discredit cultural history, which was made popular in earlier decades. New scientific methodologies were developed during this time, causing the field to develop a new focus: bones.

During the previous era, the culture history era, we see very few elements collected. In the new era, see new questions being asked that bones can be utilized for, such as the calories that are associated with each part of the skeleton and identifying nutritional information we can take from bone samples. Culture history told us where people lived, but archaeologists wanted to know more. How did they hunt? Which parts of the animal was consumed over others? Bones could give us this information. The new techniques that had developed during the culture history era, like radiocarbon dating, could be used to analyze bones and answer these
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In looking at these taphonomic changes, we learn more about the environment and ecosystems. We see this become important with ethnoarchaeology. Ethnoarchaeology looks at how people hunted and how they processed their prey. By utilizing bone taphonomy, we can identify how bones were processed by past human societies, which in turn tells us how each society utilized animal resources. This also gives us great behavioral ecology information. By understanding how animals were processed, we can tell the difference between animal burials versus natural deposits.

Because bones can give us so much information, they became the forefront of archaeological research once New Archaeology replaced the culture history era of American Archaeology. However, it was important that archaeologists had unambiguous references to compare skeletal elements too. By having reference collections to compare to, we were not only able to identify skeletal elements found, but also learn more about important osteological landmarks that vary between the various

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