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60 Cards in this Set

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Middle-range theory
makes correlations between ancient activities and their material traces. Determines how and for what purpose was the archaeological record formed. Connects the dots. Ex: bones- seek clues to determine if residue of people’s meals or leftovers from other meat eaters
General theory
refers to the broader meaning and interpretation of the archaeological record, such as past cultural change and evolution and their explanations. (Determines why the behavior was what it is). Rise and fall of civilizations common subjects at this level
Historical Records
contain messages that are direct and often deliberate communications from the past.
-Advantages: convey explicit information about the past.
-Disadvantages: created only by literate societies and only are a partial record of all that happened in the past. (show one side of story). Can be biased or include exaggerations/lies
Archaeological Artifacts
• Advantages: cover virtually all of human history
• Disadvantages: partial preservation and interpretive errors
Classical Archaeology:
combines the methods of archaeology with the use of historical sources to document the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome
Historical Archaeology
refers to archaeological investigations carried out in conjunction with analyses of written records. Tends to be the archaeology of one’s own culture. (
Prehistoric Archaeology:
focuses on societies and time periods that lack written historical traditions., seeking understanding of full sweep of human development on earth
view that stresses a human society’s development through time
view that emphasizes the state of one or more human societies at a particular point in time.
The Origin of Species:
published by Darwin in 1859 – was the grand synthesis of many ideas into a theory of biological evolution. Focused upon natural selection.
Natural Selection:
the better adapted forms produced more offspring and multiplied, while the less “fit” forms died out. This operated to produce the incredible diversity of life forms on earth.
Cultural evolution:
theory developed to create a universal theory about human culture and social differences
IDEA THAT ALL CULTURES DEVELOP ALONG A SINGLE PATH. This assumption that all human cultures develop along a single or unilinear path stands out as the greatest weakness in 19th century cultural evolutionary theory. Society precedes from primitive to complex cultures.
Multilinear Cultural Evolution:
- Julian Steward.
- Groups of organisms adapt to their environments, so cultural ecology studied cultural adaptations.
- Recognized that societies can decrease in complexity as well as increase.
Direct Historical Approach
- Study living groups to interpret the past.
- Working from the present back in time as far as possible.
- existing indigenous groups descended from prehistoric ones and so provided models for explaining them.
Normative concept of culture
*the normative view sees culture as the set of rules that regulate, maintain, and perpetuate appropriate behavior within society.
Cultural Historical Method
*archaeologists start with individual sites and build larger time-space grids from them. Preclassic (relative start) → Classic (Peak) → Postclassic (decline). Periods and phase (blocks of time) are the building blocks for traditions (phase for long time) and horizons (arrival of big event over large area/everybody doing it)
General Systems Theory
Sees culture as only one kind of system. Believes that all systems share certain properties: that living systems share a larger set of properties and cultural systems share even more properties.
Physical environment
geography, climate, etc
Induction Reasoning:
: observation→pattern→hypothesis→theory
Deduction Reasoning
nonportable artifacts, cannot be recovered from the settings in which they are found (ex. Burials, houses, etc.)- non portable artifacts
-nonartifactual materials that nonetheless have cultural relevance (ex. Bones, pollen granules, etc.)- not artifacts but reflect human behavior
-Sites: spatial clusters of artifacts, features, and/or ecofacts. Identify where humans have occupied the landscape (ex. Stonehenge)
– may have distinct or vague boundaries (walls present, or decline in density/frequency).
-spatial clusters of artifacts, features, and/or ecofacts. - Identify where humans have occupied the landscape (ex. Stonehenge) – may have distinct or vague boundaries (walls present, or decline in density/frequency).

[Categories of sites:
-location (coastal, highland, cave, etc.)
-depth of deposition (vaguely linked with length of occupation – “surface sites” are usually the result of short-term, erratic, or temporary human activity)
-buried, underwater
-function (village, burial, hunting, quarrying, etc.)
-chronology (Paleo-Indian, archaic, colonial, etc.)]
the largest and most flexible spatial clusters of archaeological data – can range from a region as small as a bay or as large as a section of North America.
Landscape Archaeology:
often includes spiritual and cognitive dimensions (ex. Chaco Canyon turns out to be more about spiritual belief than economy).
Determinants of Archaeological Data:
behavior (creation) and transformation (generally destructive).
cycle of four stages of behavior:
1) acquisition (gathering of raw materials)
2) manufacture (modification of raw materials )
3) use (may result in further modification of the artifacts)
4) and discard (may occur at any point in the cycle, defines the entry of the material residues of human behavior into the archaeological record).
- refers to the physical medium that surrounds, holds, and supports the archaeological material (ex. Shell midden, silt, etc.).
- nature of material=important clue to understanding artifacts
a three-dimensional location on or within the matrix. The horizontal and vertical position on or within the matrix at which data is found.
artifacts/features/ecofacts that share the same provenience and therefore can be assumed to have entered the archaeological record at the same time. Usually occur within same matrix
the interpretation of the significance of an artifact’s deposition in terms of its matrix, provenience, and association – where it is and how it got there.
Nonprobabilistic sampling:
- uses informal criteria or personal judgment in the selection of data samples.
- Because judgment is involved, this kind of sampling could be biased, however, could also be helpful as it may incorporate informal judgmental skills derived from experience.
- Hunches.
Probabilistic sampling:
techniques that come from the field of statistics and allow the archaeologist to specify mathematically how a sample relates to a larger population. Labels all units into a list, including the sampling frame (from which a number of units will be chosen) and the sample size (the total number of units chosen from the sampling frame).
Simple Random Sampling:
most basic method of probabilistic sampling – it removes the element of choice and therefore any opportunity for selection bias from the archaeologist’s hands. Determine the universe and randomly choose areas to sample within.
Systematic Sampling:
the first unit is selected with a randomizing technique, but all other factors are selected at predetermined, equal intervals from the first. This technique ensures spatial (or other kinds of) separation among the units, so all portions of the population are represented. Generally assume random distribution
Stratified Sampling:
used when data units are not uniform. is used to ensure that sample units are drawn to represent each kind of observed variation within the population. Make have different amount of unites in different areas. This type usually reflects experience in the region and expectations of differential productivity of different terrains or ecological zones. Multiple archaeologists work toward a consensus about when the sample is adequate.
2 basic methods used to conduct archaeological reconnaissance and survey:
(1) direct observation and (2) remote sensing.
Direct Observation:
visual inspection at the ground level. Most ground reconnaissance is still conducted by walking and is usually aided by the cooperation and assistance of local inhabitants, who may serve as guides and indicate the location of sites.
Identifying sites:
some sites are obvious, such as mounds or depressions, others are not visible from the surface at all.
*Discovery is only half of the reconnaissance, the other half is recording the location of the sites encountered.
Plotting Sites:
Good maps are essential- used to plot boundaries for sample unites and location of new archaeological sites discovered.
Global Positioning System (GPS):
receivers provide an easier and more accurate method of plotting sites. The GPS receiver calculates the user’s location by triangulation from many satellites in orbit around the earth.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS):
database management systems with a spatial component that are designed for the manipulation, analysis, storage, capture, retrieval, and display of data that can be referenced to geographic locations.
*Archaeologists must give the site a label (usually numbers) so that they can tie the locational data to other information.
scaled symbolic representation of a segment of the earth’s surface as viewed from above.
Planimetric maps:
depict archaeological features without indicating three-dimensional data.
Topographic maps:
show not only archaeological remains, but also three-dimensional aspects of land forms using conventional systems such as contour lines.
Regional maps:
designed to depict archaeological sites within their local environment setting and are most useful as tools in reconnaissance.
Site maps:
depict archaeological sites in detail. Indicate site grid system used to designate and record archaeological features and other data.
Site plans:
used to show the details of site components, usually archaeological features such as buildings, tombs, and walls.
Sketch maps:
impressionistic renderings made without instruments (not accurate). Record general characteristics of site. No uniform scale or accurate topography.
Compass Maps:
more accurate. Made using compasses.
Aerial photographic maps
plannimetric representations made by tracing ground features from aerial photograph.
Landscape Archaeology:
deals with human treatment of the natural environment – active modification of the terrain. Spaces between features are as important as features themselves – reflect social and ideological meanings important to their creators.
Processing procedures:
artifacts are usually processed in 5 stages (1) cleaning, (2) conservation or repair, (3) labeling, (4) inventory, (5) cataloging.
the process of ordering or arranging objects into groups on the basis of shared characteristics (attributes).
*The objective of classification is to create order from apparent chaos by dividing a mass of undifferentiated data into groups (classes), summarize the characteristics of the objects and define variability due to function, time, and socioeconomic factors.
Primary classification:
groups determined by directly observable attributes
Secondary classification
ordering based on inferred or analytic attributes
represent clusters of attributes that occur together repeatedly in the same artifacts.
Emic classifications:
classifications from within the culture
Etic classifications:
classifications that are imposed by outsiders on the data