ATH 242-01

Terminology

  • Anthropology: comprehensive study of the human species from biological, social and cultural perspectives
  • synchronic: one point in time
  • diachronic: change over time/more than one point in time
  • archaeology early 1800’s by antiquarians — hobbyists
  • ethnography: study of individual cultures
  • ethnology: culture as a whole — all cultures
  • Archaeology: the study of the human past thru mat’l remains with the aim of ordering and describing the events of the past and explaining their meaning
  • culture: that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by a person as a member of society (Tylor)
  • material culture: the physical evidence left behind by human behavior
  • Culture regulates behavior on 3 levels

  • economic & technological
  • social
  • ideological & ideational
  • Scientific method

  • hypothesis
    • preliminary observation
    • hypothesis formation
    • data collection
    • hypothesis testing
    • accept or reject the hypothesis
  • archaeologists use models

  • model: a summary description of patterns and regularities
  • science as a “way of knowing”
  • the scientific method cannot be used to explain every phenomenon, especially human behavior
  • as a science, the “facts” that we discover are temporary, imperfect understandings
  • nothing can be “proven” in science (that’s math’s & logic’s problem)
  • we can only advance our knowledge by dispoving or eliminating inadequate hypotheses
  • Archaeology as a “humanity”

  • to some, arch. is an extension of history, not anthropology
  • a way of filling in the gaps in our knowledge of the past and identifying with it
  • in UK arch. is part of history
  • human behavior is highly complex
  • humans are not rational or predictable
  • human behavior involves intangibles
  • Four goals of archaeology

  • form – description & classification
  • function – identifying the purpose of objects and sites; reconstructing past behavior
  • process – define the processes of change and to determine how/why cultures change
  • meaning – use the archaeological record to understand the meaning of culture in the past and its relevance to the present
  • the tomb of Qin Shi Huang (terra-cotta warriors)
  • the Archaeological record

  • the physical remains produced by human activity, including:
    • sites
    • isolated artifacts
    • natural features
    • empty space
  • Archaeological site:

  • a spatial clustering of archaeological data
  • comprised of artifacts, ecofacts and features
  • composed of a minimum criteria
  • Types:

  • campsites
  • kill sites
  • villages/cities
  • cemeteries/tombs
  • ritual sites
  • underwater/submerged sites
  • Mayan cenotes
  • historic sites
  • Components:

  • single occupation
  • Terminology

  • artifact: a portable object whose form is created or modified by human activity
  • feature: non-portable human made remains that cannot be removed without altering or destroying their form; can be simple (hearth) or composite (bldg)
  • ecofacts: portable natural objects that are not artifacts but have cultural relevance
  • diagnostic: artifacts or cultural traits that are indicative of a certain time of place or a certain defined culture (index fossil)
  • provenience: 3D location of archaeological data
  • matrix: the physical medium that surrounds and holds archaeological remains
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