ATH 242-01

Critiques of Processual

  • Do people always act in their best interest?
  • How do we move from examining material culture to understanding social/ideological aspects of culture?
  • How does our modern Western perspective bias our understanding of prehistoric perspective?
  • Ian Hodder: seminal figure in post-processualism — reaction to the deduction and logic-bsaed approach of processual archaeology

    A Humanities-based approach

  • prost-processualists call for:
    • a more dynamic model of culture (the role of idea systems in culture change)
    • treating time as a continuous phenomenon
    • looking at culture at the smallest level possible
    • understanding culture from the insider’s view
    • incorporating multiple voices/meanings
    • focus on structural & symbolic (instead of economic) aspects of culture

    Archaeological Methods: Survey — Projects

  • research projects
    • Universities & museums
  • contract projects
    • conducted by Cultural Resource Management (CRM) company
    • usually in advance of a construction project
  • Forensic projects (rare)
    • “The Station,” West Warwick, RI
    • Tiffin OH police learning arch techniques for crime scenes

    What determines where archaeologists dig?

  • landowner permission
    • a property owner owns everything on their land, including cultural materials (eminent domain implications)
    • private property owners have the right to do anything to their property that is not expressly prohibited by law
    • public land is governed by more strict regulations regarding cultural resources
    • landowner consent is always mandatory (by default, artifacts belong to the landowner)
  • site viability
  • site safety
  • Who keeps track of archaeological information?

  • every state has historic preservation office
  • In Ohio, OHPO maintains records on more than 38k prehistoric sites
  • In OH a site is defined as having one artifact, usually a diagnostic one
  • OHPO has other duties (Nat’l Register of Historic Places, US Dept of Interior)
  • Site Designations

  • Trinomial numbers
  • 33 My 57 = (State Code, County, Site#)
  • Most sites have one or more names: (Sunwatch/Incinerator Site/Vance Farm)
  • sites are names after the landowner
  • How old does something have to be to be considered historic or archaeological?

  • In OH, 50 yr but must also have integrity and potential for historic info
  • How are sites discovered?

  • historic documents
  • anecdotal information
  • private collectors
  • most sites are found thru systematic survey by universities, museums, and CRM firms
  • obvious visible features (mounds, pueblos)
  • Culture Resource Management — phases

  • Phase I: reconnaissance survey (visual survey to look for sites)
  • Phase II: testing & evaluation (controlled surface collection, shovel testing, geophysical survey
  • Phase III: mitigation & data recovery (excavation to salvage as much as possible before imminent destruction
  • Archaeological surveying: with most sites we can only hope to determine

  • size
  • function
  • age
  • cultural affiliation
  • differentiation between components (if more than one)
  • identify and classify the range of materials
  • surface surveying

  • ideally in a non-obscured setting (plowed agricultural fields; allows visual survey)
  • non-agricultural settings usually obscured (vegetation, stone debris, pavement, etc)
  • obscured settings require shovel-testing or geophysical surveying
  • Collection Strategies

  • before work begins, a strategy must be formulated
  • Examples:
    • no collection
    • the grab sample
    • timed sample
    • selective sample
  • Surface surveying

  • most surveys are grab samples:
    • crew spaced at regular intervals across a site
    • crew walks transects across the site (collecting from the surface OR shovel-testing)
    • finds are recorded and mapped
    • sites are identified by the distribution of artifacts

    • shovel testing (holes 30-40cm, appx 10m apart)
    • Remote Sensing and Geophysical Techniques

    • remote sensing: aerial & satellite photography
    • often yields coarse results
    • usually only applicable to large sites
    • DOES detect vegetational & soil differences
    • expensive and not always available for all areas
    • geophysical surveying

    • magnetometry
    • electrical resistance
    • ground penetrating radar
    • ground-truthing is necessary
    • needs to be coupled with traditional survey
    • Archaeological mapping: using land survey eqpt.

    • using a transit:
      • internal compass
      • optical sighting of a stadia rod
      • user records distance, bearing and elevation
    • total station
      • similar in concept to transit
      • uses laser and prism to gather data</li.
      • internal digital mechanism calculates angles or coordinates
    • GPS (neither remote sensing nor geophysical — mapping only)
    • requires high-grade system for accuracy
    • triangulates position of unit by radio signals from satellite
    • must be digitally corrected for distortion
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