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Archaeology Week 1 Notes

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by: Geoff Bell

Archaeology Week 1 Notes Anth 10700

Geoff Bell
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About this Document

These notes cover the basics of Archaeology including key terms and details about digging, culture, and dating.
World Archaeology
MIchael Malpass
Class Notes




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1 review
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"Clutch. So clutch. Thank you sooo much Geoff!!! Thanks so much for your help! Needed it bad lol"
Deborah Strosin

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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Geoff Bell on Tuesday January 26, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Anth 10700 at Ithaca College taught by MIchael Malpass in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 39 views. For similar materials see World Archaeology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at Ithaca College.

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Clutch. So clutch. Thank you sooo much Geoff!!! Thanks so much for your help! Needed it bad lol

-Deborah Strosin


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Date Created: 01/26/16
Archaeology Day 1 Archaeology - A set of procedures and techniques used to reconstruct human behavior Sites - Loci of human activity, identified by any of the categories to be discussed (Maccu Picchu, Great Wall of China) Artifacts - Portable objects made or modified by humans (Arrowheads, Ceramics, Metals, Textiles Ecofacts - Pant or animal remains used by humans (Feces, Seeds, Shells) Features - Non portable remains of human activity / Not the same as the surrounding soil (Foundations of a house,Tomb, Rotting Tree Root) Structures - Special kinds of features that result from building activity (Tomb, Windbreak, Mesopotamian Ziggurat) Settlement Pattern - Spatial Distribution of sites from a single culture across the landscape (Topographic Maps showing a cluster of sites) Concept of Culture: Definition -A pattern of behavior and pattern for behavior passed down from generation to generation -Humanity’s non-genetic means of adaptation - Learned - Shared Cultural Reconstruction -How do we define cultures using the archaeological record? -Could we define U.S. from Chinese culture? (Cities vs. Rural Villages, Clothes, Foods) -Could we define U.S. from Canadian culture? (Much harder to differentiate) - Simpler the culture, the more challenging it is to differentiate. -How well is this is done depends on several things: - How long has the data been in the ground? Depending on the (Pottery and stone tools) (Bodies - What kind of material is present? -What kind of environment does it exist in? What happened to the data between its deposition and its discovery? (Moved by water or erosion?) -Importance of context Context -Relationship between archaeological data and its environment -Primary context - data found where it was deposited by people who used it -Secondary Context - data has moved since it was deposited Pot reference - if found with food remains, it could be a cooking pot, but if found with a body, it could have been a personal belonging to that person Excavation -Conducted carefully to identify the context of the data, to assist with its interpretation -Sites are non-renewable resources, once its gone its gone -A site is never completely excavated…Why? Interpretation -Data recovered do not really tell us anything: we must interpret what they mean. Finding things and understanding what they were -How do we do this? (Analysis, Where you get your information from) The Dating Game! -Archaeology is all about chronology, so dating things is crucial - Two Kinds of Dating: - Relative - Absolute (Chronometric) -Relative Dating – Putting data in correct order from youngest to latest without knowing how old they are - Law of Superposition - Things deeper in the ground are older than things shallower ­Absolute Dating - Assigning calendar dates to artifacts ­Radiocarbon dating - based on ration of radioactive carbon to stable nitrogen -Half-life is 5730 years -Cannot date things older than 50,000 years…why? Because theres no more radioactive carbon left to date -Ratio measured by radiation given off, so date is given as range -1500 +/- 50 BP (Before Present) How much is left Range of years when date may fall -AMS Dating - Accelerator Mass Spectrometry - Measures number of atoms of C14 to C12 - Needs very small samples - Problems of contamination perhaps greater How do we know if a site is a human occupation and its date is reliable? How to prove it. -Must meet 4 criteria -Clear Evidence of humans -Evidence in sealed context -Evidence associated with datable material - Material is uncontaminated World Archaeology: Day 2 Archaeological Concepts ­ Focus of course is on cultural evolution ­ How would you describe our society? ­ Technologically advanced ­ Affluent ­ Multicultural ­ How would you describe the earliest societies that existed? ­ Smaller in population ­ More dependent on each other ­ More dependent on land ­ More into religion than science ­ How did we go from small groups to large civilizations? And Why? ­ Sociopolitical Complexity ­ Sociopolitical levels ­ defined by cultural anthropologists based on studies of many cultures across the world ­ Include several important concepts ­ Important Concepts ­ Status ­ Social Organizing Principles ­ Division of labor ­ Political Leadership ­ Economy ­ Religion ­ Status: ­ Achieved: You've earned ­ Ascribed: You were born into ­ Social Organizing Principles ­ Kinship: Blood and marriage ­ Sodalities: Organizations cross-cutting descent ­ Ranking: based on ascribed status (Genetic relation to the person in charge) ­ Classes and castes ­ Division of Labor - What can it be based on? ­ Age and Sex ­ Kin group ­ Rank ­ Class and caste ­ Political Leadership ­ Simple: Headman ­ Two-Tiered: Chief/Big Man and followers ­ Multiple-Tiered: Ruler, elites, and commoners ­ Economy ­ Reciprocal: I give you something you give me something back ­ Redistributive: Redistribute resources to different societies based on specialization ­ Market-Based: Places and economies based on the exchange of goods with the development of currencies ­ Religion ­ Informal: No one in charge. Set of beliefs that are variable. Few specific religious dates. ­ Formal: Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist. Exist as a formal set of beliefs that people apply to their lives ­ Any culture, past and present, can be characterized according to what particular combination of these concepts it displays ­ Commonly used system ­ Bands ­ Tribes ­ Chiefdoms ­ States Non-egalitarian Societies ­ What are the main differences between egalitarian and non- egalitarian societies? ­ Everyone in an egalitarian society is born equal and earns more respect by the things they do throughout their life ­ In a non-egalitarian society, it is based on ascribed status, so people can be born higher up than people who have been low their whole life ­ Non­Egalitarian Societies ­ Ascribed vs. Achieved Status ­ What might indicate this archaeologically? ­ Burial, with marked differences in: ­ Grave goods ­ Grave style ­ Grave location ­ Child burial with lots of rare goodies goods indicator of ascribed status and ranking ­ But not always! ­ Structures: One of a few large houses, better make with better goods inside could reflect house of higher status individuals ­ Occupational Specialization ­ Chief is often first one, reflecting new role as leader ­ Religious leaders might also appear, but often this role is part of chiefs ­ Recognized by special houses or structures ­ Craft specialists appear but usually part time at first ­ Recognized by workshops with tools for the craft involved: pottery, metal, weaving, woodworking, etc. ­ Might be separate structure of room in a house or compound ­ Aside: What do temples represent besides occupational specialists? ­ Large, organized labor pool ­ Someone in charge ­ The need for monumental architecture, like temples, seems to appear in these societies. Why? Either brute force, or incentive. ­ Redistributive Economy ­ Identified how? ­ Storage facilities associated with elite houses ­ control of luxury goods by elites ­ Formal Religion


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