ANTH 1003: Week 4
ANTH 1003: Week 4 ANTH 1003
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hayley Seal on Sunday February 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 1003 at George Washington University taught by Dr. Susan Johnston in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 108 views. For similar materials see Archaeology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at George Washington University.
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Date Created: 02/07/16
ANTH 1003 Dr. Susan Johnston Class Notes for February 3-5 Archaeological Dating continued (February 3) Limits of C-14 dating: o Requires organic material o It is destructive (becoming less of an issue as less and less material can be used to get a date) o The “date” is a statistical product and carries a standard deviation (always reported as a date range) o It only works back to around 45,000 years ago o It measures the death of organic material o Requires calibration Dendrochronology and Calibration o Uses tree rings (accumulated annually) o The problem is getting wood samples because wood doesn’t preserve well, and also knowing where in the tree the samples came from o Can be used to calibrate radiocarbon dates A sample dated by both dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating can be matched up to construct a curve that matches radiocarbon dates to accurate calendrical dates Potassium-Argon Dating (K-Ar) o K-40 breaks down into Ar-40 o Half-life is 1.3 billion years; used to date things that are millions of years old (can’t be used for more recent dates because the half-life is too long) o Requires a heating event to isolate the potassium in the sample o The “zero point” is the heating event Thermoluminescence (TL) o Measures the absorbance of light by the build-up of trapped electrons o Also requires a heating event o The “zero point” is the heating event A combination of dating techniques are used at a single site to determine dates: C-14 dates, stratigraphy, artifact styles, and spatial relationships are all used to organize evidence o Chronologies must be constructed Structure of Archaeological Interpretation How do archaeologists use the data they collect to say something interesting about people in the past? How do they go from data to interpretation? Low level theory: basic observations in field and lab settings High level theory: interpretations that synthesize data to answer longer question Middle range theory is the best to aim for Uniformitarianism is an assumption on the principle that things in the past were broadly the same as things in the present o Processes such as erosion, natural selection, and glacial melting confirmed the idea that the past is a lot older than we thought it was; if they occurred at the same rate in the past as they do now, it took a really long time to get to where we are today Uniformitarianism in archaeology o Use-wear: use of a stone tool leaves evidence in the form of marks; comparison of how different activities leave marks on tools today and the marks on excavated stone tools can determine what those tools were used for o Looking at tooth eruption: certain teeth appear at a certain age in modern humans today, so a child with certain erupted teeth can have their age determined o Our modern notion of status and how status is displayed informs our ideas about how status was displayed in the past Analogy is the reason why uniformitarianism can be done o Comparison of 2 things based on what they do have in common and therefore arguing that they also share other things that we can’t see directly o Direct analogy: the argument that because people in the present are using things in a particular way, their ancestors in the past also used those things in the same way Profoundly changed cultures must be taken into account (ex. Native Americans pre- and post-colonization) o Generalized analogy: using certain principles to identify broad patterns among human beings in general that apply to people in the past Example: circles etched into stone in Ireland don’t have a specific meaning but the vast majority of people who make this kind of art today do it for ritual reasons, so people in the past probably also did this for ritual reasons Experimental archaeology is a way to get information to make analogies o Making a tool to see if it can be used in a way we hypothesized it was (such as a stone tool) o Example: experimental archaeology determined that leather shields backed up with wood are better than bronze shields at actually shielding someone from danger; therefore, using the bronze to make shields probably wasn’t for practical reasons but instead for status reasons
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