ANTH 1003: Week 5
ANTH 1003: Week 5 ANTH 1003
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hayley Seal on Friday February 12, 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 57 views. For similar materials see Archaeology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at George Washington University.
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Date Created: 02/12/16
ANTH 1003 Dr. Susan Johnston Class Notes for February 10-12 Where do archaeologists get their ideas/interpretations? (February 10) Ethnography comes from cultural anthropology Gaining ethnographic information that can be specifically applied to the archaeological record Looking at various cultural ideas so as not to impose our own culture on our interpretations Making analogies (can be direct or generalized) which are used to apply information from modern cultures to the archaeological record o Ex. Lewis Binford’s study of bone remains from a specifically archaeological standpoint o Most archaeologists before Binford were not interested in archaeologically applicable questions Requirement: ethnographic societies must be analogous to archaeological questions “Hunter-gatherer question”: have modern hunter-gatherer groups changed so much that they can no longer be legitimately used for ethnographical comparisons? o For the vast majority of human history, we were hunter-gatherers o Original ideas about hunter-gatherer societies were agriculturally based (not legitimate comparisons) o Beginning in the 1960s, studies of modern hunter-gatherer groups began and did not correlate with older ideas Hunting and gathering was/is actually a pretty secure subsistence strategy Discussion of Debate #1: Oral histories are not very reliable; stories get told about the past because they relevant to the present, and they are not necessarily factually correct o However, broad themes of the oral histories may be applicable What are the possible interpretations of the bones of domestic animals in a supposed hunter- gatherer territory? o Could be pastoralists while still hunting and gathering on the side o Could have interactions with pastoralist communities in the area (trade, theft, etc.) Economic interactions do not fundamentally change who people are Modern hunter-gatherers are not ancient hunter-gatherers, but they are our closest model o If we don’t use hunter-gatherer populations from today, the only other thing we can do is use our imagination which is much more problematic o Ability to look back at broad patterns Connection between archaeology and anthropology: archaeologists look to anthropology (especially cultural anthropology) to form their ethnographic analogies “Ecofacts” make up the vast majority of artifacts in the archaeological record (predominately plant and animal remains) Plant remains can be of various “levels of bigness” o Small plant remains are much more likely to be recovered Seeds, recovered via flotation, are specific to plant species Pollen is specific to kinds of plants; useful to identify what kinds of vegetation were around; lasts a long time but can become airborne and move around Phytoliths are useful because they last for a long time but require finer processing o Plant materials at the macro level do not preserve very well, so people probably had a lot more stuff than we know about Ex. Iceman and all his paraphernalia/stomach contents that would not have been preserved in a more mild environment o Plants and starch grains can be recovered from dental calculus (tartar build-up on teeth), which gets fossilized Ex. Neanderthals were discovered to have eaten plant material and some of it may have even been cooked, which changes the popular idea of Neanderthal behavior as especially primitive February 12 Faunal analysis (animal remains) o Macrofauna can get preserved, such as the cat mummies from Ancient Egypt o Skeletal remains, especially in bits and pieces, are most likely to be found and make up a large percentage of the archaeological record o Often they are food remains o Species – accuracy of knowing the species depends on how much you have and what specific bones/parts they are o Age – determined by development of bone growth and tooth eruption o Sex – secondary sexual characteristics (such as tusks), pelvis, size (males are often larger than females of the same species) o Counting and reporting: how many animals were there? Number of individual specimens present (NISP) does not equal number of individual animals that were there Minimum number of individuals (MNI) is determined by counting the number of a specific bone you have, using the bone you have the most of o Taphonomy = anything that happens after animal bones get into the archaeological record Things get eaten Larger, heavier bones survive better than smaller, lighter bones which are more subject to natural forces of erosion, disturbance, etc. o What does analysis of faunal remains tell us? Example of red deer antlers found at Star Carr, England: red deer shed their antlers in April but un-modified antlers at site are attached to skulls, so they were collected before April, suggesting the site was used in winter However, teeth found at the site came from juvenile deer born in spring, which changes the possible interpretations of how/when the site was used o Bones can be modified by humans when butchering animals or making tools o Domesticated animals provide a new food source and change how people interact with their environment Evidence of dairying from pottery; bowls contained residues of milk, but the holes in them suggest that they were used for making cheese instead of simply holding milk Studying Human Remains Can be mummified/preserved bodies, either specifically prepared for burial (as in Egypt) or naturally preserved in specific environmental conditions (as in bog bodies or the Iceman) Most human remains in the archaeological record are skeletal remains; bones survive because they are part organic but also part mineral o Bones can be replaced by stone over time fossilized o Cremation usually does not reduce the entire body to ash, so bits and pieces of bone remain o Bones that are scattered rather than buried or preserved in some way usually do not survive as well Identification of biological sex (as distinct from the social concept of gender): o Shape of pelvis (female pelvises are wider to accommodate childbirth) o Sexual dimorphism (differences in size and robusticity of male and female bones) can suggest sex but doesn’t necessarily say for sure Identification of age: o Easier for younger individuals because of rapid and radical developmental stages that can be measured o Tooth eruption patterns are specific to age o Bone growth: skull bones are not completed connected (“soft skull”) at birth; fusion of the bones is archaeologically identifiable and can be dated, especially for younger individuals Groups of people, variety of ages/sexes, and understanding the parameters of the population are the best ways to be most accurate about determining age and sex of human remains Diseases can leave traces in bone o Anemia causes porousness of bones because when the body is unable to get enough energy, it sort of cannibalizes itself to survive o Arthritis: bone yields to stress over time, including heavy, continuous physical activity and age o Tuberculosis affects the curvature of the spine o Rickets (caused by vitamin D deficiency) creates thinness of bones Trauma is recorded in bone o Heavier muscles cause “rougher” looking bones; ability to indicate who was doing physical work and who wasn’t o Trephination = relieving pressure of brain by making a hole in the skull o Fractured bones leave evidence where they have healed Cultural practices also affect human bones o Foot binding of females in China o Corsets leave damage to the ribcage and can affect growth o Cradleboarding = binding a baby to a board to carry them around; changes skull shape o Intentional shaping of the head by binding babies’ heads in Mesoamerican ancient civilizations Changed head shape does not affect cognitive ability; the brain adapts War and violence also leave traces o Arrowheads/weapons lodged in bone o Parry fracture is a specific fracture of the arm(s) caused by a sword
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