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Week 1 Notes ANTH 102

by: vscobee2

Week 1 Notes ANTH 102 ANTH 102


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These notes cover Week 1 material. I am including past notes because part of the final will be cumulative.
Intro to Archaeology
Rory Dennison
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by vscobee2 on Friday April 29, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 102 at University of Illinois at Chicago taught by Rory Dennison in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 17 views. For similar materials see Intro to Archaeology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Date Created: 04/29/16
Week 1 Notes    Introduction to Archaeology  ● Definition: Subfield of Anthropology that studies human past through material remains  ● Anthropology:  ○ Study of humans, past and present  ○ Holistic (uses lots of methods)  ○ Comparative  ○ Global  ○ Subfields:  ■ Cultural Anthropology  ■ Biological/physical Anthropology (evolution)  ■ Archaeology  ■ Linguistics  ● Archaeology as…  ○ History:  ■ Spans all of human history (past 3 million years)  ■ Only source of information for 99% of the past  ■ Pre­history: before written records  ■ Historic vs. Prehistoric archaeology  ○ Anthropology:  ■ Reconstruct, describe, and interpret human behavior and cultural patterns  through material remains  ■ Asks big questions about human culture/society  ■ Uses techniques/methods of anthropology  ○ Science:  ■ Is a science as well as a humanity  ■ Science as an explanation, not an absolute truth  ■ Scientific Theory: a well­substantiated explanation of some aspect of the  natural world based on observations that have been repeatedly confirmed  ● Best explanations based on current evidence available  ● Theories change over time to  match new evidence  ● Different from word “theory” in common usage, which implies  that it isn’t true/supported  ■ Archaeology as scientific:  ● Humans and past part of natural world  ● Knowledge about humans improvised by observations and  hypothesis­testing  ● Focus on methodology  ● Anthropological knowledge builds  ● Uses technical methods (radiocarbon dating)  ● Uses scientific method (inference) (observe, hypothesize, test,  theorize)  ■ Not scientific because some results can be replicated and others can’t  ○ Method (of discovering the past):  ■ Field work:  ● Plot on map, use remote imaging  ● Survey and then excavate key points  ● map/record all findings in layers  ● Consists of first ⅓ of total work  ■ Geographical Information System (GIS):  ● Software to examine different types of spatial data together  ● Displays data in “layers”  ● Ex. Google Earth  ● Allows you to choose which layers and how many  ■ Context:  ● Relationship between different artifacts and features at a site  ● Where was it found?  ● What was if found with?  ● When was it deposited?  ■ Analysis and Inference:  ● Inference = solving a mystery  ● Similar techniques as forensic scientists  ● Archaeological Themes:  ○ Culture, material remains, time/change  ○ Culture:  ■ Integrated system of beliefs, traditions, and customs that govern/influence  people’s behavior  ■ A complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law,  custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by humans as a  society  ■ Learned ­ not born knowing it; can be a part of multiple cultures  ■ Shared ­ a group has culture, not an individual  ■ System ­ hard to isolate and examine one piece  ■ Variable ­ varies over geography and time  ■ Change ­ culture changes with time, technology, etc.; dynamic, not static  ■ Adaptive ­ responds to environmental pressures  ■ Symbolic ­ use things to stand for other things (red octagon = stop)  ■ Can use culture as a noun to refer to people groups  ○ Material Remains:  ■ Artifacts: made/manipulated by humans purposefully  ■ Ecofacts: record of human activity, but not made deliberately (ex. animal  bones, pollen)  ■ Features: large things found in terrain; not­moveable (buildings, fields,  fire pits, terraces)  ■ Sediment: show environments humans lived in; study and date soil where  artifacts are found  ○ Time and Change:  ■ Framework for long­term change  ● Prehistoric (ancient past) vs. Historic  ○ Varies depending on region  ■ Chronology: sequence of events  ● Links time change to culture  ■ Era, periods, ages  ■ Geological or cultural things  ■ Change in…  ● Human evolutionary traits  ● Developments in cultural contexts (ex. tools)  ● Milestones (ex. Industrial Revolution; beginning of agriculture or  cities)  ● Myths and Pseudoscience:  ○ Pseudoscience lacks scientific support/status  ○ Nationalistic Pseudoarchaeology: countries use archaeology to justify national  policy; makes jumps in logic  ● Disciplines within Archaeology:  ○ Human Evolution:  ■ How humans change  ■ Very distant past  ■ Early tool techniques  ○ Prehistoric Archaeology:  ■ Humans before written records  ■ Can vary by thousands of years (New World vs. Old World)  ○ Historic Archaeology:  ■ Written records  ■ Can have lots of bias because most is about rulers and wars, less about  common day  ○ Ethnoarchaeology: Study of contemporary human behavior as an analogy for  human behavior in material record  ○ Experimental Archaeology: Study of past human behavior by trying to replicate  how artifacts were made and used  ○ Cultural Resource Management:  ■ Survey areas, recover artifacts before new development/construction  ■ Mandated when federal funding is used to build  ■ Largest employer of archaeology in the U.S.  ● Archaeological Sites: Any concentration of material remains marking the location of past  human activity  ○ Site formation:  ■ Decay/disuse, abandonment, sediment  ● Can change context  ● Cycle of use, disuse, abandonment, recovery  ● Preservation depends on moisture, temperature  ■ Abandonment:  ● 1. Catastrophic destruction and burial (Pompeii) (rare)  ● 2. Gradual or planned abandonment (more common)  ○ Depositional Process:  ■ 1. Sediment deposits (from wind and water)  ■ 2. Natural buildup of soil  ■ 3. Disasters  ■ 4. Cultural actions (remodelling; violence)  ○ Taphonomy: study of how natural processes help create the archaeological record  Principles of Archaeology  ● Archaeological Records: General term for anything found to be proof of human activity  ○ Assemblage: group of artifacts found together at a particular time and place  ● Middens: trash heaps that have evidence of daily life  ● Preservation:  ○ Wet Preservation:  ■ Wetland sites ­ low circulation (oxygen) at bottom  ■ Anaerobic conditions (little/no oxygen = less microorganisms to destroy  objects)  ■ Peat bogs ­ very acidic; few microorganisms; bones preserved well  ○ Dry Preservation:  ■ Mummification  ■ Desiccated environments  ■ Ex. Inca Maidens ­ at the top of mountain (dry and cold)  ● Site Disturbances:  ○ Bioturbation: movement caused by life  ■ Insects and animals  ● Earthworms, termite mounds, prairie dogs, gophers, etc.  ■ Plants  ● Surface and subsurface disturbances  ● Caused by roots (ex. jungle sites)  ○ Human disturbances:  ■ Development  ■ Looting ­ huge problem  ● Siteless Perspectives:  ○ Regional Perspective: What lies between sites  ■ Look at sites across landscape ­ how they interact with each other and the  environment  ○ Siteless approaches  ● Chronology:  ○ Dating Conventions:  ■ Always work from reference dates  ■ BC/AD:  ● Before Christ/Anno Domini  ● No year zero  ● Western/Christian calendar system  ■ BCE/CE:  ● Before common era  ● More sensitive  ● Same system  ■ BP: before present  ● Neutral, non­religious  ● Reference date is 1950 ­ start of Nuclear Age  ● Used a lot in science  ■ YA: years ago  ■ TA: thousands of years ago  ■ MA: millions of years ago  ● Measurement:  ○ Use metric (base 10) system  ○ Kilo, hecto, deka, basic unit, deci, centi, milli (move the decimal each time)  ○ 1 m = 3.28 ft  ● Dating:  ○ Relative Dating: Put something in relation to something else  ■ Is object older or younger?  ■ Reference event, period, phase  ■ Stratigraphy:  ● Stratification:  ○ Stratum: layers of sediment  ○ Natural layers over time  ● Stratigraphy: Study of vertical sections of earth that show relative  position of layers of cultural and geographical deposits in relation  to each other  ● Archaeological Horizon: Phase of activity in distinct level  ● Most basic thing done at site  ● Very complicated ­ layers unevenly deposited  ● Law of Superposition: Things deeper in ground are older, higher  up are younger (basic level of understanding)  ● Principles:   ○ Assumes no mixing/alteration to layers by formation  processes  ○ 1. Artifacts in same stratum will most likely date to same  human occupation layer  ○ 2. A single deposit can only be as old as its youngest  artifact  ○ 3. Law of Superposition: layers = chronology  ○ 4. Any cut into a sediment or stratum must take place after  that sediment/stratum has been deposited  ■ Seriation: Looking at artifacts directly  ● Look at many artifacts from different sites, grouping them and  putting them in chronological order  ● Contextual Seriation: Based on presence/absence of specific  feature  ● Frequency Seriation: Measure proportional abundance/frequency  of design style  ○ Frequency charts  ● Typologies: Define artifacts by types/artifacts  ○ Typology: classify objects according to types  ○ Products of a given period/place have recognizable style  ● Takes a degree of interpretation   ○ Absolute Dating: Absolute age in years before present  ■ Discrete set of years/time  ■ Determined by study of object itself  ■ Specific units of scientific measurement  ■ Get specific time  ■ Uses radioactive isotopes, tree­ring dating, etc.  ■ Radiocarbon Dating (C­14):  ● Most common  ● For organic material only  ● Limited by age range of object  ● Usually in BP  ○ Developed in 1949 by Willard Libby (U. Chicago)  ● Principles of radioactive decay:  ○ Unstable isotope  ○ Absorbed by vegetation, consumed by animals  ○ Ratio of C­12 and C­14 same as atmosphere when alive  ○ When dies, C­14 decays  ○ Half­life: time required for quantity to fall to ½ its value  ■ ½ life of C­14 is 5,730 years  ○ Harder to measure past 1950  ● Ex. used on Dead Sea Scrolls  ○ Other Dating Techniques:  ■ Thermoluminescence (TL)  ■ Optically stimulated luminescence  ■ Electron spin resonance  ■ Archaeomagnetic dating  ■ DNA dating 


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