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ANTH 2050 Ch 1 Key Terms Notes

World Archeology
Ch. 1 Key Terms
in situ: archaeological material is considered to be in situ when it is
found in the place where it was originally deposited
survey: an archaeological survey maps the physical remains of human
geographical information systems (GIS): software applications that
allow spatial data to be brought together and consolidated
horizontal excavation: an excavation for which the goal is to excavate a
broad area in order to expose the remains of a single point in time
vertical excavation: an excavation for which the goal is to excavate a
significant depth of deposits in order to expose the record of a
sequence of occupation
law of superposition: in any undisturbed depositional sequence, each
layer of sediments is younger than the layer beneath it
strata: discrete layers in a stratigraphical sequence
anthropogenic deposits: deposits that result from human activity.
Human activities range from building fires on ephemeral huntergatherer campsites to erection the palaces and fortifications of great
depositional unit: the material deposited at a site at a particular point
in time
provenience: the precise context in which an object is recovered in an
datum point: the linchpin for the control of excavation. It serves as a
reference point for all depth measurements on the site
wet screening: the process of spraying water onto a sieve to break up
sediments and move them through the mesh to make sure that all
artifacts are recovered during an excavation
flotation: the process used to recover botanical material (wood and
seeds) which involves mixing sediments vigorously in water. In the
process, charred remains of seeds and wood float to the surface while
the mineral sediments setter to the bottom. The charred botanical
material can them be skimmed off and dried for analysis
artifacts: objects that show traces of human manufacture
ecofacts: objects recovered from an archaeological context that are
either the remains of biological organisms or the results of geological
postdepositional processes: events that take place after a site has been
taphonomy: the study of the processes that affect organic remains
after death
quantification: methods used by archeologists to represent the large
quantities of material recovered in excavations and surveys
typology: a list used to draw up an inventory of types of artifacts found
by archaeologists in a particular archaeological context
attribute: a particular characteristic of an artifact
absolute chronology: a chronology stated in terms of calendar years
relative chronology: a chronology that places assemblages in a
temporal sequence not directly linked to calendar dates
seriation: the method of comparing the relative frequency of artifact
types between contexts
intrasite: having to do with contexts within a single site—for example,
an analysis comparing the sizes and contents of different houses to try
to determine the social structure of a society
intersite: comparisons between two or more sites—for example, an
analysis comparing the number of houses between sites in a region
synchronic studies: studies that make comparisons within the single
diachronic studies: studies that make comparisons between different
periods and look at processes of change through time