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What is Archaeology?: Studying Past Cultures. What is Culture? Cultural Systems and Culture Process Goals of Archaeology Theory in Archaeology. Archaeologists?. Basic Concepts. Fossils-Studied by Paleoanthropologists. Preserved remains of creatures from the past.

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What is Archaeology?: Studying Past Cultures


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    1. What is Archaeology?:Studying Past Cultures What is Culture? Cultural Systems and Culture Process Goals of Archaeology Theory in Archaeology

    2. Archaeologists?

    3. Basic Concepts • Fossils-Studied by Paleoanthropologists. • Preserved remains of creatures from the past. • They form when an organism dies, is buried, and over long periods of time the organic part decays and is replaced by minerals. • i.e. bones form stone. • Fossil localities are where fossils are found. • Archaeological sites-Studied by Archaeologists. • Places of past human activity. • large settlements with ceremonial centers. • small hunting camps.

    4. Terms • Artifacts- Objects found and studied by archaeologists which have been made or modified by humans. • Stone tools, bone tools, pottery most common. • Ecofacts- nonartifactual remains found at archaeological sites, such as animals bones, shells, plant remains. • Generally provide ecological and subsistence information. • Features- Nonmoveable artifacts such as hearths, pits or house floors. • Can reveal information such as settlement and subsistence.

    5. Context • An artifacts context is it's specific location where it was found and how it relates to other artifacts around it. • *i.e. A stone arrowhead is found with newspapers and plastic bottles, what would you conclude about the arrowheads context? • So a pot on its own may tell you how it was made or what it was made from, but if it is removed from its context archaeologists have no idea what it was associated with.

    6. Doing Archaeology • Locating Sites • Accident, Controlled Survey, Remote Sensing • Excavation • Horizontal, Vertical • Dating Techniques • Carbon 14, Dendrochronology • Artifact Analysis • Site and Regional Synthesis

    7. Archaeology is Anthropology • Archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing. • Collectors vs. Archaeologists • collectors are after artifacts for money or for personal collections. • archaeologists are after knowledge. • Context is the most important thing to archaeology. • the time and space in which objects occur in the ground. • systematic study of the past in this context.

    8. Types of archaeology • Classical-use of written sources, architecture and art. • Historical-recent historic times, may be text aided. • Underwater archaeologists-study waterlogged sites or artifacts with special techniques. • Prehistoric-cultures before written records. • New World vs. Old World

    9. Specialists • Research on particular artifacts or ecofacts. • Zooarchaeologists-animal bones from archaeological sites. • Lithic analysts-stone tools. • Paleoethnobotanists-botanical remains, domestication. • Bioarchaeologists-human remains. • Ceramics • Metals • Architecture • Writing • Etc., etc.

    10. What is Culture? • “That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by a[person] as a member of society” Edward Tylor • Primary nonbiological means by which human societies adapt to and accomodate their environment. • Culture is a society’s traditional system of beliefs and behavior. • What is the difference between human culture and animal societies? • *i.e. when an animal dies, its experiences die with them. But what about primate societies?

    11. Cultural Systems • Cultural Systems • A complex system comprising a set of interacting variables, including: • tools • burial customs • subsistence • religion • social organization • These elements function to maintain a community • When one element changes, others are effected • How do we study Cultural Systems in Archaeology?

    12. Tools

    13. Burial Customs

    14. Religion

    15. Social Organization

    16. Culture Process • Processes by which human societies changed in the past. • Culture change was generally slow and gradual. • Primary Processes: • Invention • Diffusion • Migration

    17. Cultural Evolution • Prestate Societies • Bands • Tribes • Chiefdoms • State-Organized Societies

    18. The Goals of Archaeology • Four Goals of Archaeology • Studying Culture History • Reconstructing Past Lifeways • Explaining Culture Change • Making Archaeology Relevant to the Present

    19. North America Paleoindian (15-10 kya) Archaic (10-3 kya) Woodland (3-1 kya) Mississippian (1kya-500ya) Old World (Europe/Africa) Paleolithic (2 mya-10 kya) Mesolithic (10 kya-6 kya) Neolithic (6 kya-4 kya) Bronze Age (4 kya-2.5 kya) Iron Age (2.5 kya--) Studying Culture History

    20. Reconstructing Past Lifeways Flintknapping-Making Stone Tools http://www.dec.ny.gov/images/administration_images/0807flintknap.jpg

    21. Explaining Culture Change The Bixby Homesite: 1800-1845 The actual household objects of the Bixby house, the house itself with its outbuildings, and the surrounding New England landscape illustrate clearly the changes in society and in work in the first half of the 19th century.

    22. Archaeology & Relevance to the Present Paleopathology: A 20,000-Skeleton Perspective The diagnosis of various pathologies is a major tool for both archaeology and medicine. This set illustrates disease phenomena which are reproducible across geographic and even species lines. The antiquity of one disease -- rheumatoid arthritis -- varies geographically, possible evidence for its origin as vector-transmitted and for speculation about human behavior.

    23. Theory in Archaeology • Cultural-Historical • Chronology • Artifact Typology • Processual • Behavior • Experimental Archaeology • Post-processual • Ideological • Religion • Symbolism

    24. Culture History-Pottery

    25. Processual-Ethnoarchaeology Ethnoarchaeology of the Kalinga View of Dangtalan looking north. The irrigated fields border the village on the east, west, and south. Notice the variability in house sizes as well as construction materials (e.g., thatch vs. corrugated iron sheets for the roofs).

    26. Post-Processual-Imagery Chichen Itza- The player on the left holds the severed head of the defeated player on the right. From the trunk spouts blood in the form of seven serpents. In the center is the ball.