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Human Evolution and PREHISTORY Link to the Canadian Archaeological Association Link to the Canadian Archaeological Association Chapter Two: METHODS OF.

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Presentation on theme: "Human Evolution and PREHISTORY Link to the Canadian Archaeological Association Link to the Canadian Archaeological Association Chapter Two: METHODS OF."— Presentation transcript:

1 Human Evolution and PREHISTORY Link to the Canadian Archaeological Association Link to the Canadian Archaeological Association Chapter Two: METHODS OF STUDYING THE HUMAN PAST

2 Chapter Preview What Are Archaeological Sites And Fossil Localities, And How Are They Found? How Are Sites And Localities Investigated? How Are Archaeological Or Fossil Remains Dated? Forensic Anthropology in Nova Scotia Forensic Anthropology in Nova Scotia

3 Aim Of Archaeology To use archaeological remains to reconstruct human societies that can no longer be observed firsthand, in order to understand and explain human behaviour

4 Methods of Data Recovery Artifacts any object fashioned or altered by humans, e.g. pipe, stone tool, house walls Context of artifacts the way that artifacts were left in the ground

5 The Nature of Fossils Fossil the remains of a once-living organism, generally having lived more than 10,000 years ago, e.g. bones

6 Fossilization Typically involve the hard parts of an organism: Bones Teeth Shells Horns Woody tissues of plants

7 Fossils Altered Remains of plants and animals that have been altered, as by the replacement of organic material by calcium carbonate or silica Unaltered Remains of plants and animals that lived in the past and that have not been altered in any significant way

8 ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES A site is a place containing the remains of previous human activity A feature is a discrete place within a site, e.g. fire hearth, storage pit

9 Archaeological site… early stages of excavation

10 Some Types of Archaeology Paleoanthropological Historical

11 Some Types of Archaeology Underwater Industrial

12 Sites…What are they? Places where past human activity occurred Some common site types: Habitationplaces where people lived Procurementplaces where people acquired resources Processingplaces where people converted resources to products Sacredplaces where people practiced activities related to their ideology Specializedplaces with unique purposes Sites are defined by what is found in them.

13 Habitation Sites

14 Procurement Sites

15 Processing

16 Sacred

17 Specialized

18 Matrix, Provenience, and Association… Matrix- refers to the physical medium that surrounds, holds, and supports archaeological data. Most frequently it consists of soil, sand, gravel, or rock. The matrix provides important clues to understanding the artifacts, features or ecofacts it contains.

19 Provenience… Provenience – refers to the three dimensional location of any kind of archaeological data within a matrix. Horizontal provenience is usually recorded relative to a geographical grid system using known reference points. Vertical provenience is usually recorded as elevation above or below sea-level. Provenience information allows the archaeologist to record (and later to reconstruct) association and context

20 Association… Association - refers to two or more artifacts occurring in the same matrix. The associations of various kinds of data are crucial to the interpretation of past events. For example, the artifacts found in association with a human burial, such as hunting weapons, may be clues to the individuals gender, status, and livelihood.

21 Context… Context is an evaluation of archaeological data based on both behavioural and transformational processes. By considering the significance of provenience, association, and matrix for artifacts, the archaeologist identifies the processes that have acted on those items and then reconstructs the original behaviour they represent.

22 Two kinds of context… 1. Primary context – is the original context of the find, undisturbed by any factor, human or natural, since it was deposited by the people involved with it. 2. Secondary context – Refers to the context of a find whose primary context has been disturbed by later activity. Very frequently, excavators of a burial ground will find incomplete skeletons whose graves were distrubed by deposition of later buri

23 FOSSIL LOCALITIES In palaeoanthropology, a fossil locality is a place where fossils are found, e.g. rock fissures in South Africa where human ancestor remains were dropped by predators

24 Site Identification Presence of artifacts (most sites) Chance Survey, ground or aerial, with test pits Interviewing local inhabitants Remote sensing techniques, e.g. magnetometer, ultrasound Partly determined by the reasons for the search, e.g. CRM work and laws requiring archaeological assessments of construction projects

25 Site Identification Soil marks, geological formations Kind of vegetation growing at the site Documents, maps, folklore Natural agents, e.g. soil erosion By accident during another human activity, e.g. widening of Trans- Canada Highway

26 Soil marks… This is a Gallo-Roman villa rustica, that was discovered by aerial survey in 1979. It is located in an area where Gallo-Roman era pottery were located in field surveys conducted in 1977, but the nature and extent of the site was not evident from the ground.

27 Locality Identification Palaeoanthropologists must identify geological context with conditions right for fossilization Specific localities with these contexts are then identified in much the same way as archaeological sites

28 Archaeological Excavation Grid system A system for recording data from an archaeological excavation, where the site surface is divided into squares Datum point The starting, or reference, point for constructing a grid

29 Separate excavation of each square in the grid Use of shovels, trowels and sifting screens Familiarity with natural soil around site Excavation of stratified sites, layer by layer (or use of arbitrary levels) Flotation for very fine objects Archaeological Excavation

30 Fossil Excavation Use of geological techniques, e.g. knowledge of rock sequence in which fossils lie Tools to remove fossils from rock beds, e.g. pickaxes, dental picks

31 Methods in Forensic Anthropology 1.Recovery – survey, excavation, photograph/draw remains in situ, transport to laboratory 2. Analysis – inventory, ask questions: Are the remains bone? Are the remains human? Are the remains contemporary (less than 50 yrs.) Determine sex, age, using qualitative and quantitative techniques

32 State of Preservation of Archaeological Evidence Inorganic materials (e.g. stone) are more resistant to decay than organic (e.g. bone) State of preservation is affected by: Climate, i.e. temperature and humidity Cultural practices, e.g. mummification

33 SORTING OUT THE EVIDENCE: EXCAVATION Excavation is destruction and the excavation record is all that remains. Scale map Stratification of each grid square Description of artifacts and bones Photographs Scale drawings

34 SORTING OUT THE EVIDENCE: LABORATORY Fossils: Removal from the matrix with specialized tools and possible use of chemicals Microscopic examination Preparation of an endocast, a cast of the inside of a skull

35 SORTING OUT THE EVIDENCE: LABORATORY Artifacts: Clean and catalogue artifacts Examination of manufacture and wear patterns for evidence of function Analysis of plant and animal remains (palaeoethnobotany and archaeozoology) for clues about environment and human economic activities

36 SORTING OUT THE EVIDENCE: LABORATORY Analysis of human skeletal material – human osteology A degree in Human Osteology... Information about peoples diets and health status, including life expectancy and mortality e.g. palaeopathology -- The study of disease in ancient populations, usually from evidence in bone

37 Public Archaeology Any archaeological activity that interacts or has potential to interact with the public, e.g. ownership and trade in artifacts and human remains, leading to repatriation legislation (U.S.) and protocol (Canada)

38 Goals of Public Archaeology To build relationships based on mutual trust To distribute archaeological knowledge Local heritage awareness Participatory programs for First Nations people Support of museums Cultural tourism

39 Dating The Past Relative Dating Designating an event, object, or fossil as being older or younger than another Absolute (Chronometric) Dating Dates based on solar years, centuries, or other units of absolute time

40 Methods of Relative Dating 1.Stratigraphy 2.Seriation (most reliable) 3.Fluorine test 4.Palynology 5.Faunal analysis

41 Methods of Chronometric Dating 1.Radiocarbon analysis 2.Dendrochronology 3.Potassium-argon analysis 4.Amino acid racemization 5.Electron spin resonance

42 The Human Spark...Episode 1; part 1 Forensic anthropology

43 NEXT TIME: Biology and Evolution


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