Presentation on theme: "Human Evolution and PREHISTORY"— Presentation transcript:
1 Human Evolution and PREHISTORY Chapter Two:METHODS OF STUDYINGTHE HUMAN PASTLink to the Canadian Archaeological Association
2 Chapter PreviewWhat 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
3 Aim Of ArchaeologyTo 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 Artifactsany object fashioned or altered by humans, e.g. pipe, stone tool, house wallsContext of artifactsthe 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 TeethShellsHornsWoody tissues of plants
7 FossilsAlteredRemains of plants and animals that have been altered, as by the replacement of organic material by calcium carbonate or silicaUnalteredRemains of plants and animals that lived in the past and that have not been altered in any significant way
8 ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITESA site is a place containing the remains of previous human activityA feature is a discrete place within a site, e.g. fire hearth, storage pit
12 Sites are defined by what is found in them. Sites…What are they?Places where past human activity occurredSome common site types:Habitation―places where people livedProcurement―places where people acquired resourcesProcessing―places where people converted resources to productsSacred―places where people practiced activities related to their ideologySpecialized―places with unique purposesSites are defined by what is found in them.
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 individual’s 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 LOCALITIESIn 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 IdentificationPartly determined by the reasons for the search, e.g. CRM work and laws requiring archaeological assessments of construction projectsPresence of artifacts (most sites)ChanceSurvey, ground or aerial, with test pitsInterviewing local inhabitantsRemote sensing techniques, e.g. magnetometer, ultrasound
25 Site Identification Soil marks, geological formations Kind of vegetation growing at the siteDocuments, maps, folkloreNatural agents, e.g. soil erosionBy 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 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 fossilizationSpecific localities with these contexts are then identified in much the same way as archaeological sites
28 Archaeological Excavation Grid systemA system for recording data from an archaeological excavation, where the site surface is divided into squaresDatum pointThe starting, or reference, point for constructing a grid
29 Archaeological Excavation Separate excavation of each square in the gridUse of shovels, trowels and sifting screensFamiliarity with natural soil around siteExcavation of stratified sites, layer by layer (or use of arbitrary levels)Flotation for very fine objects
30 Fossil ExcavationUse of geological techniques, e.g. knowledge of rock sequence in which fossils lieTools to remove fossils from rock beds, e.g. pickaxes, dental picks
31 Methods in Forensic Anthropology Recovery – survey, excavation, photograph/draw remains in situ, transport to laboratory2. 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 humidityCultural practices, e.g. mummification
33 SORTING OUT THE EVIDENCE: EXCAVATION Excavation is destruction and the excavation record is all that remains.Scale mapStratification of each grid squareDescription of artifacts and bonesPhotographsScale drawings
34 SORTING OUT THE EVIDENCE: LABORATORY Fossils:Removal from the matrix with specialized tools and possible use of chemicalsMicroscopic examinationPreparation of an endocast,a cast of the inside of a skull
35 SORTING OUT THE EVIDENCE: LABORATORY Artifacts:Clean and catalogue artifactsExamination of manufacture and wear patterns for evidence of functionAnalysis 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 osteologyA degree in Human Osteology...Information about people’s diets and health status, including life expectancy and mortalitye.g. palaeopathology -- The study of disease in ancient populations, usually from evidence in bone
37 Public ArchaeologyAny 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 trustTo distribute archaeological knowledgeLocal heritage awarenessParticipatory programs for First Nations peopleSupport of museumsCultural tourism
39 Dating The Past Relative Dating Designating an event, object, or fossil as being older or younger than anotherAbsolute (Chronometric) DatingDates based on solar years, centuries, or other units of absolute time
40 Methods of Relative Dating StratigraphySeriation (most reliable)Fluorine testPalynologyFaunal analysis
41 Methods of Chronometric Dating Radiocarbon analysisDendrochronologyPotassium-argon analysisAmino acid racemizationElectron spin resonance
42 The Human Spark...Episode 1; part 1 Forensic anthropology