Artifact Objects used, modified, or made by people
Ecofacts Organic and environmental remains not made by humans but that can tell archaeologists information about past peoples
Feature A non-portable artifact (walls, buildings, roads etc.)
Activity! Break into groups of two Make a list of famous artifact, ecofact and feature in the next five minutes Team with the longest list gets extra 2 participation points! GO!
Sites A place where artifacts, ecofacts and features are found together
Context To understand past human history at a site archaeologists must understand the context of a find. Context consists of the: matrix, provenience, and its association Once something is removed and its context destroyed part of the understanding of the artifact disappears
Primary vs. Secondary Contexts If a tomb is looted in antiquity and then archaeologists excavated the same tomb in the 21 st century would they be recording the primary or secondary context? What else could cause an artifact to be found in a secondary context? Why is it important to know the difference?
Matrix The material surrounding an object Usually some sort of sediment (gravel, sand, clay etc.)
Provenience Location-horizontal and vertical position within the matrix Archaeologists measure the depth of an artifact and its position within the site
Association An artifacts occurrence with other remains Usually within the same matrix
All associations must be recording accurately within a site…why?
Taphonomy The study of formation processes Cultural formation processes vs. natural formation processes It is important to know if archaeological evidence is from human or natural processes
Cultural Formation Processes Original Human Behavior Deliberate Burial Human Destruction of the Archaeological Record
Original Human Behavior Reflected in four (sometimes 5) different ways within the AR Acquisition Manufacture Extra-Step-Storage Use (and Distribution) Discard
Deliberate Burial Depositing items during times of conflict with the intent of coming back for them-known as a hoard Burial of the dead
Human destruction of the AR People in the past deliberately AND accidentally destroyed remains from previous peoples Some of these practices actually help the AR stay intact…example burning
Natural Formation Processes Nature can be as destructive (if not more than) humans Animal activity Rivers can change course and disrupt burials and sites Natural disasters can destroy (or preserve) objects in the AR
Inorganic Materials Stone, Metal and Clay survive the most in the AR What do you think does’t survive well?
Fired Clay Ceramics have traditionally been the main source of evidence for Archaeologists Acid soil and humidity can damage clay
Mud brick Virtually indestructible if well fired Helps to understand building phases
Metals Gold, Silver, Lead survive well Copper and bronze oxidize in acidic soil and can leave behind only a green deposit Iron oxidizes quickly and can leave behind just a rust colored stain The sea is very destructive to metals-once an object is removed from the ocean it must be treated to preserve it
Organic Materials Survival is determined greatly by the matrix surrounding the material Natural disasters can also influence survival Inorganic material in the matrix can affect the preservation of organic material
What do you think the sea would do to an artifact?