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attritional age profile
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The distribution of ages in an animal population that is the result of selective hunting or predation. A mortality model based on the bone or tooth wear is used to figure out attritional mortality victims (those dying from natural causes or from non-human predation) or by hunting or predation of the most vulnerable individuals -- generally, the young and the old.
attritional bone profile
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The plotting of the age and sex of animal bones, which suggests that younger and old members of herds were killed, as well as scavenging or selective hunting by humans or other predators.
candelabra model
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: regional continuity theory
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: One of the theories of human development in which modern humans are thought to have descended from Homo erectus in Africa, Europe, and Asia. The opposing theory, known as the Noah's Ark model, holds that modern humans originated in one single area of Africa.
coevolution
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: coevolutionary perspective
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: The recent theory that life and climate interact and that they have mutually altered each other over geologic history. The term was coined by the American biologists Paul R. Ehrlich and Peter H. Raven to describe the process whereby two or more species depend on the interactions between them. The coevolution of life and climate during the past 4,000,000,000 years of the Earth's history is an expression for the complex mixture of forces causing climatic change. The theory suggests that changes in social systems are best understood as mutual selection among components rather than a linear cause-and-effect sequence. For example, it has been argued that the origins of agriculture can best be understood by exploring the evolutionary forces affecting the development of domestication systems. Viewed this way, domestication is not seen as an evolutionary stage, but rather as a process and is the result of coevolutionary interactions between humans and plants.
compositional studies
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The study of the elemental composition of ceramsics, usually through technologically sophisticated archaeometric techniques.
cross-sectional trenches
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: slot trenches
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A type of excavation in which a set of superimposed strata are cut across by deep trenches that expose the history of deposition.
data dictionary
CATEGORY: database design
DEFINITION: Documentation of all the files, fields, relations, and processes used in a database.
deposition
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: depositional process
CATEGORY: geology; term
DEFINITION: Any of the various processes by which artifacts move from active use to an archaeological context, such as loss, disposal, abandonment, burial, etc. It is the laying, placing, or throwing down of any material. In geology, it is the constructive process of accumulation into beds, veins, or irregular masses of any kind of loose, solid rock material by any kind of natural agent (wind, water, ice). The transformation of materials from a systemic to an archaeological context are directly responsible for the accumulation of archaeological sites and they constitute the dominant factor in forming the archaeological record. Deposition is the last stage of behavioral processes, in which artifacts are discarded.
depositional environment
CATEGORY: term; geology
DEFINITION: Any stratum or unit making up a separate layer of material at an archaeological site; the total of sedimentary and biological conditions, factors, and processes that result in a deposit(s). A depositional history is the order in which objects are deposited at a site.
directional filter
CATEGORY: geography
DEFINITION: A type of image filter used in digital image processing to identify linear features that possess a particular orientation. It allows a data surface" of any chosen vertical scale to be "illuminated" from various directions and elevations to make subtle anomalies visible mimicking the effects of low sunlight on earthworks with the flexibility of computer manipulation."
distribution
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: distributional archaeology; distribution patterns
CATEGORY: term; technique
DEFINITION: Simply, the spatial location of archaeological sites or artifacts. More specifically, a definition of the spatial location of artifacts, structures, or settlement types over a landscape. Analysis of the distribution of a particular artifact type may lead to conclusions about the nature of the industry or culture which produced or used it. The distribution of objects is studied by the plotting of an artifact's find-places on a distribution map. This is the visual representation of the distribution of some archaeologically significant trait or traits. The relationship of the find-spot symbols to the natural environment may reveal something about communication networks, economic subsystem, cultural or technological entities. The distribution map should show the extent of a culture of which the traits are distinctive, outlying occurrences being explained by diffusion, especially if spread along natural routes. The origin of more localized traits may be defined. The overlaying of one trait on another may suggest association or sequence, while mutually exclusive distributions can imply contemporaneity. The emphasis is on individual parts of archaeological deposits rather than on the site as a unit.
eco-functional theory
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: Any theory which posits that human culture is an adaptation to the environment and thus culture functions to maintain humans and the environment in a sustainable balance.
evolutionary archaeology
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: An explanatory framework for the past that accounts for structure and change in the archaeological record in much the same way as biological evolution.
exchange
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: directional trade; exchange system
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: A system which promotes the transfer of goods and services between people, either individuals or societies. The term 'trade' may be used to mean the same, but it often refers more specifically to the formalized economic relationships of modern societies. Three different forms of exchange can be found: reciprocity, redistribution, and market exchange. There are also different spatial patterns of traded items, which can reveal the mode of exchange. In 'down-the-line' exchange, a commodity is passed successively from one group to another even further away from its source. The pattern will show a distinct decline in the quantity of the item as distance from the source increases; the higher the value of the item, the further it will reach. In 'directional exchange', where a commodity is traded directly from its source to a distant point without any intermediate exchange, the pattern of decreasing quantities with increasing distance will be distorted with a local concentration. Primitive forms of exchange include barter, gift exchange, potlatch, and silent trade.
function
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: functional concept
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: The purpose or use of a component within a culture. The second goal of archaeological research is analysis of data and their relationships to determine function and thus reconstruct and create synchronic descriptions of ancient behavior. It is a model of culture that is keyed to the functions of its various components, which unite into a single system or structure.
functional attribute
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: Any characteristic of an object that indicates its function, such as its form or a residue from an activity for which it was used.
functional type
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A type based on cultural use or function rather than on outward form or chronological position
functional type
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: Classification based on cultural use or function rather than on outward form or chronological position.
functional typology
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: functional type
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: Classification based on cultural use or function rather than on outward form or chronological position.
ideational strategy
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A research perspective that defines ideas, symbols, and mental structures as driving forces in shaping human behavior.
ideofunction
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: adj ideofunctional
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: The use of an object for ideological purposes; for example, the wearing of a special garment as part of a religious ceremony.
Iona
CATEGORY: site
DEFINITION: An island of the Inner Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. In 563, it was granted by Connal of Dálriada to St. Columba for the founding of a monastery. It was the base from which the Celtic church, under Columba, Aidan, and their successors, converted northern Britain to Christianity. Lindisfarne was its most important daughter house. The remains of the monastery are earthworks that include a distinctive rectangular vallum or ditched enclosure surrounding the complex. The standing buildings belong to the later medieval Benedictine abbey. The island also has a fine collection of 8th-century standing crosses. In the early 9th century, the Vikings caused the Columban monks to abandon their monastery, and many returned to Ireland.
isotopic fractionation
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The enrichment of one isotope relative to another in a chemical or physical process. Two isotopes of an element are different in weight but not in gross chemical properties, which are determined by the number of electrons. It can be predicted theoretically and demonstrated experimentally, however, that subtle chemical effects do result from the difference in mass of isotopes. Isotopes of an element may have slightly different equilibrium constants for a particular chemical reaction, so that fractionation of the isotopes results from that reaction. One of the assumptions of radiocarbon dating is that Carbon 12, Carbon 13, and Carbon 14 are passed around the carbon cycle at similar rates. The three isotopes are chemically very similar, but slight differences between them may cause them to be taken up at different rates by some plants and animals. This isotopic fractionation may cause inaccuracies in radiocarbon dating. Both Carbon 12 and Carbon 13 are stable isotopes and their ratio should therefore remain constant throughout life and after death. If it has changed from the expected value, then fractionation has occurred. Once the degree of fractionation is known, it can be corrected for mathematically by the laboratory.
law of evolutionary potential
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: The group with the more generalized adaptation which has more potential for change than does the group with the more highly specialized adaptation.
legionary ware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Distinctive types of pottery in use by the legions in Britain especially in the mid 1st century AD, when local products were found to be inadequate. These wares were peculiar to each legion and have been identified at Wroxeter, Lincoln, York, and Caerleon, but there has only been one production centre identified, at Holt, Chester, where there was a works depot for tile-making.
locational analysis
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any of a set of techniques borrowed from geography to study the relationships between a site or sites and the environment. The relationship between sites can be examined in different ways: nearest-neighbor analysis, network analysis, rank-size rule, central place theory, and site catchment analysis. Locational analysis is the search for additional information from the geographical placing and spacing of sites, the significance of which can sometimes be tested mathematically.
multi-dimensional scaling
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: MDSCAL, multidimensional scaling
CATEGORY: technique; measure
DEFINITION: A multivariate statistical technique which aims to develop spatial structure from numerical data by estimating the differences and similarities between analytical units. Points or items are distributed in a hyperspace, whose dimensions are a large number of variables, and can be similarly distributed in a space of fewer dimensions. The points, originally randomly distributed, are moved about in the new space until the distances between points are similar in proportion to those between points in the original hyperspace. For example, a group of artifacts, about which a large number of characteristics and measurements have been recorded, can be represented by a two-dimensional plot. The reverse is also possible: distributions in a space of few dimensions can be 'unfolded' into space of many more dimensions. I.e. a statistical technique that distorts multidimensional distances/dissimilarities so that they can be portrayed on a two-dimensional map.
multidirectional core
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A core that has had flakes removed from two or more directions.
National Historic Preservation Act
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: NHPA
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: Legislation passed in 1966 and amended in later years, designed to protect important cultural sites by placing them on a master list called the National Register of Historic Places. The act also integrates local and state agencies into a national program designed to preserve sites.
National Register of Historic Places
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: National Register
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: A federally maintained list of archaeological, architectural, historical, and cultural sites of local, state, or national significance.
operational definition
CATEGORY: measure
DEFINITION: Indirect measurement of a phenomenon that cannot be observed directly.
operational model
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A representation of reality that is based on observation of how the component parts of the real situation operate.
processional way
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A route, often stone- or brick-paved, along which the statues of the gods were carried at festivals. The term is used particularly for the road leading from the Temple of Marduk to the Ishtar Gate and Akitu House temple in Babylon. About 615 BC, the Chaldeans connected the city's temples to the royal palaces with a major Processional Way, a road in which burned bricks and carefully shaped stones were laid in bituminous mortar. In ancient Egyptian towns, there is evidence of the use of paved processional roads leading to the temples. In architecture, the ambulatory is a continuation of the aisled spaces on either side of the nave around the apse or chancel to form a continuous processional way.
proportional pollen counting
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A type of pollen analysis carried out by determining the proportion of different pollen types in each sample. Proportions are usually expressed as percentages of total tree (arboreal) pollen. This method is fairly quick as only a fraction of the grains present in a sample need be counted. Its main disadvantage is that percentages can never indicate actual numbers of grains falling to earth, which is solved by Absolute Pollen Counting.
regional analysis
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any of various spatial analysis techniques in which archaeologists attempt to examine how behaviors structure a settlement system.
Regional Development period
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A term used in Ecuadorian archaeology for the period 500 BC-500 AD, when local adaptation led to the proliferation of regional cultures. The continuum Formative, Regional Development, Integration Period has also been applied to neighboring parts of South and Central America. Some of the Ecuadorian coastal variants produced fine pottery, elaborate figurines, and many small art objects. There are hints of Asiatic influence in the cultures of Bahía and Jama-Coaque, which occupied the coastland from La Plata island to Cape Francisco. The period is characterized by changes in socio-political organization and art styles and technology, which gave rise to region-wide rather than purely local cultures.
regional map
CATEGORY: tool
DEFINITION: Any map designed to depict the distribution of archaeological sites within regions.
regional sequence
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A chronological series of phases within the limits of a region, arrived at by correlating (not combining or conflating) local sequences.
regional survey
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A broad survey that includes the total environmental setting around an archaeological site.
regional system
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: Any system of time divisions such as those used in the Americas, based on major technological or social changes that produced regional cultures rather than local ones.
relational analogy
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: Any analogy justified on the basis of close cultural continuity between the archaeological and ethnographic cases
relational database
CATEGORY: database design
DEFINITION: A structured system of data files organized by controlled redundancy (key attributes and attribute pointers).
relational difference
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: relational dimension
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method of defining variation in artifacts according to which other artifacts they are found with. A characteristic of an artifact based on the other artifacts it is found in association with.
relational methods
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: Any of various methods of spatial analysis used to examine the relationships between various settlements based on a particular characteristic, such as size.
Society of Professional Archaeologists
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: SOPA
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: Professional organization for archaeologists specializing in contract archaeology and cultural resource management. Incorporated in 1976, it was created in response to the rapid growth of culture resource management in the U.S. and Canada. One of its major functions has been to compile and maintain an up-to-date listing of qualified professional archaeologists and those accepting such certification must subscribe to SOPA's code of ethics, institutional standards, and standards of research performance.
technofunction
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: adj. technofunctional or technomic
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: The use of an artifact for practical purposes; e.g., garments offering warmth or protection.
three-dimensional recording
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A system in which the two dimensions of the coordinate grid record the topographical findspot of an object. The third dimension is a measured elevation or spot-height of the absolute level at which an object was found.
traditional cultural property
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: TCP
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: The holy places, ceremonial sites, and other important places for Natives Americans or Native Hawaiians, possibly eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
transformational process
CATEGORY: term
DEFINITION: Any process, natural or human-caused, that transforms an abandoned prehistoric settlement into an archaeological site over time. This includes the conditions and events that affect archaeological data from the time of deposition to the time of recovery.
transitional
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A term used to describe an artifact that was utilized and manufactured across two or more cultural periods.
unidirectional core
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A core that has had flakes removed from only one direction.
vegetational climax
CATEGORY: term; flora
DEFINITION: A model which tries to explain vegetational history -- usually as a series of phases culminating in a terminal phase of equilibrium. It is maintained that there are points in vegetational history beyond which there can be no progress until the environmental conditions change. The stages leading up to these climaxes (seres) represent the gradual replacement of one ecosystem with another until a stabilized point (equilibrium) is attained. In different areas these climaxes take different forms depending on climate. A change in the climax vegetation therefore means a change in environmental conditions.

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