DATA AND CONTEXT

CULTURE: That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. Taylor, 1871

Human culture is a set of designs for living and coping tht helps mold our responses to different situations. Different cultures react differently to different situations. Cultue is our primary means by which we adabt to our evironment.

A "culture", archaeologically speaking is an arbitrary constuct [much more so in prehistoric archaeology than historic archaeology] consisting of similar assemblages of artifacts found at different sites in a given span of time and space (area).

Archaeologists are a special type of anthropologists who study past human culture from the patterning of material culture and cultural features in the soil. Archaeologists see culture as complex interlinked, articulated system in a constant state of flux. Cultures is humankind's way of adapting.

DATA RELEVANT TO MOST IN NOT ALL, THE COMPONENTS OF PAST SOCIO-CULTURAL SYSTEMS ARE PRESERVED IN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD. OUR TASK IS TO DEVISE THE MEANS FOR EXTRACTING THIS INFORMATION

THE TANGIBLE REMAINS OF THE PAST FOUND BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS ARE A PATTERNED REFLECTION OF THE CULTURE THAT PRODUCED THEM. PATTERNING IS THE KEY WORD, ARCHAEOLOGISTS ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR PATTERNED DISTRIBUTIONS - patterns in soil disturbances, post alignments, artifacts, etc.

Question always remains: to what degree can archaeologists learn about a culture by looking at the objects left behind?


Archaeological data consists of any material remains or evidence of material remains of human activity.

Archaeological record: general term used to refer to the total data from a site or and excavation. The total data bank .....

Material Culture:

1. Artifacts : usually portable, any object modified or utilized by man that can be removed from the ground

2. Features, data that can not be removed from the ground, pits, post holes.

3. Structures..... obvious (also ships)

4. Ecofacts, all data related to economy, subsistence pattern, or environment.

And also:

5. Human skeletal material -

All archaeological data occurs in :

Matrix - the physical substance surrounding archaeological material or data

Within the matrix all archaeological data has provenience;

Provenience: the position of an archaeological find in time and space, recorded three dimensionally -- spatially speaking, and in time, time control considered next week

Provenience determined according to:

Law of Association -- objects found in the same archaeological layer under conditions where its is clear that they were deposited at the same time, must all date from the same time -- be of similar age........association of extinct fauna and tools....

Law of Superposition: Archaeological finds discovered in stratified layers were deposited in the relative order in which the layers were formed. Those in the lowest, or earlier layers are older than those in higher and later layers.....PROFILES....**

Provenience determines context.

Context: the position of an archaeological find in time and space, established by measuring and assessing its association, matrix and provenience. Context includes and assessment of how an archaeological find got there and what has happened to it since it was buried in the ground.

The significance of the locus and associations....

Primary context-- a find in the place of use, in original context, undisturbed since placed, lost, etc. ex. burials, buried house floors., etc.

Secondary context. finds in some place rather that the place of use, a finds whose primary context has been disturbed by later activity, man, beast, nature........acts of God, wind, water, earthquake....

All finds in a Primary and secondary context have a spatial context or location , --- a horizontal and vertical placement -- that can be viewed on 4 levels of abstractions indicative of human behavior.

Levels: 1-3 confined to the boundaries of one community..

1. artifacts
Individual behavior or activity. Attribute patterning reflects individual behavior patter
2. structure
What we have at this level is various forms of group activity. esp. family, lineage, specialization, Artifact patterning reflects a group (whatever, or however identified) behavior patterns. The cluster or pattern of artifacts indicative of any group activity is a sub assemblage.
sub assemblage: association of artifacts denoting a particular form of prehistoric activity practiced by a group of people. ceramic, basketry, subsistence pattern, architecture, lang? lithics ...
3. Site --Community activity .
Groupings of artifacts from the different group activities of #2 above, form a assemblage characteristic of total community.
Assemblage: All the artifacts found at a site. All the sub assemblages found contemporaneously (time control critical) that reflect the patterning of the shared activities of the whole community, not just one or two groups of the community.
4. Region -- Activity of people of common cultural background, the activities of groups of people occupying a number of sites in a specified region -- however identified.... Regionally, culturally similar communities, will share the same basic assemblage of material culture, etc... Assemblage patterning reflects societal behavior patterning.. a cultural entity, a culture. Cultures are indicated archaeologically by the wide spatial distribution of shared traits across the landscape.... Can be classified into:

Settlement Pattern: distribution of human settlement on the landscape and with in archaeological communities. The distribution of the different kinds of sites and human settlement across the natural landscape. Settlement pattern determined by technology, economic or subsistence practices, and of course environment. Also how a site is laid out, and were different activities are performed..... task specific area.... activity area location ...

Settlement pattern archaeology,, a special area of study in Arch. often, an analysis of the interaction between people and their environment. A variety of sites across region is a way of maximizing the exploitation of the environment..

DIMENSION OF TIME CONTROL.... HOW WE ANSWER THE QUESTION - HOW OLD IS IT???