Archaeology & Artifact Terms Glossary

This Glossary is as accurate as possible in describing terms as applied to

Archaeology, Anthropology and general artifact collector terminology.


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ABERRANT - Deviation from the class to which an artifact or phenomenon belongs.

ABORIGINAL - Pertaining to the original occupants of a given region. Indigenous

people, such as the Indians to North America.


ABRADING STONE - A stone, typically sandstone or limestone that was used to

smooth or sharpen antler, bone, wood and other stone. Used in the knapping

process for dulling a platform in preparation for flake removal.

ABRASIVE STONE - A gritty stone that is used for grinding, honing, polishing.

Generally made of sandstone.

ABSOLUTE DATING - A dating method that determines an object's exact age, as

opposed to its relative age; includes such techniques as dendrochronology and

radiocarbon dating. Dating an artifact or feature by a measure of time, such as

years, so that you can say, for example, "This pot is 2,500 years old plus or

minus 250 years."

ABU SIMBEL - Two temples located close to the border between Sudan and Egypt.

They were constructed in the 13th century B.C.E. during the reign of Pharaoh

Ramesses II.

ACCLIMATORY ADJUSTMENTS - Reversible physiological adjustments to stressful


ACCRETION - Growth by virtue of an increase in inter-cellular materials.

ACCULTURATION - The process by which a culture absorbs the traits or customs of

another culture with which it is in direct contact.

ACEPHALOUS SOCIETY - A society without a political head such as a president,

chief, or king.

ACHEMENID EMPIRE - Persian empire named after its founder Achemens. The empire

lasted from about 550 to 330 BCE when it was conquered by Alexander the Great.

ACHIEVED STATUS - Social standing and prestige reflecting the ability of an

individual to acquire an established position in society as a result of

individual accomplishments.

ACROPOLIS - A highly fortified area that served as the defensive and ritual

center of Greek cities such as Athens.

ACT - The smallest unit of recurrent behavior involving an artifact.

ACTIVITY - A set of related 'acts.'

ACTIVITY AREA - that portion of an archaeological site which can be equated

with a single activity such as flint knapping, butchering, or cooking.

ACUTE - Having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course.

A.D. - Etymology: Medieval Latin, in the year of the Lord. Used to indicate

that a time division falls within the Christian era. Anno Domini. When used as

a prefix or suffix to a date, it indicates the number of years elapsed since the

supposed date of the birth of Christ.

ADAPTATION - The process of change to better conform with environmental

conditions or other external influences. The act or process of adapting.

ADAPTIVE RADIATION - The evolution of a single evolutionary stock into a

number of different species.

ADJUSTMENT - The ability of humans to survive in stressful environments by

nongenetic means.

ADOLESCENT GROWTH SPURT - A rapid increase in stature and other dimensions of

the body that occurs during puberty.

ADULT - The period in an individual's life cycle after the eruption of the last

permanent teeth.

ADENA - A cultural group that prevailed in late archaic-early woodland times.

Primarily known for Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois.

ADZE - An axe-like implement in which the blade is hafted such that the cutting

edge lies perpendicular to the handle after the fashion of a hoe. Used primarily

for woodworking.

AEOLIAN - Sand, clay, silt, or mixed deposits that have been carried by the

wind. Loess and sand dunes are typical aeolian deposits.

AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY - Aerial photography. vertical and oblique photographic

imagery of the earth's surface taken from any point of advantage. The use of

specialized films can render visible features which could not otherwise be

detected. Topographic relief can be emphasized by photographing in the morning

or early evening when shadows are most pronounced.

AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE - an important survey technique in the discovery and

recording of archaeological sites (see also reconnaissance survey).

AFFILIATIVE BEHAVIOR - Close-proximity behavior that includes touching,

grooming, and hugging.

AFFINAL KIN - Persons related by marriage.

AGATE - A fine-grained variegated chalcedony having its colors arranged in

stripes, blended in clouds, or showing moss like forms.

AGATE BASIN - a physiographic feature in Wyoming, also known as Moss Agate

Arroyo which has given its name to the lanceolate points recovered there, to

the archaeological site from which they were recovered (occasionally including

the nearby Brewster Site), to the complex of associated artifacts and the

culture of the makers of the artifacts. They are neither notched or stemmed,

grinding may be present, commonly up to 1/3 of the original length. Widest

portion of the blade is towards the distal end. They are of the Plano culture

and is believed to be represent the material culture of the nomadic bison

hunting peoples.

AGAVE - Sometimes called a century plant. Several species of the plant were

used by Indians in the Southwest and Mexico. The plants vary greatly in size,

but are characterized by a cluster of leaves spreading out at ground level from

a short central stem. The narrow leaves are long and thick and terminate in a

spine. At maturity, each plant sends up one long flowering stalk and then dies.

Agaves grow at elevations of 3000 to 8000 feet. Species of agave are used in the

manufacture of pulque and tequila, alcoholic beverages popular in Mexico. Raw

agave is poisonous.

AGE GRADE - A group of people of the same sex and approximately the same age

who share a set of duties and privileges.

AGGRADATION - An accumulation of sediment resulting in the building up of a

land surface. An example would be part of a river bank upon which sediments are

regularly deposited during the spring flood.

AGING - 1. The uninterrupted process of normal development that leads to a

progressive decline in physiological function and ultimately to death. To become

old : show the effects or the characteristics of increasing age. 2. The process

of falsely applying patina, minerals or color to make an artifact appear older

than it really is.

AGONISTIC BEHAVIOR - Behavior that involves fighting, threats, and fleeing.

AGRARIAN STATE - The Fourth stage in the stage model , representing large

regional systems or empires based primarily on non-mechanized agriculture and

controlled by centralized and specialized bureaucracies.

AGRICULTURE - A subsistence mode which involves the use of machinery or

domesticated animals in the cultivation of plants. The science, art, or practice

of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying

degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products.

A-HORIZON - The uppermost, often dark-colored natural level in a soil profile

characterized by roots, humus, and a lack of clay, iron, carbonates and soluble

salts which have leached to lower levels.

AIMA - Australasian Institute of Maritime Archaeology.

AIRLIFT - Instrument like a giant vacuum cleaner used by underwater

archaeologists to remove dirt and debris from underwater archaeological sites.

AKHENATEN - Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty and primary figure in the Armana

Period. Approximate dates of reign: 1352-1336 BCE.

AKHETATEN - New capital city founded by Akhnaten and now called Tell el-Amarna.

ALABASTER - a compact fine-textured usually white and translucent gypsum often

carved into artifacts. a hard compact calcite or aragonite that is translucent

and sometimes banded

ALABASTRON - A traditional Egyptian oil jar made of alabaster. The Greeks made

later versions of it out of clay.

ALAMANNI - German tribe in south Germany which lived the time between 260-750


ALBERTA - A Plano projectile point style. Specimens are as much as 20 cm in

length, parallel-sided with blunt tips, and stemmed. Similar to Scottsbluff but

typically has longer, more rounded stem.

ALBINISM - A recessive abnormality that leads to little or no production of the

skin pigment melanin.

ALBIAN - European stage of the uppermost Lower Cretaceous, spanning the time

between 107 and 95 million years ago.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT - King of Macedonia and conqueror.

ALGAE - Photosynthetic, almost exclusively aquatic, nonvascular plants that

range in size from simple unicellular forms to giant kelps several feet long.

They have extremely varied life cycles and first appeared in the Precambrian.

ALGONKIAN (or Algonquian). a grouping of related languages whose speakers were

originally distributed from Newfoundland to California and from the northern

Prairie Provinces of Canada to the American southeast. The term derives from the

Algonkin (or Algonquin) people who resided in the Ottawa and St. Lawrence River

valleys. Algonkina languages and dialects in Manitoba include Cree, Ojibwa(y) or

Chippewa(y), and Saulteaux.

ALIDADE - An optical surveying instrument used in conjunction with a

plane-table and stadia-rod to produce detailed large-scale topographic maps.

ALIENATION - The fragmentation of individuals' relations to their work, the

things they produce, and the resources with which they produce them.

Estrangement from the values of one's society and family.

ALL-MALE PARTY - Among chimpanzees, a small group of adult or adolescent males.

ALLEN'S RULE - A rule which states that among endotherms, populations of the

same species living near the equator tend to have more protruding body parts and

longer limbs than do populations farther away from the equator.

ALLOGROOMING - Grooming another animal.

ALLOMETRIC GROWTH - The pattern of growth whereby different parts of the body

grow at different rates with respect to each other.

ALLOMORPHS - Forms contained in morphemes that differ in sound but not in


ALLOPATRIC SPECIES - Species occupying mutually exclusive geographical areas.

ALLOPHONES - Sounds that belong to the same phoneme.

ALLOYING - A technique involving the mixing of two or more metals to create an

entirely new material, e.g. the fusion of copper and tin to make bronze.

ALLUVIAL DEPOSITS - Sediments laid down by streams in their channels or on

flood plains.

ALLUVIAL FAN - A fan- or wedge-shaped accumulation of silt, sand, gravel and

boulders deposited by rapidly-flowing streams when they reach flatter terrain.

ALLUVIUM - A generally fine-grained mixture of sand, silt and mud deposited by

flowing water.

ALTAMIRA - Cave near the north coast of Spain discovered in 1868. The first

site where Paleolithic Period cave paintings were found.

ALTERNATE FLAKING - The process of removing flakes from alternate faces along

the edge of a tool, thus producing a wavy or sinuous edge.

ALTIMETER - A barometric device for determining elevations above sea-level.

ALTITHERMAL - A postulated climatic period characterized by warmer and/or

drier conditions approximately 4,000-8,000 years ago.

ALTRUISTIC ACT - A behavior characterized by self-sacrifice that benefits


AMARNA - General term used to refer to the reign of Akhnaten and surrounding

years. Also modern name of the Egyptian city founded by Akhenaten. (Tell


AMARNA LETTERS - A collection of clay tablets containing diplomatic

correspondence of the Amarna Period.

AMAZONS - Legendary tribe of warrior women.

AMBILINEAL DESCENT - A descent ideology based on ties traced through either

the paternal or the maternal line.

AMBILOCALITY - Residence of a married couple with or near the kin of either

husband or wife, as they choose.

AMMONITE - Any of a subclass (Ammonoidea) of extinct cephalopods with flat

spiral shells that were especially abundant in the Mesozoic age. A coiled,

chambered fossil shell of a cephalopod mollusk.

AMPHIBIANS - The earliest class of land vertebrates to evolve, yet have to

keep their skin moist and lay eggs in water; includes modern frogs and


AMPHORA - Large round ceramic container used for transportation and storage of

goods. Used from antiquity until the 16th century or so. Used for wine, oil,

olives, grain, etc, etc. Amphoras in a shipwreck can often tell the age and

nationality of the wreck.

AMUN - Egyptian god associated with the state and the kingship during Egypt's

New Kingdom.

ANALOGIES - Structures that are superficially similar and serve similar

functions, but have no common evolutionary relationship.

ANALOGY - A process of reasoning whereby two entities that share some

similarities are assumed to share many others.

ANALYSIS - The process of studying and classifying artifacts, usually

conducted in a laboratory after excavation has been completed.

ANASAZI - One of the three desert cultures that shaped life in the American

Southwest from 300 B.C. to A.D. 1300. Developed a new way of building pueblos

and the technique of farming on top of mesas. Used both hand-formed adobe bricks

and stones to build their homes.

ANATOLIA - The large peninsular region of Turkey, bordered by the Black Sea to

the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and constituting the

westernmost point of Asia; also known as Asia Minor.

ANCESTOR - one from whom a person is descended and who is usually more remote in

the line of descent than a grandparent.

ANCILLARY SAMPLE - Any non-artifactual materials collected by archaeologists

to aid in dating, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, or other interpretations -

e.g. carbon samples, soil samples, palynological samples etc.

ANDERSON CORNER NOTCHED - . a projectile point style defined by MacNeish (l958)

on the basis of his investigations in southeastern Manitoba and attributed to

the Anderson, Nutimik and Larter foci. As originally defined, these points are

relatively long (30 to 68 mm) and narrow with straight bases and expanding

stems. This designation is less commonly used than previously.

ANDERSON FOCUS - the earlier (500 B.C. to A.D. 500) of the Middle or Initial

Woodland cultural-historical periods in MacNeish's (l958) southeastern Manitoba

chronology. It was later designated the Anderson Phase by Mayer-Oakes (l967).

Hlady (l970) finally advocated the grouping of the Anderson with the other

Middle Woodland focus (Nutimik) due to a general absence of distinguishing

artifactual traits, and further proposed that this new entity be designated the

Laurel Phase. The suggestion met with universal acceptance and the earlier term

is no longer used.

ANDESITE - A fine-grained gray to green igneous rock composed primarily of

minerals of the feldspar group -- in particular andesine, amphibole and


ANGKOR WAT - A complex of religious buildings in Cambodia (in southeastern

Asia) that is considered one of the world¹s archaeological and architectural

treasures. The complex combines a temple dedicated to Vishnu (a Hindu god) and a

mausoleum (a large and stately tomb). Angkor Wat was built by Suryavarman II,

who ruled the Khmer Empire from A.D. 1113 to 1145.

ANGLO SAXONS - A name used to describe the European warriors who invaded

Britain around the 5th century A.D.; composed of two separate groups, the Angles

and the Saxons.

ANGOSTURA - A Plano projectile point style (previously termed "Long") named by

R.P. Wheeler (in Wormington l957) after the Angostura Basin in South Dakota.

Angostura points, sometimes termed "Lusk" points, are long and narrow,

lanceolate in outline form, rhomboidal in cross section, and have concave or

straight bases.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY - The breeding, care, and use of herd animals, such as sheep,

goats, camels, cattle, and yaks.

ANIMATISM - Belief in an impersonal supernatural force.

ANIMIST - One who believes in animism, a belief that creatures, objects, and

natural phenomena are inhabited by spirits.

ANNEAL - to temper or harden by exposure to heat. Some lithic materials may

produce more regular planes of fracture subsequent to controlled annealing and

some metals may be rendered less brittle

ANNEALING - In copper and bronze metallurgy, this refers to the process of

heating and then cooling the material to remove stress from hammering.

ANTHROPOCENTRICITY - The belief that humans are the most important elements in

the universe.

ANTHROPOID (1) - A Greek word meaning; man-shaped. This term is used for

coffins made in the shape of a human.

ANTHROPOID (2) - A member of the suborder Anthropoidea; includes the New World

monkeys, Old World monkeys, apes, and humans.

ANTHROPOIDEA - Suborder of the order Primates that includes the New World

monkeys, Old World monkeys, apes, and humans.

ANTHROPOLOGICAL LINGUISTICS - The scientific study of human communication

within its sociocultural context and the origin and evolution of language.

ANTHROPOLOGY - The scientific and humanistic study of man's present and past

biological, linguistic, social, and cultural variations. Major sub-fields

include archaeology, physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, and

linguistic anthropology.

ANTHROPOMETRY - The study of measurements of the human body.

ANTHROPOMORPHIC - "Man-like." Used to describe artifacts or art work decorated

with human features or with a man-like appearance.

ANTINOUS - Favorite companion of Emperor Hadrian.

ANTONINE WALL - Built during the early 140s AD. Northernmost Roman wall in

Great Britain marked the edge of the territory of Hadrian's successor, Antonius


ANVIL - A block of stone or metal upon which other materials are shaped or

worked through striking.

APE - A common term that includes the lesser apes (the gibbons and siamang)

and the great apes (the orangutan, common chimpanzee, bonobo, and gorilla).

APHASIA - A language disorder resulting from brain damage.

APHRODITE - Greek goddess of love and fertility. Known as Venus to the


APPLIED ANTHROPOLOGY - The activity of professional anthropologists in

programs that have as primary goals changes in human behavior believed to

ameliorate contemporary social, economic, and technological problems.

ARABLE LAND - Land fit for cultivation.

ARBITRARY LEVELS - An archaeological excavation technique in which the

thickness of the layers removed is chosen for convenience. This method is

generally used when a site does not possess natural stratigraphy and cannot,

therefore, be excavated stratum by stratum.

ARCHAEO-ASTRONOMY - The systematic study of astronomical knowledge and lore of

prehistoric peoples.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT - The physical setting, location, and cultural

association of artifacts and features within an archaeological site.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD - The sum of all evidence concerning past events and


ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECOVERY - Removal of artifacts from archaeological context

with full recording of their four dimensions of variability.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SEQUENCE - Artifacts, behaviors, or phases (periods) ordered in


ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE - A place where human activity occurred and material

remains were deposited.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY - On-ground inspection of a study area for artifacts and


ARCHAEOLOGY - ARCHEOLOGY - the scientific study of past human cultures by

analyzing the material remains (sites and artifacts) that people left behind.

ARCHAEOLOGY - CULT - The study of the material indications of patterned

actions undertaken in response to religious beliefs.

ARCHAEOLOGIST - Anyone with an interest in the aims and methods of

archaeology. A professional archaeologist usually holds a degree in anthropology

with a specialization in archaeology.

ARCHAEOZOOLOGY - Sometimes referred to as zooarchaeology, this involves the

identification and analysis of faunal species from archaeological sites, as an

aid to the reconstruction of human diets and to an understanding of the

contemporary environment at the time of deposition.

ARCHAIC - Ancient; pertaining to a much earlier time period. Early Holocene. Of

or relating to the period from about 8000 B.C. to 1000 B.C. and the North

American cultures of that time

ARCHETYPE - The divine plan or blueprint for a species or higher taxonomic


ARCHIVES - l. a collection of primary historical documents such as journals,

diaries, maps and personal and business correspondence. 2. the institutional

repository within which such collections are housed.

ARCTIC SMALL TOOL TRADITION - A grouping of archaeological complexes

distributed across the North American Arctic from Alaska to Greenland which date

between roughly 3000 B.C. to A.D. l000. The tradition is so named due to the

extremely small, finely worked tools which these people manufactured.

ARES - Greek god of war. Known to the Romans as Mars.

ARGILLITE - A fine-grained, metamorphosed mud and claystone. The

deep-red-colored argillite artifacts found at the Hardy Site may have come from

the Mazatzal Mountains in central Arizona.

ARRANGED MARRIAGE - Any marriage in which the selection of a spouse is outside

the control of the bride and groom. art the process and products of applying

skills to any activity that transforms matter, sound, or motion into forms

considered aesthetically pleasing to people in a society.

ARROW - A long slender missile propelled by a bow. Feathers may be attached to

stabilize the arrow in flight, and a stone, bone or metal tip may be fitted to

improve its capacity for penetration.

ARROW WEED - A rank-smelling shrub that forms dense thickets in stream beds

and moist saline soil. The plant occurs at elevations of 3000 feet or lower,

from Texas to Southem California and from Utah to northern Mexico. In addition

to its use as a wall-covering material, arrow weed stems were used for arrow

shafts by Indians in the Southwest.

ARROWHEAD - The pointed tip of an arrow. If the means of propulsion cannot

with certainty be identified as a bow, the term projectile point is more

properly used. Arrowheads are sometimes mistakenly referred to as "birdpoints"

by native American artifact collectors. Larger points used for spears and

knives are often mistakenly referred to as arrowheads. Typically 1.5" or

shorter in length, .5" or less in width for flint arrowheads.

ART OBJECT - Any artifact carrying, or consisting of, decorative or artistic


ARTIFACT (1) - Any object manufactured, used or modified by humans.

ARTIFACT (2) - Any physical remains of human activity.

ARTIFACT TYPE - A category of artifacts whose attributes are similar: spoons,

tables, and coffins, for example, are artifact types.

ASCLEPIUS - Greek god of medicine and healing.

ASCRIBED STATUS - Social standing or prestige which is the result of

inheritance or hereditary factors.

ASIA MINOR - The peninsula of western Asia bordered by the Black Sea to the

north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west; the

Turkish region of Anatolia.

ASPECT - In the Midwestern Taxonomic Method devised by McKern (l939), an aspect

referred to a number of foci which could be grouped on the basis of at least one

shared trait, such as a pottery style. The term is less frequently used than


ASPEN PARKLAND - A vegetational zone which lies between the grasslands and the

northern coniferous or Boreal Forest. It comprises a mosaic of grassland

interspersed with groves of white birch, white spruce, balsam poplar and most

commonly, trembling aspen.

ASTROLABE - Instrument used for celestial navigation.

ASSEMBLAGE - A group of artifacts related to each other based upon recovery

from a common archaeological context. Assemblage examples are artifacts from a

site or feature.

ASSIMILATION - The gradual process by which a minority group takes on the

characteristics, including customs and attitudes, of the prevailing culture in

which it lives.

ASSOCIATION - Occurrence of two or more artifacts together.

ASSYRIA - An ancient empire in Mesopotamia.

ASTARTE - Goddess of love and fertility worshipped in various parts of the

mideast. Her origin was Phoenician.

ASYMMETRICAL - Not symmetrical. A lack of proportion. When referring to

artifacts, it describes a inconsistant outline or appearance. For instance: one

barb longer than the other, one edge does not match the other, etc.

ATHAPAP CULTURE - An archaeological culture defined by Hlady (l967) on the

basis of investigations at a number of sites on Lake Athapapuskow near Flin

Flon. The complex included Athapap Lanceolate, Evans Lanceolate and Baker's

Narrows Corner-notched projectile points, biface blades, scrapers, drills and

gravers. Hlady estimated the age of the culture at 2500 to 5000 years.

ATHAPASKAN or Athabascan - A grouping (or family) of Native American languages

within the NaDene Phylum. Athapaskan speakers were originally distributed from

the arctic to the American southwest and as far west coastal California. The

principal Athapaskans in Maitoba at contact were the Chipewyan who occupied the

extreme north of the province.

ATHENA - Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare, patron of Athens. The Romans

called her Minerva.

ATLANTIC - a warm dry climatic episode in central North America also known as

the xerothermic, the hypsithermal, the Climatic Optimum, the Long Drought and

most commonly (but incorrectly) the Altithermal. This episode dated at 6540 to

3ll0 B.C. (Wendland l978), witnessed the spread of grasslands at the expense of

forest in southern Manitoba, and probably an influx of grassland adapted fauna

(such as bison) and the late Plano hunters who preyed upon them.

ATLANTIS - Legendary civilization described by ancient writers like Plato.

ATLATL - An Aztec term for spear-thrower; a device for throwing a spear or

dart that consists of a rod or board with a projection (as a hook or thong) at

the rear end to hold the weapon in place until released. The device is a lever

that acts as an extension to your arm, allowing you to propel a dart up to 60%

further than would otherwise be possible.

ATLATL WEIGHT - A device thought to make an atlalt more efficient and balanced.

Can be drilled, notched or grooved. Some people hypothesize that many

bannerstones and boatstones could have served this purpose.

ATRIUM - Room in a Roman house used for business or entertaining. The atrium

was usually the focal point of the house and the largest room.

ATTIC - From the area around Athens. (Attica)

ATTRIBUTE - A property or quality of any archaeological object such as the

length of a projectile point, the hardness of a potsherd or the color of a

bottle fragment. Theoretically an artifact possesses an infinite number of

attributes, but an archaeologist will limit himself to those he believes to be

diagnostic -- those which will provide him with the information he is seeking.

AURICLE - An angular or ear-shaped lobe, process, or appendage. Projecting

basal corners found on many points such as Dalton, Cumberland, Beaver Lake,


AURICULATE - A projectile or knife form that has auricles. Typically auriculate

points have concave bases.

AUSTRALOPITHS - Extinct early humans who evolved 4 to 5 million years ago in


AUTOCRACY - A form of government in which a single person possesses unlimited

political power; despotism.

AUTONOMY - The right of a nation to govern itself; independence.

AUV - Autonomous Underwater Vehicles are underwater robots that are not remote

controlled and operate with artificial intelligence. Just like ROVs they are

used instead of divers for difficult operations, e.g. on great depth.

AVEBURY -Built around 2,500 B.C. Massive Late Neolithic stone circle in

Wiltshire, UK.

AVOCATIONALS -These are recreational scuba divers and amateur underwater

archaeology groups who give invaluable help to underwater archaeologists.

Examples are volunteer unpaid divers during investigations and diving clubs

cooperating with archaeologists and maritime museums. The term may also be

applied to volunteers in other archaeological disciplines.

AVONLEA - A term applied to a projectile point style and the phase with which

it is associated in early Late Prehistoric plains prehistory. As defined by

Kehoe (l973), the Avonlea point is small and well-made with V- or U-shaped

side-notches above a generally concave base and small ears. In some cases,

Avonlea points may be easily confused with some of the other small side-notched

points of this period. Other Avonlea Phase artifacts include lithic scrapers,

bifaces, choppers and ceramic vessels. Avonlea is represented at a number of

sites in southwestern Manitoba where these people pursued a way of life focusing

on the communal hunting of bison. The occupation of the province by Avonlea

people is estimated to have occurred between approximately A.D. 400 and 700. See

Reeves (l983) for the most recent statement on Avonlea.

AUTHENTIC - Not false or imitation. Genuine.

AWL - A pointed tool used for marking surfaces or piercing holes (as in leather

or wood).

AXE - A cutting tool that consists of a heavy edged head fixed to a handle with

the edge parallel to the handle and that is used especially for felling trees

and chopping and splitting wood. Native American indians often made them of

hardstone by using peck and grind technique. Hardstone axes are often grooved

for hafting purposes.

AZTEC - The civilization that ruled the region now called Mexico between A.D.

1000 and 1500. The capital of the Aztec Empire was called Tenochtitlan.

Nahuatl-speaking people that founded the Mexican empire conquered by Cortes in



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B-HORIZON - The second zone of a soil, containing materials washed down from

the A-horizon.

BABICHE - Lacings, thread, thongs or netting made of sinew, gut or hide.

BABYLONIA - A region of Southern Mesopotamia named after the city of Babylon.

Ancient country in valley of the lower Euphrates & the Tigris capital Babylon

BABYLONIANS - A group known as the Amorites moved into Mesopotamia around 1900

B.C. The Amorite king, Hamurabbi, conquered all of southern Mesopotamia, and the

civilization became known as Babylonian. Babylon was its richest and most

powerful city.

BACCHUS - Roman god of wine. Dionysos to the Greeks.

BACKED - Intentionally dulled along one edge. A knife may be backed in order to

allow it to be held opposite the cutting edge.

BACK DIRT - the excavated matrix or fill of a site, Presumed to be of little or

no further archaeological significance.

BACKFILL - Refill an excavational unit at the end of the investigations; the

dirt used to accomplish this. The latter is also known as backdirt.

BALANCED RECIPROCITY - Gift giving that clearly carries the obligation of an

eventual and roughly equal return.

BALEEN - Whalebone. A horny substance found in two rows of plates from 2 to 12

feet long attached along the upper jaws of baleen whales used to strain food. it

is widely used by Eskimos for making tools and ornaments.

BALE SEAL - A small, labelled metal plate that was attached by wire to a bale.

Because it had to be cut to reopen the bale, thefts during shipment were


BALTIC SEA - The world's largest brackish sea, located in northern Europe. The

low salinity affects not only shipwrecks and other underwater artifacts, but

also animal life, where the fish are of different species. The oceans have a

salinity exceeding 3%, but the Baltic Sea has a salinity of 0.8% in the south,

0.3% in the north and 0.6% in average. Through currents there is a constant

exchange of salt water from the Atlantic with brackish water from the Baltic.

The heavier salt water stays in the deep, usually below 40 m depth (in the

south) and 80 m depth (in the north). The lighter brackish water is always

nearer surface. Between these layers there is also a constant exchange with the

water movements – salt spreading up, and brackish water and oxygen diffusing

down. For reasons unknown, perhaps climatic change, the Baltic Sea salinity is


BAND - In Service's (l97l) scheme, the least complex of the four levels of

socio-economic integration. These kin-related societies are small, consisting of

30 to l 00 people who tend to camp and travel together. There are no full-time

"chiefs" and no real conception of ownership of either objects or territory.

Division of labor is almost entirely determined by sex, and as most bands

subsist by hunting and gathering, women gather plants and perhaps snare small

animals near camp, while the men range further from home in search of game. The

kinds of activities pursued, and sometimes the location of the camp may shift in

accordance with the seasons as different foods become available in different

locations and as game animals adjust their feeding patterns. In the majority of

cases, members of band societies acquire spouses from outside of their own band

(local exogamy). Married couples take up residence with the husband's band

(virilocality) and their children are raised there (patrilocality) as a


BANNERSTONE - A (usually) polished stone implement which may take a variety of

forms. One of the most common is winged with a central hole. These may have

served some ceremonial function or may simply be elaborate atlatl weights. Some

forms include winged, lunate, expanded center, saddle back, geniculate.

BARB - A sharp projection extending backward (as from the point of an arrow or

fishhook) and preventing easy extraction; also : a sharp projection with its

point similarly oblique to something else.

BARBARIAN - Of or relating to a land, culture, or people alien and usually

believed to be inferior to another land, culture, or people. A non-Greek. To

the Greeks any foreigner who did not speak Greek was a barbarian.

BARQUE (or "Bark") - A ship or a portable shrine shaped like a ship (usually

mythical, e.g. the Barque of Amun- Re).

BASALT - A fine-grained igneous black, brown, gray or green rock consisting of

feldspar, olivine, hornblende and augite. Often used for the manufacture of

tools and ornaments.

BASAL EDGE - The proximal edge or very bottom of a projectile point or tool.

Basal edges are sometimes intentionally dulled (ground) to keep from cutting the

bindings. Basal edges can be straight, convex, or concave.

BASAL THINNING - The removal of flakes from the proximal end of a projectile

point or blade in a lengthwise fashion , reducing mass to better facilitate


BASE - The proximal end or bottom of an artifact. Different basal configurations

include; notched, stemmed, bulbous, auriculate, bifurcated, lobed, and


BASE LINE - An arbitrary line established by stakes and string, or by surveying

instrument, from which measurements are taken to produce a site-map, or to

provide an initial axis for an excavation grid.

BASIN AND RANGE PROVINCE - A geographic area extending from southern Oregon

and Idaho to northern Mexico, and including most of western Arizona, the Great

Basin of Utah and Nevada, and parts of eastern California. It is an area

characterized by north-south trending mountain ranges interspersed by flat

basins. The area was formed initially through block faulting during Tertiary

times (15-20 million years ago), when, in a series of earthquakes, one section

of land was lifted while the adjacent portion was lowered.

BASKET - A receptacle made of interwoven material. A container manufactured by

the weaving, coiling or twining of vegetal materials such as cane or straw.

BAS-RELIEF - Sculpture where figures project slightly from the background.

BASTION - a projecting structure built onto a palisade for purpose of defense;

any fortified place.

BATTLE OF MANZIKERT - A decisive battle in 1071 in which the Seljuk Turks,

under Sultan Alp Arslan, routed the forces of Byzantine emperor Romanus IV,

resulting in the fall of Asia Minor to the Seljuks.

BAULK - Unexcavated strip left standing between excavation units such that

soil profiles remain in place for study and reference.

B.C. - Abbreviation for Before Christ. When used as a suffix to a date, it

indicates the number of years prior to the supposed date of the birth of Christ

that an event occurred.

B.C.E. - An abbreviation used to denote dates that occurred "Before the Common

Era" as a more neutral alternative to the "B.C." ("Before Christ") of the

Christian calendar.

BEAD - Small disc-shaped, spherical or tubular artifact of bone, shell or

glass which has been perforated such that it may be suspended or strung on a


BEAKER PEOPLE - From the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze age (4000-2000 BC),

named after their pottery. Styles of pottery known as funnel-beaker,

protruding-foot beaker, and bell beaker.

BEAMER - Tool fashioned of wood or the longbone of a large animal. It consists

of a sharpened edge which runs nearly along the full length of the tool. The

ends serve as handles by means of which it is drawn towards the user. It is used

in the treatment of hides.

BEARDMAN JUG - Common ceramic in the 17th and 18th centuries. May have

contained wine or beer.

BEAR GRASS - Also called sacahuista. Resembling clumps of large, coarse grass,

this plant is found on mountain slopes around the Tucson Basin at elevations of

3000 to 6000 feet.

BEDROCK - The solid layer of rock underlying consolidated material; soil,

gravel and other loose formations nearer the earth's surface.

BEHAVIORAL ADJUSTMENT - Cultural responses, primarily through technology, that

make survival in stressful environments possible.

BEHAVIORAL SINK - A psychological state characterized by gross distortions of


BENTONITES - A clay formed by the decomposition of volcanic ash, having the

ability to absorb large quantities of water and to expand to several times its

normal volume.

BERGMANN'S RULE - A rule which states that within the same species of

endotherms, populations with less bulk are found near the equator while those

with greater bulk are found farther from the equator.

BERINGIA - Landmass which existed in the Bering Strait between Alaska and

Siberia during the last (Wisconsinan) Ice Age. At the height of the Wisconsin,

sufficient water was "locked up" in the glaciers to cause a marked reduction in

ocean levels. Thus, land was exposed in many coastal regions, and a "land

bridge," over l500 km wide was formed between Asia and North America. For a

century, Beringia has been widely accepted as the most probable route of entry

for early man into the New World. The land bridge likely flooded a number of

times in accordance with climatic changes and fluctuations in sea level, but was

finally submerged l0,000 years ago

BESANT - a valley in southern Saskatchewan which has given its name to a

projectile point style and the Late Prehistoric Period phase, horizon or culture

within which it occurs. The side-notched points generally have convex edges,

sharp shoulders and straight bases. The latter are often thinned and ground and

maximum width tends to occur at the shoulder or base. Length ranges from

approximately l5 to 80 mm. The remainder of the artifact complex consists of

drills, perforators, gravers, scrapers, spokeshaves, mauls and abraders. Besant

peoples pursued a way of life focusing the communal hunting of bison by means of

(bison) jumps and (bison) pounds throughout most of the northern plains. Their

diet was supplemented by fishing, fowling and the collection of shellfish. Many

other aspects of the Besant Phase are controversial. Chief among these are

whether or not Besant peoples made pottery and the nature of the relationship

between Besant and the burial mounds of the Sonota Complex along the Missouri

River in northern South Dakota. Although Besant is here classed as Late

Prehistoric, the bow (one of the defining traits of this period) was not in use

in the earlier portions of this phase.

BEVEL - A steep incline on the edge of an artifact generally caused by


BEVELED - Steep inclines at the edges of an artifact generally caused by

resharpening. Examples (2 bevel); lost lake, thebes, rice lobed, dalton. (4

bevel); harahey, nolan.

BEVELED SURFACE - One that meets two others at angles other than right angles.

BI (Chinese) - Pierced jade disc

BIFACE - A stone tool which has had flakes removed from both faces. No

particular function is implied by this term as projectile points, knives and

drills may all be bifacially worked.

BIFURCATION - 1. A basis of kin classification that distinguishes the mother's

side of the family from the father's side. 2. Base that has been divided into

two distinct sections. Example: McCorkle.

BILATERAL DESCENT - A descent ideology in which individuals define themselves

as being at the center of a group of kin composed more or less equally of kin

from both paternal and maternal lines.

BILLET - A bone, wood, or antler tool used primarily for percussion flaking.

BIOLOGICAL IMPERATIVES - The basic human drives for food, rest, sexual

satisfaction, and social contact.

BIOLOGY - The science concerned with the structure, function, distribution,

adaptation and evolution of all living organisms including both plants and


BIPEDAL - Signifies movement on two feet.

BIPOLAR - A technique used in stone tool manufacture in which the core is

rested on an anvil while being struck with the hammer. The waves of force are

therefore not only directed downward from the hammer, but also reflected back

upward from the anvil. Hence the flake may appear to have been struck at both


BIRDPOINT - Collector slang for arrow point. A fallacy caused from the belief

that small arrow points were used only for the taking of small game due to their

small size.

BIRDSTONE - A polished stone object which resembles a bird in profile. Thought

by some to function as an atlatl handle or weight.

BISON BISON - American Buffalo. shaggy-maned usually gregarious recent or

extinct bovine mammals (genus Bison) having a large head with short horns and

heavy forequarters surmounted by a large fleshy hump

BISON JUMP - A site at which bison have been killed by being stampeded over a

cliff. This ancient communal hunting technique was occasionally used in

conjunction with a (bison) pound.

BISON ANTIQUUS - Predecessor of the modern day American bison. Evolved into the

American bison approx. 8,000 years ago.

BISON LATIFRONS - The largest of all North American Bison.

BISON OCCIDENTALIS - A large, now extinct variety of bison that roamed the

North American grasslands during the Holocene.

BISON POUND - A physiographic feature or a specially constructed enclosure

into which bison were driven to be slaughtered.

BIT - The cutting edge of an adze, axe, chisel, celt, etc.

BITTERROOT - An archaeological phase or culture represented at a number of

sites in the Columbia Plateau region in eastern Oregon and in southern and

eastern Idaho which Swanson (l962) equates with the northern Shoshone.

Projectile points of this complex are side-notched and essentially

indistinguishable from those from plains environments to the east (termed Logan

Creek or Simonsen), and from those of the Mummy Cave Complex of the eastern

slopes of the Rocky Mountains from Alberta to Wyoming. Associated artifacts

include conical and wedge-shaped cores, choppers, oval, trinagular and

side-notched end scrapers, stemmed and corner-notched bifaces, perforators,

manos, whetstones, bone awls and beads of stone and seeds. Fauna include deer,

antelope, bison and sheep. Radiocarbon dates range from 5200 to 3650 B.C.

BLACKDUCK - The name of a lake in Minnesota which has lent its name to a

distinctive Late Woodland ware as well as to the focus, phase, tradition,

culture or horizon within which it occurs. The pots are round-based with

constricted necks and flattened and thickened lips. Decoration occurs on the

neck and rim, on the lip, and occasionally on the inner rim. The most common

decorative elements are horizontal and oblique cord-wrapped stick impressions

and exterior punctates. Method of manufacture was either by the paddle-and-anvil

technique, or involved formation inside of a fabric container. As a consequence

the undecorated portions of the vessels are either cord-impressed or

fabric-impressed. Associated artifacts and features may include small triangular

and side-notched projectile points, a variety of stone and bone hide-scraping

tools, ovate knives, stone drills, smoking pipes, bone awls, needles, harpoons

and spatulas, bear and beaver tooth ornaments and tools, small copper tools and

ornaments and mound burials. Blackduck peoples were widely distributed from the

shores of Lake Superior to the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border, and from central

Manitoba in the north to central Minnesota in the south. The locations of these

sites and the nature of the material remains within them indicate that these

people exploited a variety of forest resources, possibly including wild rice as

well as the resources of the grasslands -- most notably bison. See Anfinson

(l979) for a recent, general discussion.

BLACK SEA - Inland sea connected to the Mediterranean through the Strait of


BLADE - l. the cutting edge of a tool. 2. a cutting tool. 3. that portion of a

projectile point or knife which extends beyond the haft element. 4. a long,

parallel-sided (prismatic, lamellar) flake core. These may be used as is, or

used as the basis for the production of other tools. This highly sophisticated

technique makes the most economical use of lithic resources.

BLANK - An incompletely manufactured stone tool which has the general outline

of the intended final form. The rough fashioning of blanks at a quarry would

obviate the necessity of transporting greater amounts of unmodified stone to

camp or fashioning all stone tools at the source of the stone. Preform.

BLOWOUT -1. (popout, firepop) A depression on an artifact caused from a defect

in material, or a popping out due to being exposed to excessive heat. 2.

Geological term used to refer to the large bowl-shaped depressions created by

wind erosion in arid and semi-arid environments. As the top soil and

occasionally some of the underlying strata are removed in this process,

artifacts may be exposed.

BLUNT - A hafted point with no projecting tip suitable for penetration. Distal

end knapped straight or rounded off. Often these were made from salvaging a

previously broken projectile point or knife. Many people erroneously believe

these were used to stun or disable their game. However, most show signs of being

a hafted scraper or knife.

BOAT GRAVE - A boat grave is a kind of ship burial, where a small boat is

used. Examples of boat graves are Neolithic log boat graves, like the St Albans

log boat grave. Other examples are planked boats used in Viking Age burials,

perhaps they were simply poor man's/woman's versions of the larger ship burials.

BODKIN - l. an awl used for making holes in fabric. 2. a blunted, large-eyed


BODY SHERD - Technically, a fragment of the body of a larger artifact. Most

commonly, it refers to a fragment of a ceramic vessel which did not constitute

part of the lip, rim, neck, shoulder or base.

BOG BODY - Ancient human bodies preserved in bogs (waterlogged land filled with

a substance called peat). Bog bodies have been found all over Europe, in bogs in

Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, England, Sweden, and the Netherlands.

BONE - The hard tissue, composed of both organic and inorganic materials, which

makes up the skeletons of adult vertebrates. Because of their density, bones may

survive in the archaeological record long after the decomposition of the soft


BONE BED - A concentrated layer of articulated and disarticulated animal bones

usually taken as an indication of a butchering and/or kill site. Typically found

in association are weapons and butchering implements.

BONE GREASE - The sweet marrow which is extracted by the smashing and boiling

of bones. The grease floats and may be skimmed from the surface for immediate

consumption, for storage or for use in pemmican.

BOOK OF THE DEAD - The term Egyptologists use for the texts and illustrations

that were buried with mummies to help them pass through the dangers of the

underworld into the afterlife.

BOOK OF KELLS - An illustrated manuscript of the four Christian Gospels (the

New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) created by monks in

Scotland in about A.D. 800. The book is a masterpiece of Western art and

includes amazing calligraphy (an artistic style of handwriting), colorful

drawings of animals and people, and abstract designs. Some of the details are so

fine that people can't see them with the naked eye.

BORDER CAVE, SOUTH AFRICA - One of the earliest modern human sites on the

planet, this rockshelter in the Lembombo Mountains was found by Louis Leakey(?)

to contain Homo sapiens skeletons dated around 70,000 years old.

BOREAL (1) - Pertaining to the north, its climate, flora, fauna, environment,

resources and peoples; commonly used in reference to the northern forests.

BOREAL (2) - A central North American climatic episode dating 7350 to 6540 B.C.

This interval marks part of the warming trend between the Late Glacial climatic

pattern and the warm dry Altithermal or Atlantic Climatic Episode which was to

follow. During this time, the ice sheets retreated and vegetation zones moved

towards their modern locations (Wendland l978).

BOREAL ARCHAIC - An archaeological tradition associated with the mixed

coniferous-deciduous forests of the American Northeast. As defined by Byers

(l959), it was characterized by stemmed and side-notched projectile points,

thumbnail and keeled scrapers, expanding and side-notched-based drills or

perforators, shouldered knives and a proliferation of ground and polished

implements: spears, adzes, gouges, plummets, rods, tubes, bannerstones,

semilunar knives and birdstones. It was believed that Boreal Archaic peoples

employed a diversified economy involving fishing, hunting, shellfish collection

and plant harvesting. This construct is no longer commonly used.

BOREAL FOREST - The technically correct term for the primarily coniferous

forest which extends in a continuous arc from Alaska to Labrador and subsumes

the Aspen Parkland -- the transition between the coniferous forest and the

grasslands to the south. The white and black spruces are the most common

elements throughout, with tamarack, balsam fir, jackpine, alpine fir and

lodgepole pine achieving more restricted distributions. Trembling aspen and

balsam poplar are the most important deciduous species (Rowe l972). The Boreal

Forest is roughly equivalent to the taiga of ecologists.

BOSS - A small mound-shaped node or protuberance. When used as a decorative

element on pottery, they may be produced either by the impressing of a deep

punctate on the opposite surface, or by the application and smoothing of small

amounts of clay.

BOTANIST - A person who pursues the scientific study of the structure, growth,

and identification of plants.

BOTANY - The science concerned with the study, classification, structure,

ecology and economic importance of plants.

BOW - A weapon consisting of a staff of elastic material such as wood, which

is bent by a shorter piece of twine attached to each end. The tension thus

imparted to the string is utilized to propel an arrow. 1. composite bow- a bow

the shaft of which is made of at least two different elements such as horn or

sinew in addition to wood. 2.compound bow- a bow fashioned by fastening

several pieces of wood together for increased power. 3. sinew-backed bow- a bow

with sinew wrappings for added strength.

BOW DRILL - a form of fire drill in which the stick is rotated with increased

speed by virtue of the back-and-forth movement of a bow the string of which is

looped around it.

B.P. - Years before present; as a convention, 1950 is the year from which B.P.

dates are calculated.

BRACHYCEPHELIC - Round-headed; having a cephalic index of 80 or more.

BRAKISH WATER - Mixture of seawater and freshwater. The low salt-rate usually

excludes those organisms that eat wood on shipwrecks.

BRECCIA - A composite rock composed of angular fragments of more ancient rocks

bound together by a natural cement.

BRONZE - Mixture of copper, tin, and other metals.

BRONZE AGE - The second age in Thomsen's three-age system, referring to the

period when bronze tools were manufactured.

BRUSHED - A method of modifying the surface of ceramic vessels by smoothing

the still wet clay with a grass brush. This produces a heavily scored or

striated appearance.

BUFFALO CHIP - A piece of dried bison dung used as fuel by Native Americans.

BULB OF PERCUSSION - A bulb or boss-like feature on the ventral face of a flake

immediately below the striking platform.

BULBAR SCAR - A minute surface irregularity which is occasionally present on

the bulb of percussion of a man-made flake.

BULBOUS - Term used to describe an artifact that has a rounded base.

BULL BOAT - A simple tub- or bowl-shaped boat made by stretching a bison hide

over a willow frame bound with thongs. Used by various North American Native


BURIAL - l. the covering-over of an object with earth. 2. the ceremonial

entombment of a dead body beneath the ground or in a chamber. 3. the feature

thus created consisting of the individual(s) and the context. bundle burial. the

(re-)burial of bundled-up disarticulated, defleshed remains. extended burial.

placement of the individual with arms at the sides and legs extended. flexed

burial. placement of the individuals with arms and legs bent up against the

body. intrusive burial. the excavation of a grave into a burial pit or mound

constructed at an earlier period. Two individuals may thus appear to be in

association although they are not contemporaneous. multiple burial. collective

internment; the placement of two or more bodies within the same grave. platform

burial. see scaffold burial. primary burial. placement of the dead in a grave

with the flesh at least partially intact such that after further decomposition,

the bones remain articulated. scaffold burial. placement of the dead on a

scaffold above the ground where it may be defleshed by scavengers. The remains

may be interred at a later date. seated burial. entombment of the deceased in a

sitting position. secondary burial. the final interment of an individual

subsequent to an earlier burial in which the flesh decomposed. Secondary burials

are therefore not articulated (or frequently improperly articulated) and some

bones may have been lost. supine burial. placement of the dead on the back with

face and palms upward.

BURIAL MOUND - Raised mass of earth or debris within or below which deceased

individuals are placed.

BURIN - A generally small flake tool which bears a short, chisel-like cutting

edge. They are believed to have been used for engraving or scoring bone, antler

or ivory prior to splitting.


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C-14 - Abbreviation for "carbon l4"; a radioactive form (or isotope) of carbon

used in radiocarbon dating. The numerical suffix indicates that the atom

contains l4 particles within its nucleus as opposed to the l2 within the more

common, stable (non-radioactive) isotope.

CACAO - Seeds from which chocolate is extracted.

CACHE - 1. An excavated pit, or mound of stones used to store and/or hide food

or tools. 2. A group of artifacts found in a single location that are of the

same origin.

CADASTRE (CADASTER): - A public record of the extent, value, and ownership of

land within a district for purposes of taxation.

CADDO - A member of a group of American Indian peoples of Louisiana, Arkansas,

southeast Oklahoma, and eastern Texas.

CADDO CULTURE AREA - The geographical region that encompasses eastern Oklahoma,

southwestern Arkansas, western Louisiana, and eastern Texas which was the

homeland of the Native American Caddo people.

CADUCEUS - A staff with two serpents coiled around it and a pair of wings at

the top. Carried by the Greek god Hermes, known as Mercury to the romans.

CAIRN - A mound of stones serving as a monument or marker.

CALCAREOUS CONCRETIONS - A rounded mass of mineral matter occurring in sand

stone, clay, etc., often in concentric layers around a nucleus.

CALCINED BONE - Burned bone reduced to white or blue mineral constituents.

CALENDRICAL SYSTEM - System of measuring time that is based on natural

recurring units of time, such as revolutions of the earth around the sun. Time

is determined by the number of such units that have preceded or elapsed with

reference to a specific point in time.

CALICHE - Deposits of calcium carbonate that occur as the substrata throughout

much of the US desert southwest. Caliche occurs as irregular, impervious layers

a fraction of an inch to several feet in thickness, or as the matrix in a sand

and gravel conglomerate.

CALL SYSTEM - A repertoire of sounds, each of which is produced in response to

a particular situation.

CALLITRICHIDAE - family of New World monkeys consisting of the marmosets and


CALUMET - A peace pipe, usually elaborately decorated and often composed of

both wood and stone elements.

CAMBRIAN - The earliest period of the Paleozoic era, spanning the time between

544 and 505 million years ago. It is named after Cambria, the Roman name for

Wales, where rocks of this age were first studied.

CAMPANIAN - European stage of the Upper Cretaceous, spanning the time between 84

and 72 million years ago.

CAMPBELL STRANDLINE - one of the major and certainly the most prominent of the

now-extinct beaches created by glacial Lake Agassiz comprising shorelines and

wave-cut escarpments. It was created between 7500 and 8000 B.C. when the lake

occupied the Manitoba Lowlands.


CANAAN - A historical and Bibilical term used to describe the strip of land

which includes most of present day Gaza Strip and Israel and the Western part of

Jordan. The term was found on Egyptian writings from the 15th century BC.

CANNIBALISM - The consumption of human flesh by other humans for reasons of

dire need or for ritual purposes. In the archaeological record, the forceful

enlargening of the foramen magnum at the base of the skull (presumably for

removal of the brains) and the smashing of long bones (for the extraction of

bone grease) are often viewed as evidence of cannibalism. In at least some

cases, however, it is possible that while the individual was thus prepared for

consumption, they were only symbolically devoured.

CANOE - A light long, narrow open boat lacking sails and rudder. It is

pointed at both ends and propelled by paddles.French, from New Latin canoa, from

Spanish, from Arawakan, of Cariban origin; akin to Carib kana:wa canoe

CANOPIC JARS - Ancient Egyptian containers used to hold the internal organs

that were removed from a dead person before mummification.

CARBOHYDRATES - Organic compounds composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen;

includes the sugars and starches.

CARBON - a nonmetallic chiefly tetravalent element found native (as in the

diamond and graphite) or as a constituent of coal, petroleum, and asphalt, of

limestone and other carbonates , and of organic compounds or obtained

artificially in varying degrees of purity especially as carbon black, lampblack,

activated carbon,

CARBON SAMPLE - A quantity of organic material, usually charcoal, collected

for radiocarbon dating.

CARBONIFEROUS - A period of time in the Paleozoic era that includes the

Pennsylvanian and Mississippian periods and extended from 360 to 286 million

years ago.

CARDINAL DIRECTIONS - North, south, east and west.

CARIBOU LAKE COMPLEX - a Palaeo-Indian artifact complex of the forested region

of eastern Manitoba consisting of lanceolate projectile points, trihedral adzes,

and large, asymmetrical bifaces. With an estimated time-depth of 6000 to 4000

B.C., this complex is believed to represent the earliest inhabitants of this

part of the province who came to rely on the resources of the forests as a

result of Altithermal xerothermy (Steinbring and Buchner l980).

CARIES - Tooth decay. The condition of the teeth of a skeleton is often an

important clue to the diet and health of the individual.

CARNIVORE - any of an order (Carnivora) of typically flesh-eating mammals that

includes dogs, foxes, bears, raccoons, and cats.

CARPAL - A bone of the human wrist, or one of the corresponding bones of the

forelegs of other animals.

CARRYING CAPACITY - The point at or below which a population tends to


CARTONNAGE - Papyrus or linen soaked in plaster, shaped around a body. Used

for Egyptian mummy masks and coffins.

CARTOUCHE - Elongated version of the hieroglyphic sigh W "shen" which means

'to encircle'. Two of the Pharaoh's five names were written inside the

cartouche. The sign represents a loop of rope that is never ending, such as the

arch of the sky and the world, to indicate that Pharaoh lead everything that the

sun encircled.

CAST - A representation of an an item created when a substance fills in a

mold. To give a shape to (a substance) by pouring in liquid or plastic form

into a mold and letting harden without pressure

CASTELLATION - A projecting or raised section on the rim of a pot.

CATALOGUE - the systematic list recording artifacts and other finds, recovered

by archaeological research, including their description and Provenience.

CATALOGUE NUMBER - a number assigned all items recovered by archaeological

research to cross-index them to the catalogue.

CATALOGUE __ The systematic list recording artifacts and other finds, recovered

by archaeological research, including their description and Provenience.

CATALOGUE NUMBER __ A number assigned all items recovered by archaeological

research to cross-index them to the catalogue.

CATARRHINE NOSE __ A nose in which the nostrils open downward and are separated

by a narrow nasal septum; found in Old World monkeys, apes, and humans.

CATARRHINI __ Infraorder of the order Primates that includes Old World monkeys

and the hominoids plus various extinct taxa.

CATASTROPHE THEORY - a branch of mathematical topology developed by Rene Thom

which is concerned with the way in which nonlinear interactions within systems

can produce sudden and dramatic effects; ills argued that there are only a

limited number of ways in which such changes can take place, and these are

defined as elementary catastrophes.

CATASTROPHIC AGE PROFILE - A mortality pattern based on bone or tooth wear

analysis, and corresponding to a "natural" age distribution in which the older

the age group, the fewer the individuals it has. This pattern is often found in

contexts such as flash floods, epidemics, or volcanic eruptions.

CATASTROPHISM - The eighteenth-century theory that earthquakes, volcanic

eruptions, and other natural disasters were responsible for the distribution of

animal fossils and artifacts.

CATION-RATIO DATING - This method aspires to the direct dating of rock

carvings and engravings, and is also potentially applicable to Paleolithic

artifacts with a strong patina caused by exposure to desert dust. It depends on

the principle that cations of certain elements are more soluble than others;

they leach out of rock varnish more rapidly than the less soluble elements, and

their concentration decreases with time.

CATLINITE - A soft, red, easily worked stone of the Upper Missouri region

which was commonly ground and polished into tobacco pipes. Also known as


CATTLE COMPLEX - An East African socioeconomic system in which cattle

represent social status as well as wealth.

CAULDRON - A large kettle.

C.E. - An abbreviation used to denote dates that occur within the "Common

Era," as a more neutral alternative to the "A.D." of the Christian calendar.

CEBID - A member of the family Cebidae; the New World monkeys excluding the

marmosets and tamarins.

CEBIDAE - Family of New World monkeys that includes the squirrel, spider,

howler, and capuchin monkeys, among others.

CELL - The smallest unit that is considered to be alive. All living organisms

either are one cell or are composed of several cells.

CELT - An ungrooved axe. Generally manufactured of flaked stone (chert or

fine-grained igneous rock), ground stone (usually tough metamorphic rocks, such

as serpentine), or even large shells. Usually have a single bit.

CELTS - A category of people who flourished from about 750 to 12 B.C. During

this time, the Celts were the most powerful group in central and northern

Europe. Although the Celts were composed of many different tribes, they shared

similar languages, technology, customs, artistic styles, and beliefs. By A.D.

60, their power had been destroyed by the Romans. After that, only the Celtic

tribes in the more remote areas of Europe, such as the British Isles, survived.

CEMETARY - A location where individuals are buried.

CENOMANIAN - European stage of the lowermost Upper Cretaceous, spanning the time

between 95 and 91 million years ago.

CENOTAPH - From the Greek word meaning; "empty tomb". A tomb built for

ceremonial purposes that was never intended to be used for the interment of the


CENOTE - A natural waterhole. Cenote is a corruption by the Spanish of the Maya

word dzonot, a large circular sink-hole created by the collapse of limestone

caves. The water in cenotes is filtered through limestone and constituted one of

the primary sources of drinking water for the Maya. Patterns of settlement among

the early Maya often followed the location of cenotes.

CENOZOIC - An era of geologic time from the beginning of the Tertiary period (65

million years ago) to the present. Its name is from Greek and means "new life."

CENSUS - A comprehensive survey of a population designed to reveal its basic

demographic characteristics.

CENTRAL HALL - A frame house consisting of two rooms and an enclosed central


CENTRALIZATION - Concentration of political and economic decisions in the hands

of a few individuals or institutions.

CENTRAL PLACE THEORY - developed by the geographer Christaller to explain the

spacing and function of the settlement landscape. Under idealized conditions, he

argued, central places of the same size and nature would be equidistant from

each other, surrounded by secondary centers with their own smaller satellites.

In spite of its limitations, central place theory has found useful applications

in archaeology as a preliminary heuristic device.

CEPHALIC INDEX - a measure of the roundness of the skull calculated by dividing

the maximum width of the brain case (usually just above the ears) by the maximum

length (between the eyes to the back of the skull) and multiplying the resulting

fraction by l00. See also dolichocephalic, mesocephalic and brachycephalic.

CERAMIC - Of or relating to the manufacture of any product (as earthenware,

porcelain, or brick) made essentially from a nonmetallic mineral (as clay) by

firing at a high temperature. Native American ceramics were often tempered

with materials to help hold it together during firing process; shell, mica,

quartzite, bone, grit, vegetation.

CERBERUS - Three headed dog that guarded the entrance to Hades.

CERCOPITHECIDAE - Family that includes all the Old World monkeys, such as

guenons, mangabeys, macaques, and baboons.

CERCOPITHECINAE - Subfamily that contains the Old World monkeys that are

omnivorous and possess cheek pouches.

CERCOPITHECINAE - Superfamily that consists of the Old World monkeys.

CEREMONY - A gathering of people for a program, usually serious in nature, for a

specific purpose. A formal act or series of acts prescribed by ritual, protocol,

or convention.

CEREMONIAL FUND - The portion of the peasant budget allocated to religious and

social activities.

CHAC MOOL - Maya stone reclining figure with a place for offerings on it's


CHACO CANYON - Site in New Mexico representative of the Anasazi culture that

thrived there between A.D. 500 and 1300.

CHAIN - A surveying chain, or long steel tape-measure, calibrated in meters or

feet, used for site mapping and grid layout.

CHALCEDONY - Latin chalcedonius, from Greek ChalkEdOn Chalcedon: a translucent

quartz that is commonly pale blue or gray with nearly wax like luster. A

microcrystalline form of quartz with crystals arranged in parallel strands.

Chalcedony was commonly used for tool-making and could be either chipped or


CHANNEL FLAKE - Often lengthy, a flake removed from the face of an artifact

originating from the proximal end of an artifact. Flute.

CHARACTERIZATION - the application of techniques of examination by which

characteristic properties of the constituent material of traded goods can be

identified, and thus their source of origin; e.g. petrographic thin-section


CHARCOAL - Carbon formed by heating organic matter in the absence of air; one

of the preferred substances for radiocarbon dating.

CHARON - In Greek myth, the boatman who rowed the souls of the dead across the

River Styx into the underworld.

CHEEK POUCH - A pocket in the cheek that opens into the mouth; some Old World

monkeys store food in the cheek pouch.

CHEMISTRY - The science concerned with the structure, properties, reactions

and commercial application of substances.

CHERNOZEM - A rich, black organic soil well-suited to the growing of grasses,

which is found in cool or temperate semiarid environments.

CHERT - 1.a rock resembling flint and consisting essentially of a large amount

of fibrous chalcedony with smaller amounts of cryptocrystalline quartz and

amorphous silica. 2. A very fine grained rock formed in ancient ocean sediments.

It often has a semi-glassy finish and is usually white, pinkish, brown, gray, or

blue-gray in color. It can be shaped into arrowheads by chipping.

CHIEFDOM -. in Service's (l97l) scheme, the third of the four levels of

socio-economic integration which stands between the simpler, more kinship-based

bands and tribes, and the more governmentally-structured state level societies

which some equate with "civilization". As a consequence, chiefdoms share

characteristics of both; an individual's family ties remain important, but

individuals are ranked within the "family group" and families themselves are

ranked relative to one another so that the society can no longer be considered

egalitarian. At the top of the hierarchy is the chief, often believed to be a

direct descendent of the mythical ancestor of the entire society. Everyone's

status is measured in terms of how closely they stand in a kin relation to the

chief. He gains his authority from his position as the focal point for the

redistribution of goods from a generally horticultural subsistence base although

he is not empowered to use coercive force to impose his will. This relatively

high degree of organization and productivity allows a high population density

and the establishment of major centres. Chiefdoms witness the beginnings of

full-time craft specialization, permanent religious practitioners and the

establishment of political office. Native North America witnessed several

chiefdoms prior to the disruption associated with European contact in Central

America. in the American southeast, along parts of the Northwest Coast, and

arguably, in the American northeast, particularly Ohio and Illinois.

CHILAM BALAM - A series of books written by various Maya tribes in Spanish

after the Spanish Conquest. The content probably came directly from Maya


CHINAMPAS - The areas of fertile reclaimed land, constructed by the Aztecs, and

made of mud dredged from canals.

CHINKING - A mortar, usually composed chiefly of clay, used to plaster over

gaps in walls or to bind bricks or stones.

CHIPPING STATION - A restricted area of "floor" within an archaeological site

which yields stone flakes to the virtual exclusion of other kinds of artifacts.

Such features are frequently interpreted as places used for the chipping of


CHITHO - A disc-shaped biface. Crude bifacially flaked boulder spall or slab

scraper-cutting tools commonly associated with northern Athabaskan assemblages.

Similar to a cortical spall tool.

CHOL - Maya language and ethnic group.

CHOLLA - Several species of spiny cactus having cylindrical stems and branches.

The plants are found in many parts of semiarid and arid North America.

CHOPPER - An axe-like tool, generally fashioned from a cobble or large pebble,

and usually worked only on one face.

C-HORIZON - The bottom-most zone of a soil, consisting of unaltered natural


CHRONOLOGY - Arrangement of events in the order in which they occurred.

CHRONOLOGY BUILDING - Devising a dated history for a region by combining

numerous lines of evidence.

CHRONOMETRIC DATING - Placing an event or process with a range of dates on a

calendrical time scale, usually by means of radiocarbon or potassium/argon


CHRONOMETRY - The art of measuring time accurately.

CICERO - Roman orator, died 43 BCE.

CISTS - Boxed burials (eg: some of the Neolithic graves at El Garcel, Almeria,

Spain) are referred to as cists burials. The term simply comes from the German

word 'Kiste' meaning a box or crate.

CITY-STATE - City and surrounding countryside under it's influence. Main

political entity of classical Greece.

CIVILIZATION - 1. a : a relatively high level of cultural and technological

development; specifically : the stage of cultural development at which writing

and the keeping of written records is attained b : the culture characteristic of

a particular time or place.

CLADE - A group of species with a common evolutionary ancestry.

CLADISTICS - A theory of classification that differentiates between shared

ancestral and shared derived features.

CLADOGRAM - A graphic representation of the species, or other taxa, being

studied, based upon cladistic analysis.

CLAN - A unilineal descent group usually comprising more than ten generations

consisting of members who claim a common ancestry even though they cannot trace

step-by-step their exact connection to a common ancestor.

CLASS (1) - A major division of a phylum, consisting of closely related


CLASS (2) - A ranked group within a stratified society characterized by

achieved status and considerable social mobility.

CLASSIFICATION - systematic arrangement in groups or categories according to

established criteria; specifically : taxonomy.

CLAY - Extremely fine (less than 0.0l mm in diameter) particles produced by

the weathering of certain rocks. Its primary constituent is hydrated aluminum

silicate, but numerous impurities, such as quartz, mica, calcium carbonate,

alkalies, iron compounds, humus, and sand may also be present. Clay is plastic

when moist, but hardens when dried and is used in the manufacture of ceramics.

CLEARWATER LAKE - a lake approximately l7 km north of The Pas, Manitoba which

has given its name to a distinctive Late Woodland pottery type as well as to the

complex and phase within which it occurs. The pots are round-based with

constricted necks and generally outflaring rims. Exterior surfaces are

fabric-impressed and exterior decoration is usually restricted to a single row

of punctates which produce interior bosses. Lips are generally flattened and

decorated in a great variety of ways. Associated tools include side-notched and

triangular projectile points, scrapers, bifaces, gravers, celts, net sinkers,

slate grinding stones, split bone awls, long bone flakers, bone spatulas, bird

bone tubes, bone beads, shaft straighteners and red ochre (Meyer l978). Believed

by many to be the handiwork of the prehistoric and protohistoric Cree, the

Clearwater Lake Complex is widely distributed throughout the Boreal Forest of

central Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwestern Ontario

CLEAVER - A large core tool with a straight, sharp edge at one end.

CLEOPATRA - Ruler of Egypt from 51 to 30 B.C. Of Macedonian (Greek) descent,

Cleopatra reigned for 21 years, until the fall of Egypt to Rome in 30 B.C. She

was the lover of the famous Roman general Mark Anthony.

CLIFF DWELLINGS - Shelters or villages built along the edges of cliffs.

CLIMAP - a project aimed at producing paleoclimatic maps showing sea-surface

temperatures in different parts of the globe, at various periods.

CLIPPED WING - Barbs that have been intentionally fractured or knapped off.

Example: Clay

CLOSED CORPORATE COMMUNITY - A community that strongly emphasizes community

identity and discourages outsiders from settling there by restricting land use

to village members and prohibiting the sale or lease of property to outsiders.

CLOSED FINDS - Groups of artifacts which are in original depositional context

with each other. The artifacts recovered from a ceremonial offering, for


CLOVIS - A town in New Mexico which has lent its name to a distinctive type of

Paleo-Indian or Early Prehistoric Period projectile point as well as to the

complex (also known as the Llano Complex) and culture within which it occurs.

The highly distinctive projectile points are concave-based and highly variable

in size, ranging from approximately 3 to l2 cm in length. One or both faces may

be fluted with the channel flake extending one-half or less of the length of the

point. Most Clovis sites are either surface finds of isolated projectile points

or kill sites and hence the full nature of he complex is not known. Associated

artifacts include a variety of scraping tools, blades, hammerstones, chopping

tools and foreshafts and defleshers of bone (Frison l978). Clovis points are

distributed from the arctic to Mexico, and from California as far east as Nova

Scotia. Radiocarbon dated sites range in age from 8500 to approximately l0,000

B.C. Where perishable materials are preserved and an association can be

demonstrated, faunal remains are nearly invariably those of the mammoth. Clovis

points are rare in Manitoba due to the fact that most of the province was

glaciated or beneath the waters of glacial Lake Agassiz during the Clovis

period. The small area in southwestern Manitoba which would have been available

for occupation at that time probably did not support the kind of vegetation upon

which mammoths depended for food (Pettipas l975).

CLUSTER - A group of stylistically and chronologically similar artifacts for

which adequate excavation data does not exist to allow for the classification as

a phase.

CLUSTER ANALYSIS - a multivariate statistical technique which assesses the

similarities between units or assemblages, based on the occurrence or

non-occurrence of specific artifact types or other components within them.

COBBLE - A medium-sized stone (larger than a pebble but smaller than a

fieldstone) which has been rounded and occasionally polished by erosion.

COCCOLITHS - Microscopic structures of varying shape and size that are made of

calcite, are secreted by calcareous nannoplankton, and are found in marine

deposits from the Triassic period to the Recent. Coccoliths range in size from

one to thirty-five micrometers in size.

COCHRANE RE_ADVANCE - A surging of the Wisconsinan ice sheet which occurred

roughly 8000 years ago and which is associated with a rise in the level of

glacial Lake Agassiz.

CODE SHEETS - Anthropologists' checklists of observed behaviors and inferred

motivations for or attitudes toward them.

CODY - A town in Wyoming which has lent its name to a distinctive style of

Palaeo-Indian knife as well as a complex consisting of at least two forms of

Plano projectile points (Eden and Scottsbluff) and possibly a third (Alberta).

The knives are either single-shouldered or parallel-sided with a transverse

blade. Associated artifacts include a variety of side- and end-scrapers, drills,

knives, spokeshaves, gravers, perforators and denticulates. Cody Complex sites

are more or less restricted to grassland environments and where preservation is

good, they contain the remains of now-extinct forms of bison. In Manitoba, Cody

artifacts occur above the Manitoba escarpment in the extreme southwestern corner

of the province. Elsewhere, they have been radiocarbon dated between 5900 B.C.

and 7900 B.C. (if Alberta is included) or 7l00 B.C. if it is not.

COFFIN TEXTS - Texts written inside coffins of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom that

are intended to direct the souls of the dead past the dangers and perils

encountered on the journey through the afterlife. More than 1,000 spells are


COGNATE WORD - Words in different languages which are similar in terms of

meaning and structure by virtue of descent from a common ancestral language.

COGNITIVE ANTHROPOLOGY - The study of how peoples of different cultures acquire

information about the world (cultural transmission), how they process that

information and reach decisions, and how they act on that information in ways

that other members of their cultures consider appropriate.

COGNITIVE ARCHAEOLOGY - The study of past ways of thought and symbolic

structures from material remains.

COGNITIVE IMPERATIVE - The human need to impose order on the world by mental


COGNITIVE PROCESSES - Ways of perceiving and ordering the world.

COIL FRACTURE - A potsherd, the shape of which reveals that it was a section

of one of the coils used to manufacture the vessel. see coiling.

COILING - A method of ceramic vessel manufacture which involves the stacking of

rings of clay. The coils are later smoothed-over by hand or paddled to complete

the finish and to bind the coils to one another.

CO-INFLUENCE SPHERE - An area within which human groups interact due to trade,

conflict, migration, the nature of local resources and the manner in which

various groups exploited them. As the basis for a research design, the

Co-Influence Sphere Model emphasizes interaction as opposed to unilineal

chronology, and relies upon cultural comparisons beyond the immediate research

area as a basis upon which to draw conclusions.

COLD HAMMERING - Fashioning metal without the use of heat sufficient to melt

it. In prehistoric Manitoba this was restricted to copper and recent evidence

indicates that temperatures of up to l000C were often applied to render the

substance less brittle.

COLLAGEN - A protein which occurs in bone and may be used for radiocarbon


COLLATERAL FLAKING - When flakes on a chipped stone artifact extend to the

middle from both edges meeting in the center. The flakes are at right angles to

the longitudinal axis, and regular and uniform in size.

COLLECTING - .1 a : to bring together into one body or place b : to gather or

exact from a number of persons or sources.

COLLECTION - An accumulation of objects gathered for study, comparison, or


COLLUVIAL DEPOSITS - Deposits formed on slopes near sources of sediment such

as mountains.

COLLUVIUM - A mixture of rock fragments and debris occurring at the foot of a


COLOBINAE - Subfamily of Old World monkeys that includes the langurs and

colobus monkeys; species that are specialized leaf eaters, possessing a complex

stomach and lacking cheek pouches.

COLOSSUS OF RHODES - A massive bronze statue of the sun god Helios located on

the Greek island of Rhodes. It was built around 290 B.C. and was destroyed by an

earthquake around 226 B.C. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the

Colossus was 110 feet high and was once thought to have straddled the entrance

to the city harbor (a fact which scholars now know would have been impossible).

COMBED - As applicable to ceramics; treated or modified by the application of a

toothed instrument of wood, bone, metal, etc. A comb may be used to smooth

and/or decorate pottery or to arrange and disentangle hair

COMMUNAL CULT - A society with groups of ordinary people who conduct religious

ceremonies for the well-being of the total community.

COMMUNICATION - The transmission and reception of some stimulus or message. In

relation to animal life, communication occurs when one animal transmits

information to another animal.

COMMUNITY - The behavioral component comprised of groups of households whose

members frequently interact.

COMMUNITY IDENTITY - An effort by speakers to identify themselves with a

specific locality and to distinguish themselves from outsiders.

COMPONENT - the archaeological evidence pertaining to a single group of people

(more specifically a single focus) at an archaeological site. A site containing

only one occupation is a single component site, while one which was reoccupied

is termed a multicomponent site.

COMPOUND MOUND - mounds that are made up of conical mounds connected by linear


COMPUTER TOMOGRAPHY - A technique that uses X ray or ultrasound to provide

images of layers of solid objects, such as pottery or the human body. The images

are processed by a computer to create two- and three-dimensional pictures of the


CONCAVE - Curves inward. Incurvate, as the interior surface of a sphere.

CONCENTRATION - A notable accumulation of archaeological materials in a small

area, such as a "concentration of flakes" etc.

CONCEPTUAL - The major assumptions or underlying premises of a field of


CONCHOIDAL - "Conch-like"; shaped like the exterior surface of a clam shell.

The term is used to describe the fracturing properties of certain kinds of

stone. In fine-grained materials such as flint, a fractured surface will exhibit

roughly circular ridges radiating outwards from the point of impact.

CONCRETION - A natural clay nodule formed out of solution in soil interstices.

Often confused for man-made objects because of their peculiar shapes.

CONOIDAL - "Cone-like". The term is most commonly used to describe the shape of

ceramic vessels with pointed bases and straight profiles to the shoulder.

CONG (Chinese) - Jade tube.

CONGLOMERATE - A rock composed of rounded pebbles and sand which are cemented

together into a solid rock. To roll together.

CONIACIAN - European stage of the Upper Cretaceous, spanning the time between 90

and 88 million years ago.

CONICAL MOUND - A cone or oval shaped mound that usually contains human burials.

CONJUNCTIVE APPROACH - a methodological alternative to traditional normative

archaeology, argued by Walter Taylor (1948), in which the full range of a

culture system was to be taken into consideration in explanatory models.

CONQUISTADOR - A name given to the 16th-century Spanish explorers who came to

the New World.

CONSERVATION - The scientific process of cleaning--and often repairing and/or

restoring--an artifact in order to preserve it for further study and/or display.

CONSERVATION ARCHAEOLOGY - A sub-field of archaeology which focuses on the

preservation of archaeological resources. This position encourages the

stabilization and preservation of archaeological sites as opposed to their

immediate excavation.

CONTEXT - Relationship of artifacts and other cultural remains to each other

and the situation in which they are found.

CONTRACT ARCHAEOLOGY - archaeological research conducted under the aegis of

federal or state legislation, often in advance of highway construction or urban

development, where the archaeologist is contracted to undertake the necessary


CONTRACTING - Diminishing. A gradual decrease in width or size in a given area

(such as contracting base). example of contracting stem; gary, adena, dickson.

CONTROL - in the scientific method, a situation in which a comparison can be

made between a specific situation and a second situation that differs, ideally,

in only one aspect from the first.

CONVEX - Bulging outwards; excurvate as in the case of the exterior surface of a


COPAL - An incense of Mesoamerica.

COPPER SHEATHING - Used underwater (below the waterline) on wooden ships to

repel marine organisms.

COPPER ORNAMENT - A piece of pounded natural copper that was formed into things

such as; gorget, breast ornament, broach, mask.

COPROLITE - Fossilized, desiccated< or otherwise preserved dung or human

faeces. Study of coprolites can yield information on the diet, environment and

habits of early peoples.

COPTIC - The Afro-Asiatic language of the Copts, which survives only as a

liturgical language of the Coptic Church; of or relating to the Copts, the

Coptic Church, or the Coptic language.

CORBALLED ARCH - A false arch constructed by putting ceiling tiles closer

together on each successive layer until a capstone could be laid.

CORE - 1. the stone from which flakes have been removed; the nucleus. A

"prepared" core is one which has been specially modified in such a way as to

control the shape of subsequent flakes. The core itself may be modified into a

tool (core tool). core, conical. a cone-shaped core with the flat surface

serving as the striking platform. core, polyhedral. a generally sphere-shaped

core with many faces. core, wedge-shaped. a core in which flakes are removed

from two faces, thus rendering it a wedge-shaped appearance. 2. a generally

thin, cylindrical sample of soil or tree growth-rings.

CORNER NOTCH - The process of knapping slots into the corner of a preform for

hafting. Examples; kirk, marcos, jacks reef.

CORTEX - The naturally weathered outer surface of a pebble.

CORTICAL SPALL - A flake struck from the surface of a pebble or nodule which

retains the natural cortex on one face. A "Cortical Spall Tool" is generally a

relatively large ovate cortical spall exhibiting retouch or use-wear on one or

more edges.

COULEES - Steep sided valleys found along the Upper Mississippi Waterway.

COUP, COUPE - Among many plains Indian groups, some act of valour such as

touching an enemy in battle, by which prestige was conferred upon an individual.

counting coup. the announcing of one's coups publicly.

CREATION SCIENCE - The idea that scientific evidence can be and has been

gathered for creation as depicted in the Bible. Mainstream scientists and the

Supreme Court discount any scientific value of creation-science statements.

CREMATION - Destruction of the bodily remains of the deceased by burning. This

mode of postmortem treatment may be favored for many reasons; to prevent the

return of the dead, to protect the deceased from scavengers, or to prevent the

transformation of the dead into a harmful entity. Treatment of the ashes is

highly variable from one group to another. Cremation seems to have been

particularly popular with Paleo-Indians and this is one of the reasons that

skeletal remains dating to this period are so rare.

CRESCENT - A lunate flint item found out west.

CRETACEOUS PERIOD - A period 144 to 65 million years ago, characterized by the

growth of the first flowering plants and the height of the era of the dinosaurs.

It ended with the complete extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

CRITICAL THEORY - a theoretical approach developed by the so-called "Frankfurt

School" of German social thinkers, which stresses that all knowledge is

historical, and in a sense biased communication; thus, all claims to "objective"

knowledge are illusory.

CROP MARK - Differential vegetational growth as a result of buried features.

Some species of plants are particularly sensitive to various subsurface

conditions. For example cereals will not achieve normal height and will ripen

sooner over wall foundations, while over ditches, or trenches they will grow

taller and remain green longer. Study of these differences, particularly with

the aid of aerial photography, can reveal such features in remarkable detail.

CROSS DATING - A relative dating technique which attributes similar ages to

two strata, components or sites on the basis of the recovery of similar

artifacts from each; the use of an artifact whose age is known elsewhere, to

date a new site.

CRYPTOCRYSTALLINE - Having a crystalline structure so fine that no distinct

particles are recognizable under the microscope.

CUCURBIT - The plant family which includes pumpkins, squash, gourds and

cucumbers and which occurs in tropical and subtropical regions. Some members of

this family were domesticated by Native North Americans.

CUESTAS - A long, low ridge with a relatively steep face, escarpment on one side

and a long, gentle slope on the other.

CULTIGEN - An initially wild plant which has undergone sufficient genetic

changes due to nurturing (or conscious selection), so as to be entirely

dependent upon man for its survival; a domesticated plant.

CULTIVAR - A wild plant that is nurtured by humans. Cultivars may thus be found

thriving outside of their normal habitats due to irrigation, fertilization or


CULTIVATION - Preparation and use of land for the production of food.

CULT-STATUE - A statue of a divinity found in a shrine dedicated to that


CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY - That branch of anthropology that concerns itself with

humanity's non-biological adaptations. Occasionally it is used synonymously (but

incorrectly) with social anthropology.

CULTURAL DATING - The process of comparing objects archaeologists find with

information they already have; comparing cultural attributes.

CULTURAL DETERMINISM - The idea that except for reflexes all behavior is the

result of learning.

CULTURAL DIFFUSION - The spreading of a cultural trait (e.g., material object,

idea, or behavior pattern) from one society to another.

CULTURAL DRIFT - Cultural change that is due to the improper passing on of

information from the people in one region to those of another. Results in the

eventual creation of a new culture.

CULTURAL ECOLOGY - The study of the ways a society adapts to its environment.

CULTURAL EVOLUTION - The study of how and why human adaptive systems have

changed over time.

CULTURAL FORMATION PROCESS - Human activities responsible for forming and

modifying the archaeological record.

CULTURAL GROUP - A complex of regularly occurring associated artifacts,

features, burial types, and house forms comprising a distinct identity.

CULTURAL DYNAMICS - The study of population movements and stability or

cultural change and continuity. Cultural dynamics thus includes such phenomena

as migration, diffusion, re-adaptation, population increases and expansions,

etc. and attempts to identify the reasons for their occurrence.

CULTURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT - A branch of archaeology that is concerned with

developing policies and action in regard to the preservation and use of cultural

resources. Often called simply CRM.

CULTURAL MATERIALISM - The theory, espoused by Marvin Harris, that ideas,

values, and religious beliefs are the means or products of adaptation to

environmental conditions ("material constraints").

CULTURAL PROCESSES - The underlying factors which bring about change in a

culture. Processual archaeology attempt to identify such causes, and tests

hypotheses thus generated against other archaeological data.

CULTURAL RELATIVISM - The ability to view the beliefs and customs of other

peoples within the context of their culture rather than one's own.

CULTURAL RESOURCES - Sites, structures, landscapes, and objects of some

importance to a culture or community for scientific, traditional, religious, or

other reasons.

CULTURE - Common beliefs and practices of a group of people. The integrated

pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon man's

capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. A

set of learned beliefs, values and behaviors--the way of life--shared by the

members of a society.

CULTURE AREA - A geographic region within which the occupants are more similar

to one another (particularly in terms of material culture) than to those beyond

its limits. These rather frequently correspond to natural, environmental areas,

thus reflecting a shared mode of adaptation to a similar environment. In

practice, a culture area is defined on the basis of its center. The peripheries

often share more traits with neighboring culture areas.

CULTURE HERO - In mythology, an animal, person or god(ess) who may be seen as

the protector of a people, and/or as being the originator of their culture and

circumstance. In Native North American folklore, he/she is frequently also a


CULTURE HISTORY - The placement of the material remains of the culture(s) of a

region into proper chronological order and the subsequent study of their


CULTUS TEMPLE - Temple dedicated to the worship of one or more deities.

CUNEIFORM - The wedge-shaped characters of many ancient Near Eastern


CUPID - Roman god of love. Knows as Eros by the Greeks.

CUSTOM - Established practice; habit; tradition.

CYCLADIC - Dealing with the islands called the Cyclades, found between Greece

and Turkey.


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DARK AGES - A period of chaos, destruction, and rebuilding that lasted from

the fall of Rome in 476 C.E. to the emergence of stable Germanic kingdoms in the

ninth century. Specifically, the Dark Ages are often said to have ended in 800

C.E., when Charlemagne was crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor.

DARIUS - Persian king Darius III was defeated by Alexander the Great. Darius

was killed by his own men.

DART - 1. Arrow-like projectile propelled by atlatl. 2. A slender missile

shot from a blowgun.

DART POINT - A flaked projectile used to tip an atlatl dart.

DATA - Information; the known facts; a series of measurements or observations.

DATING - The process of determining the antiquity of an object or event.

absolute dating. the determination of the age of an object relative to the

present (eg. l000 years ago or 43 B.C.). relative dating. the determination of

the age of an object relative to others of unknown age (eg. B is older than A

but younger than C). Relative dating can thus be used to establish a chronology

or sequence whereas absolute dating is required to anchor the events firmly in


DATUM POINT - usually an arbitrarily-defined spot on or near an archaeological

site which is used as a point of reference for the mapping of the site and for

the plotting of the distribution of the artifacts which are recovered from it.

DAUB - Untempered clay used to fill in the holes and gaps between the wood or

thatching of a wall. It was used by both Indians and European settlers in North

America to construct houses.

DEAD SEA SCROLLS - A collection of more than 800 manuscripts written on

parchment, papyrus, and copper over 2,000 years ago. The Dead Sea Scrolls were

found in 1947 in what is now Israel. The Scrolls contain many different kinds of

texts, including the oldest known portions of the Old Testament of the Bible.

DEBITAGE - By-products or waste materials left over from the manufacture of

stone tools. Lithic debitage includes flake debris, cores and broken artifacts.

DECANS - The (Greek) name given to the period of time (10 days) during which

the Egyptians observed that certain constellations were visible on the horizon.

There were 36 decans in the Egyptian year of 360 days, and tables were drawn up

recording them so that the Egyptians were able to tell the time at night: a

given constellation would be at a particular point in the sky depending on what

hour it was.

DECIPHER - Cracking the code; figuring out something's meaning, especially an

ancient language (for example, Egyptian hieroglyphics).

DECORTIFICATION FLAKE - A flake which serves to remind the outer surface

(cortex) of a rock.

DEDUCTION - A process of reasoning by which more specific consequences are

inferred by rigorous argument from more general propositions.

DEDUCTIVE NOMOLOGICAL EXPLANATION - a formal method of explanation based on the

testing of hypotheses derived from general laws.

DEEP SEA CORES - Cores drilled from the sea bed that provide the most coherent

record of climate changes on a worldwide scale. The cores contain shells of

microscopic marine organisms (foraminifera) laid down on the ocean floor through

the continuous process of sedimentation. Variations in the ratio of two oxygen

isotopes in the calcium carbonate of these shells give a sensitive indicator of

sea temperature at the time the organisms were alive.

DE-FACTO-REFUSE - Artifacts - often still useable - left behind when an

activity area, dwelling, or settlement is abandoned.

DEFLATION - The removal of surfacial deposits of soil, sand or fine gravel by

wind action. Blowouts are formed as a result of deflation.

DEFLESHER - A chisel-shaped, often toothed implement of bone, stone or metal

used to remove the fat and flesh from the inner surface of a freshly skinned


DEGRADATION - The wearing away or weathering of a surface by erosion.

DEITY - The rank or essential nature of god.

DELPHI - Greek sanctuary of the god Apollo.

DELTA - A triangular-shaped body of land formed of alluvium at the mouth of a


DEME - The local breeding population; the smallest reproductive population.

DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION - A rapid increase in a society's population with the

onset of industrialization, followed by a leveling off of the growth rate due to

reduced fertility.

DEMOGRAPHY - The study of population statistics (population size, number of

births and deaths, causes of death, diseases, age distribution, etc.),

particularly as a means of making statements of living conditions.

DEMOTIC - Script used on Egyptian business documents (and whatever) from about

70 BCE. onwards. By the Greco-Roman period it had become the ordinary writing

of everyday life. Word derives from Greek demoticos meaning popular.

DENDROCHRONOLOGY - The scientific study of the annular growth of trees. Trees

produce rings of various thickness annually in response to rainfall. Tree-rings

therefore, can be used to reconstruct fluctuations in rainfall in the past,

reflecting past climatic conditions.

DENTALIA - Any of a genus (Dentalium) of widely distributed tooth shells; small,

slender horn-like Pacific Ocean shell used and traded as beads and wealth-items.

DENTATE - A form of pottery decoration produced by impressing a toothed object

of (usually) bone, wood or stone into the wet clay thus creating rows of small,

square depressions.

DEPENDANT VARIABLE - A variable that is affected by the independent variable.

DEPOSITION (cultural) - The laying down of deposits by human activities that

move artifacts from systemic context to archaeological contest.

DEPOSITION (environmental) - The laying down of sediments by environmental

agents such as wind and water.

DEPOSITIONAL ENVIRONMENT - The surroundings of artifacts in archaeological


DEPOSITIONAL HISTORY - The order in which strata were laid down.

DEPOSITIONAL STRATUM - A separable layer of material at a site.

DESERT ARCHAIC TRADITION - A seminomadic, hunting and gathering way of life

that people in the Southwest adopted around 7000 B.C. The tradition is also

known in Arizona as the Cochise, Amargosan, or Desert culture. The Desert

Archaic lifeway was widespread, extending into the Great Basin of Utah and

Nevada and the Mohave Desert of California. Although the Archaic lifeway

gradually disappeared in southern Arizona as the Hohokam culture developed, the

tradition was practiced into historic times by people such as the Great Basin


DESHRET - The red crown. This was the crown that represented Lower Egypt


DESTRUCTIVE ARCHAEOLOGY - Most methods used in archaeological research are

destructive. We destroy what we are studying. Thus it’s important to –

A: Excavate just as much as necessary. A stable site may be better to leave

untouched to coming generations. They will be happy, and perhaps also possess

much finer investigation methods.

B: Document the investigation as thorough as possible. Future analysis may need

just those tiny details that may seem insignificant today.

This is described in Archaeology from the Earth by Sir Mortimer Wheeler (Penguin


DETRITUS - Debitage. Waste by-products from tool manufacture. Most frequently

applied to chips and fragments resulting from stone flaking.

DEVELOPMENTAL CYCLE - The stages passed through by individuals, behavioral

components, artifacts, and artifact types.

DEVIL'S CLAW - Also called the unicorn plant. A coarse, low-growing annual

with large, shallowly lobed leaves. All parts of the plant are covered with

coarse, sticky hairs. The seedpods turn black at maturity and each is

characterized by a long, slightly curved extension of its tip. The plants grows

at elevations of 1000 to 5000 feet and ranges from western Texas to southern


DEVONIAN - A period of the Paleozoic era, spanning the time between 410 and 360

million years ago. It is named after Devonshire, England, where rocks of this

age were first studied.

DIACHRONIC - Referring to phenomena as they change over time; i.e. employing a

chronological perspective (cf. synchronic).

DIADEM - Band worn on the head signifying royal power.

DIGENESIS - All chemical, physical, and biological modifications undergone by a

sediment after its initial deposition.

DIAGNOSTIC - Significant; distinctive or characteristic; of or pertaining to any

artifact, feature or attribute which can provide useful information.

DIAGNOSTIC ARTIFACT - An item that is indicative of a particular time period

and/or cultural group.

DIATOM ANALYSIS - A method of environmental reconstruction based on plant

microfossils. Diatoms are unicellular algae, whose silica cell walls survive

after the algae die, and they accumulate in large numbers at the bottom of

rivers and lakes. Their assemblages directly reflect the floristic composition

of the water's extinct communities, as well as the water's salinity, alkalinity,

and nutrient status.

DIE - Engraved stamp used to impress a design in softer material.

DIFFERENTIAL FLUXGATE MAGNETOMETER - A type of magnetometer used in subsurface

detection with the advantage of producing a continuous reading.

DIFFUSION - The spread of cultural traits from one culture to another. direct

diffusion. the spread of cultural traits by means of multiple hand-to-hand

transmissions of adjacent groups rather than a migration of the original trait

bearers. stimulus diffusion. the spread of the general idea of a culture trait

which may subsequently manifest itself in the creation of the physical object or

development of the custom by the recipient group.

DIFFUSIONIST APPROACH - The theory popularized by V.G. Childe that all the

attributes of civilization from architecture to metalworking had diffused from

the Near East to Europe.

DIGS - Archaeological sites with on-going excavations.

DING (Chinese) - Tripod food vessel

DINOCYST - A resting stage or reproductive stage in the life cycle of a


DIONYSOS - Greek god of wine. Known as Bacchus by the Romans.

DIP NET - A fish net attached to a (usually) circular frame and often equipped

with a handle.

DISTAL - That portion of a tool or bone farthest from the body of the user or


DISTAL END - The end situated away from the point of attachment. The tip, or

what would be point of entry of a projectile point.

DISTURBANCE - Movement and damage of artifacts in archaeological context as

the by-product of other activities.

DIVING BELL - Diving bells are described in Italy already in the 1530s. In the

17th century divers worked in very large bells. In the top was an air pocket,

and below was free workspace towards the wreck. A step toward the earliest

beginnings of marine archaeology.

DJED COLUMN - Pillar symbol meaning "stability." Thought to represent the

backbone of Osiris.

DNA - The abbreviation for a chemical called deoxyribonucleic acid, which is in

every cell of your body. DNA acts like your blueprint since it holds the

instructions for all your body's activities.

DOMESTICATED PLANT - A plant whose genetic characteristics are altered from

their natural state by human propagation efforts.

DORSAL - The convex or excurvate face of an artifact. The face of an artifact

which was furthest from the centre of the core from which it was manufactured.

DORSET - A Middle Prehistoric Period archaeological culture or tradition, the

remains of which have been found in the eastern Canadian arctic and on the

Atlantic coast as far south as Nova Scotia. In many ways, the Dorset seems to

represent an elaboration of earlier Pre-Dorset adaptations to the arctic

environment. Particularly distinctive Dorset artifacts include antler, bone or

ivory harpoon heads, three-dimensional ivory and bone carvings of humans and

animals, and the increase in the use of grinding as opposed to chipping as a

means of manufacturing projectile points and knives. These people pursued a

seasonal round which involved the taking of sea mammals in the spring, fishing

and caribou hunting inland during the latter part of the summer and fall, and a

winter occupation on the sea ice subsisting largely on seals. Dorset culture

appears to have disappeared rather suddenly and mysteriously about l000 years

ago with the expansion of the Thule people from Alaska.

DOUGLAS FIR - A tall evergreen found at elevations of 6500 to 10,000 feet.

Used by the Hohokam for timber, this tree can be found in the higher mountain

ranges in Arizona and Nevada and at lower elevations in more northern regions.

DOWSING - The supposed location of subsurface features by employing a twig,

copper rod, pendulum, or other instrument; discontinuous movements in these

instruments are believed by some to record the existence of buried features.

DRACHMA - Coin that was the currency of Athens.

DRAGGED STAMP - A kind of pottery decoration found on some Laurel vessels

produced by dragging a toothed (dentating) instrument across the wet clay, often

in a zigzag fashion. The dragged stamp method is also known as push-pull.

DRAWKNIFE - A woodworking tool consisting of a blade with

perpendicularly-oriented handles at either end. This implement is also sometimes

known as a spokeshave.

DRIFT - Material carried by glaciers.

DRIFT COPPER - pieces of native copper which have been transported from their

natural place of origin by glaciers. Drift copper may be found on the ground

surface and undoubtedly was used by prehistoric peoples for the manufacturing of

ornaments and tools.

DRIFTLESS AREA - Parts of NE Iowa, SE Minnesota, and SW Wisconsin that weren't

affected by the most recent ice age

DRILL - To bore or drive a hole in. In artifact terms it refers to a bit

attached to a shaft and used to perforate dense materials.

DRINKING TUBE - A length of hollow bird-bone used in aboriginal ceremonial

situations for drinking liquids.

DRIVE LANES - Aboriginal fences of rock piles or brush used to direct

game-animals towards a trap.

DRY FARMING - Method where rainfall runoff is diverted or trapped to provide

water for crops. Dry-farming systems include terraces, check dams, and small


DRUMLIN - A streamlined hill or mound formed by a moving glacier, with the

"tail" in the direction of ice-flow.

DUAT - The Egyptian land of the dead. It Lies under the earth and is entered

through the western horizon.

DUCK BAY - A bay on the west shore of Lake Winnipegosis, Manitoba, which has

lent its name to a distinctive ceramic ware. Vessels are globular in shape with

sharply angled necks and shoulders. Surfaces are fabric-impressed or roughened

and decoration consists of rows of punctates (Duck Bay Punctate type) or varying

combinations of interior notches, punctates and cord-wrapped stick impressions

on and near the lip (Duck Bay Decorated Lip type). This Late Woodland ware

appears most frequently in the Manitoba Lowlands (Snortlund-Coles l979).

DUNCAN - A stemmed projectile point style of the Middle Prehistoric Period.

Duncan points are included within the McKean Complex (Wheeler l954).

DYNASTY - A family that retains political power over several generations.


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EARED - Used in the description of projectile points the ear-shaped or

"tab-like" projections at the basal corners produced by the combination of a

concave base and deep, wide side-notches.

EARLY MAN - In the New World this term refers to the oldest known human

occupants - i.e. prior to ca. 8,000 B.P.

EARLY PREHISTORIC PERIOD - The most ancient of the periods of human occupation

in North America and closely equivalent in meaning to Paleo-Indian. In Europe,

the Mideast and elsewhere, the time preceding the beginnings of agriculture.

EARLY SIDE-NOTCHED POINT TRADITION - A grouping of early Middle Prehistoric

Period complexes characterized by side-notched projectile point styles

(generally the first side-notched styles in the region) which have been given a

number of different names: Mummy Cave, Bitterroot, Salmon River, Logan Creek,

Simonsen, etc. These are by-and-large restricted to the Northern Plains and

neighboring regions and coincide with the Altithermal or Atlantic Climatic

Episode. A number of radiocarbon dates in excess of 8000 years clearly indicate

that the authors of this tradition were contemporary with the Paleo-Indians.

Where preservation is good, these materials tend to be associated with the

remains of now-extinct species of bison.

EARS - Projections from the body or basal area of an artifact.

EARTHENWARE - A type of pottery made from common clay and fired at a

temperature of less than l000 C. The resulting vessel is soft and porous and

requires a glaze to render it waterproof.

EARTHWORK - A fortification, burial mound or other construction fashioned by

the excavation and/or heaping of earth.

EASTER ISLAND - An island in the South Pacific (Polynesia), which has also

been called Rapa Nui since 1860, where giant statues called "moai" are found.

EASTERN CROSS TIMBERS - A relatively narrow, north-south strip of forested

land that divides the Grand Prairie to the west from the Blackland Prairie to

the east in North Central Texas. The Eastern Cross Timbers are associated with

the sandier soils of the Woodbine geologic formation.

ECCENTRIC FLINT - Flint forms that deviate from a normal or established

pattern. Strange or exotic patterns.

ECCLESIASTICAL CULT - A highly complex religious system headed by a full-time


ECHO-SOUNDING - An acoustic underwater-survey technique, used to trace the

topography of submerged coastal plains and other buried land surfaces.

ECOFACT - An object or substance found in a site which is of natural origin

but which nonetheless provides information pertinent to archaeology. Examples

might include fauna, flora, pollen and soil.

ECOLOGICAL DETERMINISM - A form of explanation in which it is implicit that

changes in the environment determine changes in human society.

ECOLOGICAL NICHE - The function or position of an organism in a community of


ECOLOGY - The study of interrelationships of organisms and their environment.

ECONOMIC ANTHROPOLOGY - A subdiscipline of anthropology that attempts to

understand how the schedule of wants and demands of a society is balanced

against the supply of goods and services available, withthe recognition that

economic processes cannot be interpreted without culturally defining the demands

and understanding the conventions that dictate how and when they are satisfied.

ECONOMIC CLASS - A group that is defined by the economic position of its

members in relation to the means of production in the society--the wealth and

relative eocnomic control they may command.

ECONOMIC SYSTEM - The ideas and institutions that people draw upon and the

behaviors in which they engage in order to secure resources to satisfy their

needs and desires.

ECONOMY - l. the full range of human activities dealing with the acquisition,

distribution and consumption of subsistence-related commodities. 2. the way in

which these resources are managed.

ECOSYSTEM - A group of organisms with specific relationships between

themselves and a particular environment.

ECTOTHERM - An animal that derives much of its body heat from external heat


EDEN - A town in Wyoming which has lent its name to a Plano projectile point

style of the northwestern plains. Eden points are 8 to l2 cm in length and

approximately l.5 cm wide. They are collaterally and horizontally flaked and

thus display a diamond-shaped cross-section. Most have stems that are only

slightly narrower than the blade -- in fact in some cases it is produced solely

by lateral grinding. Because they are sometimes found in association with

Alberta and Scottsbluff points, they are included in the Cody Complex.

EFFIGY - A representation of a person or animal.

EFFIGY BOWL - A vessel crafted in the shape of a person or animal.

EFFIGY MOUND - An earthwork constructed in the shape of an animal or bird.

Those of the upper Mississippi are the most well-known in North America. Of

probable Hopewell affiliation, these may only be a metre or two in height but

may be over l00 m. in length. Occasionally, human burials have been found within


EFFIGY PIPE - An aboriginal smoking pipe shaped to resemble a human or animal


EFFIGY VESSEL - A container fashioned in the likeness of a human or animal.

EGALITARIAN SOCIETY - A society that recognizes few differences in wealth,

power, prestige, or status.

ELECTRICAL RESISTIVITY - Electrolysis A standard cleaning process in

archaeological conservation. Artifacts are placed in a chemical solution, and by

passing a weak current between them and a surrounding metal grill, the corrosive

salts move from the cathode (object) to the anode (grill), removing any

accumulated deposit and leaving the artifact clean.

ELECTROLYSIS - A standard cleaning process in archaeological conservation.

Artifacts are placed in a chemical solution, and by passing a weak current

between them and a surrounding metal grill, the corrosive salts move from the

cathode (object) to the anode (grill), removing any accumulated deposit and

leaving the artifact clean.

ELECTRON PROBE MICROANALYSIS - Used in the analysis of artifact composition,

this technique is similar to XRF (X-ray fluorescence spectrometry), and is

useful for studying small changes in composition within the body of an artifact.

ELECTRON SPIN RESONANCE - A chronometric dating technique based upon the

behavior of electrons in crystals exposed to naturally occurring radioactivity;

used to date limestone, coral, shell, teeth, and other materials. Enables

trapped electrons within bone and shell to be measured without the heating that

thermo luminescence requires.

EL DORADO - A Spanish phrase, meaning "the Gilded One" or "the Golden Man,"

which refers to a legendary South American king who covered himself in gold.

European adventurers (mostly Spanish) became obsessed with finding the legendary

treasures of El Dorado, and searched for a city filled with gold throughout the

16th- and 17th-centuries.

ELECTRUM - A mixture of gold and silver.

ELEVATION- A measurement of vertical distance in mapping.

ELLIPTICAL - In regards to artifact having convex faces, making it appear as an

ellipse when viewing cross-section. A closed plane curve generated by a point

moving in such a way that the sums of its distances from two fixed points is a

constant : a plane section of a right circular cone that is a closed curve

ELUVIATION - The process by which fine particles of soil are moved downward

through the soil profile by rain water thus leaving the coarser particles nearer

the surface.

EMBALM - Process of preserving a dead body.

EMIC - A perspective in ethnography that uses the concepts and categories that

are relevant and meaningful to the culture under analysis.

EMPATHETIC METHOD - The use of personal intuition (in German Einfuhlung to

seek to understand the inner lives of other people, using the assumption that

there is a common structure to human experience. The assumption that the study

of the inner experience of humans provides a handle for interpreting prehistory

and history is made by idealist thinkers such as B. Croce, R.G. Collingwood and

members of the "postprocessual" school of thought.

EMPERICAL - Received through the senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing,

taste), either directly or through extensions.

EMPERICISM - Reliance on observable and quantifiable data.

EMPIRE - The behavioral component of regional systems tied together by trade

and political and military activities.

EMPRESSARIO SYSTEM - A land grant system in the early Republic of Texas in which

four contracts were made to designate "colonies" and bring immigrants to the

Texas frontier. Contractors were to receive 10 sections of land for each 100

colonists introduced and up to half of the colonists' grants. Colonists were to

receive grants similar in amount and requirements to fourth class headrights(a

status issued to those who arrived to Texas between January 1, 1840 and January

1, 1842.), with the requirement of placing 15 acres into cultivation. The four

colonies were Peters' Colony, Fisher and Miller's Colony, Mercer's Colony, and

Castro's Colony.

EMULATION - One of the most frequent features accompanying competition,

where customs, buildings, and artifacts in one society may be adopted by

neighboring ones through a process of imitation which is often competitive in


ENCULTURATION - The process by which the young learn their own culture.

ENDOGAMY - The restriction of choice of spouses to members of one's own


ENDOTHERM - An animal whose body heat is regulated by internal physiological


END SCRAPER - A stone tool formed by chipping the end of a flake of stone

which can then be used to scrape animal hides and wood.

ENGRAVER - Graver. A tool used to incise, inscribe, or "grave" substances such

as wood, bone, pottery, stone, etc.

ENGRAVING - To form designs or figures by incision; to impress deeply as with a


ENGINEERS LEVEL - An optical surveying instrument designed to obtain

accurate level lines of sight and turn.

ENNEAD - A group of 9 Egyptian deities that are associated with a major cult

center. The best known is the great ennead of Heliopolis, It consists of Atum,

Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys.

ENTREPRENEURS - Individuals who are willing to take risks and break with

traditional practices in order to make a profit.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP - Economic innovation and risk taking.

ENVIRONMENT - The sum of the external conditions and influences which

surround an object or organism -- particularly the ecological and social

settings in which people work and live.

ENVIRONMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY - A field in which inter-disciplinary research,

involving archaeologists and natural scientists, is directed at the

reconstruction of human use of plants and animals, and how past societies

adapted to changing environmental conditions.

ENVIRONMENTAL CIRCUMSCRIPTION - An explanation for the origins of the state

propounded by Robert Carneiro that emphasizes the fundamental role exerted by

environmental constraints and by territorial limitations.

ENVIRONMENTAL FORMATION PROCESS - Biological, chemical, and physical aspects

of the environment responsible for forming and modifying the archaeological


ENVIRONMENTAL ZONE - Regional plant-animal associations that are

climatically determined.

EOCENE - An epoch of the lower Tertiary period, spanning the time between 55.5

and 33.7 million years ago. Its name is from the Greek words "eos" (dawn) and

"ceno" (new).

EOLIAN DEPOSITS - Sediments transported by wind (e.g. sand-dunes, loess, etc.).

EOLITHS - Very crudely chipped or shaped stones that were first thought to

be tools. Some scholars have thought they were natural pieces of stone, not

shaped by humans.

EPIDERMIS - The outermost layer of the skin.

EPOCH - A unit of geological time; a division of a period.

ERIKSON, LEIF - Leader of the Vikings (also called Norsemen) who came from

Europe and discovered North America in A.D. 1000, 492 years before Columbus.

EROS - Greek god of love. Known as Cupid by the Romans.

EROSION - The wearing away of soil, rock and other deposits by natural

forces such as wind, flowing water or ice; weathering.

ERRATIC - A rock which from its shape or composition is entirely foreign to

the place where it is found, having been transported by glacial activity.

ESKER - A sand or gravel ridge formed by water flowing beneath a glacier.

ESKIMO - l. the Native inhabitants of Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland.

Traditionally, the Eskimo lived in small bands and followed a seasonal round of

activity. These people are known for their remarkable technological and

behavioral adaptations to one of the world's most trying environments. 2. the

language of these people.

ETHNIC CLEANSING - The systematic elimination of a particular ethnic group

from a region or society, by means including deportation, forced emigration, or


ETHNIC GROUP - The behavioral components of groups of households that

recognize a very general common ancestry.

ETHNO_ARCHAEOLOGY - The approach to archaeology which makes use of

observations of the "archaeological" remains of living non-literate peoples in

an attempt to gain understanding of the nature of the material evidence

associated with specific activities. This contrasts with the study of

prehistoric activity areas and the derivation of plausible inferences to define


ETHNOCENTRISM - The judging of other cultures by the standards of one's own

culture. This common human tendency almost inevitably leads to the conclusion

that other cultures are inferior to one's own.

ETHNOGRAPHIC INFORMATION - Information obtained from the anthropological

study of living peoples.

ETHNOGRAPHY - The by-and-large descriptive, non-interpretive, non-comparable

study of another culture.

ETHNO HISTORY - The study of the development of a culture by means of

archaeological, anthropological and documentary evidence.

ETHNOLOGY - The scientific, interpretive, comparative study of other cultures.

ETRUSCANS - People who ruled Etruia (modern Tuscany), prior to being absorbed

by the Romans.

EVIDENCE - Data proving a point or contributing to a solution.

EVOLUTION - The gradual process by which living organisms have developed since

the start of time.

EXCAVATION - Systematic digging and recording of an archaeological site.

EXCURVATE - Rounded or spherical face or edge. Curving outwards in an arch.

EXOGAMY - The practice of marrying outside of one's community.

EXPANDED - Becoming larger in girth, widening outwards. Become wider or more

open in proportion. Examples of expanded stem points; Steuben, Chesser, Bakers

Creek, Lange.

EXPERIMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY - Scientific studies designed to discover processes

that produced and/or modified artifacts and sites.

EXTENDED FAMILY - The nuclear family (husband, wife, children) together with

other relatives. Included among the latter are either the wife's married

daughters, their husbands and children, or the unmarried children and wives and

children of married sons. In general usage, the term may simply imply a group of

relatives beyond the nuclear family

EXTENDED MCKEAN-OXBOW COMPLEX - the term applied to the hypothesized complex

consisting of a blending of the McKean and Oxbow cultures and its persistence

until the tenth century A.D.


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FABRIC (1) - A material woven of plant or animal fibers.

FABRIC (2) - The orientation of sedimentary particles.

FACTOR ANALYSIS - A multivariate statistical technique which assesses the

degree of variation between artifact types, and is based on a matrix of

correlation coefficients which measure the relative association between any two


FAIENCE - Quartz sand heated in crucible with soda until the quartz melts then

solidifies into glaze. Many colors were done, but most popular was green or

turquoise made by added copper filings before heating. An art found mostly in

ancient Egypt.

FALL OFF ANALYSIS - The study of regularities in the way in which quantities

of traded items found in the archaeological record decline as the distance from

the source increases. This may be plotted as a falloff curve, with the

quantities of material (y-axis) plotted against distance from source (X-axis).

FALSE DOOR - A carved or painted door in an Egyptian tomb which was an entry

and exit point for the soul of the deceased.

FAMILY - A major division of an order, consisting of closely related genera.

FAMILY HOUSEHOLD - A household formed on the basis of kinship and marriage.

FAMILY UNIT - Among chimpanzees, a small group consisting of a mother with

some or all of her offspring.

FAUCES - Entrance passage of a Roman house.

FAUNA - A Latin term which refers to animals remains, as opposed to flora

which refers to plant remains.

FAUNAL ANALYSIS - In archaeology, the scientific study of animal remains. As

different species are adapted to different environments, the kinds of animal

bone found in an archaeological site can reveal information about local

conditions. For example, the dominance of bison in the faunal record might

indicate proximity to grasslands at the time that the site was occupied. Because

many species bear young only in a certain season, and since an expert can

accurately determine an animal's age at the time of death, faunal analysis can

also yield information of the time of year in which a site was occupied. The

presence of seasonally migratory species may lend additional support to such

conclusions. Finally, because most faunal material in sites are the remains of

feasts, analysis can reveal information on the diet of the site's occupants and

allow estimates of the number of people who may have resided there.

FAUNAL DATING - A method of relative dating based on observing the

evolutionary changes in particular species of mammals, so as to form a rough

chronological sequence.

FAUNAL REMAINS - The (usually) hard tissues of birds, fish and animals which

survive in the archaeological record.

FEATURE (1) - Something distinctive encountered on the ground surface or

during the course of excavations which is not artifactual in the usual sense.

Its significance may lie not in the object or objects which constitute the

feature, but rather in the relationship of the objects to each other. Thus while

a cobble, fleck of ash or fragment of burned bone would mean little if found in

isolation, a concentration of bone and ash surrounded by a circle of cobbles

would suggest a cooking area, and this patterning would constitute the feature.

Other examples of features could include post moulds, storage pits, a garbage

dump, a cache of tools, a flint knapping area, a collapsed dwelling or a burial.

FEATURE (2) - A type of material remain that cannot be removed from a site

such as roasting pits, fire hearths, house floors or post molds.

FELDSPAR - A group of rock-forming minerals all of which consist of aluminum

silicates and which may contain potassium, sodium, calcium or barium. Feldspars

are the chief elements of igneous rock.

FERTILE CRESCENT - A region of the Middle East arching across the northern

part of the Syrian Desert and extending from the Nile Valley to the Tigris and

Euphrates rivers. The ancient civilizations of Egypt, Phoenicia, Assyria, and

Babylonia developed in this area, which was also the site of numerous migrations

and invasions.

FICTIVE KIN - Persons such as godparents, and old family friends whom children

call "aunt" and "uncle".

FIELD DATA FORMS - Printed forms used to record archaeological survey or

excavation information. Special forms are frequently used to record artifact

proveniences; features and burials; site locations and descriptions; and


FIELD DEPENDENCE - The tendency to see the field of vision as a single unit,

with separate objects existing only as part of the whole.

FIELD INDEPENDENCE - The tendency to see the objects in one's field of vision

as discrete units, distinct from the field as a whole.

FIELD NOTES - Archaeologists keep a notebook with them when they are digging

so they can note when they change levels and what kinds of things they find.

They need to keep another record in case the profile or floor plan they drew

wasn't very clear. Later, in the lab, archaeologists might question the context

of an object. If they have notes to go back and look at, it makes it easier to

figure out what was going on.

FIELDWORK - The firsthand observation of human societies.

FILIGREE - Fine open metalwork using wires and soldering, first developed in

the Near East.

FILL - Sand, earth or other material which is contained within a feature or

overlying a site.

FINDSPOT - The location in which an artifact is found.

FIRE-BROKEN ROCK - Stone which has been fractured by exposure to heat.

Generally, a fire fracture is difficult to distinguish from other forms of

breakage such as that due to freezing. For that reason other evidence (such as

scorching) is required to identify the cause of fracturing.

FIRED - Hardened (as in ceramics) by exposure to intense heat.

FIRE DRILL - A fire-making device consisting of a wooden shaft, the tip of

which is twirled against another piece of wood until the friction creates a


FIRE SPALL - A flake detached by exposure to intense heat.

FISHING CAMP - A site used primarily for the acquisition of fish and possibly

the taking of other aquatic species.

FISSION-FUSION SOCIETY - A constantly changing form of social organization

whereby large groups undergo fission into smaller units and small units fuse

into larger units in response to the activity of the group and the season of the


FISSION TRACK DATING - A method of dating an object that counts the number of

tracks made by the breakdown of radiocarbon elements. The older an object is the

more tracks it leaves. This method is used mostly on rocks, pottery, and glass.

FITNESS - The measure of how well an individual or population is adapted to

a specific ecological niche.

FLAGGING - Brightly colored plastic ribbon used to mark features, sites,

surveyed stakes etc., to aid in their relocation.

FLAKE - A thin chip of stone detached from either a larger flake or a core by

the application of pressure or a blow (Percussion). see flaking, pressure;

flaking, percussion. Characteristically, manufactured flakes have a bulb of

percussion, a bulbar scar and compression rings radiating outward from the point

of impact on the ventral face, and the remnant of the striking platform. channel

flake. a long, thin flake detached in such a way as to produce a "groove" on the

finished artifact. Such artifacts are said to be fluted. decortification flake.

a flake which serves to remove part of the weathered outer surface (cortex) of a

core. lamellar flake. a flake with parallel edges; see prismatic flake.

prismatic flake. a parallel-sided flake, either triangular or quadrilateral in

cross-section, produced from a specially prepared core. Prismatic flakes are

also known as blades (sense 4). waste flake. one which is produced as a

by-product of the manufacture of something else; a discarded unused flake.

FLAKER - An implement of bone, antler, stone or other material, used to

remove flakes from a core or preform.

FLAKING - Knapping; chipping; the act of removing flakes from a core or

preform. alternate flaking. the process of removing flakes from alternate faces

along the edge of a tool, thus producing a wavy or sinuous edge. collateral

flaking. a kind of flaking produced by removal of flakes from the face of a

blade which begin at either edge and terminate at the midline. This kind of

flaking commonly produces a diamond-shaped cross-section. horizontal flaking. a

kind of flaking in which the flake scars are at right angles to the long axis of

the blade. oblique flaking. a kind of flaking in which the flake scars are at an

angle to the long axis of the blade. parallel flaking. a kind of flaking in

which the flake scars are parallel to one another. percussion flaking. the

removal of flakes by striking. pressure flaking. the removal of flakes by the

application of pressure. retouch flaking. a form of secondary flaking, always

accomplished by pressure, which is used to sharpen or straighten an edge. ripple

flaking. a fine form of parallel flaking which gives a surface the appearance of

ripples. secondary flaking. a fine form of flaking intended to remove surface

irregularities, or to sharpen or straighten an edge. transverse flaking. a kind

of flaking in which the flake scars run across the full width of the blade.

FLEXED BURIAL - A human interment where the body is placed in a semi-fetal

Position with the knees drawn up against the chest and hands near the chin.

FLINT (1) - A hard but brittle microcrystalline form of quartz found in

sedimentary limestone or in chalk deposits. True flint occurs only in the Old


FLINT (2) - Any kind of stone which can be flaked.

FLINT KNAPPING - The flaking of stone for the purpose of manufacturing tools

regardless of whether the stone is in fact flint.

FLOODWATER FARMING - The practice of planting crops in areas that are

flooded every year in the rainy season, the floodwaters thus providing natural


FLOOR PLAN - Archaeologists draw a floor plan of the unit they are digging

in at the bottom of every level, or when they find a feature such as a fire pit.

A floor plan shows how something looks from above.

FLORA - The plant life of a certain place and/or time.

FLORAL REMAINS - Pollen, seeds, wood charcoal and other plant parts which

may be preserved in the archaeological record. Analysis of these can provide

information on past environments and subsistence patterns.

FLOTATION - A method of obtaining seeds and other organic materials from

soil by using liquids.

FLUORINE TEST - A dating method that measures the amount of fluorine,

nitrogen, and uranium in bones. Older bones have more fluorine and uranium and

less nitrogen. But because decomposition happens at different speeds in

different places, it's not possible to compare bones from different sites.

FLUTE - A long, narrow flake removed from a spear point to aid in the

binding of the point to the spear shaft.

FLUVIUM - Any river-deposited sediment.

FOLK TAXONOMY - The classification of phenomena on the basis of cultural


FOLKTALES - Traditional stories found in a culture (generally transmitted

orally) that may or may not be based on fact.

FOLSOM - A town in New Mexico which has given its name to a distinctive fluted

projectile point and to the Palaeo-Indian Complex or culture of which it is a

part. The Folsom site is of particular significance to the history of American

archaeology because it was here that the discoveries were made (l926-28) that

conclusively demonstrated the contemporaneity of man with now-extinct species of

animals in the New World. The projectile points of the Folsom Complex are among

the finest examples of the flint knapper's art found anywhere in the world.

Ranging in length from 2 to 7.5 cm, Folsom points are either lanceolate or

paralle-sided in outline, and are deeply concave at the base which may give the

basal edges an "eared" appearance. Occasionally a small "nipple" or projection

may be present at the center of the base. This is a remnant of the striking

platform created to enable the removal of the channel flakes which often extend

the full length of each face. Associated artifacts include a variety of scraping

tools, gravers, knives, grinding stones, hammerstones and gaming pieces. Where

preservation is good the predominant faunal association is bison, thus marking a

change from the earlier Clovis peoples' focus upon the mammoth. Folsom points

occur over a fairly broad area, but excavated sites cluster between Montana and

Texas. Folsom points are nearly as rare in Manitoba as Clovis and for much the

same reason; Lake Agassiz covered much of the province and the southwestern

corner of the province which was available for occupation did not support the

kind of vegetation suitable for the animals which Clovis and Folsom peoples

hunted. Folsom radiocarbon dates range from approximately 8000 to 9000 B.C.

FOOD CHAIN - A sequence of sources of energy in which each source is

dependent on another source.

FORAGING - Collecting wild plants and hunting wild animals for subsistence.

FORAMEN MAGNUM - The large opening at the base of the skull through which

the spinal cord passes.

FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY - The application of the techniques of osteology and

skeletal identification to legal problems.

FORESHAFT - In a compound dart or spear, a shaft to which is attached the

projectile point and which in turn fastens to the main or backshaft. The latter

falls away after the foreshaft penetrates the prey and thus may be retrieved.

FORGE - l. a place used for working metal by heating and hammering; a

furnace or hearth used for heating metal. 2. to shape metal by heating and


FORMAL DIMENSION - The physical properties of artifacts.

FORMAL INTERVIEW - An interview that consists of questions designed to

elicit specific facts, attitudes, and opinions.

FORMAL ORGANIZATION - A group that restricts membership and makes use of

officially designated positions and roles, formal rules and regulations, and a

bureaucratic structure.

FORMALISM - A school of economic anthropology which argues that if the

concepts of formal economic theory are broadened, they can serve as analytic

tools for the study of any economic system.

FORMATION PROCESS - Those processes affecting the way in which

archaeological materials came to be buried, and their subsequent history

afterwards. Cultural formation processes include the deliberate or accidental

activities of humans; natural formation processes refer to natural or

environmental events which govern the burial and survival of the archaeological


FOSSIL - A remnant or impression of plant or animal life which is

preserved. In strictest terms, fossilization refers only to the loss of fats and

gelatin from bone and not necessarily the subsequent replacement of these by

minerals (mineralization). In its most general (and most incorrect) usage, a

fossil may be anything dug from the ground.

FOSSIL BEACH - A lake or ocean beach developed when the water-level was

significantly different from that of the present. Most commonly these will be

"raised beaches", or old strandline features and sediments found above the

modern shoreline.

FOSSIL CUTICLES - The outermost protective layer of the skin of leaves or

blades of grass, made of cutin, a very resistant material that survives in the

archaeological record often in feces. Cuticular analysis is a useful adjunct to

palynology in environmental reconstruction.

FOSSIL ICE WEDGES - Soil features caused when the ground freezes and

contracts, opening up fissures in the permafrost that fill with wedges of ice.

The fossil wedges are proof of past cooling of climate and of the depth of


FOUNDER PRINCIPLE - The situation in which a founding population does not

represent a random sample of the original population; a form of sampling error.

FRATERNAL POLYANDRY - Marriage of one woman with a set of brothers.

FREEHOLD - Private ownership of property.

FREQUENCY DIMENSION - The number of occurrences of an artifact type.

FRESCO - A type of wall painting. Paint was applied to freshly spread plaster

before it dried. This method locked in the colors, creating vivid and beautiful


FRIABLE - Easily crumbled, as in the case of rock or pottery.

FRIEZE - Ornamental band.

FROST ACTION - The process by which objects buried in the ground are moved

about by the freezing and expansion of water.

FUNCTIONALISM - The theory that all elements of a culture are functional in

that they serve to satisfy culturally defined needs of the people in that

society or requirements of the society as a whole.

FUNERARY CONES - Clay cones inserted above an Egyptian tombs entrance with

the name and title of the deceased.


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GAFF - l. a barbed fishing spear. 2. a shaft with a hook attached intended

to aid the landing of large fish.

GALENA - A lead ore, crystals and fragments of which were widely traded and

used for ornamental purposes in Native North America.

GAMING PIECE - An artifact often of stone, bone, or pottery which served as

a token or counter in a game of chance or skill.

GANG (Chinese) - Urn-shaped vessel

GARDENER - A horticulturalist; one who relies only upon manpower for the

nurture and harvesting of crops.

GATHERING - Among chimpanzees, the largest observed group within the


GENDER - A cultural construct consisting of the set of distinguishable

characteristics associated with each sex.

GENERALIZED RECIPROCITY - Informal gift giving for which no accounts are

kept and no immediate or specific return is expected.

GENERALIZED SPECIES - Species that can survive in a variety of ecological


GENERALIZED TRAIT - A trait used for many functions.

GENETIC DETERMINISM - The idea that all behavior, including very specific

behavior, is biologically based, in contrast to cultural determinism.

GENETICS - The study of the mechanisms of heredity and biological variation.

GENUS - A group of closely related species.

GEOCHEMICAL ANALYSIS - The investigative technique which involves taking soil

samples at regular intervals from the surface of a site, and measuring their

phosphate content and other chemical properties.

GEOCHRONOLOGY (1) - The study of the physical changes in the earth and the

ordering of these events into proper sequence.

GEOCHRONOLOGY (2) - The use of such a chronology to date archaeological


GEOGRAPHIC COORDINATES - The world-wide system of latitude and longitude

used to define the location of any point on the earth's surface.

GEOGRAPHICAL ISOLATION - A form of reproductive isolation in which members

of a population become separated from another population by geographical

barriers that prevent the interchange of genes between the separated


GEOGRAPHICAL RACE - A major division of humankind into large geographical

areas wherein people resemble one another more closely than they resemble people

in different geographical areas.

GEOLOGIST - A person who studies the history of the earth and its life,

especially as recorded in rocks.

GEOMAGNETIC REVERSALS - An aspect of archaeomagnetism relevant to the dating

of the Lower Paleolithic, involving complete reversals in the earth's magnetic


GEOMETRIC PERIOD - Period of cultural development in Greece after the end of

the Mycenean kingdom. Named after the geometric decoration typical of the time.

GEOMORPHOLOGY - A subdiscipline of geography, concerned with the study of

the form and development of the landscape, it includes such specializations as


GEORADAR - A technique used in ground reconnaissance, similar to

soil-sounding radar, but with a much larger antenna and more extensive coverage.

GESSO - Mixture of glue and chalk or plaster applied to walls and objects

producing a smooth finish.

GESTATION - The period of time from conception to birth

GILL NET - A kind of net suspended vertically in the water which snares fish

by the gills as they attempt to swim through it.

GILL POUCHES - Structures that form in the early human embryo and that are

thought to be homologous to the gill slits of other chordates.

GLACIAL LAKE - A lake formed of ponded glacial meltwater, or by the damming

of a drainage system by glacial activity. A "pro-glacial" lake has at least one

margin formed by glacial ice.

GLACIAL MAXIMUM - The position and period of greatest advance of a glacier.

GLACIATION - The expansion of the polar ice caps and the covering of

portions of the earth with large masses of ice and snow. At least four major

periods of glaciation are recognized within the Pleistocene epoch: the

Nebraskan, the Kansan, the Illinoian and most recently, the Wisconsinan.

GLAZE - Glossy finish or covering on a surface. Glaze can be applied to

pottery or can form as a coating on glass like materials during the heating


GLEYSOL - A soil type which develops under boggy conditions. It is

characterized by a grayish coloration, mottled appearance and a reduced

concentration of iron and other elements.

GLOBULAR - Shaped like a globe or sphere. When used in reference to pottery,

it implies a generally rounded vessel shape.

GLOGER'S RULE - A rule which states that within the same species of

endotherms, more heavily pigmented forms tend to be found near the equator and

lighter forms away from the equator.

GLOTTOCHRONOLOGY - A technique in linguistics used to date the amount of time

elapsed since speakers of a once-common languge separated from one another. If a

group of people becomes divided into two due to a migration or by some other

means, their modes of speech will change differentially and after one or two

thousand years they will be incapable of understanding each other. Since the

rate of change in basic vocabulary is known and fairly constant (about l8% every

thousand years) a comparison of the vocabularies of related languages can allow

the calculation of the time of divergence.

GLYPH - A character, symbol or picture carved in stone, metal or some other


GORGE - A small tool, often of bone, pointed at either end and equipped with

a hole near its center for attachment to a line. It is baited and imbeds itself

crosswise in the throat of fish or small game when the line is pulled.

GORGET - An ornament usually worn over the chest which may be either

suspended on a cord or attached directly to clothing.

GOUGE - A chisel- with a broad groove ground into one face thus giving the

bit a U-shape. These are often interpreted as woodworking tools.

GRAMMAR - The formal structure of a language, comprising phonology,

morphology, and syntax.

GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURE - The rules for organizing elements of a language into

meaningful utterances.

GRANITE - Coarse-grained, light-colored igneous rock composed of quartz,

feldspar and biotite or hornblende.

GRANULATION - The soldering of grains of metal to a background, usually of

the same metal, and much used by the Etruscans.

GRAPHIC ARTS - Those forms of art such as painting and drawing.

GRASSLAND - An environment, such as prairie, upon which grasses dominate,

either naturally or due to human intervention.

GRAVE - A place where the dead are buried.

GRAVE ESCORT - An individual who is killed and placed in the grave with a

person of higher status so that he may accompany the latter to the afterlife and

serve him.

GRAVE GOODS - Objects (tools, weapons, ornaments, etc.) placed in the grave

with the deceased so that he may use them in the afterlife or simply as an

expression of affection for the individual.

GRAVEL - A mixture of sand, pebbles, and small cobbles which range in

diameter from 2 to 200 mm.

GRAVER - Engraver. A small, sharp-pointed tool used for engraving or

incising bone, antler, ivory, wood, etc.

GREAT APES - The orangutan from Asia and the common chimpanzee, bonobo

(pygmy chimpanzee), and gorilla from Africa.

GREAT ENGLISH VOWEL SHIFT - A linguistic change during the Middle English

period, when speakers of English began to alter the sounds of vowels, eventually

changing all vowel sounds in the language.

GREAT PYRAMID - The only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still

standing today. Located on the Giza plateau in Egypt, it was built by 30,000

workers during the reign of King Khufu (who was also known as Cheops; c.

2551-2528 B.C.). The pyramid was once 481 feet high, but today it is 451 feet


GREAVES - Bronze shin guards worn by Greek soldiers.

GRID - A network of uniformly spaced squares that divides a site into units;

used to measure and record an object's position in space.

GRIFFIN - Mythological beast with the head, forelegs and wings of an eagle

and the body and hind legs of a lion.

GRINDING - The shaping of an object or the dulling of an edge by means of

abrasion with another object or substance. basal grinding. the smoothing of the

proximal end of a tool (especially a projectile point) so that it will not cut

through its bindings after hafting. lateral grinding. intentional smoothing of

the blade edges of a tool (especially a projectile point) so that it will not

cut through its bindings after being hafted.

GRINDING STONE - Abrader; shaft smoother; whetstone; any coarse-grained

stone used to sharpen, dull, shape or polish other tools by abrasion.

GRIT AND GROG TEMPERED POTTERY - Sand (grit) and crushed pottery sherds

(grog) mixed in the unfired clay to make ceramic vessels stronger. These

inclusions prevented the rapid expansion of the paste as the clay's water

content was boiled away when the pottery was fired.

GROOMING - In primates, the activity of going through the fur with hand or

teeth to remove insects, dirt, twigs, dead skin, etc.; also acts as display of


GROOMING CLUSTER - A small group of closely related females that engage in a

high degree of grooming.

GROUND RECONNAISSANCE - A collective name for a wide variety of methods for

identifying individual archaeological sites, including consultation of

documentary sources, place-name evidence, local folklore, and legend, but

primarily actual fieldwork.

GROUND RUNNING AND WALKING - A form of quadrupedalism in which the animal

walks on the ground using the hands and the feet; the palms of the hand are flat

on the ground.

GROUND STONE - Stone artifacts shaped by sawing, grinding, and/or polishing

with abrasive materials (e.g. "ground slate knives", "polished soapstone

pendants" etc.).

GROUND WATER - Fresh water found under the surface of the Earth (usually in

aquifers) that often supplies wells and springs. Also referred to as underground

water and subsurface water.

GROUP - A number of individuals who interact on a regular basis and have a

sense of collective identity.

GU (Chinese) - Narrow-waisted wine-drinking vessel.

GUI (Chinese) - Vessel for food offering

GULF OF CALIFORNIA - Also known as the Sea of Cortez, it is the body of water

separating Baja, California from the rest of Mexico. The Colorado River empties

into the gulf.

GUN FLINT - A square blade-segment of flint used to ignite the powder charge

of a flint-lock gun. Often mistaken for an aboriginal artifact.


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HAAB - One of the three Maya calendars, and the one which corresponds most

closely to ours in length. The Haab is also known as the "Vague Year" by

archaeologists, since it is 365 days in length, or about a quarter day short of

the actual solar year.

HABITAT - The specific area where a species lives.

HABITATION AREA - A generalized term for a house or tent floor, or the

remains of any other type of aboriginal shelter.

HABITATION SITE - An archaeological site which served as a residence.

Evidence pointing toward this function might include remains of dwelling

structures and cooking areas.

HABITUS - As defined by Bourdieu, a culturally specific way not only of doing

and speaking, but also of seeing, thinking and categorising. Habitus tends to

be"naturalized" in that it is taken for granted or assimilated into the

unconscious so that habitus is a necessary condition of action and shared


HADES - The underworld and also the name of the Greek god of the underworld.

The Romans called the god Hades, Pluto.

HADITH - A collection of sayings and acts of Muhammad and the first Muslims.

They are the record of the Prophet's Sunna, which is second only to the Quran in

authority for Muslims.

HADRIAN - Roman emperor from 117 to 138 CE.

HAFT - The handle of a knife, the shaft of a spear, etc.; to equip with a


HAFTING - The process of equipping a blade (sense 2) with a handle; the

handle itself together with the bindings.

HALF LIFE - The time elapsed when half the atoms in a sample of a

radioactive isotope (such as C14 or K40) have decayed, or disintegrated.

HAMMERSTONE - A rounded cobble, sometimes equipped with a groove to

facilitate hafting. Signs of use may include pecking facets or battering at the

working end.

HAND AXE - A core tool flaked on both sides, generally fist-size, and

commonly manufactured in the later portion of the Lower Paleolithic and Middle

Paleolithic periods.

HAND LEVEL - A small, simple, hand-held surveying instrument for

establishing horizontal lines-of-sight over short distances.

HAND-MAUL - A carefully manufactured unhafted stone hammer.

HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON - Huge step pyramids covered with lush

vegetation, built about 600 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife in

Mesopotamia, which is now modern Iraq. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient

World, the Hanging Gardens no longer exist.

HANNA - A corner-notched. expanding-stemmed, concave-based projectile point

style of the Middle Prehistoric Period in the Northern Plains. Hanna points are

included within the McKean Complex (Wheeler l954).

HARDNESS - The quality of being resistant to scratching or deformation.

Hardness is considered to be a diagnostic attribute of pottery and is measured

by means of the Moh Scale. Aboriginal pottery in Manitoba ranges from 2 to

approximately 3.5 on this scale of l0.

HAREM - A subunit of a larger social group consisting of a male associated

with two or more females.

HARPOON - A spear with a (frequently) barbed, detachable head. Upon striking

the prey, the main shaft falls away and the harpoon head, with a line attached,

remains in the animal.

HARPOON HEAD - The arming tip of a harpoon. generally classifiable into 2

main forms - toggling and barbed - each of which may be composite or

single-piece, and may or may not carry additional cutting-blades or side-blades.

Always have line-guards or other means of line attachment.

HASP - A fastening device.

HATSHEPSUT - Queen of New Kingdom Egypt from 1479 to 1458 B.C., first

alongside her half-brother, Thutmosis II (who became her husband), and then

alongside her nephew, Thutmosis III. A great builder and leader, she is often

thought of as Egypt's greatest woman ruler.

HEARTH - A fireplace; an open area within which a fire has been deliberately

kindled for cooking, light or warmth. Such a feature may be defined on the basis

of ash, charcoal, blackened earth, an encircling ring of cobbles, fire-broken

rock, burned bones or a baked clay floor.

HEAT TREATMENT - An aboriginal process by which the flaking properties of a

rock were improved by controlled heating in a fire.

HEDJET - A white crown. This was the crown of Upper Egypt (southern).

HEEL TOE STRIDE - A method of progression characteristic of humans in which

the heel strikes the ground first and the person pushes off on the big toe.

HEGEMONY - Preponderant influence or authority of one individual or social

group over another.

HELIOCENTRIC - A sun-centered model of the universe.

HELLENISTIC PERIOD - Historic period that begins after the death of

Alexander the Great. His empire was broken up and ruled by dynastics mostly

descended from his generals and were strongly influenced by Greek culture.

HEMATITE - A red to black oxide of iron having variable hardness and

commonly used as a point by Native North Americans. Hematite is also known as

red ochre, particularly in its softer forms or after having been

HEPHAISTOS - Greek god of fire and blacksmithing, known as Vulcan by the


HERA - Wife of Zeus and Greek goddess of family and marriage. The Romans

called her Juno.

HERAEA GAMES - The female version of the Greek Olympic Games. The games

honored the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, and featured foot races for three

different age groups along a 525-foot track. The women ran in a tiny tunic (a

chiton), which was cut to expose one breast. Like men in the Olympic Games,

winners of the Heraea Games received trophies.

HERAKLES - Greek mythological hero, son of the god Zeus and the mortal

Alkmene. Known for courage and great strength. Called Hercules by the Romans.

HERCULANEUM - Less famous than Pompeii but much better preserved,

Herculaneum was also buried by the A.D. 79 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The city

lies two miles northwest of Pompeii and was home to about 5,000 people. The city

has been difficult for excavators to uncover, because it lies under a substance

harder than concrete and because much of the modern Italian city of Ercolano was

built right on top of it.

HERCULES - The legendary hero of Greek and Roman mythology forced to perform

Twelve Labors in order to make the Gods happy and pay for the crime of killing

his wife and children. Hercules is one of the most commonly shown figures in

ancient art. Called Herakles by the Greeks.

HERM - Sculpted stone pillar topped with a head.

HERMENEUTICS - Principles of interpretation; the term is often used with

reference to the study of Jewish and Christian scriptures.

HERMES - Greek god who was herald and messenger of the other gods. Known as

Mercury to the Romans.

HESPERIDES - Nymphs who guarded the golden apples, the stealing of which was

the last of Hercules labors.

HEWN - Wood shaped by heavy cutting or chopping blows struck by hand tools

such as axes or adzes.

HIERATIC - Cursive Egyptian script derived from hieroglyphs. Word comes from

Greek hieratikos (priestly).

HIEROGLYPHS - The earliest Egyptian script, introduced about 3000 B.C. and

used until about A.D. 4. It was used for important inscriptions, although it was

also often painted or written on papyrus rather that carved.

HIGH ALTITUDE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS - A condition that includes shortness of

breath, physical and mental fatigue, rapid pulse rate, headaches; occurs in

persons not acclimatized to high altitudes.

HIGH PRIEST - The head of the local priesthood.

HIGHER TAXA - Taxa above the species level, such as family, order, class,

phylum, and kingdom

HINDUISM - The third largest religion in the world (behind Christianity and

Islam). Hinduism is native to and predominantly practiced in India. Followers of

the Hindu religion are known as Hindus. Hinduism is a diverse body of religion,

philosophy, and cultural practice. Unlike Christianity or Islam, Hinduism has no

founder. Hindus believe in a supreme soul called Brahman, who has no real shape

or form. Different aspects or characteristics of Brahman are represented by the

gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Hinduism's three main gods are Brahma, the

creator; Vishnu, the protector; and Shiva, the destroyer.

HINGE FEATURE - A kind of cleavage produced by a flake which does not run

its full length. The point of termination is abrupt, and the flake is rounded on

its ventral face and sharp on its dorsal face at the distal end.

HISTORIC ARCHAEOLOGY - The archaeology of a people for whom there are

written records. In North America therefore historic archaeology is the

archaeology of people after European contact.

HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS - The study of how languages change over time.

HISTORICAL PARTICULARISM - A detailed descriptive approach to anthropology

associated with Franz Boas and his students, and designed as an alternative to

the broad generalizing approach favored by anthropologists such as Morgan and


HISTORICAL RECORD - Artifacts, particularly documents and photographs,

retained within an adaptive system.

HISTORIOGRAPHIC APPROACH - A form of explanation based primarily on

traditional descriptive historical frameworks.

HOARDS - Deliberately buried groups of valuables or prized possessions,

often in times of conflict or war, and which, for one reason or another, have

not been reclaimed. Metal hoards are a primary source of evidence for the

European Bronze Age.

HOLISM - The philosophical view that no complex entity can be considered to

be only the sum of its parts; as a principle of anthropology, the assumption

that any given aspect of human life is to be studied with an eye to its relation

to other aspects of human life.

HOLOCENE - The most recent epoch of the Quaternary; that period of time

since the end of the Pleistocene or "Ice Age" (l0,000 or l2,000 years ago) until

the present. According to some, the Holocene is not a separate epoch at all --

it is simply a brief warm spell within the Pleistocene. The Holocene is also

known as the Recent Epoch.

HOME BASE - A location to which males and females return in human societies.

HOMER - Greek poet who composed the Iliad and the Odyssey.

HOME RANGE - The area occupied by an animal or animal group.

HOMEOSTASIS - A term used in systems thinking to describe the action of

negative feedback processes in maintaining the system at a constant equilibrium


HOMINID - Human. Part of the family of Hominidae, which includes both

extinct and modern forms of humans.

HOMINIDAE - Family of the superfamily Hominoidea that includes humans.

HOMINOID - A member of the superfamily Hominoidea, which includes apes and


HOMINOIDEA - Superfamily of the suborder Anthropoidea that includes the apes

and humans.

HOMO ERECTUS - Meaning "upright man." This Early Stone Age hunter colonized

new habitats throughout Africa, Europe, and southern Asia. Bigger and brainier

than Homo Habilis or Australopithicus, Homo Erectus had the thickest skull of

any member of the human species. Its strong muscles joining its neck to the rear

skull bump stopped its heavy head from sagging forward. Average height was

between 5 and 6 ft., and weight, 88 to 160 lbs.

HOMO HABILIS - Meaning "handy man." This was the first known species of our

genus, Homo. Homo Habilis had a larger brain, but a smaller face and jaw and a

more rounded head, than Australopithicus. Homo Habilis was about 5 feet tall,

weighed about 110 pounds, and had a brow ridge, flat nose, and projecting jaw.

This species lived about 1.52 million years ago, perhaps longer. Its hand and

foot bones suggest that it was bipedal (walked upright) and had a strong yet

sensitive grip.

HOMO SAPIENS - The biological class to which all living human beings belong

as well as their immediate ancestors including the "Cro-Magnons". Some include

the Neanderthals within this species also.

HOMOLOGY - A similarity due to inheritance from a common ancestor.

HOPEWELL - A Middle Woodland Period culture (or cult) which occupied (or

"influenced") much of eastern North America. Closely related to Adena, this

Ohio/Illinois-centered "complex" consisted of log tombs within burial mounds,

grit-tempered utilitarian pottery, effigy vessels for inclusion with the dead,

elaborate ceramic figurines, stone platform pipes which often incorporated human

and animal likenesses, sheet copper ornaments, earspools, finely made ceremonial

knives of obsidian and effigy mounds -- the latter in the shape of panthers,

bears, birds, turtles, and other animals. Hopewell artifacts which are believed

to have been ceremonial in function are very similar over vast areas while

utilitarian objects vary regionally. This has led some to believe that Hopewell

is simply a religion, cult or belief system shared by a number of groups with

different languages and subsistence modes. The sheer ambitiousness in some of

the Hopewell earthworks and the fineness of their artworks have suggested to

some the ranked society, division of labor, and occupational specialization

usually associated with farming societies. Direct evidence, however, is not

overly convincing. It seems more probable that Hopewell people made their living

by hunting, fishing and gathering a wide variety of resources within a rich


HOPLITE - A citizen of a Greek city state rich enough to afford body armor

and required to serve in a time of crisis.

HORIZON (1) - A discrete regional cultural period or level of cultural

development marked by some easily recognizable criterion or trait.

HORIZON (2) - In soil-science terminology, a natural developmental zone in a

soil profile such as the "A-horizon".

HORIZONTAL ANGLE - In mapping, the angle of sight measured on the level or

horizontal plane.

HORIZONTAL CIRCLE - With major surveying instruments, the graduated

horizontal table around which the sighting telescope revolves; used to measure

the horizontal angle.

HORIZONTAL DATUM - A base measuring point ("0.0 point") used as the origin

of rectangular coordinate systems for mapping or for maintaining excavation


HORIZONTAL DISTANCE - The measurement of distance on a true level plane.

HORIZONTAL MIGRATION - A nomadic pattern characterized by regular movement

over a large area in search of grass; also called plains migration.

HORIZONTAL PROVINIENCE - The location of an object on a two-dimensional

plane surface.

HORTICULTURE - The science and art of growing fruit, flowers, ornamental

plants, and vegetables in small gardens.

HORUS - Egyptian god associated with the living pharaoh and often portrayed

with the head of a falcon, son of Osiris and Isis, opponent of the god Seth.

HORUS NAME - A Pharaoh's name. It identifies the pharaoh with a form of the

god Horus.

HOUSE PIT - An aboriginally excavated house floor.

HOUSEHOLD - A domestic residential group whose members live together in

intimate contact, rear children, share the proceeds of labor and other resources

held in common, and in general cooperate on a day-to-day basis.

HU (Chinese) - Wine vessel

HUNTER GATHERERS - People or societies that are dependent on wild food

resources. Hunter-gatherers are usually from technologically simple societies

that are highly mobile. Also sometimes called "foragers."

HYDRATION - Formation of a bond between water and some material.

HYDRIA - A pot used to bring water to the table. It had two horizontal

handles for carrying and a vertical handle for pouring.

HYDROPHYTE - A damp-loving plant which grows only under water or in very

moist soil.

HYKSOS - People from western Asia (Palestine) who conquered the Nile Delta

and ruled Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. Their expulsion by the

Pharaoh Amose may have given rise to the Exodus story. The name Amose in Hebrew

is Moses.

HYPOSTYLE HALL - From the Greek word meaning; "bearing pillars". It is a

term used to describe the grand, outermost halls of Egyptian temples. They are

believed to represent a grove of trees.

HYPOTHESIS - A proposition or explanation which is advanced, without

assumption of its truth, as a basis for further investigation, validation or


HYPOTHETICO-DEDUCTIVE EXPLANATION - A form of explanation based on the

formulation of hypotheses and the establishment from them by deduction of

consequences which can then be tested against the archaeological data.

HYPOXIA - Low oxygen pressure due to being at high altitude.


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IBU - The tent of purification. This is the place where Egyptian mummification

was performed.

ICE AGE - The period of Prehistory between 35,000 and 12,000 years ago, when

huge ice sheets covered much of northern Europe and North America.

ICE CORES - Borings taken from the Arctic and Antarctic polar ice caps,

containing layers of compacted ice useful for the reconstruction of

paleoenvironments and as a method of absolute dating.

ICE-CREEPER - An Eskimo invention consisting of a spiked piece of ivory or

bone which is attached to the soles of mukluks to facilitate movement over the


ICE MAN - The name given to the 5,300-year-old body of a man found preserved

in a glacier on the border between Italy and Austria in 1991.

ICE SHEETS - Ice sheets or glaciers covered 30 percent of the world,

including much of North America, during the Ice Age.

ICE WEDGE - a vertical wedge-shaped vein of ground ice found in permafrost

areas. causes "polygonal ground" (see periglacial phenomena) and may result in

severe disturbance of archaeological sites.

ICONOGRAPHY - An important component of cognitive archaeology, this involves

the study of artistic representations which usually have an overt religious or

ceremonial significance; e.g. individual deities may be distinguished, each with

a special characteristic, such as corn with the corn god, or the sun with a sun

goddess etc.

IDEALIST EXPLANATION - A form of explanation that lays great stress on the

search for insights into the historical circumstances leading up to the event

under study in terms primarily of the ideas and motives of the individuals


IDEALIZE - To present something as more perfect than it is.

IDEO-FUNCTION - The role an artifact has in a society's ideology.

IDEOLOGY - A society's beliefs, attitudes, values, knowledge, and


IEB - This is the heart. The Egyptians believed the heart was the center of

all consciousness, even the center of life itself. When someone died it was said

that their "heart had departed." It was the only organ that was not removed from

the body during mummification. In the Book of the dead, it was the heart that

was weighed against the feather of Maat to see if an individual was worthy of

joining Osiris in the afterlife.

IGLOO - An often dome-shaped Eskimo structure built by the piling of blocks

of snow and intended as a shelter for either people or animals.

IGNEOUS - Formed from molten lava which has hardened on or below the surface

of the earth.

IMAM - There are many usages of this word. Generally and in lowercase, it

refers to the leader of congregational prayers; it implies no ordination or

special spiritual powers. For many Sunni Muslims it is a figurative term for the

leader of the Islamic community. Among Shii Muslims the word has many complex

meanings; generally it indicates that particular descendant of the House of Ali

ibn Abu Talib, who is believed to have been God's designated repository of the

spiritual authority inherent in that line. The identity of this individual and

the means of determining his identity has caused divisions among Shii Muslims.

IMPACTS - The changes that archaeological resources undergo as the result of

some action.

INCA - A culture that thrived in the 15th century A.D. Inca culture was

centered in the town of Cuzco, in what is now Peru, although the Incas

controlled a territory spanning 2,600 miles, from what is today the southern

border of Colombia to central Chile. Inca is commonly spelled INKA.

INCENSARIO - A Mesoamerican incense burner.

INCEST - Sexual intercourse between closely related persons.

INCEST TABOO - The prohibition of sexual intimacy between people defined as

close relatives.

INCIPIENT - Beginning; in an initial stage; not fully developed or


INCISED - A decoration found on pottery consisting of lines drawn into wet

clay. When fired, the arrangement of lines leaves a permanent design on the

vessel surface.

INCLINED SIGHTS - In mapping, a vertically angled line of sight.

INCLUSION - An intentional cultural association, such as grave-goods with a


INCLUSIVE FITNESS - An individual's own fitness plus his or her effect on

the fitness of any relative.

INCREMENT BORER - A hand-operated coring device for obtaining tree-ring


INDEPENDENT FAMILY HOUSEHOLD - A single-family unit that resides by itself,

apart from relatives or adults of other generations.

INDEPENDENT VARIABLE - The variable that can cause change in other


INDEX - A spirit-bubble leveling device on the vertical circle of major

surveying instruments.

INDEX FOSSIL - A paleospecies that had a very wide geographical distribution

but existed for a relatively short period of time, either becoming extinct or

evolving into something else.

INDIGENOUS - Native to, originating in or occurring naturally in a given

place; aboriginal.

INDIRECT PERCUSSION - A technique for flaking stone artifacts by interposing

a bone or antler punch between the hammer and the raw materials. Allows greater

control than direct percussion flaking.

INDIVIDUALISTIC CULT - The least complex form of religious organization in

which each person is his or her own religious specialist.

INDUCTION - A method of reasoning in which one proceeds by generalization

from a series of specific observations so as to derive general conclusions (cf.


INDUSTRIAL AGE - A cultural stage characterized by the first use of complex

machinery, factories, urbanization, and other economic and general social

changes from strictly agricultural societies.

INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY - A society consisting of largely urban populations that

engage in manufacturing, commerce, and services.

INDUSTRIALISM - A form of social organization in which the population's

needs for food, manufactured products, transportation, and many services are met

through the use of machines powered largely by fossil fuel.

INDUSTRY - All of the artifacts of a single material (bone, stone, ceramic,

etc.), made by members of a culture.

INFANTILE - The period in an individual's life cycle from birth to the

eruption of the first permanent teeth.

INFORMAL INTERVIEW - An unstructured question-and-answer session in which

the informant is encouraged to follow his or her own train of thought, wherever

it may lead.

INFORMANT - A person who provides information about his or her culture to

the ethnographic fieldworker.

INFRARED ABSORPTION SPECTROSCOPY - a technique used in the characterization

of raw materials, it has been particularly useful in distinguishing ambers from

different sources: the organic compounds in the amber absorb different

wavelengths of infrared radiation passed through them.

INHUMATION - The placement of the dead in an excavated pit beneath ground


INISKIM - A fossil ammonite whose natural appearance resembles a bison.

INKA - A culture that thrived in the 15th century A.D. Inka culture was

centered in the town of Cuzco, in what is now Peru, although the Inkas

controlled a territory spanning 2,600 miles, from what is today the southern

border of Colombia to central Chile. Inka is commonly spelled INCA.

INNOVATION - The process of adopting a new thing, idea, or behavior pattern

into a culture.

IN SITU - In the original place.

INSTINCT - A genetically-determined pattern of behavior that is

characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific internal or

environmental stimuli.

INSTITUTIONS - A society's recurrent patterns of activity, such as religion,

art, a kinship system, law, and family life.

INSTRUMENT - A general term for major optical surveying equipment, including

transits, alidades, and surveyor's levels.

INSTRUMENT HEIGHT - The elevation of the line-of-sight of a surveying

instrument above the immediate ground surface.

INSTRUMENT POSITION - The location at which a surveying instrument is

established to obtain a sighting.

INTAGLIO - Design cut into the surface of a hard material.

INTERGLACIAL - A warm interlude between two glacial periods.

INTERMEDIATE PERIODS - Times of confusion in Egyptian history when different

parts of the country were ruled simultaneously by different kings.

INTERSTADIAL - A brief, warm period within a glacial period.

INTRUSIVE - An artifact or feature found within a feature, component or

stratum of which it was not originally a part.

INTRUSIVE OBJECT - An object that is believed to have entered the body of a

person and to be the cause of illness and/or death. Such diagnoses are common

among many pre-industrial cultures worldwide. The cure often consists of the

removal of the object by a shaman or sorcerer. Sometimes this is accomplished by

(apparently) sucking the object through a bone tube (sucking tube) and then

displaying the object as proof of the cure.

INUIT - l. an Eskimo word meaning literally "The People". 2. the name by

which the North American (and Greenland) Eskimo refer to themselves. 3. the

language of these people, more properly termed "Inuktitut".

INUKSUK - The Eskimo word for the likeness of a human made by piling stones.

These are often erected in a long V-shaped formation bordering a drive lane.

Caribou, mistaking the inuksiuk (plural) for people, can then be stampeded

towards the narrow end of the V where a corral and/or hunters await them.

IRON AGE - The third age in Thomsen's three-age system, referring to the

period when iron tools were manufactured.

IRON PYRITE - A metallic, yellow-to-brown sulfide of iron. This widely

occurring mineral is also known as fool's gold. The mineral is cubic in crystal


IROQUOIAN - A family of languages whose speakers originally occupied much of

the St. Lawrence River valley and isolated portions of the east-central United

States. The major languages within this family include Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga,

Mohawk, Oneida, Wyandot (Huron), Cherokee and Tuscarora.

ISIS - Egyptian goddess venerated as ideal mother, wife of Osiris and mother

of Horus.

ISLAMIST - One who seeks to make Islam a more prominent part of the

political and social order, usually by implementing some version of Islamic law,

or Sharia. Often used as a more accurate replacement for the term


ISLAMIZATION - The process of Islam's becoming a more prominent part of the

political and social order. This may be through adoption of laws based on Islam,

a stricter code of behavior for Muslims in a community, or significant portions

of a population converting to Islam.

ISOLATED FIND - The recovery; usually from the surface, of a single artifact

with no other artifacts in association.

ISOSTASY - The rising of a land surface following the removal of the

enormous weight of glacial ice. This phenomenon is of particular importance in

Manitoba archaeology as the south-to-north tilting of the landscape due to the

retreat of the Wisconsinan ice sheet influenced the shoreline of glacial Lake

Agassiz and thus the areas which were available for human occupation.

ITHYPHALLIC - From the Greek word meaning; "with erect penis". Various gods

are represented in this form. Most notably Min and Amun.


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JADE - A general term which may refer to either true jade (nephrite) or

jadeite. Most prehistoric jade objects in Canada originate in British Columbia

but some artifacts particularly adzes were traded into Alberta. It was also a

commonly used stone for religious purposes and decoration in Mesoamerica and


JASPER - A non-translucent microcrystalline quartz which occurs in a wide

variety of colors and which was used for ornaments and chipped stone artifacts

in prehistoric North America.

JEAN-FRANCOIS CHAMPOLLION - French linguist and Egyptologist who is credited

with using the writings of the Rosetta Stone to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics,

from 1808 to 1822.

JIA (Chinese) - Three-legged wine vessel with posts.

JIAO (Chinese) - Tripod wine vessel with pointed lip

JIHAD - There are two definitions: The first refers to spiritual struggle

against vice, passion, and ignorance; the second interpretation means holy war

against infidels and infidel countries.

JOINT FAMILY HOUSEHOLD - A complex family unit formed through polygyny or

polyandry or through the decision of married siblings to live together m the

absence of their parents.

JOMON PEOPLE - Named after a site in Japan (dated around 13000-2500 Before

Present), the Jomon culture is currently credited with the invention of pottery,

some 12,000 years ago.

JUDAH - Region in Palestine from about 922 to 587 BC named after one of the

tribes of Israel.

JUE (Chinese) - Tripod wine vessel with spouted mouth

JULIUS CAESAR - Victorious general and later dictator of Rome. Was

assassinated on the Ides of March, 44 BCE.

JUNCTURE - The linkage or separation of syllables by pauses.

JUNIPER - Small to medium-sized evergreen trees with scaly leaves. Trunks

and branches of the trees are often twisted. Various species grow at elevations

of 3000 to 8000 feet in southern Arizona.

JUNO - Roman goddess of marriage and wife of Jupiter. Called Hera by the


JUPITER - Roman king of the gods. Called Zeus by the Greeks.

JURASSIC PERIOD - Between 206 and 144 million years ago. Period

characterized by the development of many new kinds of dinosaurs and the first


JUVENILE - The period in an individual's life cycle that lasts from the

eruption of the first to the eruption of the last permanent teeth.

JUVENILE CERAMICS - Generally small and crudely made pottery vessels

believed to be the product of a child learning the potter's art.


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KA & BA - Although it is difficult to find modern concepts which faithfully

convey the Egyptian ideal of what the Ba & Ka were, the Ba is often described as

the soul of a man, the Ka as his double.

KANDILE - Footed bowl with perforated handles used as a lamp or possibly a

storage vessel in the Cycladic civilization of the Greeks.

KAOLIN - A fine white clay consisting of decayed feldspar used to make

porcelain; also known as china clay.

KATUN - A Mayan word meaning 20 years. In actuality, it is 20 times 360


KAYAK - A double-pointed, decked, skin-covered canoe found among some Eskimo

groups. In some varieties, a waterproof coat covers the cockpit and fastens

tightly around the neck and wrists of the traveller, thus rendering the vehicle

and clothing contiguous and the kayak virtually unsinkable. A skilled individual

can travel in heavy water and breakers in such a craft.

KEEWATIN LANCEOLATE - A projectile point style defined by Harp (l96l) on the

basis of his investigations along the Thelon River in the Northwest Territories.

As the name implies, these specimens are un-notched and in terms of most

particulars, including size, shape, thickness, type of flaking and presence and

extent of basal and lateral grinding, they are essentially identical to Agate

Basin points. Wright (l972) considers Keewatin Lanceolate points and the complex

within which they occur to represent an occupation by Plano peoples who were

ancestral to the authors of his Shield Archaic Tradition.

KERAMEIKOS - Area in which potters lived in Athens. Also used as a burial


KETTLE HOLE - A depression in the ground formed by the melting of a buried

block of ice. The debris which formerly covered the ice is thus allowed to

settle to the bottom of the kettle.

KHEPRESH - The Egyptian blue crown was a ceremonial crown and/or war crown.

KHNUM - Egyptian god of creation represented by a ram.

"KILLED" ARTIFACT - An artifact which has been purposely broken so as to

release its spirit. Killed artifacts may be found as grave goods and the

implication is that this was accomplished so that the spirit of the artifacts

could accompany the spirit of the deceased to the afterlife.

KILL SITE - An archaeological site which was used primarily for the

slaughter and (usually at least the preliminary) butchering of game. As one

would expect, the artifacts commonly found at such sites include projectile

points and large knives. Faunal remains are often extremely numerous and an

analysis of these may provide details on the method used to butcher the animals.

KILN - A brick-lined oven used to fire ceramics.

KILT - Short skirt worn by Egyptian men.

KIN SELECTION - The process whereby an individual's genes are selected by

virtue of that individual's increasing the chances that his or her kin's genes

will be propagated into the next generation.

KIN TERMINOLOGY - The terms that systematically designate distinctions

between relatives of different categories.

KINDRED - A collection of bilateral kin.

KINGDOM - A major division of living organisms. All organisms are placed

into one of five kingdoms: monera, Protista, Fungi, Planti, and Animalia.

KING TUTANKHAMUN - The so-called Boy King because he became the Pharaoh of

ancient Egypt in 1336 B.C., when he was only nine years old. King Tutankhamun's

tomb was found in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 by archaeologist Howard

Carter. Inside the tomb were thousands of fantastic treasures that had been

placed there for the king's use in the afterlife, including the famous burial

mask that covered the face of the pharaoh's mummy.

KINNIKINNICK - A smoking mixture of the North American Indians consisting of

the bark and leaves of certain plants occasionally mixed with tobacco. Some of

the plants used produced a mild narcotic effect.

KIVA - A ceremonial room, often circular and semi-subterranean, used by

Pueblo Indians.

KNAPPING - The production or shaping of stone artifacts by means of pressure

and/or percussion flaking.

KNIFE RIVER FLINT - Brown chalcedony; a dark, brown translucent siliceous

stone found in the Knife River area of North and South Dakota and particularly

favored for its flaking properties.

KNUCKLE WALKING - Semi erect quadrupedalism, found in chimpanzees and the

gorilla, in which the upper parts of the body are supported by the knuckles

rather than the palms.

KOHL - Eyeliner made of powdered malachite (green) or powdered galena


KORE - A maiden. Also an alternate name for Persephone, daughter of


KOUROS - A statue of a nude Greek youth. A young man.

KRATER - Bowl for mixing wine and water.

KULA RING - A system of ceremonial, non-competitive, exchange practiced in

Melanesia to establish and reinforce alliances. Malinowski's study of this

system was influential in shaping the anthropological concept of reciprocity.

KURDISH - Part of the Indo-European family of languages, Kurdish is the

language of the Kurds and is spoken in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia.

KURDS - A non-Arab Middle Eastern minority population that inhabits the

region known as Kurdistan, an extensive plateau and mountain area extending

across Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Armenia. In the late '90s, estimates

projected that the Kurds number more than 20 million. The majority of Kurds are

devout Sunni Muslims.

KYLIX - A shallow footed bowl used for drinking.


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LABRET - A pulley-shaped object of stone, bone or wood, inserted in a

perforation of the lower lip as an ornament or status symbol by some aboriginal


LABYRINTH - A building with intricate passages. Also the place where King

Minos of Crete kept the monster Minotaur.

LAC - A resinous deposit of an insect that lives on creosote bushes.

LACTATION - The production of milk by a female mammal

LACUSTRINE DEPOSITS - Lake sediments; usually fine laminated silts and


LAMINAE - Very thin strata.

LAMINATED - Composed of or built up by layers.

LANCEOLATE - leaf-shaped; tapered at one or both ends. In archaeological

usage, the term usually refers to long, slender, un-notched chipped stone

projectile points.

LAND BRIDGE - Any tract of land which connects two continents thus allowing

foot travel between them.

LANDSCAPE ARCHAEOLOGY - The study of individual features including


LANGUAGE - A highly flexible and complex system of communication that allows

for the exchange of detailed information about both interior and exterior

conditions. As a creative and open system, new signals may be added and new

ideas transmitted.

LAPIS LAZULI - Semiprecious blue stone. In ancient times it was mined in


LARTER - An archaeological site on the Red River north of Winnipeg which has

lent its name to the distinctive barbed projectile point style for which it is

known as well as to the focus or phase within which these occur. This late

Archaic or late Middle Prehistoric Period complex consists of corner-notched

projectile points named Larter Tanged, unnotched projectile points, or blanks, a

variety of scrapers and knives, drills, gravers, chisels, grooved hammerstones

and sinew stones. Larter peoples appear to have followed a seasonal round of

activities centered upon the communal hunting of bison, although their diet was

supplemented by a variety of other animals as well as fish and shellfish.

According to at least one expert (Reeves l983) Larter derives from the earlier

McKean Complex. see also Larter Sub-Phase, Pelican Lake, Tunaxa.

LATE GLACIAL CLIMATE EPISODE - The climatic pattern characteristic of the

end of the glacial period (roughly ll,000 to 8l00 B.C.).

LATE PREHISTORIC PERIOD - Late Prehistoric Period. the last and most recent

of the three "stages" in central North American prehistory. This term is most

commonly used for the plains, but is roughly equivalent in terms of its dating

to the Woodland Period of the eastern forests (ca. 200 B.C. to the Historic

Period). In many ways, the basic lifestyles remained largely unchanged from

those of the earlier Middle Prehistoric (or Archaic) Period. Nonetheless, a

number of technological and behavioural innovations are present in the

archaeological record which allow archaeologists to identify sites of this

period with relative ease. These include the manufacturing of pottery, the use

of the bow and arrow, the construction of burial mounds and an intensification

of the use of bison corrals and (bison) "jumps" as a communal hunting technique.

LATERALIZATION - The phenomenon in which the two hemispheres of the brain

specialize in regard to different functions.

LAUREL - A (now-abandoned) town in northern Minnesota near the Ontario

border which has given its name to a distinctive Middle Woodland ceramic ware as

well as the complex with which it is associated. Laurel vessels are

grit-tempered and manufactured by means of coiling. Vessel shape is conoidal

with slightly constricting necks terminating in un-thickened lips. Surface

finish is smooth except where decorated. Decorative elements include bosses,

dentates, punctates and incisions and these are applied and/or combined in

various ways so as to produce pseudo-scallop shell, dragged stamp and various

other patterns. The Laurel lithic industry consists of a variety of scrapers,

and bifaces, pieces esquillees, netskinkers, hammerstones, anvils, smoking

pipes, tools for decorating pottery, mortars, pestles, manos, abraders and

pendants. The bone, antler, tooth, claw and shell industries are extremely well

represented, and served as media for the production of numerous classes of tools

and a variety of personal adornments. Native copper was also utilized for beads,

pendants, chisels, fishhooks and knives. Subsistence was based on a wide range

of resources including large and small mammals, wildfowl, shellfish, turtles and

fish. Plants were also heavily utilized and it is possibly at this time that

wild rice first entered the diets of prehistoric Manitobans. One of the most

spectacular aspects of the Laurel culture was the construction of burial mounds.

The largest of these was originally 36 m in maximum diameter and l4 m high.

Within these mounds were placed the deceased together with meager grave goods.

The condition of some of the skeletons was suggestive of (ritual?) cannibalism.

Laurel sites are distributed in a broad arc from east-central Saskatchewan

through central Manitoba to northern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario, and

eastwards around the shores of Lake Superior to northern Michigan. Radiocarbon

dating shows them to date between approximately 200 B.C. and A.D. l000.

LAW - A rule of social conduct enforced by sanctions administered by a

particular source of legitimate power.

LEACHING - The removal of water soluble minerals in soil or rock by

rainwater. Leaching also accounts for the gradual disappearance of bone from

archaeological sites, particularly when the soil is acidic.

LEAN-TO - A simple shelter consisting of a covered frame leant against the

wall of another structure or against some other vertical face.

LECTOR PRIEST - Translates as "One who bears the ritual book". This priests

function was/is to recite from the ritual texts.

LEGAL SUBDIVISION SYSTEM - The method of describing parcels of land in terms

of "Township, Range, Section, and Quarter Section".

LEGITIMACY - The right to rule on the basis of recognized principles.

LEISTER - A fish spear with three or more points, usually of bone or antler.

Each point has a barb on the inner side.

LEKYTHOS - A vessel used by Greeks to hold perfumed oil.

LEMURIDAE - Madagascar prosimian family that includes the femurs.

LENS - In archaeology, a biconvex (lenticular) discoloration in a soil


LENTICULAR - Shaped like the cross-section of a lens; biconvex.

LESSER APES - The gibbons and siamang of Asia.

LETHALS - Defects that cause premature death.

LEVALLOIS TECHNIQUE - The method (common in the Middle Paleolithic) or

preparing a tortoise-shaped core so that flakes struck from it will be of a

predictable shape.

LEVANT - Land area between Mesopotamia and Egypt; it includes modern day

Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Jordan

LEVEL - The layer in which archaeologists dig. When they dig down through

many layers in one site, it is also a unit of measurement. All sites have

different numbers of levels, and even the different units within one site may

have different numbers of levels. How do archaeologists decide when they are

going into another level? Archaeologists try to judge by cultural clues like

floors, but sometimes they will go by changes in soil color or soil type, or

even by a specific number of centimeters. For example, an archaeologist might

give a different level number every 10 centimeters in a site. Archaeologists

want to keep track of levels because this allows them to build a profile (or a

cross section) of the units, so that they can look at how the site changed over


LEVEL - The basic vertical subdivision of an excavation unit. May be

natural. arbitrary or contoured.

LEVEL BAG - A bag containing excavated materials from a single level of a

single excavation unit.

LEVEL NOTES - Written observations on all significant characteristics of an

excavated level.

LEVELING MECHANISM - A social or economic practice that serves to lessen

differentials in wealth.

LEVIRATE - A social custom under which a man has both the right to marry his

dead brother's widow and the obligation to provide for her.

LEXICON - In linguistics, the total number of meaningful units {such as

words and affixes) of a language.

LEXICOSTATISTICS - The study of linguistic divergence between two languages,

based on changes in a list of common vocabulary terms and the sharing of common

root words.

LEXIGRAM - A symbol that represents a word.

LIBATION - Ritual pouring of a liquid.

LICHENOMETRY - The measuremet and study of rates of lichen growth.

Lichenometry offers a means of calculating the minimum age of any rock painting

or petroglyph which is overgrown with lichen or a petroform if the cobbles from

which it is made were overturned during the construction phase. The latter

condition is necessary as lichen grows only on the upper, exposed face of

boulders and thus inversion will kill the old lichen and allow new patches to

begin growing. If the rate of lichen growth in any given region can be

determined (usually by long term observation) then a simple calculation will

yield the age of the "new" lichen patch and thus the age of the petroform.

Similarly, rock paintings and glyphs can theoretically be dated by the amount of

lichen on top of them, or by the extent of "new" patches assuming that the rock

surface was cleared of "old" lichen before use. Unfortunately lichenometry is

not yet sufficiently refined for widespread use by archaeologists.

LIFE EXPECTENCY - The length of time that a person can, on the average,

expect to live.

LIFE SPAN - The theoretical, maximum age.

LIFEWAY - The way of life associated with a culture; the technological and

behavioral means of adaptation.

LIFTBAG - A scientific instrument like a giant balloon, which is filled with

air from a scuba tank and then used by underwater archaeologists to float heavy

artifacts to the surface during underwater archaeological excavations.

LIGHT-TABLE - A glass-topped table illuminated from underneath, used in the

laboratory photography of archaeological specimens.

LIGNITE - A soft shiny black variety of coal, aboriginally used to

manufacture decorative objects.

LIMONITE - A substance produced by the oxidation of iron-bearing minerals

such as pyrite and magnetite. Limonite is a yellowish brown, soft mineral with

no cleavage. It is a widely occurring mineral.

LINDENMEIER - An archaeological site in north central Colorado which yielded

much material of the Folsom Complex. Henry Irwin (l97l) defined Lindenmeier as a

phase consisting of two sequent subphases, the Folsom and the Midland which

followed it. He considered the Lindenmeier Phase to date from 9000 to 8500 B.C.

LINEAGE - A unilineal descent group composed of people who trace their

genealogies through specified links to a common ancestor.

LINEAL RELATIVES - Direct ascendants and descendants.

LINEAR MOUND - A long, low, linear earthen embankment which may include a

right angle. Rounded expansions often occur at the ends of the mounds and at

turning points. These are much less common than their oval and circular

counterparts and tend to occur most frequently in southwestern Manitoba and

adjacent portions of North Dakota. The largest of these was 800 m in length,

over l0 m in width and approximately l m in height. The function of these

structures is something of a mystery. They do not appear to have been used for

burying the dead, and although they are occasionally called "entrenchments",

they are not usually in easily defensible locations, and would not be

particularly effective for that purpose. It is possible that they fulfilled some

ceremonial but as yet unknown purpose.

LINEN - Fabric woven from flax fibers.

LINGUA FRANCA - Any language used as a common tongue by people who do not

speak one another's native language.

LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY - A subdivision of anthropology that is concerned

primarily with unwritten languages (both prehistoric and modern), with variation

within languages, and with the social uses of language; traditionally divided

into three branches: descriptive linguistics, the systematic study of the way

language is constructed and used; historical linguistics, the study of the

origin of language in general and of the evolution of the languages people speak

today; and sociolinguistics, the study of the relationship between language and

social relations.

LINGUISTICS - The science which concerns itself with the origin,

development, history, relationships and structure of languages. Judicious use of

linguistic data can reveal much of direct relevance to archaeology. The degree

of similarity between two related languages is a gauge of the amount of contact

between the two groups or the amount of time elapsed since they separated.

Glottochronology can put an absolute date on the "split", and occasionally

archaeology can trace the route of the emmigrant group. Comparison of terms in

modern related languages can yield insights into the nature of the common

"mother" language from which they all developed. These may include the kind of

technological items the speakers of the now-extinct language used and even the

geographic region they originally occupied.

LINKED CHANGES - Those changes brought about in a culture when other

(interconnected) parts of that same culture undergo change.

LINTEL - The upper beam of a door or window.

LITHIC (1) - Of or pertaining to stone.

LITHIC (2) - A stone artifact, usually in the form of a stone tool.

Archaeologists frequently find lithic artifacts at archaeological sites because

humans used to make their tools out of stone before they used metal.

LITHIC INDUSTRY - That part of an archaeological artifact assemblage

manufactured of stone.

LITHIC REDUCTION SEQUENCE - The entire process of manufacturing stone tools

by flaking from the removal of the decortification flakes to the sharpening or

retouching of the final product.

LITHIC TECHNOLOGY - The process of manufacturing tools etc. from stone. Most

frequently refers to stone flaking.

LIVING FLOOR - The level within an archaeological site upon which a group of

people lived. In the absence of specially prepared ground surfaces, living

floors may only be defined on the basis of the depths of artifacts pertaining to

that component and the degree of compaction of the floor due to people walking

on it. Often, overlying soil will appear to peel off the floor due to the

different densities involved. Exposure of entire living floors allows the

graphic representation of the various activity areas of a site at a specific

point in time.

LLANO COMPLEX - That complex defined by the association of Clovis projectile

points and mammoth remains.

LOAM - A fertile topsoil consisting chiefly of sand, clay and silt and

partially decomposed organic matter.

LOCAL RACES - Subdivisions of geographical races. One type consists of

partially isolated groups, usually remnants of once larger units. The second

type includes fairly large subdivisions that contain a degree of variation

within them.

LOCKPORT STEMMED - A poorly defined projectile point style associated with

Middle Woodland ceramics at a site in southern Manitoba. These crudely fashioned

specimens are approximately 45 mm in length and 20 mm in width and show a

tendency toward asymmetry. The stems are short and straight and the shoulders

poorly defined.

LOESS - A light-colored, un-stratified deposit consisting of fine-grained

sands, clays or silts which is for the most part laid down by the wind under

cold, dry conditions.

LOGAN CREEK - Logan Creek. an archaeological site in northeastern Nebraska

which has lent its name to a widespread Middle Prehistoric Period complex whose

time-depth brackets the warm, dry Altithermal. One of the hallmarks of the

complex is the side-notched projectile point which in many areas is the first

style to appear after the demise of the Plano lanceolate forms. The former range

from approximately l7 to 50 mm in length, have triangular blades, straight or

concave bases and are frequently basally ground. Perhaps one of the most

diagnostic traits of this complex is the practice of manufacturing side-notched

end-scrapers, presumably from fragments of broken projectile points. Other items

in the Logan Creek inventory include drills, grinding stones, hammerstones, bone

awls, beads, needles, shaft straighteners, and fishhooks, and serrated mussel

shells. Sites are widely distributed in the eastern grasslands, particularly

near the forest edge, in major river valleys, in outliers of the eastern forests

or near perennial sources of water. Presumably this reflects the generalized

drought conditions which central North America was experiencing at the time.

Faunal remains, found in association with Logan Creek materials tend to be more

varied than those of their Paleo-Indian predecessors, although bison seem to

have remained the mainstay of these peoples' diets. Radiocarbon dating indicates

an age for this culture of 6500 B.C. to 4000 or possibly even 3000 B.C.

LOGISTICS - The process of transporting, supplying and supporting a field


LONG HOUSE - The long multi-family dwellings of the Iroquois area.

LOOTING - The removal of artifacts from archaeological context without

documentation of their dimensions of variability.

LORISIDAE - Prosimian family that includes the lords, potto, angwantibo, and


LOUTROPHOROS - Water jar used in weddings and burials.

LOW ENERGY BUDGET - An adaptive strategy by which a minimum of energy is used

to extract sufficient resources from the environment for survival.

LOWER EGYPT - Northern Egypt from Cairo to the sea. The Nile Delta.

LUG - A protuberance or projecting part on the rim of a pot intended to

assist in holding and lifting the vessel.

LUNATE - Crescent-shaped.


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MACAW - Large, brightly colored, tropical American birds closely resembling

and related to parrots.

MACEDONIA - Area of ancient Greece north of Mt. Olympus and home of

Alexander the Great.

MAENADS - Female followers of the god Dionysos.

MAGIC - The supposed art which attempts to influence people or the course of

events by supernatural means. The latter may include the use of incantations

("prayers" or songs), graphic representations, or symbols, and the manipulation

of objects. Magical beliefs are difficult to infer from the archaeological

record, although such items as sucking tubes and medicine bags and other

ethnographically known items are occasionally recovered. Some interpret certain

examples of rock art, particularly depictions of large game animals, as forms of

hunting magic. Painting or engraving the likeness of a prey species on rock may

have served to placate the spirit who controlled that species. Alternately, if

the animal was represented with arrows in it, the intent may have been to bring

about an event by imitating it (imitative magic).

MAGNETIC DATING - A method of dating that compares the magnetism in an

object with changes in the earth's magnetic field over time. This method is used

on baked clay and mud.

MAGNETISM REMNANT - The magnetism acquired by substances containing magnetic

compounds after being heated beyond the Curie Point (670 C) and then being

allowed to cool. The heating brings about the loss of whatever magnetism the

substance may have contained. As it cools, however, the metallic particles align

themselves in accordance with the orientation of the magnetic field of the

earth. (see magnetometer).

MAGNETOMETER - A device capable of detecting fluctuations in the strength of

the earth's magnetic field at pin point locations. As these variations (or

"anomalies") are in part the product of various subsurface features, a

magnetometric survey can assist the archaeologist in locating and determining

the size and nature of an archaeological site prior to excavation.

MAIZE - (Indian) corn, zea mays. Maize is one of the oldest and certainly

one of the most important of the Native American domesticated plants.

MAMMOTH - Any of the now-extinct Pleistocene elephants of the genus

Mammuthus (or Elaphus). These grassland-adapted animals, the preferred prey

species of the Clovis people, became extinct in the ninth millennium B.C.

MANO - A hand-held stone used as the upper stone (pestle) in milling.

MANUPORT - An object, usually a cobble, which has been moved from one place

to another by humans. Manuports need exhibit no other evidence of cultural

modification to warrant classification as artifacts.

MANZANITA - Also called bearberry. Manzanita is a low- growing evergreen

shrub that is found at elevations of 3500 to 8000 feet. The plant is

characterized by its red bark and oval-shaped leaves.

MARS - Roman god of war. Called Ares by the Greeks.

MARY LEAKEY - Along with her husband, Louis, and son, Richard, Mary Leakey

devoted her life to the recovery and interpretation of the bones and tools of

early humans in East Africa.

MASS PRODUCTION - The manufacture of an artifact by a task group that uses

division of labour, standardization of parts, and simplification of activities.

MASTABA - The Arabic word meaning; "bench". Used to describe the private

tombs of the Early Egyptian Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom. Rectangular in

shape with slightly battened sides; the basic form resembled a bench.

MASTODON - Any of the now-extinct Pliocene and Pleistocene elephant-like

creatures of the genus Mammut (or Mastodon). These browsers (unlike the grazing

mammoths) subsisted on twigs and leaves and for that reason their remains are

found in what would have been forested regions.

MATERIAL CULTURE - Those tangible aspects of a culture (such as artifacts,

features, architecture, etc.) as opposed to non-material traits (beliefs,

attitudes, etc.).

MATRILINEAL - Pertaining to the tracing of descent or the transmission of

wealth or authority primarily through females.

MATRILOCAL - Pertaining to the custom of a newlywed couple's taking up

residence in the home, village or territory of the bride's family.

MATRIX - The rock or soil material in which fossils or artifacts are found

or embedded.

MAUL - A heavy stone implement with blunted or rounded edges used for

pounding and/or crushing. The maul may be grooved to facilitate holding or

hafting, and may be classified according to the extent to which the groove

travels the circumference of the tool (for example, three-quarter grooved maul,

full-grooved maul, etc.).

MAUSOLEUM - A stately and magnificent tomb, such as the mausoleum of King

Mausolos (ruler of Caria, c. 350 A.D.) at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, and the

mausoleum of Augustus (d. 14 A.D.) in Rome.

MAYA - The Maya originated around 2600 B.C. and rose to prominence around

A.D. 250 in present-day Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador.

Inheriting the inventions and ideas of earlier civilizations, the Maya developed

astronomy, calendrical systems, hieroglyphic writing, ceremonial architecture,

and masonry without metal tools. Maya civilization started to decline around

A.D. 900, although some peripheral centers continued to thrive until the Spanish

conquest in the early sixteenth century.

MAYA AREA - The Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and the countries of Belize,

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

MAYAN - The language group of the Maya peoples, composed of 31 mutually

unintelligible languages.

MEDICINE SOCIETY - A secret society of Native groups of the central Canadian

forests and northern plains. Meetings were held from time to time in specially

constructed secret lodges. The ceremonies, conducted by individuals imbued with

magical power, centered upon the initiation of new members, healing, and the

renewal of the group's contact with the supernatural.

MEDICINE WHEEL - A circular arrangement of stones with one or more spokes

either enclosed by the circle or radiating from it, and occasionally cairns

centrally and/or peripherally located. These features, scattered across the

northern plains from Wyoming to Manitoba probably served some ceremonial


MEGALITH - An arrangement or structure of extremely large stones.

MELEAGER - Mythical hero who led the hunt for the Calydonian Boar and who

died in his youth.

MEMNON - King of Ethiopia killed by Achilles in the Trojan War.

MERCURY - Roman name for the Greek god Hermes, messenger of the gods.

MESIC - Pertaining to or flourishing in conditions of medium dampness.

MESOAMERICA - The area between northern Mexico and Costa Rica.

MESOCEPHALIC - Pertaining to a head of medium width in relation to its

length; having a cephalic index between 75 and 79.9.

MESOLITHIC - The period following the Paleolithic during which adaptation

involved intensive foraging and experimentation with new food resources.

MESOPHYTE - A plant which thrives under conditions of average moisture.

MESOPOTAMIA - Considered to be the birthplace of the first civilizations,

Mesopotamia is located in the valley between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers

(present-day Iraq).

MESOZOIC - The so-called Age of the Reptiles. The period between 248 and 65

million years ago, when dinosaurs and the first mammals developed. Characterized

by a warmer climate, mild seasons, and higher sea levels.

MESQUITE - A thorny plant that ranges from shrub to tree size. It grows at

elevations below 5000 feet from southern Kansas to southwestern California and

northern Mexico.

METALLURGY - l. the art and/or science of the extraction of metals from

their ores and the working of metals including the use of such techniques as the

application of heat. 2. the science concerned with the study of metals.

METAMORPHIC - Pertaining to a rock which has been modified from its original

structure by exposure to heat and pressure.

METATE - The lower, stationary stone used in conjunction with the mano for

grinding grain.

MICROBLADE - A minute parallel-sided blade (sense 4) generally produced by

pressure flaking from a specially prepared core.

MICROLITH - Small tools which may be any of a variety of shapes, and which

have been produced from microblades. Too small to have been used without

hafting, some were set edge-to-edge in a groove in a bone or wood shaft and so

served as cutting tools, while others would have been functional as barbs

MIDDEN - A heap or stratum of refuse generally located near a habitation site

MIDDLE EAST - The area (sometimes called the Near East) from Afghanistan to


MIDDLE KINGDOM - Egyptian chronological term for dynasties 11-13.

MIGRATION - l. the regular movement of animals back and forth between their

summer and winter ranges. 2. the movement of a large group of people to a new,

permanent residence.

MINARET - A tall slender tower on or near a mosque, from which a muezzin

summons the people to prayer.

MINERALIZATION - The process of the replacement of organic material (as in

the case of the fats and gelatin in bone) by minerals. The end product is an

inorganic object (which may therefore survive for immense periods of time in the

archaeological record) in the shape of the original.

MINERVA - Roman goddess of wisdom. Called Athena by the Greeks.

MINGQI (Chinese) - Tomb figures or models

MINOANS - A civilization of ancient Greece located on the island of Crete

and named after the legendary King Minos. The most famous Minoan site is the

Palace at Knossos.

MINOTAUR - Mythical half man half bull kept by King Minos in the labyrinth

on Crete.

MISSISSIPPIAN - The general name given to the cultural climax of the eastern

United States between A.D. 600 and l600. The core traits include small

triangular arrowheads, shell-tempered pottery, and flat-topped earthen pyramids.

Some of the latter achieved impressive size; the largest at Cahokia in Missouri

stands 30 m high, measures 2l5m by 330m and covers l6 acres. Thatched temples

were constructed on top of the mounds which together with other encircled a

plaza. Beyond these lay a palisaded earthen embankment and beyond that, a moat.

These mound clusters likely served as administrative-ceremonial centers for wide

areas. Most people lived in "rural" areas, practised maize, bean and squash

horticulture, and by their efforts supported the divine rule, the artisans and

the governing elite. Sites are located in major valleys of the Mississippi and

its tributaries where flooding would regularly refertilize the farmlands.

Mississippian craftsmanship in ceramics, stone, copper and shell was superb and

in some cases, art styles bespeak influence from or contact with the high

cultures of Mexico. Among the most spectacular aspects of the Mississippian are

the artifacts and depictions surrounding the Southern Cult which seems to have

concerned itself almost exclusively with death and human sacrifice.

MIXED SITE - A (generally) multi-component site in which the artifacts from

the various occupations cannot be distinguished on stratigraphic grounds.

Although they may be rich in terms of artifact yield, they may provide little

information of significance to the archaeologist due to lack of provenience


MIXTEC - The Native American people populating the region in the modern

Mexican state of Oaxaca.

MOAI - Giant statues of human figures found on the Polynesian island called

Easter Island or Rapa Nui.

MODE - l. a way of doing or being. 2. in ceramic analysis, a combination of

decorative elements which commonly occur together.

MOGOLLON - The prehistoric cultural groups who lived in an area which

includes southern New Mexico, southeastern and central Arizona, the El Paso area

in Texas, and northwestern Chihuahua Mexico. The Mogollon lifeway began about

the same time the Hohokam entered southern Arizona. Although they grew crops,

the Mogollon continued to make extensive use of native food resources. Around

A.D. 1000, they became influenced by the Anasazi, another southwestern group.

The Mogollon culture died out around A.D. 1450, and the people abandoned the

Mogollon region, some perhaps merging with the Zuni.

MOHAVE BASIN (sometimes "Mojave") - The geographic area encompassing the

Mohave Desert in California, north of the Imperial Valley and south of Death


MOH SCALE - A method for describing the hardness of solids on a l0-point

scale ranging from the hardness of talc (0) to that of diamond (l0).

MONOLITHIC - Something which is characterized as a single, often rigid,

uniform whole.

MONSTROUS VISUAL SIGNAL - Large constructions that serve as foci of

community integration, such as temples, palaces and sports arenas.

MORAINE - A bank or ridge of earth, clay, sand, gravel and boulders

transported and deposited by a glacier. terminal moraine (end moraine). a ridge

formed as above but which marks the maximum extent of the glacial advance.

MORPHOLOGY - The form, structure or shape of an object or organism.

MORTER - A (generally) bowl-shaped vessel of some hard material in which

objects are crushed, ground and/or mixed with a pestle

MORTUARY CULT - People who provided funerary offerings for nourishment of

the deceased.

MORTUARY VESSEL - A vessel specifically manufactured for inclusion with the


MOSAIC - An art form in which small pieces of colored stone or glass (called

tesserae) are cemented onto a surface to create a picture or design. The ancient

Greeks often decorated their floors with such pieces of art; later the Romans

decorated both their floors and walls with mosaics. The practice was also

adopted by Christians in the A.D. 500s and used to decorate churches.

MOSQUE - Arabic for "place of prostration"; a Muslim temple of worship.

MOTIF - A recurring feature or shape within a design or pattern.

MOUND BUILDERS - Any of the prehistoric cultures of eastern North America

that erected mounds (see Hopewell, Mississippian).

MOUNT VESUVIUS - An active volcano located about 6 miles north of the city

of Pompeii in what is today Italy. The enormous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D.

79 destroyed the city of Pompeii and many of the surrounding towns and villas.

MOUSTERIAN - The Middle Paleolithic period in the Old World from 100,000 to

40,000 B.P.

MUGHAL - The Muslim dynasty that ruled India from 1526-1857. One of the most

impressive achievements of this time is the building of the Taj Mahal monument

in 1648.

MULLER - A non-stationary grinding stone such as a mano or pestle.

MULTI-COMPONENT SITE - An archaeological site which contains the remains of

more than one culture. If two or more complexes occur in a stratified site,

there is a possibility that the artifacts of each component may be distinguished

thus providing an excellent opportunity for the study of cultural change over

time. If on the other hand, a number of components co-occur in a mixed site, the

information to be gathered is little more than that from a surface collection.

MUMMIFICATION - Artificial process of preserving a corpse through


MUMMY - From the Persian word; "moumiya". A preserved corpse by either

natural or artificial means.

MUNSELL SCALE - A standardized system using colored chips for accurately

describing a color in terms of its hue, value and chroma.

MYCENAE - Fortified city and palace which gave its name to a Bronze Age


MYTHS AND LEGENDS - Stories passed down through generations, usually about

heroic individuals, spectacular events, or powerful gods. Myths represent a

culture's beliefs and explain its customs; some are fictional while others may

be based on real people and events.


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NATAL GROUP - The (residence) group to which one belongs upon birth as

opposed to that which one joins by virtue of marriage.

NATION STATE - A political unit consisting of an autonomous state inhabited

predominantly by a people sharing a common culture, history, and language.

NATRON - A naturally occurring salt used as a preservative and drying agent

during mummification. It is a mixture of four salts that occur in varying

proportions: sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride and sodium


NATURAL ENVIRONMENT - Climate, terrain, geological resources, and flora and


NEANDERTHAL - An extinct form of humans that existed between 40,000 and

35,000 B.C. They were normally chinless, with prominent brow ridges and a

receding forehead, but had the same size brain as modern humans.

NEAR EAST - The area (sometimes called Middle East) in the vicinity of the

eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.

NECROPOLIS - Normally describes large and important burial areas that were

in use for long periods. From Greek nekros (corpse) and polis (city).

NEMES - A striped headcloth worn by Pharaohs.

NEO-ATLANTIC - A central North American climatic episode dating from A.D.

690 to A.D. ll00 which is believed to have been somewhat cooler and moister than

the present.

NEO-BOREAL - A central North American climatic episode, known to some as the

"Little Ice Age", which dates approximately A.D. l550 to l850. Average

temperatures were l C cooler throughout this period than the present.

NEOLITHIC - The first era of village farmers in any region.

NEPHTHYS - Egyptian goddess and protector of the dead. Sister of Isis,

Osiris and Seth.

NEPTUNE - Roman god of the sea. Called Poseidon by the Greeks.

NEUTRON ACTIVATION - A technique of nuclear chemistry by which minute

amounts of elements in a material are identified.

NET-IMPRESSED - A surface finish of ceramics produced by impressing the wet

clay with a net. Depending upon how this is accomplished, the vessel's surface

may be the precise imprint of the mesh or a much more irregular, roughened


NETSINKER - A notched or grooved cobble attached to a net in order to sink

one edge.

NEWGRANGE - Irish passage tomb of great beauty, built about 3200 BC and

re-discovered in 1699.

NEW KINGDOM - Egyptian chronological term for dynasties 17-20.

NIKE - Winged goddess of victory.

NILE RIVER - The largest river in Egypt. Yearly flooding brings water to the

land surrounding the river and allows people to grow food along the banks of the


NILOMETER - Staircase descending into the Nile and marked with levels above

low water; used for measuring, and in some cases recording, inundation levels.

The most famous are on Elephantine island and on Roda island in Cairo.

NOMAD - A member of a group of people who move according to the seasons from

place to place in search of food, water, and grazing land.

NOME - From the Greek, nomos; this is an administrative province of Egypt

(42 in all). The nome system started in the Early Dynastic Period. During some

periods, when there was a highly centralized government the nomes had little

political importance.

NON-LITERATE - Pertaining to peoples who lack a written language.

NORTHERN TRANSITION ZONE - The northern part of the Boreal Forest which

marks the shift from the dense coniferous forest in the south and the open

tundra to the north. Black spruce is the most common tree species although white

spruce dominates on sand ridges and floodplains. Swamp and muskeg is common

throughout. As one proceeds north, trees become less numerous and more stunted

and permafrost becomes more widespread.

NOTCHING - A V or U-shaped indentation. basal notching. in projectile

points, a deep often shallow indentation into the base; narrower and often more

pronounced than a basal concavity. ceramic notching. the creation of notches,

presumably as a decorative element, into the clay of a vessel prior to firing.

NUCLEAR AREAS - Regions where large, complex societies arose again and


NUCLEAR FAMILY - A family unit consisting of a married couple and their

offspring. A grandparent or a spouse of one of the children may be included.


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OBELISK - From the Greek word meaning; "a spit". It is a monumental tapering

shaft usually made of pink granite. Capped with a pyramidion at the top.

Obelisks are solar symbols similar in meaning to pyramids, they are associated

with an ancient stone called benben in Heliopolis. They were set in pairs, at

the entrances of temples, and to some Old Kingdom tombs. (e.g. Cleopatra's

Needle in New York City) Modern obelisks include such things as the Washington

Monument and are still popular as memorial markers in many parts of the world.

OBESITY - A condition in which a person's weight is 20 percent greater than

a sex- and age-specific weight-for-height standard.

OBOL - Greek coin worth one sixth of a Drachma.

OBSERVATION - Looking at and critically noting the details of a site, an

artifact, or cultural behavior.

OBSIDIAN - A volcanic glass which is one of the finest raw materials for the

chipping of stone tools.

OBSIDIAN HYDRATION DATING - A technique in which the age of an obsidian

artifact is determined from the thickness of the layer of hydration.

OBVERSE - The "head" side of a coin.

OCCUPATION SPAN - The length of time a settlement is occupied.

OCCUPATION SURFACE - A boundary layer between depositional strata upon which

activities were carried out (also called a living floor)

OCHRE - A general term for any of the clays or earths containing ferric

oxide, silica and alumina. Ranging in colour from yellow through red to brown,

ochre was widely used as a prigment for decorative and ceremonial purposes

throughout much of prehistory

OCOTILLO - This plant, also called the coach whip, is characterized by

clumps of straight, thorny whip-like stems with no branches. When there is

adequate rainfall, the ocotillo leafs out, but loses its leaves when the soil

dries. The plant has brilliant red flowers that occur at the tips of its many

stems. Ocotillos occur below 5000 feet, from west Texas to southeastern

California and northern Mexico.

OFF-SITE DATA - Evidence from a range of -information, including scatters of

artifacts and features such as plowmarks and field boundaries, that provides

important evidence about human exploitation of the environment.

OLD COPPER - A late Archaic complex or culture, centered in the western

Great Lakes region characterized by well-made copper artifacts. These include

socketed, "rat-tail", lanceolate, conical and stemmed projectile points, large

crescentic shaped objects, woodworking and hideworking tools, fishing equipment,

and occasionally, ornamental objects. Associated artifacts include concave-based

side-notched projectile points with square basal edges termed either Raddatz or

Osceola, scrapers, drills, "burned" hornstone blades (sense 2), "turkey-tail"

blades, bannerstones, triangular cache blades, ground axes, shell beads, bone

awls, antler points, notched swan bones, elk antler axes, shell gorgets and

antler shaft wrenches. Much of our information on this complex comes from

cemeteries and as a consequence, the mortuary pattern is quite well-known. Both

primary and secondary (bundle) single and multiple, flexed and extended

interments are reported and these may occur in either oval or rectangular pits.

Ochre, copper, lithic or faunal grave goods may accompany the deceased and the

graves may have been ceremonially burned over. The grave escort or "retainer"

phenomenon is also known for this culture. Old Copper peoples appear to have

employed a diversified economy eccompassing the collection of nuts, acorns and

perhaps wild rice in the fall, fishing in the spring, summer and early fall, the

taking of wildfowl in the spring and fall, the trapping of small fur-bearing

mammals throughout the year and the hunting of moose and deer. Old Copper

artifacts have been found over much of southern Manitoba although they seem to

be most common in the forests of the southeastern quarter of the province. The

association of finished artifacts, "ingots" of unmodified copper, and waste

fragments from tool manufacture suggests that these people imported copper for

tool production, rather than receiving finished tools from outside the province.

Radiocarbon dates on copper sites argue for a considerable time-depth and a

substantial antiquity although most would agree that the period from 3000 B.C.

to l000 B.C. marks the peak of Old Copper usage in its "heartland". Radiocarbon

dates from eastern Manitoba fall between 2000 and l700 B.C. although it seems

clear that Old Copper implements were made and used for a much longer period

than this.

OLD KINGDOM - Egyptian chronological term for dynasties 3-6.

OLD WORLD/NEW WORLD - The Old World includes the continents of Europe, Asia,

Africa, and Australia and all their associated land. The New World includes the

continents of North and South America and their associated land.

OLDUVAI GORGE - One of the most important sites for understanding both human

evolution and the development of the earliest tools. (around 1.9 million years


OLIVELLA - A genus of small marine snails native to the Pacific coast of

North America and elsewhere which were used prehistorically as ornaments and as

a medium of exchange.

OLMEC - A highly elaborate Mesoamerican culture on the Mexican gulf coast

which was at its height from 1200 to 600 B.C. The Olmec influenced the rise and

development of the other great civilizations of Mesoamerica, such as the Maya,

and were probably the first to develop large religious and ceremonial centers

with temple mounds, monumental sculptures, massive altars, and sophisticated

systems of drains and lagoons. The Olmec were probably also the first

Mesoamericans to devise glyph writing and the 360-day calendar.

OLYMPIA - Site of Greek sanctuary to Zeus and home of the Olympic Games.

OLYMPUS - Mountain in the north of Greece believed to be the home of the


OMNIVOROUS - Feeding on both animal and vegetable matter.

OPEN SITES - Any site not located in a cave or rock shelter.

OPENING OF THE MOUTH - This Egyptian ceremony was performed at the funeral

to restore the senses of the deceased. The ceremony was done by touching an adze

to the mouth of a mummy or statue of the deceased, it was believed to restore

the senses in preparation for the afterlife.

OPPOSABLE THUMB - An anatomical arrangement in which the fleshy tip of the

thumb can touch the fleshy tip of all the fingers.

OPTICAL EMISSION SPECTROMETRY - A technique used in the analysis of artifact

composition, based on the principle that electrons, when excited (i.e. heated to

a high temperature), release light of a particular wavelength. The presence or

absence of various elements is established by examining the appropriate spectral

line of their characteristic wavelengths. Generally, this method gives an

accuracy of only 25 percent and has been superseded by ICPS (inductively coupled

plasma emission spectrometry).

ORAL HISTORY - Verbally transmitted information about past events. Although

often providing information about non-written events, such history is subject to

the vagaries of human perceptions and mental recall.

ORDEAL - A painful and possibly life-threatening test inflicted on someone

suspected of a wrongdoing.

ORDER - A major division of a class, consisting of closely related families.

ORGANIC SOLIDARITY - The unity of a society formed of dissimilar,

specialized groupings, each having a restricted function (Durkheim).

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS - As members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, this branch

of christianity is a product of Middle Eastern, Hellenic, and Slavic history and

culture. It is seen as holding to traditional teachings and values born in


ORTHODOX JUDAISM - The branch of Judaism that is committed to keeping its

contract with the past. It stresses commitment to Jewish law and observance of

all of the Jewish commandments and obligations.

ORTHOGRADE - Vertical posture.

OSIRIS - Egyptian god of the underworld and judge of the dead.

OSSIFICATION - The process of bone formation.

OSTEODONTOKERATIC CULTURE - an archaeological culture based upon tools made

of bone, teeth, and ivory.

OSTEOLOGY - The scientific study of the development, structure and function

of bones.

OSTRACON - From the Greek word meaning; "potsherd". A chip or shard of

limestone or pottery used as a writing tablet. Ostraca are known from all


OUTBUILDINGS - A term used to refer to all nonresidential structures on a

site. These include animal pens, storage buildings, sheds, barns, etc.

OUTCROPS - A term designating the surface exposure of rock layers, which

have not been decomposed into soil.

OUTWASH - Rubble (sand, gravel etc.) deposited by water derived from melting



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PACIFIC - A central North American climatic episode dating from A.D. ll00 to

approximately l550 which is believed to have been characterized by an increased

frequency of droughts in the grasslands and adjacent regions.

PADDLE-AND-ANVIL - A pottery manufacturing method. An object or the potter's

hand (the "anvil") is held inside of the roughly formed vessel while the

exterior surface is paddled, thus shaping the pot. Additionally, the paddling

serves to obliterate seams in instances where the pot was formed by coiling The

paddle may be wrapped with a cord or covered with a fabric to prevent it from

sticking to the wet clay. This commonly produces a roughened surface.

PAINT STONE - A nodule or fragment of ochre.

PALAEO or PALEO - A prefix meaning "old".

PALAEOECOLOGY - The scientific study of the ecology of a given region in

ancient times.

PALAEOENVIRONMENT - The environment of a given region in ancient times.

PALAEONTOLOGY - The scientific study of the origin and development of

organisms through fossils.

PALAEOSOL - A soil formed under earlier environmental conditions which

subsequently becomes buried by cultural or environmental processes.

PALAEOPATHOLOGY - The study of the illnesses and injuries of past human


PALEOANTHROPOLOGIST - A type of anthropologist who studies early humans by

excavating and looking at fossilized human skeletal remains.

PALEO-INDIAN TRADITION - (also called Big Game Hunting Tradition)-a way of

life practiced by many of the first human inhabitants of North America, who

arrived here between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago. Paleo-lndian means the oldest

or first Indians in North America.

PALEO-INDIANS - Hunter-gatherer peoples prevalent in the New World from

12,000 to 10,000 B.P.

PALEOLITHIC - The period extending from 2 million to approx 12,000 B.P.

PALESTINE - An ancient name for the area between Syria, Egypt, the

Mediterranean Sea, and the Jordan River; now approximately the same area as that

covered by the state of Israel. The state of Palestine was proclaimed in 1988,

but in exile, with the land in question under Israeli occupation.

PALISADE - A strong, high fence or wall made of logs or stakes and intended

for defensive purposes.

PALYNOLOGIST - One who studies plant pollen and spores. Since pollen may be

preserved thousands of years it can be used to reconstruct the plant ecology of

the past.

PANTHEON - Temple built in Rome by the emperor Hadrian to honor all the

major gods.

PAPYRUS (1) - plant (Cyprus papyrus L) which used to grow prolifically in

Egypt, especially in Delta marshes. Oddly enough, the papyrus plant became

extinct in Egypt but after being reintroduced in the 1960's, it is now an

important link in the tourist trade.

PAPYRUS (2) - The main Egyptian writing material, and an important export.

The earliest papyrus dates to the First Dynasty, the latest to the Islamic

Period. Sheets were made by cutting the stem of the plant into strips. These

strips were soaked in several baths to remove some of the sugar and starches.

These strips were then laid in rows horizontally and vertically. Then it was

beaten together, activating the plant's natural starches and forming a glue that

bound the sheet together. Separate sheets were glued together to form a roll.

PARALLEL FLAKING - Long, consistent chipping scars running sequentially

parallel on the flat sides of stone tools.

PARTHENON - The Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Athena that was built

on the Acropolis in Athens between 447 and 438 B.C.

PASTE - The mixture of water, clay and temper from which pottery is made.

PATAYAN - The prehistoric cultural groups that occupied the region west of

the Hohokam culture area. The boundaries of the Patayan area are, on the west,

the Colorado River Delta north to above Needles, and, on the east, from Gila

bend to Prescott. The Patayan practiced a lifeway similar to the Hohokam,

although hunting and gathering were more emphasized in the Patayan culture. The

Patayan were probably ancestral to the Yuma tribes that occupied the area

historically. The culture is first recognized at A.D. 700.

PATINA - The discolored skin or rind of a stone resulting from exposure to

air, sunlight and soil chemicals.

PATRILINEAL - Pertaining to the tracing of descent or the transmission of

wealth or authority primarily through males.

PATRILOCAL - Pertaining to the pattern in which children are raised as part

of their father's (as opposed to their mother's) band. Patrilocality is often a

result of virilocality among band societies.

PATTERN - In the Midwestern Taxonomic Method devised by McKern (l939) a

pattern referred to a grouping of regional phases with a shared mode of

adaptation and a generally similar technology. For example the Woodland cultures

of the northeast or the Middle Prehistoric Period bison hunting cultures of the

northern plains would constitute two distinct patterns.

PEBBLE - A rounded stone, smaller in size than a cobble.

PECKING - A method of shaping stone artifacts by hammering them, thus

wearing away the surface. Pecking facets are readily discernible on mauls, axes

and Celts unless they have been erased by subsequent polishing.

PEDESTRIAN TACTIC - A method archaeological survey in which surveyors,

spaced at regular intervals, systematically walk the area being investigated.

PEDOLOGY - The study of the formation characteristics and weathering of

soil. As various kinds of soil form under different conditions, an analysis of

the soil at an archaeological site can yield clues as to the kinds of conditions

which prevailed when the site was occupied.

PEDOLOG - The science that deals with the study of soils.

PEMMICAN - Dehydrated buffalo meat mixed with fat and occasionally berries.

PENDANT - A personal ornament which has been perforated or grooved to allow

it to hang from a chain or thong.

PERCUSSION FLAKING - Removing flakes from a core by use of a hammer. (of

stone, bone, antler or wood)

PERIKLES - Ruler of Athens in the 5th century BCE during what is called the

Athenian Golden Age.

PERIPHERY - An outlying region; the outermost boundary. For example, Manitoba

lies at the periphery of the North American Grasslands.

PERISTYLE - Enclosed courtyard surrounded by columns.

PERMAFROST - Permanently frozen ground.

PERSIA - Ancient kingdom in the area of present day Iran.

PERSIAN GULF - An arm of the Arabian Sea between the Arabian peninsula and

Iran. It has been an important trade route since ancient times and gained added

strategic significance after the discovery of oil in the region in the 1930s.

PESTLE - A club-shaped or cylindrical object used to crush and grind various

materials in a mortar.

PETROFORM - A geometrical or animal figure formed in outline by the

placement of boulders or cobbles. These are particularly common in southeastern

Manitoba where they are believed to be the work of Laurel (and perhaps later)


PETROGLYPHS - Carvings in rock which express artistic or religious meaning.

PHALANX - Warriors in close formation.

PHARAOH - Wasn't used until 1400 BC but is now used generally for the kings

of ancient Egypt.

PHAROS LIGHTHOUSE - One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was

built in Alexandria, Egypt, about 280 B.C., and served as a beacon for ships at

sea. It was destroyed in an earthquake in A.D. 796.

PHASE - An archaeological complex which is sufficiently distinctive so as to

be distinguishable from adjacent contemporary complexes, and from those which

precede and succeed it. A phase may be viewed as a complex which is bounded in

time as well as space.

PHIDIAS - Athenian sculpture who was responsible for the cult statues of

Athena in the Parthenon and the statue of Zeus at Olympia.

PHOSPHATE TEST - A chemical test performed on sediments from archaeological

sites. The decomposition of organic material leaves a phosphate residue which is

not readily removed by leaching. Thus determination of phosphate levels across a

site can reveal which parts of a site were most heavily used. When used in

conjunction with archaeological data, it can additional suggest what kinds of

activities were pursued in different parts of the site.

PHYLUM - A major taxonomic division. In linguistics a phylum is composed of

a number of families, which in turn comprise various languages, each of which

may have numerous regional dialects. In biology, phyla are even more

all-encompassing. In descending order of inclusiveness the scheme is as follows:

kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, variety (or sub-species).

PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY - The branch of anthropology which concerns itself

with the origins, evolution, structure and variation of human populations.

PHYSIOGRAPHY - l. physical geography; the study of the earth's crust. 2. the

earth's surface; terrain.

PICK (1) - An adze-like implement which is hafted and used for breaking hard

ground or rocks.

PICK (2) - Archaeologists use small picks to remove delicate items from

archaeological units. For example, animal bones or human bones are very fragile

and should be removed by picking around them and then brushing them off with a

light paintbrush before removing. Old dental picks are very useful tools to


PICTOGRAPHS - Paintings on rock which express artistic or religious meaning.

PIGMENT - Coloring agents derived from plants and minerals.

PIGWEED - A common, coarse weed that grows in disturbed soil. It usually

appears after summer rains at elevations below 5500 feet.

PILE DWELLINGS - Prehistoric lake or riverside settlements where a

substantial part of the buildings were built on poles, in or near the water. The

remains of such settlements have been found underwater. It's often difficult to

say whether the submersion is a result of raising sea level or the buildings

actually were built standing in the water. Thus some pile dwellings may

originally have been built on shore, later submerged, and today we find the

remaining house poles underwater.

PINON PINE - A pine tree that grows at elevations of 5000 to 7500 feet. The

piñon bears large edible nuts.

PIT - An excavation recovery unit.

PITHOUSE - A wooden dwelling in which the lower portion is a pit.

PLATO - Ancient Greek philosopher of the 5th and 4th century B.C., who wrote

many works and taught about the ideal way of life for the ancient Greek citizen.

PLEISTOCENE - A geologic period, usually thought of as the Ice Age, which

began about 1.6 million years ago and ended with the melting of the large

continental glaciers creating the modern climatic pattern about 11,500 years


PLINY THE ELDER - Roman writer who witnessed the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in

A.D. 79. He died when he returned to Pompeii during the eruption in order to try

to save some of the Roman navy, which was stationed in the harbor.

PLINY THE YOUNGER - The nephew of Pliny the Elder who wrote about the

eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and the destruction of the city of Pompeii in A.D. 79.

PLOW ZONE - The layer of soil disturbed by plowing, usually the top 10 to 50


POMPEII - The famous city in southern Italy destroyed by the eruption of Mt.

Vesuvius in A.D. 79. The circumstances of destruction allowed the city to be

remarkably well-preserved. Archaeologists have been excavating the site for

about 250 years to uncover and learn about ancient Roman culture.

PONDEROSA PINE - Also called the yellow pine. This large tree grows at

elevations of 5500 to 8500 feet.

POPOL VUH - A book written in the Maya language of Quiche shortly after the

Spanish Conquest in Spanish. However, it covers many stories of Maya mythology.

POPULATION - In sampling, all the materials of interest; for example, all

the sites in a region or all the artifacts in a site.

POPULATION PARAMETER - A characteristic of a population.

POSEIDON - Greek god of the sea. Called Neptune by the Romans.

POTASSIUM/ARGON DATING - A chronometric technique for dating in which the

proportion of radioactive potassium (K40) to that of its decay product, argon is


POTSHERD - Any fragment of a ceramic vessel.

POTTERY - Containers made out of a combination of clay and sand that can be

hardened in the heat of an oven, called a kiln. Pottery is one of the most

common ways that archaeologists date occupation levels of sites since pottery

chronology is well-established at many sites. Archaeologists can date a piece of

pottery from a site by comparing it to other pieces from the same site that have

already been dated. They then use the piece of pottery to date the entire level

of the site.

PRAXITELES - Greek sculpture best known as the creator of the Aphrodite of


PRECISION - In sampling, the degree of correspondence among statistics

obtained in repeated trials of the same sampling technique

PREDYNASTIC - Period of Egyptian history that predates writing and

unification of Egypt into one state. The prehistoric period before 3100 B.C.

PREHISTORIC HUNTER - Gatherers-Humans who lived prior to written history and

depended upon the hunting of wild animals and the gathering of natural plant

foods for their livelihood

PREHISTORIC SITES - Locations where people who were alive before modern

written records existed once lived, hunted, camped, or were buried. Painted or

carved rock outcrops are considered sites as well.

PREHISTORY - The period before written records in a given area, or the study

of that era.

PREPARATOR - Scientists who strip and clean the matrix or encased rock from

fossils in order to prepare them for reconstruction.

PRESERVE - To keep safe and protect from injury, harm, or destruction; to

keep alive, intact, or free from decay; to save from decomposition.

PRESSURE FLAKING - Producing flakes by applying pressure to a core with a

tool (often an antler)

PRICKLY PEAR - Several species of cacti with flat stems and oval, flat,

leaf-like pads. Prickly pears grow in semiarid and arid western North America.

The fruits of the cactus are often referred to as "tunas."

PRIMARY REFUSE - Trash discarded at the location of use.

PRIMATES/PRIMATOLOGIST - Any of an order of mammals that includes humans,

apes, monkeys, lemurs, and related forms. One who studies primates.

PRIME CAUSE - A factor, such as population growth, used by itself to explain

changes in social complexity.

PROBABILITY SAMPLING - Sampling in which sample units are selected at random,

as by flipping a coin or consulting a table of random numbers.

PROCUREMENT - Obtaining or extracting resources from the environment.

PROFILE - A profile is a picture of the layers of a unit. It's sort of like

if you were to make a five-layer cake with each cake layer a different color. If

you looked at it from the side you would see all the different levels. This is

very useful to archaeologists because they can see changes in soil color or

composition (for example, sand and then black soil and then rock). A profile of

a unit helps archaeologists understand the levels that were excavated, as well

as changes in human activity over time.

PROJECTILE POINT - Artifacts such as arrowheads and spearheads, used mostly

for hunting animals.

PROVENIENCE - The three-dimensional location of an artifact or feature

within an archaeological site, measured by two horizontal dimensions, and a

vertical elevation.

PSORALEA SSP.: - The prairie turnip, as it is commonly referred to, is

actually several species of plants which grow underground tubers. Only one

species was actually recorded as having been used by Plains Indians, and only

recently has any archaeological evidence for the use of this plant been


PTOLEMY - Greek general, who after the death of Alexander the Great became

ruler of Egypt.

PUBLIC ARCHAEOLOGY - A movement to increase public awareness and education

about archaeology which advanced the legislative attempts to provide funding and

protection for archaeological sites.

PUEBLO - A type of village (common to the Southwest United States) composed

of clusters of rectangular chambers of stone or adobe blocks roofed with logs.

PUMICE - A type of rock formed by volcanic eruptions. Pumice is light in

weight because it is full of holes--as lava surfaces and cools, water vapor is

expelled at high temperatures, creating these holes.

PUNCTATES - Impressions in the surface of ceramic vessels made by implements

or by fingernails as a form of decoration.

PURPOSIVE SAMPLING - Sampling in which sample unite are selected on the

basis of specific criteria.

PYLON - From the Greek word meaning "gate" It is a monumental entrance wall

of a temple. Pylons are the largest and least essential parts of a temple that

is usually built last. Some temples have more than one set, the temple at Karnak

has 10 Pylons.

PYRAMIDION - Pyramid-shaped tip of obelisk, or capstone of a pyramid.

PYRAMID TEXTS - Spells and magical inscriptions found inside Egyptian

pyramids from dynasty V to Dynasty Vl.

PYRAMIDS OF GIZA - The pyramids located in Giza, Egypt, built by the

pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure.

PYXIS - Storage container.


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QANAT - An irrigation system formed by tunneling into a hillside to find a

water-bearing formation, and then channeling the water out of the hill to the

surface for use in irrigation. Much of the water used in the plateau regions of

Iran, for example, is brought into use in this way.

QUADRANT - generally refers to one-quarter of an excavation unit or level,

e.g. "the northwest quadrant of excavation unit N. 2-4, E. 4-6".

QUADRAT - A rectangular sampling unit.

QUADRUPEDALISM - Locomotion on four limbs.

QUARRY SITE - A site where lithic raw materials have been mined.

QUARTER RUDDER - A.k.a. side rudder. Ships of antiquity had two side

rudders. Nordic ships had one, placed on the starboard (right) side. During the

middle ages all European ships slowly changed to using one stern rudder.

QUARTZITE - A stone which was formed in water deposited sediments and

consists of sand grains which have been cemented together. It can be chipped,

but is difficult to work.

QUATERNARY - The most recent of the geological eras or periods which

incorporates both the Pleistocene and Holocene (Recent) Epochs.

QUERN - A stone used for grinding corn or grain.

QUETZAL - A plumed jungle bird, highly prized for its tail feathers in Maya


QUIVER - A container for arrows or darts.

QURAN - The collection of Islamic scriptures. It is made up of 114 sections

that are believed to have been revealed verbatim to Muhammad over a period of

time through the angel Gabriel.


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RACE - A subgroup of human population that shares a greater number of

physical traits with one another than they do with those of other subgroups.

RADIOACTIVE DECAY - the regular process by which radioactive isotopes break

down into their decay products with a half-life which is specific to the isotope

in question.

RADIOCARBON DATING - A process that provides absolute dates by counting the

radioactive decay of carbon in the remains of once living plants and animals

(i.e., charcoal, wood, bone, shell).

RADIOIMMUNOASSAY - A method of protein analysis whereby it is possible to

identify protein molecules surviving in fossils which are thousands and even

millions of years old.

RADIOMETRIC DATING - A type of chronometric dating that involves methods

based upon the decay of radioactive materials; examples are radiocarbon and

potassium-argon dating.

RAISED BEACHES - These are remnants of former coastlines, usually the result

of processes such as isostatic uplift or tectonic movements.

RAMADA - An open-air shade built of upright posts that are covered with a

flat roof. The Pimas and Papagos also made use of the ramada as a focal point of

family activity.

RAMON TREE - A nut-bearing tree common in the lowland rain forests of the

Yucatan Peninsula.

RANCHERIA - A form of village arrangement in which individual dwellings are

widely separated. This can be contrasted with the Pueblo sale of architecture in

which dwellings within a village are attached to one another in an

apartment-like complex.

RANKED SOCIETIES - Societies in which there is unequal access to prestige

and status e.g. chiefdoms and states.

RATIONAL ECONOMIC DECISIONS - The weighing of available alternatives and

calculation of which will provide the most benefit at the least cost.

RE - Egyptian creator god. Sun god of the sky, earth and the underworld.

RE-ATUM - A manifestation of Re as the setting sun.

REAVES - Bronze Age stone boundary walls, for instance on Dartmoor, England,

which may designate the territorial extent of individual communities.

REBELLION - An attempt within a society to disrupt the status quo and

redistribute the power and resources.

RECIPROCITY - A mode of exchange in which transactions take place between

individuals who are symmetrically placed, i.e. they are exchanging as equals,

neither being in a dominant position.

RECLAMATION - Activities that move objects from archaeological context back

into systemic context.

RECORDING UNIT - A level, feature, or occupation surface used as a reference

point to designate the recovery location (provenience) of artifacts at a site.

RECOVERY THEORY - The principles on which are based the choice of techniques

to be used in a given archaeological survey and excavation.

RECOVERY UNITS - The two-dimensional (in surface collection) and

three-dimensional (in excavation) spaces in which archaeological materials are

recovered and recorded at a site.

REFITTING - Sometimes referred to as conjoining, this entails attempting to

put stone tools and flakes back together again, and provides important

information on the processes involved in the knapper's craft.

REFUGIUM - A geographical area which remains unaltered or changes much more

slightly than surrounding regions in response to a change in climate. A refugium

therefore constitutes a haven for plants and animals which were once more widely

distributed (plural refugia).

REFUTATIONIST VIEW - Approach which holds that science consists of theories

about the empirical world, that its goal is to develop better theories, which is

achieved by finding mistakes in existing theories, so that it is crucial that

theories be falsifiable (vulnerable to error and open to testing). The approach,

developed by Karl Popper, emphasizes the important of testability as a component

of scientific theories.

REGIONAL DIMENSION - The artifacts that occur in close association with each


REGIONAL SURVEY - Locating and describing the remains of settlements in a


REGIONAL SYSTEM - The behavioral component made up of communities related to

each other by trade, political alliances, and other forms of social interaction.

RELATIVE DATING - Dating of an event or process according to its

chronological position (earlier or later than) relative to another event or


RELATIVISM - The concept that a cultural system can be viewed only in terms

of the principles, background, frame of reference, and history that characterize


RELIEF - A form of sculpture where the figures stand out from, but are still

attached to the background.

RELIGION - A framework of beliefs relating to supernatural or superhuman

beings or forces that transcend the everyday material world.

REMOTE SENSING - Observation and recording at a distance, especially by

specialized serial photography of sites and natural environment.

REPLICA - A copy or reproduction of the original.

RESCUE ARCHAEOLOGY - A term applied to the emergency salvage of sites in

immediate danger of destruction by major land modification projects such as

reservoir construction.

RESEARCH DESIGN - The plan for an archaeological investigation.

RESIDENTIAL MOBILITY - The degree of movement of household social units from

dwelling to dwelling, particularly of hunting-gathering communities

RESISTIVITY - A pre-excavation method for determining the size, shape and

occasionally the nature of an archaeological site. It works on the principle

that different deposits offer differential resistance to an alternating current

passing through them, largely in response to the amount of water contained

within them. Thus a damp, buried ditch will provide less resistance while a wall

or foundation ill offer more. Mapping electrical resistance across a site can

greatly aid the archaeologist in deciding where to dig.

RESHARPENING FLAKES - Usually small flakes removed from the edges of

chipped-stone cutting or scraping tools to rejuvenate the effectiveness of the


RESTORATION - The process of cleaning and studying an artifact and

attempting to return it to its original form (before it was buried).

RETICULE - A frame with a grid used as an aid in mapping. Those used in

Manitoba consist of a square wooden frame with a network of strings set at

regular intervals. These may be placed over a feature thus allowing more

accurate sketch maps to be made. Locally, reticules have found their greatest

utility in the recording of petroforms.

RETOUCHER - A small tool (such as that found on the body of Otzi the Iceman)

made especially for pressure flaking flint and chert tools. In the iceman's

case, his retoucher was at first mistaken for the stub of a pencil.

REVERSE - "Tail" side of a coin.

REVERSE STRATIFICATION - Earlier materials overlying later materials.

REVOLUTION - An attempt to overthrow the existing form of political

organization, the principles of economic production and distribution, and the

allocation of social status.

REWORKING - Modification of an object so that it may be used again. The

reworking of stone artifacts after breakage was particularly common in times and

places where suitable lithic resources were scarce. A projectile point which had

been broken at the time could easily be re-sharpened and some were probably

reworked several times in this fashion, becoming shorter relative to their

widths each time. Drills and side-notched end-scrapers with bases similar to

those of the projectile points with which they are associated are often

considered to be examples of reworking.

RHYOLITE - A fine-grained igneous rock of the same composition as granite

(quartz, feldspar and mica), but capable of being worked by flaking into tools.

Characteristically, rhyolite has a glossy appearance and small inclusions of

quartz and feldspar within the finer matrix.

RIMSHERD - A fragment of pottery which originally formed part of the rim of

a vessel.

RIPARIAN - Pertaining to the bank of a river.

RITE OF SOLIDARITY - any ceremony performed for the sake of enhancing the

level of social integration among a group of people.

RITES OF INTENSIFICATION - Rituals intended either to bolster a natural

process necessary to survival or to reaffirm the society's commitment to a

particular set of values and beliefs.

RITES OF PASSAGE - Rituals that mark a person's transition from one set of

socially identified circumstances to another.

RITUAL - Behavior that has become highly formalized and stereotyped.

RIVERINE ARCHAEOLOGY - Maritime archaeology, specializing in the study of

artifacts of early river traffic.

ROCK ALIGNMENT - Any artificial arrangement of rocks or boulders into rows

or other patterns.

ROCK ART - A general term for figures or designs painting or engraved on

rock or formed through the placement of boulders. Rock art thus includes

petroforms, petroflyphs, petrographs and pictographs.

ROCK CUT TOMB - Method of excavating tombs that is fairly common world wide.

The most famous are in Egypt and were begun during the Middle Kingdom. The

burials in the Valley of the Kings are perhaps the best known Rock-cut tombs.

ROCK PAINTING - A more common term for pictograph.

ROCK SHELTER - A small cave or overhang of rock which afforded some degree

of protection from the elements either as a permanent camp or temporary location

of activity.

ROCKER STAMPING - A pottery design produced by rocking a straight or notched

edge from one end to the other, while moving the tool sideways across the

surface of the wet clay. The result is a zigzag pattern of curved lines.

ROLE - A set of behavioral expectations appropriate to an individual's social


ROMAN COLOSSEUM - Built in Rome, Italy between A.D. 70 and 80, the

four-story structure was the site of bloody fights between animals, gladiators,

or animals versus gladiators for more than 300 years. After A.D. 404, the

gladiator battles ended, but scuffles between animals in front of about 50,000

spectators remained a popular sport until the 6th century A.D.

ROMAN COPIES OF GREEK ORIGINALS - Replicas of famous Greek statues made for

the Roman market.

ROMAN REPUBLIC - Period of Roman history from the expulsion of the Etruscan

kings till the establishment of the empire by Augustus Caesar.

ROOF COMB - The part of a Mesoamerican temple that extends over the usable

area. Frequently carved with glyphs and figures.

ROSETTA STONE - A basalt slab discovered at Rosetta (Rashid), at the western

mouth of the Nile, during Napoleon's occupation of Egypt. It is now in the

British Museum. The text is an honorific decree of Ptolemy V (196 B.C.) that was

written in ancient Greek, hieroglyphics, and demotic, which is a later form of

ancient Egyptian. The stone enabled the French explorer and linguist Champollion

to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics by comparing the unknown text of

hieroglyphics to the known and translated text in Greek and demotic.

ROV - Remote Operated Vehicles are remote controlled underwater robots used

instead of divers for difficult operations, e.g. on great depth.


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SAFF TOMB - An Arabic word that means "row", it describes the rock-cut tombs

of the early 11th Dynasty that consisted of a row of openings on the hillside.


SAGUARO - One of the largest cacti, the saguaro has one central trunk with

one or more upward curving branches. This tree-size cactus played an important

role in the economy of the Hohokam and the Pima and Papago cultures.

SALVAGE ARCHAEOLOGY - Archaeology conducted primarily because a site or area

is in imminent danger of destruction by natural forces or by construction or

development. The British equivalent to this term -- rescue archaeology -- is


SAMPLE - Any part of subset of a population.

SAMPLE SIZE - The number of sample units chosen for a study.

SAMPLE STATISTICS - The characteristics of a sample.

SAMPLE UNIT - A member of a population examined.

SAMPLING - Selecting from within regions those areas to be surveyed and,

within sites, those areas to be excavated.

SAMPLING BIAS - The tendency of a sample to exclude some members of the

sampling universe and overrepresent others.

SAMPLING ERROR - In population genetics, the transmission of a

nonrepresentative sample of the gene pool over space or time due to chance.

SAMPLING UNIVERSE - The largest entity to be described, of which the sample

is a part.

SANCTION - Any means used to enforce compliance with the rules and norms of

a society.

SAND - A loose material composed of minute (0.2 to 2 mm in diameter)

particles of weathered rock, especially quartz.

SANDIA - A mountain range in New Mexico which has given its name to a local

cave and to the oldest of the three archaeological components within it. Beneath

a Folsom occupation, Frank Hibben (l94l) found another component which bore

scrapers, prismatic flakes, two hearths, two bone artifacts which may have been

used as projectile points, and a number of stone projectile points of a hitherto

unknown type. These were of two forms; Sandia I points were characterized by

convex bases, while Type II had concave bases and were occasionally fluted. Both

were generally crudely flaked and were single-shouldered. Associated fauna

included horse, camel, mastodon, mammoth and a now-extinct species of bison.

Both the stratigraphy and the faunal association argue for an age greater than

Folsom and possibly older than Clovis but unfortunately it is currently

impossible to place Sandia in time with any degree of confidence. Sandia are

probably the rarest of the Palaeo-Indian styles and because of their frequent

crudeness of manufacture, among the most commonly misidentified. Points which

have been called Sandia have been reported in widely scattered localities from

the Canadian Prairie Provinces to Texas, and from California as far east as


SANDSTONE - A general name for any of the common sedimentary rocks composed

of sand grains cemented together with clay, iron oxide or calcium carbonate.

SAPIR-WORF HYPOTHESIS - The notion that a person's language shapes her or

his perception and view of the world.

SARCOPHAGUS - From the Greek word meaning; "flesh eater". It was the name

given to the stone container within which the dead were placed.

SARDIS - Capital of the Lydian kingdom; located in western Anatolia.

SASSANIAN - A Persian dynasty that ruled from 224 to 651 C.E. The Sassanians

sought to obliterate Greek cultural influences and revive Persian traditions. At

one point the Empire controlled territory from Indus to the Nile, and from Yemen

to the Caucasus.

SATYR - Half human half beast follower of the god Dionysos.

SCANDIC - A central North American climatic Episode dating from A.D. 270 to

A.D. 690 which represents the warming trend which culminated in the Neo-Atlantic

Climatic Episode.

SCAPULA HOE - A hoe fashioned from a scapula (shoulder blade).

SCARAB - The dung-rolling beetle was, to the ancient Egyptians, a symbol of

regeneration and spontaneous creation, as it seemed to emerge from nowhere; in

fact it came from eggs previously laid in the sand. Seals and amulets in scarab

form were very common and were thought to possess magic powers.

SCARCE RESOURCES - A central concept of Western economics which assumes that

people have more wants than they have resources to satisfy them.

SCARP - An escarpment, cliff or other steep slope, such as the slope between

fluvial terraces.

SCENT MARKING - Marking territory by urinating or defecating or by rubbing

scent glands against trees or other objects.

SCAVENGING - The removal of materials from archaeological context by the

residents of a settlement.

SCHIST - Any of a group of metamorphic rocks which may be split into plates

or needle-shaped grains. Constituent elements may include mica, chlorite, talc

or iron.

SCIENCE - a method of learning about the world by applying the principles of

the scientific method, which includes making empirical observations, proposing

hypotheses to explain those observations, and testing those hypotheses in valid

and reliable ways; also refers to the organized body of knowledge that results

from scientific study.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD - A method of obtaining information by systematic

observation, hypothesis testing, and experimentation.

SCIENTIFIC THEORY - A statement that postulates ordered relationships among

natural phenomena.

SCIENTISM - The belief that there is one and only one method of science and

that it alone confers legitimacy upon the conduct of research.

SCRAPER - An artifact used to remove the fat from the underside of a hide or

to smooth wood. Unless otherwise specified, these are generally understood to be

made of stone. combination (side- end-) scraper. one which is sharpened on at

least one side and one end. dome (-shaped) scraper. a scraper which is roughly

circular as seen from above, dome-shaped in cross-section and sharpened around

most or all of its circumference. end-scraper. one which is worked at one or

both ends. The "end" may be defined as the shorter of the edges in a rectangular

specimen or the end which initially formed part of the striking platform or the

edge opposite it. flake scraper. technically any scraper fashioned from a flake,

but in general usage a scraper made on a thin flake; a raclette. keeled scraper.

a scraper with an intact dorsal ridge. scraper plane. a large, often oval

scraper with a flat ventral face and dome-shaped dorsal face which is often

sharpened on one side. side-scraper. a scraper which is sharpened on one or both

sides only. The "side" may be defined as one of the longer edges, or one of the

edges adjacent to the striking platform. tabular scraper. a scraper fashioned

from a flake with flat, often parallel dorsal and ventral faces. thumb(nail)

scraper. a small, often domed scraper shaped like a thumbnail.

SCREEN - A wire mesh mounted on a frame which is used to sift the soil from

an archaeological excavation. The screen may be used manually or shaken by means

of a small motor and serves to catch the specimens which are too small for the

excavator to collect practically. The size of the mesh depends at least

partially on the fineness of the deposits on the site. In Manitoba, sizes from

l/l6" to l/4" are the most common. Experiments have shown that different mesh

sizes produce dramatically different results in the relative frequencies of

objects of different sizes.

SCRIBES - Ancient Egyptians trained to read and write.

SEA PEOPLES - A group of people who migrated to eastern shore of the

Mediterranean Sea around 1400 BC.

SEASONAL ISOLATION - A form of reproductive isolation in which the breeding

seasons of two closely related populations do not exactly correspond.

SEASONAL ROUND - l. the sequence of places or different ecological zones

which a group of people exploit throughout the course of the year. see Primary

Forest Efficiency. 2. the cycle of activities pursued throughout the year.

SECONDARY BURIAL - a human interment which was moved and re-buried

SECONDARY CENTER OF OSSIFICATION - An area of ossification, usually near the

end of a long bone.

SECONDARY DATUM - A local base measuring point at a known distance from the

main horizontal or vertical datum points.

SECONDARY DEPOSIT - a body of natural or cultural sediments which have been

disturbed and re-transported since their original deposition.

SECONDARY REFUSE - Trash deposited at other than the location of use.

SECONDARY RETOUCH - finishing or resharpening flaking done after the basic

shape of a lithic tool has been completed.

SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERISTICS - physical features other than the

genitalia that distinguish males from females after puberty.

SECONDARY STATE - A society that achieved a state level of organization

through contact with another state.

SECTARIAN - Relating to or characteristic of a sect or denomination;

adhering to the viewpoint of that sect; partisan.

SECTION (1) - A vertical cut (or exposure) through a body of sediments or a


SECTION (2) - A one-square mile unit in the legal subdivision system.

SECULAR - General term for nonreligious, or the opposite of religious.

SECULAR TREND - The tendency over the last hundred or so years for each

succeeding generation to mature earlier and become, on the average, larger.

SECULARIZATION - The act of transferring control or ownership from religious

to civil authorities.

SEDENTARY - A term applied to human groups leading a settled, non-migratory


SEDENTARY PASTORALISM - Animal husbandry that does not involve mobility.

SEDENTISM - The practice of establishing a permanent, year-round settlement.

SEDIMENT - Material that was suspended in water and that settles at the

bottom of a body of water.

SEDIMENTARY - Pertaining to stone which has been formed from loose deposits

which have been subsequently compacted by the weight of overlying deposits or


SEDIMENTARY BEDS - Beds, or layers, of sediments; also called strata.

SEDIMENTATION - The accumulation of geological or organic material deposited

by air, water, or ice.

SEDIMENTOLOGY - A subset of geomorphology concerned with the investigation

of the structure and texture of sediments i.e. the global term for material

deposited on the earth's surface.

SEGMENTARY LINEAGE - A descent group in which minimal lineages are

encompassed as segments of minor lineages, minor lineages as segments of major

lineages, and so on.

SEGMENTARY SOCIETIES - Relatively small and autonomous groups, usually of

agriculturalists. who regulate their own affairs; in some cases, they may join

together with other comparable segmentary societies to form a larger ethnic


SEISMIC REFLECTION PROFILER - An acoustic underwater survey device that uses

the principle of echo-sounding to locate submerged landforms; in water depths of

100 m, this method can achieve penetration of more than 10 m into the sea-floor.

SELECTIVE AGENT - Any factor that brings about differences in fertility and


SELECTIVE ATTENTION - Unconscious focusing on and response to stimuli that

are perceived to be important, to the exclusion of other stimuli.

SELF ORGANIZATION - The product of a theory derived from thermodynamics

which demonstrates that order can arise spontaneously when systems are pushed

far from an equilibrium state.

SELF-REDUCING TACHEOMETER - A major surveying instrument (transit or

alidade) which allows the direct read-out of true vertical and horizontal

distances within the eye-piece without the use of trigonometric formulae or


SELKIRK CHERT - A white to cream-colored medium to fine-grained limestone

chert which occurs naturally along the banks of the Red River. Most nodules are

dense, gray, and often mottled in appearance while those of poorer quality are

chalk-like. Due to its conchoidal fracturing properties, Selkirk Chert was a

popular material for the manufacture of stone tools throughout most of the

province's prehistory (Leonoff l970).

SEMANTIC DOMAINS - Groups of related categories of meaning in a language.

SEMANTICS - The study of the larger system of meaning created by words.

SEMITES - People who spoke a Semitic language which originated in Arabia and

Mesopotamia. Some of the peoples include the: Arabs, Hebrews, Canaanites, and



SERIAL MONOGAMY - An exclusive union followed by divorce and remarriage,

perhaps many times.

SERIATION - Determination of the chronology or sequence of styles or

assemblages by any of a number of different means. It is often assumed that a

style, such as a pottery decoration, will be rare in relation to other styles

when it is first used, will subsequently increase in popularity (and frequency),

and will finally become increasingly rare once again. Thus, a number of

assemblages can be placed in varying orders until the relative frequencies of

different styles all fall into a smooth sequence. Once the proper sequence is

established, it can be used as a relative dating technique to place other

assemblages into the overall chronology. Stratigraphy is another more direct

method of seriating assemblages. If various combinations of assemblages occur at

a number of multi-component sites, all of the assemblages may be placed in

proper sequence relative to one another.

SERPENTINE - A metamorphic mineral altered from limestone or basic igneous

rocks such as olivine and amphibole. One form of serpentine-chrysolite-is a

common source of asbestos.

SERPENT MOUND - A snake-shaped site in south-central Ohio built by Native

Americans of the Fort Ancient culture between A.D. 900 and 1600.

SERRATED - Having a notched, toothed or saw-like edge.

SETH - Egyptian god associated with evil. Brother and murderer of Osiris.

SETTLEMENT - A cluster of activity areas used by a community and forming a

camp, village, town, or city.

SETTLEMENT PATTERN - l. the spatial relationship of artifact classes within

a single site. Such studies serve to indicate the activity areas at a site and

may allow inferences of social and political organization to be made. For

example, such elements as the presence of more exotic trade goods, or a greater

diversity of faunal remains associated with a larger house structure might

indicate that its occupants were more affluent and perhaps more influential than

their "poorer" neighbors. 2. the spatial relationship of a number of sites of

the same culture and the environmental setting within which each occur. The

investigation of such patterns can provide useful information on the

relationship between subsistence, technology and ecology.

SETTLEMENT SYSTEM - The entire set of settlements used by a community; for

example, all the base camps and hunting camps used by a band of


SEXUAL DIVISION OF LABOR - The situation in which males and females in a

society perform different tasks. In hunting-gathering societies males usually

hunt while females usually gather wild vegetable food.

SEXUAL STRATIFICATION - The ranking of people in a society according to sex.

SHAFT SMOOTHER - A coarse-grained object (usually stone) with a groove for

an arrow or spear shaft. The shafts are smoothed by abrasion after the fashion

of sanding. Shaft smoothers may come in pairs which fit together around the


SHAFT STRAIGHTENER - A naturally or artificially perforated tool of bone or

stone. The wooden shaft, while still in a "green" state, is inserted into the

hole and the implement is then used as a lever to bend the shaft straight.

SHALE - A dark, fine-grained sedimentary rock formed of clay with cleavage

planes parallel to the bedding.

SHAMAN - The Siberian term for medicine man. By extension, the term is now

used for an individual in any society who derives power directly from the

supernatural and uses it for healing or for interpreting unusual phenomena. Only

rarely do shamans use their power to harmful ends.

SHARE CROPPING - Working land owned by others for a share of the yield.

SHARED ANCESTRAL FEATURE - Compared with a shared derived feature, a

homology that did not appear as recently and is therefore shared by a larger

group of species.

SHARED DERIVED FEATURE - A recently appearing homology that is shared by a

relatively small group of closely related taxa.

SHARING CLUSTERS - Among chimpanzees, temporary groups that form after

hunting to eat the meat.

SHARIA - Meaning "path" in Arabic, Sharia law tells devout Muslims what to

eat, how to pray, and how to behave in public. Muslims believe the Sharia are

revelations from God (Allah). Under strict Sharia law, people may not consume

alcohol, borrow money at interest, or allow women in their family to go out in

public without a veil.

SHAWABTY - Also called "ushabty." A statuette placed in an Egyptian tomb to

labor for the deceased in the afterlife.

SHELL MIDDEN - An archaeological accumulation of shells such as those found on

the Hebredean islands.

SHERDS - The individual pieces of broken pottery vessels.

SHIELD ARCHAIC - An archaeological tradition associated with the Pre-Cambrian

Shield-Boreal Forest of the eastern half of Canada throughout the Archiac

Period. According to the chief proponent of this construct, J.V. Wright (l972),

Shield Archaic populations developed from an earlier northern Plano (Agate

Basin, Keewatin Lanceolate) base in the Keewatin District. The recession of

glacial ice allowed plants and animals to invade the Shield which in turn

provided the impetus for early Shield Archaic peoples to expand throughout the

area. Ongoing climatic change, however, together with the expansion of

Pre-Dorset peoples which it favored, forced the earlier residents from Keewatin

at approximately l000 B.C. Once adopted to life in the Boreal Forest, Shield

Archaic peoples' lifeways remained essentially unchanged for thousands of years

with little if any influence from cultures in adjacent environmental zones.

Continuities in lifeways, artifact styles and the geographic area occupied, lead

Wright to suggest that Shield Archiac people spoke a language ancestral to

modern Algonkian. Artifacts recovered from Shield Archaic sites include a

variety of notched and lanceolate projectile points, various scraper and biface

forms, uniface blades (sense 2), wedges, flake knives, hammerstones, preforms,

ground slate objects, drills, abraders, manos, metates, paintstones,

spokeshaves, anvils, ground clets, points and knives, backed blades (sense 2),

flaked adzes, and copper fishhooks, barbs and gaffs. For Wright (l972), the

relative frequencies of the major artifact classes, projectile points (l6.3%),

biface blades (25.8%) and scrapers (4l.6%) are diagnostic of Shield Archaic

sites. The Shield Archaic is poorly dated. Wright suggests a date on the order

of 5000 B.C. for the beginnings of the tradition and accepts a radiocarbon date

of A.D. 727 from a site on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence as

representative of a late survival of the Shield Archaic. Unfortunately, bone

preservation is extremely poor throughout the Shield and thus radiocarbon dates

are few and the reconstruction of subsistence patterns is a highly inferential


SHIFTING CULTIVATION - (swidden, slash and burn) a form of plant cultivation

in which seeds are planted in the fertile soil prepared by cutting and burning

the natural growth; relatively short periods of cultivation on the land are

followed by longer periods of fallow.

SHIP BURIAL - A ship burial or boat grave is a burial in which a ship or

boat is used either as a container for the dead and for grave goods, or as part

of the actual grave goods. If the ship is really small, it's called a boat


SHIPWORM - This little animal eats wood. It only resides in salt water. Thus

wooden wrecks in the Baltic Sea and freshwater lakes are spared.

SHOULDERED - Having a lateral extension or protrusion. This term may be used

to describe knives, projectile points or ceramic pots.

SHOVEL SCREENING - A rapid excavation procedure in which the site matrix is

shoveled directly through a screen (usually 1/4" mesh).

SHOVEL TEST - A small scale, generally informal test excavation to ascertain

the nature of the deposits, to determine the presence or absence of an

archaeological site, or to delimit the boundaries of a known site.

SIDE-BLADE - A sharp, bifacial tool set into the side of a harpoon.

SILENT TRADE (or dumb barter) - a system by which two groups exchange goods

without making direct contact with one another. One group leaves its goods at an

appointed place and departs. The second group then arrives, leaves its exchange

goods and departs. The firs group returns and if satisfied with the offer, takes

the exchange goods; if not, they reclaim their own goods. Finally, the second

group returns and goes home with whichever set of goods remains.

SILCHESTER - Romano-British town in Northern Hampshire south of modern

Reading. Site of long-term dig by Reading University Archaeology Department.

SILK ROAD - A widespread network of caravan trails crossing Europe and Asia

from the Miditerranean coast to China. By the middle of the second century

B.C.E., the Silk Route began to function as a regular diplomatic and commercial

artery, carrying silk from China, spices and gemstones from India, silver goods

from Iran, Byzantine cloth, and many other goods.

SILT - A fine, loose sediment deposited by water and composed of particles

between 0.02 and 0.002 mm in diameter.

SIMULATION - The formulation and computer implementation of dynamic models

i.e. models concerned with change through time. Simulation is a useful heuristic

device, and can be of considerable help in the development of explanation.

SINEW - Tendon; the tough tissue which attaches a muscle to a bone.

SINEW STONE - A soft, abrasive stone against which a length of sinew is drawn

back and forth. This thins the sinew and makes it more uniform. Over time, deep

grooves are worn into the stone from repeated use.

SINGLE COMPONENT SITE - An archaeological site which contains the remains of

only one culture.

SIOUAN - A language family which, among others includes Crow, Hidatsa,

Mandan, Assiniboine and Dakota.

SISTRUM - The sistrum was a sacred noise-making instrument used in the cult

of Hathor. The sistrum consisted of a wooden or metal frame fitted with loose

strips of metal and disks which jingled when moved. This noise was thought to

attract the attention of the gods. There are two types of sistrum, an iba, was

shaped in a simple loop, like a closed horse-shoe with loose cross bars of metal

above a Hathor head and a long handle. The seseshet had the shape of a naos

temple above a Hathor head, with ornamental loops on the sides. The rattle was

inside the box of the naos. They were usually carried by women of high rank.

SITE CATCHMENT ANALYSIS - A type of off-site analysis which concentrates on

the total area from which a site's contents have been derived; at its simplest,

a site's catchment can be thought of as a full inventory of artifactual and

non-artifactual remains and their sources.

SITE SURVEY - The process of searching for and describing archaeological

sites in a given area.

SITE - A distinct spatial clustering of artifacts, features, structures, and

organic and environmental remains. as the residue of human activity.

SLAG - The material residue of smelting processes from metalworking.

Analysis is often necessary to distinguish slags derived from copper smelting

from those produced in iron production. Crucible slags (from the casting

process) may be distinguished from smelting slags by their high concentration of


SLASH AND BURN AGRICULTURE - A method of farming, also called swidden

agriculture, by which fields are cleared, trees and brush are burned, and the

soil, fertilized by the ash, is then planted.

SLATE - A fine-grained metamorphic rock formed of mudstone or shale and

generally dark in colour. Slate may be sculpted or ground to produce a sharp


SLAVERY - A practice that permits some people within a society to own other

persons and to claim the right to their labor.

SLIP - A creamy or watery mixture of clay and water which is applied to the

surface of a pot before it is fired. This serves to smooth the vessel surface

and renders it more waterproof by clogging the pores of the earthenware. A slip

may also change the color of the pot to virtually any desired shade.

SLOPE DISTANCE - in mapping the inclined distance (as opposed to true

horizontal or vertical distance) between 2 points.

SLUMP - The collapsing of a cliff or the walls of an excavation.

SMUDGE - A small fire which produces smoke and drives away insects.

SNOW KNIFE - A large flat-bladed knife often fashioned from bone which is

used by the Eskimo to cut the blocks of snow for igloos.

SOCIAL CLASS - A group of people having similar social standing.

SOCIAL DIFFERENTIATION - The number and variety of social roles and classes

in a community.

SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT - Human adaptive systems - communities, regional systems,

or empires - surrounding a society.

SOCIAL ORGANIZATION - The way individuals and social units interact to form a


SOCIAL PRESSURE - A means of social control in which people who venture over

the boundaries of society's rules are brought back into line.

SOCIAL ROLE - The activities carried out by an individual in a social unit.

SOCIAL UNIT - A group of people organized to carry out particular activities.

SOCIETY - A human adaptive system.

SOCIOBIOLOGY - The study of the biological control of social behavior.

SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY - A branch of anthropology that deals with

variations in patterns of social interaction and differences in cultural


SOCIO-FUNCTION - The role of an artifact in a society's social organization.

SOCIOLINGUISTICS - A branch of anthropological linguistics that studies how

language and culture are related and how language is used in different social


SOIL - The loose layer at the earth's surface which is composed of weathered

rock particles, water, humus and air and which is capable of supporting rooted


SOIL RESISTIVITY - A method of subsurface detection which measures changes in

conductivity by passing electrical current through ground soils. This is

generally a consequence of moisture content, and in this way, buried features

can be detected by differential retention of groundwater.

SOIL TEXTURE - The relative proportion of clay, silt and sand sized particles

in a soil.

SOIL-SIEVES - Small, precision metal screens, used for determining the

proportions of different sized particles in a soil sediment sample.

SOIL-SOUNDING RADAR - A method of subsurface detection in which short radio

pulses are sent through the soil, such that the echoes reflect back significant

changes in soil conditions.

SOLIFLUCTION - The slow downslope movement of surface sediments in a

saturated condition. Prevalent in permafrost areas due to the seasonal thawing

of the surface of the permafrost zone. Can cause complete mixture of site

stratigraphy and archaeological components.

SOMATIC - A term that refers to the body.

SONORAN DESERT - a region stretching from Parker, Wickenburg, and the Tonto

Basin in Arizona on the north; to the Rio Culiacan in Sinaloa, Mexico on the

south; east to the Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico, and the Huachuca, Santa

Catalina, Rincon, and Pinaleño Mountains in Arizona, and west to the Gulf of

California, the Colorado River delta, and the Salton Sea in California. The

desert includes parts of the state of Sinaloa, most of Sonora, and the northeast

corner of Baja California in Mexico; and the southern half of Arizona and the

southeastern corner of California in the United States. The area is

characterized by vegetation ranging from creosote bush and bursage at lower

elevations to palo verde, mesquite, and saguaro at higher elevations.

SONOTA COMPLEX - A Late Prehistoric Period complex originally defined on the

basis of village and burial mound sites on the Missouri River in North and South

Dakota. These bison-hunting people made extensive use of Knife River Flint to

manufacture various tools including an atlatl point which is in many respects

similar to the Besant type. One rather curious trait of this complex is the

occurrence of bison longbones driven vertically into the ground. The same

phenomenon has also been noted at Besant sites and it has been suggested that

they were used as anvils in flint knapping. Sonota people buried the bundled

bones of their dead in mounds. The presence of whole and partial skeletons of

bison in these mounds attests to the symbolic as well as practical significance

attached to this animal. Authorities are divided in their interpretation of the

relationship between Besant and Sonota. Some view them as separate complexes

while others would group them all as Besant (Reeves l983; Syms l977).

SOROATE - A social custom under which a widower has the right to marry one of

his deceased wife's sisters, and her kin are obliged to provide him with a new


SOUTHERN CULT Southern Cult (also Buzzard Cult, Death Cult) - The name

attached to the ceremonial artifacts and art style shared by Mississippian

sites. Wood, copper, clay, stone and shell were used to fashion figurines,

headdresses, earspools, celts, plaques, axes, masks, effigy rattles, maces, and

effigy pipes. Depicted through these media are birds of prey, vultures, skulls,

spiders, dancers with snakes, winged warriors holding human heads, the hand-eye

symbol, the sun symbol and the weeping eye motif. Included too are depictions of

priest-like figures holding daggers to the throats of their victims and various

other scenes suggestive of human sacrifice. Fairly clearly of Mexican

inspiration, the ceremonial artifacts are more like one another over a broader

area than are the more mundane tool and weapon styles. For this reason, they are

seen as representative of rituals and beliefs which are shared by a large number

of peoples irrespective of the differences in the other aspects of their lives.

SPALL - A flake which has been produced naturally (such as by exposure to

heat) or by human design.

SPEAR - A weapon consisting of a long shaft and a sharp point which may be

thrown (as a javeline) or thrusted.

SPECIALIZATION - The limited range of activities in which a single individual

is likely to be engaged.

SPECIALIZED PASTORALISM - The adaptive strategy of exclusive reliance on

animal husbandry.

SPECIALIZED SPECIES - A species closely fit to a specific environment and

able to tolerate little change in that environment.

SPECIALIZED TRAIT - A structure used basically for one function.

SPECIATION - The evolutionary process that is said to occur when two

previous subspecies (of the same species) are no longer capable of successful

interbreeding; they are then two different species.

SPECIES - The largest natural population whose members are able to reproduce

successfully among themselves.

SPEECH COMMUNITY - A socially distinct group that develops a dialect; a

variety of language that diverges from the national language in vocabulary,

pronunciation, and grammar.

SPHINX - A figure with the body of a lion and the head of a man, hawk or a


SPIRIT HELPER - A personal guardian or protective spirit who was often

acquired by questing and privation and who usually communicated through dreams

or visitations.

SPIRIT POSSESSION - The supposed control of a person's behavior by a

supernatural spirit that has entered the body.

SPOKSHAVE - A scraper with a pronounced concave working edge used for

scraping arrow or spear shafts or bows, etc.

SPONTANEOUS GENERATION - An old and incorrect idea that complex life forms

could be spontaneously created from nonliving material.

STABILITY - The ability of an ecosystem to return to equilibrium after


STADIAL ROD - A graduated staff used in conjunction with a transit or

theodolite in surveying. The distance from the instrument to the rod may be

calculated in the same units with which the rod is calibrated (meters or feet).

STAGE - A distinct "level" or period of development of an organism or a


STAMNOS - Storage jar with two handles.

STANDARD DEVIATION - Statistical measurement of the amount of variation in a

series of determinations; the probability of the real number's falling within

plus or minus one standard deviation is 67 percent.

STANDING WAVE TECHNIQUE - Acoustic method, similar to bosing, used in

subsurface detection.

STATE - Term used to describe a social formation defined by distinct

territorial boundries, and characterized by strong central government in which

the operation of political power is sanctioned by legitimate force. In cultural

evolutionist models, it ranks second only to the empire as the most complex

societal development stage.

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS - The application of probability theory to quantified

descriptive data.

STATISTICS - l. the science which concerns itself with the collection,

classification and use of quantitative data and with the application of

probability theory to estimate aspects of a population from a sample. 2. the

numerical data themselves.

STATUS - Position in a pattern of reciprocal behavior.

STEATITE - A soft gray-green or brown talc which was worked into smoking

pipes and bowls by grinding and polishing; also known as "soapstone".

STELA - An upright stone monument in the form of a slab or pillar, often

carved, and having a rectangular cross-section

STEP TRENCHING - Excavation method employed on very deep sites, such as Near

Eastern tell sites, in which the excavation proceeds downwards in a series of

gradually narrowing steps.

STERILE - In archaeology, lacking in any evidence of human activity.

STOCKADE - An enclosure or a strong, high barrier made of stakes or timbers.

STONEHENGE - Near the town of Avebury in Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge is

perhaps the finest of the British megalithic monuments. It stands in the center

of Salisbury Plain, surrounded by a complex of cemeteries and ritual sites.

Stonehenge is believed to date to about 2780 B.C., near the end of the Neolithic

period. The function of the monument is thought to have been spiritual, but the

arrangement of the megaliths also suggest possible astronomical uses, such as a


STONEWARE - A kind of pottery made of a clay high in vitreous minerals and

fired at such a high temperature (l200 c) that it fuses into an extremely dense,

non-porous substance. Stoneware is very hard and impervious to acids and


STORAGE PIT - Circular excavations usually less than 3 m in diameter assumed

to have aboriginally functioned as storage "cellars".

STRANDLINE - Shoreline; an active beach or one which marks the edge of a

now-extinct body of water.

STRATIFICATION - Layers of deposits that provide archaeologists with one of

the major tools or clues for interpreting archaeological sites (stratigraphy).

Over time, debris and soil accumulate in layers. Color, texture, and contents

may change with each layer. Archaeologists try to explain how each layer was

added--if it occurred naturally, deliberately (garbage), or from the collapse of

structures--and they record it in detailed drawings so others can follow.

STRATIFIED RANDOM SAMPLING - A sampling method in which the area or site to

be tested is first divided into a number of smaller sections (strata) and then

each of these is sampled randomly. Excavation is such a time-consuming business

that archaeologists rarely have the time or funds to excavate an entire site.

The problem becomes completely insurmountable when the region to be investigated

comprises a township, valley or county. For that reason, archaeologists must

concern themselves with methods of taking a sample, the object of which is to

achieve a body of data which is representative of all that the site or region

contains. To avoid human bias, an archaeologist might take a sample randomly,

but too often, truly randomized units cluster together leaving some areas

untested while "oversampling" others. Stratified random sampling ensures that

the entire length and breadth of a site or all of the ecological zones within an

area are tested while at the same time retaining an acceptable degree of

randomness for most purposes.

STRATIFIED SOCIETY - Society in which extensive subpopulations are accorded

differential treatment.

STRATIGRAPHY - Having the property of being arranged in a series of layers,

after the fashion of a layer cake. According to the Law of Superposition, when

one deposit overlies another, the higher must have been laid down more recently.

As a consequence, any artifacts found in the upper layer must be younger than

those from the lower layer. Different kinds of deposits accumulate in response

to different environmental factors. Wind-blown (aeolian) sediments are different

from those laid down by flowing water (alluvium) and soils which form under

coniferous forests vary from those which form under deciduous or grassland

conditions. Consequently a soil profile may consist of a series of layers

(strata) which are visibly distinct from one another in terms of their

composition, color, texture and particle sizes. If the layers bear artifacts,

the archaeologist con be confident that those from a single stratum "belong

together" and are of approximately the same age. Furthermore he can be assured

that they are younger than those from the lower level, but older than those from

the overlying stratum. Stratified multi-component sites are therefore invaluable

tools for establishing a cultural chronology of a region. A study of the strata

themselves (pedology) may indicate the sequence of environmental conditions

which characterized the area over time and suggest the various modes of

adaptation and subsistence which the local cultures employed. Unfortunately,

most multi-component sites in Manitoba are mixed due to frost action, rodent

tunnelling or root growth. collapsed stratigraphy. a profile in which one

stratum has eroded out thus causing the upper strata to slump down upon a lower


STRATUM - A level or layer, particularly when part of a series of layers.

(plural strata).

STRIKE-A-LIGHT - An object of stone, iron or steel which is struck against a

stone to produce a spark for igniting gunpowder or tinder.

STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM - The theory that the central function of the

various aspects of a society is to maintain the social structure--the society's

pattern of social relations and institutions.

STRUCTURALIST APPROACHES - Interpretations which stress that human actions

ate guided by beliefs and symbolic concepts, and that underlying these ate

structures of thought which find expression in various forms. The proper object

of study is therefore to uncover the structures of thought and to study their

influence in shaping the ideas in the minds of the human actors who created the

archaeological record.

STYLE - According to the art historian, Ernst Gombrich, style is "any

distinctive and therefore recognizable way in which an act is performed and

made." Archaeologists and anthropologists have defined "stylistic areas" as

regional units representing shared ways of producing and decorating artifacts.

STYX - River that separated the world of the living from the world of the

dead in Greek and Roman myth.

SUBARCTIC - l. of or pertaining to regions south of the Arctic Circle; these

regions themselves. 2. of or pertaining to the coniferous (Boreal) forest zone

which lies south of the tundra and north of the grasslands and deciduous

forests; this zone itself.

SUB-ATLANTIC - A central North American climatic episode dating from 8l0

B.C. to A.D. 270 which was cooler and moister than the present.

SUB-BOREAL - A central North American climatic episode dating from 3ll0 to

8l0 B.C. which marks the transition from the hot, dry Atlantic to the cool,

moist Sub-Atlantic episode.

SUBSISTENCE - Livelihood; the means by which an individual or group

maintains life.

SUBSISTENCE PATTERN - The basic means by which a human group extracted and

utilized energy from its environment.

SUBSTANTIVISM - A school of economic anthropology that seeks to understand

economic processes as the maintenance of an entire cultural order.

SUCKING TUBE - A hollow cylinder, often made from a cut section of longbone,

through which a shaman or other healer magically withdraws an intrusive object

from a patient. The belief that illness is a result of some foreign object

within a person is fairly widespread. Sometimes the shaman will hide a small

object within his mouth beforehand so that after his treatment he may produce it

as proof of the cure.

SUMER - A region in the southern part of ancient Mesopotamia. The Sumerians

arrived about 5000 B.C.; the civilization was made up of independent walled

city-states, and declined around 1700 B.C. with the rise of the Babylonians.

SUNDANCE - A renewal and purification ceremony fairly common among North

American plains Indians. Generally, a man would pledge to give a Sundance if he

or a relative was guilty of some misconduct or if the hunters had been unable to

locate buffalo. The ceremony often lasted four days and nights and was marked by

much singing, dancing, self torture and mutilation as well as more purely social

activities such as courting, gambling and playing of games.

SUPERNATURAL BELIEFS - A set of beliefs found in all societies that transcend

the natural, observable world.

SUPERPOSITION - This describes how layers are usually laid down according to

their age: the oldest layer is found on the bottom, and the most recent layer is

on top. So, if a layer is on top of another layer, it is probably more recent.

SURFACE COLLECTION - The recovery of artifacts from the ground surface; the

artifacts themselves. These are generally of limited interpretive value as their

original spatial relationships (see context, in situ, provenience) have been

disturbed. Nonetheless it may be sufficient to determine the age and cultural

affiliation of the original site. If done systematically, it can also indicate

the size of the site and the location of specific activity areas.

SURFACE FINISH - In the study of ceramic artifacts, the mainly decorative

outer elements of a vessel.

SURFACE SCATTER - Archaeological materials found distributed over the ground


SURFACE STRUCTURE - Particular arrangement of words that we hear or read.

SURVEY - l. the investigation of an area to locate archaeological sites and

to acquire a preliminary understanding of its prehistory. This latter aim is

most commonly achieved by means of surface collecting and the excavation of test

pits. 2. to systematically map and grid an archaeological site. Surveying

instruments such as the transit and the theodolite are generally used.

SWAN RIVER CHERT - A multi-coloured (white, gray, pink, yellow, orange)

chert with a glossy, waxy or dull lustre with concoidal fracturing properties

composed largely of quartz with chalcedony as a cementing agent. Swan River

Chert is quite common in the western half of the province and was a popular

material for the production of stone tools throughout its prehistory.

SYMBOL - Something that can represent something distant from it in time and


SYNCRETISM - Absorption of one God into the cult or persona of another.

SYSTEMATIC SAMPLING - The selection of sample units according to some

regular interval, such as every tenth one.


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TACONITE - A fine-grained sedimentary rock which occurs naturally in the

Lake Superior region and which is a suitable material for the manufacture of

stone tools.

TACTILE PADS - The tips of the fingers and toes of primates; area richly

endowed by tactile nerve endings sensitive to touch.

TAIGA - The environmental zone dominated by coniferous tree species which

lies immediately south of the tundra in the Old and New Worlds. In North

America, this equates with the Boreal Forest.

TAPE MEASURE - A tape measure is used to lay out a grid over an

archaeological site, to measure each unit to make sure it is square, to measure

the depth of each level, and to measure the distance of each feature from the

corner of the unit. This tool is essential to archaeologists.

TAPHONOMY - The study of the means by which organic materials become part of

the archaeological (or fossil) record. A study of an object with an eye to

determining hoe it has been preserved or why it has decomposed in the way it has

can tell us something of the conditions prevalent at the time it was deposited.

TANG - A long, narrow, pointed projection at the base of a tool or weapon to

facilitate hafting.

TARSAL - Pertaining to or constituting the bones of the human ankle and

heel, or one of the corresponding bones of the hind leg of other animals.

TARQUINIA - An ancient Etruscan city north of Rome.

TASK GROUPS - Behavioral components composed of sets of people (not

households) that carry out the bulk of a society's activities.

TAXON - A unit or group within a system of classification. (plural taxa).

TAXONOMY - The classification of objects or organisms on the basis of their


TECHNO-FUNCTION - The role of an artifact in a society's technology.

TECHNOLOGICAL TYPES - Artifact types designed on the basis of techniques and

stages of manufacture.

TECHNOLOGY - l. the knowledge and methods necessary to produce useable or

consumable artifacts or products of similar materials by similar methods (eg.

Paleo-Indian bone technology).

TECTONIC MOVEMENTS - displacements in the plates that make up the earth's

crust, often responsible for the occurrence of raised beaches and other changes

in settlement locale.

TELL - In the Near East, a large mound built up from trash and the remains

of mud-brick architecture.

TEMPER - Solid particles such as sand, grit, crushed shell, plant fiber or

crushed pottery (grog) which is mixed with the wet clay before the vessel is

fired. Temper adds strength to pottery and makes it less likely to crack when

drying or while being baked.

TEMPLE MOUND CULTURE - A less frequently used term for the Mississippian.

TEMPORAL TYPES - Artifact types designated on the time of manufacture.

TENT RING - The circle of stones used to hold down the edges of a tent and

which remains behind in a slightly disturbed form after the tent is removed.

TEPHRA - Volcanic ash. In the Mediterranean, for example, deep-sea coring

produced evidence for the ash fall from the eruption of Theta, and its

stratigraphic position provided important information in the construction of a

relative chronology.

TERMITE STICK - A tool made and used by chimpanzees for collecting termites

for food.

TERMS OF ADDRESS - The terms people use when they address their kin


TERMS OF REFERENCE - The terms by which people refer to their kin when they

speak about them in the third person.

TERRACE - The former banks of a river or shores of a body of water exposed

due to a drop in water level. When terraces occur as a series of steps, the

highest is taken to be the oldest as it would have been the first to be exposed.

TERRA COTTA - Fired (baked) clay.

TERRA COTTA SOLDIERS - The more than 7,000 terra-cotta figures that were

found in the tomb of the Emperor Qin Shihuangdi, China's first emperor (221­206

B.C.). The tomb is located central China's, Xi'an province.

TESSERAE - Small cubes of stone, glass or ceramic used to create a mosaic.

TESTING - The first stage of excavation, normally undertaken to investigate

the way a site formed and sometimes to estimate the population parameters of


TEST PIT - A unit excavated to determine the presence or absence of an

archaeological site, or the nature of the deposits.

TEXTILE - A fabric produced from the weaving of fibers of animal or vegetal


THEBAN TRIAD - This consist of the gods Amun, his wife Mut, and their son


THEBES - City in southern Egypt which was a major administrative center and

location of Karnak temple.

THEISM - Belief in one or more gods of extrahuman origin.

THEODOLITE - A surveying instrument capable of measuring vertical and

horizontal angles and consisting of a tripod-mounted telescope.

THEORY OF ACQUIRED CHARACTERISTICS - The concept, popularized by Lamarck,

that traits gained during a lifetime can then be passed on to the next

generation by genetic means; considered invalid today.

THEORY OF EVOLUTION - Charles Darwin's theory developed in A.D. 1859, in his

book Origin of Species. Darwin theorized that humans evolved from a lower order

of animals, such as primates.

THERMAL PROSPECTION - A remote sensing method used in aerial reconnaissance.

It is based on weak variations in temperature which can be found above buried

structures whose thermal properties are different from those of their


THERMOLUMINESCENCE - A method of dating that measures the energy given off

from the breakdown of radioactive elements. This energy is trapped in pottery

and given off as light. Older objects give off more light.

THESEUS - Legendary king of Athens who killed the Minotaur, the monster kept

by King Minos on Crete.

THOMSEN, CHRISTIAN JURGEN - Pioneering Nineteenth Century Danish

archaeologist. Thomson organized his exhibitions at the National Museum in

Copenhagen on the basis of three ages: the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age.

His scheme is still used today.

THRACE - A region and ancient country in the southeast Balkan Peninsula

north of the Aegean Sea. In the seventh century B.C.E., it was colonized by

Greeks and later came under the control of Rome, Byzantium, and Ottoman Turkey.

It is now divided between Greece and Turkey.

THREAT GESTURE - A physical activity used by one animal to threaten another

animal. Some threat gestures are staring, shaking a branch, and lunging toward

another animal.

THREE AGE SYSTEM - A classification system devised by C.J. Thomsen for the

sequence of technological periods (stone, bronze, and iron) in Old World

prehistory. It established the principle that by classifying artifacts, one

could produce a chronological ordering.

THRESHING - Separating grain from the husks and straw by beating or rubbing.

THULE - The Latin name which ancient geographers gave to the most northerly

land in the inhabited world. More recently, the term has been applied to an

archaeological culture which blanketed the North American arctic shortly after

A.D. l000. The artifactual inventory of these coastally adapted people included

rectangular winter houses, soapstone lamps and cooking vessels, trace buckles

and swivels for dog harnesses, the ulu, bone and antler arrow and harpoon heads

and carved ivory bird figurines. Judging from the time slope indicated by

numerous radiocarbon dates, Thule culture emerged in Alaska and spread rapidly

across the arctic as far as Greenland. Their relationship, if any, with the

earlier Dorset peoples is unknown but there is general agreement that the Thule

is directly ancestral to the modern Inuit.

THUNDERBIRD - In mythology, large bird that produced thunder by flapping its

wings. Belief in the thunderbird was formerly widespread among native North

Americans and in Asia.

THYRSOS - Staff made of pinecone topped fennel stock carried by followers of


TILL - The unstratified deposits of a glacier, usually consisting of sand,

gravel, clay, silt and boulders.

TIME-DEPTH - The life span of a culture (sense l), language or family of

languages. Thus a culture which is recognized in the archaeological record as

beginning in 500 B.C. and terminating at A.D. 500 would have a time-depth of

l000 years.

TIME SLOPE - A series of dates which become progressively older in a given

direction through space, thus pointing to the place of origin of the dated

complex or trait.

TIPI RING - l. the circular arrangement of stones used to hold down the

edges of a tipi in those areas where wood for stakes was unavailable. When camp

was broken and the tipis disassembled, the stones would simply be rolled off and

left behind thus maintaining the roughly circular arrangements. 2. a circular

arrangement of tipis within a camp.

TOGA - Woolen mantle worn by Roman men as a sign of their citizenship.

TOLTEC - Native Americans from the city of Tollan.

TOOL-KIT - As used by archaeologists, the full range of artifacts of a single


TOPOGRAPHY - The study or description of the surface configuration of a

region; the surface configuration itself.

TORAH - The five books of Moses in the Hebrew scriptures. The term also

refers to the study of the Jewish tradition.

TOTEM - A plant or animal whose name is adopted by a clan and that holds a

special significance for its members, usually related to their mythical


TRACES - All the physical characteristics of an artifact.

TRADITION - A style, technology or lifeway which persists for a long period

of time within a given region.

TRAIT - An artifact type used to establish relationships between

archaeological cultures.

TRAJAN - Emperor of Rome from CE 98-117

TRANSIT - A surveying (sense 2) instrument capable of measuring vertical and

horizontal angles and consisting of a tripod-mounted telescope. The transit is

similar to the theodolite in many respects, but differs in that it has a longer

telescope, exposed vernier scales and an integral compass.

TRANSHUMANCE - Seasonal movement of livestock between upland and lowland


TRANSIT - A sophisticated optical surveying instrument similar to an alidade,

except that it is mounted directly on a tripod, rather than resting on a plane

TRAVELERS - Hunter-gatherers who follow a regular yearly round, occupying a

series of campsites for brief periods when a valued resource is available in the

vicinity of each site (a logistical pattern).

TRAVOIS - Two long, parallel poles which serve as frame to which baggage or

supplies may be attached while in transit. One end of the poles is fastened on

either side of a draft animal while the opposite ends drag behind. There is some

evidence to suggest that the dog-drawn travois was a Middle Prehistoric Period


TRENCH - An excavation recovery unit, in the shape of an elongated rectangle,

often used to expose the layering of deposits at a site

TRIANGULATION - A method of surveying (sense 2) in which an area is

sub-divided into triangles of which two angles and the length of one side are

known. The lengths of the other two sides are calculated using trigonometric


TRIASSIC PERIOD - Between 248 and 206 million years ago. Period

characterized by the appearance of the first dinosaurs and mammals on earth.

TRIBE - The second state in the 'stage model', representing village farmers

and herders.

TRIBE - In popular usage, any non-literate society. For anthropologists,

however, the term usually takes on a more specific meaning. Like a band, a tribe

is a fairly small, non-literate society, but it makes use of institutions

(clubs, age grades, secret societies) to hold it together in addition to kinship

networks. Many tribal societies subsist through horticulture or the raising of

livestock rather than hunting and gathering.

TRICLINIUM - Dining room of Roman house.

TRIM BIT - A piece that is trimmed or pared off during manufacture.

TROWEL - A small hand tool consisting of a metal blade (sense l) attached to

a handle. The mason's trowel, having a flat blade.

TROY - City in western Turkey and site of the war between the Greeks and the


TRUNCATE - To shorten or blunt by cutting off an end or through breakage.

TUFF - Deposits of volcanic ash that have formed a crust-like layer over the

underlying land.

TUMULUS - A mound of earth or loose stones covering a burial.

TUNDRA - The vast treeless regions of North America, Europe and Asia which

lies between the polar ice cap and the northern edge of the coniferous forests.

The subsoil here is permanently frozen, but the surface soil may support mosses

and lichens.

THE TWO LANDS - Egypt i.e. Upper Egypt (south) and Lower Egypt (north).

TYPE SITE - An archaeological site which has produced the artifacts which

are considered to be typical of a particular complex. Very often, the site at

which a complex was first discovered or defined is considered the type site.

TYPOLOGY - The classification of artifacts into groups (types) on the basis

of method of manufacture, form, decoration, etc.


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ULU - A half-moon shaped Eskimo woman's knife. Typically, it is made of

ground slate, and is fitted with a wooden handle.

UMIAK - A large, open, flat-bottomed boat consisting of walrus hide over a

spruce frame and used primarily by Eskimo women.

UNCONFORMITY - The surface of a stratum that represents a break in the

stratigraphic sequence.

UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGY - The process of excavating archaeological material

covered by fresh or seawater.

UNDERWATER RECONNAISSANCE - geophysical methods of underwater survey include

(1) a proton magnetometer towed behind a survey vessel, so as to detect iron and

steel objects which distort the earth's magnetic field; (2) sidescan sonar that

transmits sound waves in a fan-shaped beam to produce a graphic image of surface

features on the sea-bed; (3) a sub-bottom profiler that emits sound pulses which

bounce back from features and objects buried beneath the sea floor.

UNDERWORLD BOOKS - A textual and pictorial compositions that is found in New

Kingdom tombs. It follows the daily passage of the sun god across the sky and

through the underworld.

UNIFACE - A lithic artifact which has been worked or retouched on one face


UNIFACIAL FLAKING - The removal of secondary flakes from only one surface of

a stone nucleus.

UNIFORMITARIANISM - The principle that maintains that processes seen

operating today also operated in the past.

UNILINEAL DESCENT GROUP - A kin group in which membership is inherited only

through either the paternal or the maternal line, as the society dictates.

UNILINEAL EVOLUTION - A pattern of cultural progress through a sequence of

evolutionary stages; the basic premise of the early cultural evolutionists.

UNIT - One of the squares excavated on an archaeological site; a pit.

UNIT PRODUCTION - The manufacture of an artifact by a craftsman who performs

all the operations in its production.

UNSTRUCTURED INTERVIEW - An ethnographic data-gathering technique usually

used in the early stages of one's fieldwork in which interviewees are asked to

respond to broad, open-ended questions.

URAEUS - A symbol of Egyptian kingship. A rearing cobra was worn on the

king's forehead or crown. The cobra was associated with the "eye" of the sun. It

was a protector of the king, spitting out fire.

URANIUM SERIES DATING - A dating method based on the radioactive decay of

isotopes of uranium. It has proved particularly useful for the period before

50,000 years ago, which lies outside the time range of radiocarbon dating.

URBANIZATION - The proportionate rise in the number of people living in

cities in comparison to the number living in rural areas.

URBANIZED SOCIETY - A society in which a majority of people live in cities.

URN - A pottery vessel, usually rather large, deep, and without handles.

Urns were most often used for holding the ashes and bones of the dead and were

sometimes buried.

USE LIFE - The average time that artifacts of a particular type remain in


USE WEAR - The gradual attrition or accumulation of materials that occurs on

an artifact during use.

USHABTI - Literally translated it means "to answer." It is a small mummiform

figure placed in tombs to do work in the afterlife on behalf of the deceased. In

some tombs of the late New Kingdom whole gangs of ushabti workers were included

with different tools for doing different work. A complete collection would

consist of 401 ushabti: one for each day of the year, 365 plus 36 foreman.

UTILITARIAN - Pertaining to the characteristics of an artifact determined by

the physical requirements of the job it was made to perform.

U.T.M. - Abbreviation for Universal Transverse Mercator; a rectangular grid

system found on all standard military maps which has been advocated for use in

site designation and location by some archaeologists.


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VALDERS - a re-advance of Wisconsin ice in the Lake Superior and Michigan

basins at approximately ll,800 B.P.

VANDALISM - The malicious and intentional destruction or defacing of


VARIABLE - Any property that may be displayed in different forms.

VARNAS CASTE - Groups in Hindu India associated with certain occupations.

VENTRAL - l. the flat or concave face of an artifact. 2. that face of an

artifact which was nearest to the center of the core from which it was

manufactured. 3. of or pertaining to the front of the body; towards the belly.

VENUS - Roman name for Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty.

VENUS FIGURINES - Small Upper Paleolithic statues characterized by

exaggerated breasts and buttocks and very stylized heads, hands, and feet.

VERTEBRATE - A member of the subphylum Vertebrate; possesses a bony spine or

vertebral column.

VERTICAL ANGLE - In mapping, the angle of sight measured on the vertical


VERTICAL CIRCLE - With major surveying instruments, the graduated vertical

table around which the sighting telescope rotates; used to measure the vertical


VERTICAL CLINGING AND LEAPING - A method of locomotion in which the animal

clings vertically to a branch and moves between branches by leaping vertically

from one to another. The animal moves on the ground by hopping or moves


VERTICAL DATUM - A base measurement point from which all elevations are


VERTICAL DISTANCE - The measurement of distance (or elevations) on a true

vertical plane.

VERTICAL PROVENIENCE - The vertical position of objects within a site

determined in relation to a vertical datum or datum plane, as well as to the

local ground surface.

VICTORIAPITHECIDAE - Family of Early and Middle Miocene Old World monkeys

from north and east Africa.

VILLA - Roman country house or estate.

VIKINGS - A culture originating in Scandinavia (now Norway, Denmark and

Sweden) around the mid-8th century A.D. The Vikings were fierce conquerors,

brave explorers, and skilled craftspeople; they invaded and settled countries

throughout Western Europe. They were the first Europeans to discover America (in

about A.D. 1000), almost 500 years before Columbus.

VIROLOCAL - Pertaining to the pattern in which a newlywed couple takes up

residence in the home, village or territory of the husband's family.

Virilocality generally results in patrilocality.

VISION PIT - A subterranean pit in which a youth would wait while on a

vision quest. Some Thunderbird Nests may have served essentially the same


VISION QUEST - Among some native North American peoples, a puberty rite in

which young boys would seek visions and/or a spirit helper. Physical hardships

such as lack of water, food or sleep and inadequate clothing in the winter were

commonly part of the experience.

VITREOUS - Pertaining to, or resembling glass.

VIZIER - High ranking official in the ancient Egyptian government.

VOLCANIC ASH - Layers of airborne pumice resulting from violent volcanic

eruptions. Provide valuable dating markers when found in sites.

VULCAN - Roman god of fire. Called Hephaistos by the Greeks.


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WADI - Arabic word for a rocky watercourse. Dry except in the rainy season.

WARE - The largest and most general classification into which pottery can be

grouped. Wares are usually defined on the basis of such attributes as surface

finish (eg. smooth, corded, etc.), composition of the paste (e.g.

shell-tempered, grit tempered, etc.) and vessel form (globular, conoidal etc.).

A ware generally includes a number of types (often defined on the basis of

decorative elements) and these in turn may include a number of varieties (based

upon the manner in which the decorative elements are arranged).

WATER TABLE - The level of groundwater below which all cavities are filled

and permeable rock formations are saturated with water.

WATTLE & DAUB - A construction technique using mud plastered over a

framework of cut branches.

WEALTH - The accumulation of material objects that have value within a


WEAR PATTERN - The distinctive way a tool is worn or abraded through use.

Examination of wear patterns can often and more reliably identify the function a

tool served, than can consideration of size and shape alone.

WEATHERING - The alteration of materials by environmental processes.

WEATHERING ZONE - In pedology, the depth to which soil processes are


WEIR - A barrier constructed across a stream or on a tidal flat to trap


WELDED TUFF - A rock formed of consolidated pumice or volcanic ash.

Occasionally used as a raw material for lithic artifacts.

WENTWORTH SCALE - A particle size scale ranging from "boulder" (greater than

256 mm) to "clay" (less than 0.0039 mm) with intermediate ranges to allow the

definition of cobbles, pebbles, sand and silt. Sieves with correct mesh sizes

are available so that the proportions of these various particles can be readily


WHEELER BOX-GRID - An excavation technique developed by Mortimer Wheeler

from the work of Pitt-Rivers, involving the retaining of intact baulks of earth

between excavation grid squares, so that different layers can be correlated

across the site in the vertical profiles.

WHETSTONE - A sharpening stone.

WICKIUP - A beehive-shaped hut of grass or brush most commonly found in the

American Southwest.

WIGWAM - A dwelling structure consisting of bark, matting or hide over a

frame of arched poles.

WINDBREAK - A rude screen or fence intended to provide shelter from the


WINNOWING - Separating grain from chaff by means of a wind or air current.

WINTER COUNT - Among native peoples of the North American plains, a

pictorial history painted on buffalo hide.

WISCONSIN (AN) GLACIATION - The latest major episode of glacial advance in

the Pleistocene of North America; from about 70,000 to 10,000 B.P.

WITCHCRAFT (1) - Use of religious ritual to control, exploit, or injure

unsuspecting, or at least uncooperating, other persons.

WITCHCRAFT (2) - A pagan earth based religious philosophy.

WONDERS OF THE WORLD - A list made by Greek writers in the second century

B.C.: (1) the Pyramids at Giza, (2) the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, (3) the

Statue of Zeus at Olympia, (4) the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, (5) the Mausoleum

at Halicarnassus, (6) the Colossus of Rhodes, and (7) the Pharos of Alexandria

lighthouse. Only the Pyramids at Giza survive.

WOODLAND PERIOD - The most recent of the three "stages" in the prehistory of

the eastern forests of North America. In accordance with the trend which began

with the earlier Archaic Period, the Woodland witnesses increased regionalism

and the proliferation of local cultures. As this period is often defined by the

appearance of pottery in local assemblages, and because these cultures adopted

pottery at different times, no single date marks the beginning of the Woodland


WORKDAY - The culturally established number of hours that a person ideally

spends at work each day.

WORLD SYSTEM - A term coined by the historian Wallerstein to designate an

economic unit, articulated by trade networks extending far beyond the boundaries

of individual political units (nation states), and linking them together in a

larger functioning unit.

WORSAAE'S LAW - The law that artifacts deposited together in a grave were in

use at the time.


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XERIC - Pertaining to, or growing in dry conditions.

XEROTHERMY - Aridity; dry heat.

XEROPHYTE - A dry-loving plant such as cactus.

XIBALBA - Maya underworld.

X-RAY DIFFRACTION ANALYSIS - A technique used in identifying minerals

present in artifact raw materials; it can also be used in geomorphological

contexts to identify particular clay minerals in sediments, and thus the

specific source from which the sediment was derived.

X-RAY FLUORESCENCE - The bombardment of a sample for chemical analysis with

X-rays. The light which the sample emits indicates which chemicals are present

and the relative proportions in which they occur.


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YUCCA - Several plants that are members of the lily family. The plants grow

throughout the Southwest at elevations of 1500 to 6000 feet. Plants are

characterized by a clump of thin, pointed leaves at the base and a single

flowering stalk. White flowers appear on the stalks each spring. The plant is

important not only for its fiber but for soap obtained from the root and for the

use of its seeds. fruits. and flowers as food.


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ZIGGURAT - A type of step-pyramid temple built by the Sumerians 4000 years

ago in southern Mesopotamia, from sun-dried mud bricks.

ZEBRA MUSSELS - Increased activity of this organism seems to threaten

shipwrecks in the North American Great Lakes.

ZEUS - King of the Greek gods. Called Jupiter by the romans.

ZEUS-AMMON - A combination of the Greek god Zeus with the Egyptian god Amun.

ZHONG (Chinese) - Bell

ZODIAC - The Babylonian and Greek signs of the zodiac were introduced into

Egypt in the Greco-Roman Period. They were adapted into Egyptian imagery and

used to decorate ceilings of tombs and temples, and coffin lids. Other cultures

have also divided the heavens into zodiacs for related uses.

ZONE - A geographic area characterized by some distinctive feature such as

the flora, fauna, climate etc. 2. a particular cultural, geological or

pedological layer or level. 3. an area on the surface of a ceramic vessel which

is modified differently (eg. punctates, rocker stamping, painted, etc.) than the

adjacent areas.

ZOOARCHAEOLOGY - The study of faunal remains found in archaeological sites

and their cultural significance.

ZOOMORPHIC - "animal-like". refers to art-work or decorated objects with an

animal motif or appearance.

ZOROASTRIAN - One who accepts Zoroastrianism, a Persian religion founded in

the sixth century B.C.E. by the prophet Zoroaster. It is characterized by the

worship of a supreme god, Ahura Mazda, who requires good deeds to help in his

struggle against the evil spirit Ahriman.

ZUN (Chinese) - Wine vessel.

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References used are Merriam Webster dictionary, Merriam Webster Thesaurus,

Encyclopedia Brittanica, , Manitoba Prehistory Glossary, , Webref Glossary and