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Archaeology

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Jarred Corby

on 22 January 2015

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Transcript of Archaeology

Archaeology
Desert Heat
The best example of this is in Egypt, where excessively dry conditions halted the normal rate of decay. Consequently, mummified bodies survived thousands of years almost intact, as did the papyrus on which the Egyptians wrote. This also explains why the Egyptains believed the body could live forever.
Waterlogging
Marshes and peat bogs also preserve objects, partly because in stagnant water there is little oxygen for the normal processes of decay to work or bacteria to survive. This has led to the discovery of the so-called bog people in Scandinavia, the most famous of which is 'Tollund man', in Denmark
Key Terms
Preservation of the Past
Choosing an Excavation Site
Specialists Contribution to Archaeology
Research the following specialists; Palaeontologists, Cryptologists, Anthropologists, Geologists, Botanists and fill in table.

Expert Description of Work Contribution to Archaeology
Sources and Reliability
Sources can be classified into two main types: archaeological and written
Archaeological- physical remains of past cultures (artefacts)
Written- any materials or objects that have been written on
Primary- sources that have survived from that time (first-hand sources)
Secondary- all sources produced after the time being studied (second-hand sources)

Checklist of questions to ask about archaeological sources
What is it?
In what context was it found?
Can it be accurately dated?
How does its condition affect its interpretation?
Is it reliable and/or useful in providing evidence about the past?
What evidence does this source provide about the past?

Unfortunately, only a small number of ancient buildings and objects have survived. Many valuable clues to the past have been lost forever through the combination of natural decay and human vandalism. The survival of such evidence has depended upon varied and complex conditions, these include;
Desert heat
Waterlogging
Volcanic ash
The sea
Cemeteries and tombs
Very cold conditions
Methodology
Arrange the following stages in their correct order

Publishing
Excavating
Exhibiting finds in a museum
Selecting the site
Surveying the site
Reporting
Researching the history of the area
Organising the dig
Processing the finds

9 Stages of work for the archaeologist
Researching the history of the area
Selecting the site
Surveying the site
Organising the dig- permission, raising money, equipment
Excavating- clearing, digging, photographing, measuring, recording, removing finds, washing and marking
Processing the finds- preserving and restoring, lab. Analysis, dating and interpreting
Reporting
Publishing
Exhibiting finds in a museum



Dendrochronology - The study of tree-ring patterns that depends on counting the number of rings within the trunk of a tree.

Straitigraphy - A method of recording through photography and drawing the different layers (of strata) in an excavation.

Bog - Muddy groundwhich has properties that have helped preserve bodies.
Trench - an area of excavation dig/grid.

Midden - A deposit marking a former habitation site and containing such materials as discarded artifacts, bones and shells.

Artifact - A portable object manufactured, modified, or used by humans.

Baulks - Is the unexcavated areas in a grid layout

Shards - Broken pieces of pottery.

Excavation - The digging up and recording of archaeological sites, including uncovering and recording the provenience, context, and three-dimensional location of archaeological finds.
Absolute dating is a very accurate form of dating artifacts – it identifies a specific time in calendar years.
 Sometimes an artifact itself may be dated; such as coins, stone/terracotta objects, or written documents/texts
 However, carbon -14 (or radiocarbon dating) is a widely respected and valued example of absolute dating that can be applied to any organic material (meaning the artefact was once ‘alive’). Example artifacts include clothes, leather shoes, wooden tools/weapons etc.

Relative dating is a less accurate/reliable form of dating as it is largely based on some form of comparison – it provides an approximate idea of an artifacts age.
 This form of dating is still used widely, though it is now used to support more scientific techniques developed since the 20th century
 Relative dating relies heavily on comparing and contrasting objects based on; design, shape, colours, context, technological sophistication
 Stratigraphy is the most widely used example of relative dating and is based on the idea that the lower (in the ground/dig) an artifact is, the older it is.



Absolute & Relative Dating
How are archaeological sites found?
Sometimes remains are obvious as their structures are well above ground. Some sites are commonly known, such as the Colosseum in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens or the hill forts in Britain. An Archaeological site may be found either by chance or investigation.
Obvious remains
Surface marks/Aerial photography- crop marks, soil marks, shadow marks
Magnetic clues
Electrical clues
Ancient legends- Troy and Knossos

Activity - Dating Methods
Using your textbooks (p. 20-24), construct a table outlining the different methods, a description for each, and then examples of artifacts/evidence that could be examined using this specific dating method

Method Description Illustration/
(Absolute & Relative) Evidence
Significant Archaeologists
Focus Questions
What is Archaeology?
How is the passed preserved?
How do archaeologists excavate their finds?
How are the finds interpreted so that they become meaningful?
What methods are used to date the finds?
Significant archaeologists?
Where are the major archaeological sites found?
Our knowledge of prehistory would be very limited without the work of archaeologists, for archaeology has a central role to play in providing most of the information concerning humanities cultural development in early prehistoric, preliterate times - and even after.
The word 'archaeology comes from the Greek words, archaio (old) and logia (study of), and therefor means the 'study of everything ancient'. Archaeology is a total study in that it examines and analyses every trace of human activity, by studying material remains. The archaeologist examines all possible kinds of available evidence in the search of knowledge of our ancestors, these include;
Ancient buildings
Artifacts- pots, jars, etc.
Old bones and corpses
Inscriptions
Paintings, sculptures
Plant and animal remains
Household rubbish
Coins

For each kind of evidence listed above, list 3 examples of the useful historical information it might provide?
25 Intense Archaeological Discoveries
Bill Nye: The Science Guy - Archaeology
How have sources survived?
Many source used by both archaeologists and historians are thousands of years old and are therefore very fragile. They generally survived either because someone wanted to keep or by chance.
If you were a Roman citizen fleeing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius at Pompeii, what goods would you take?
Obviously you wouldn't flee from anywhere with large objects. You would tend to carry smaller items such as precious jewellery, coins or gold and silver items. These are the sorts of objects that are often found buried away in hoards awaiting the return heir owners. They may have buried them in times of war, siege or natural disasters.
What tends to survive?
Different materials decay at different rates. Except in extremely dry conditions, as in Egypt or in the desert in Chile, textiles, papyrus, wood and parchment are destroyed easily and are unlikely to survive. Under normal conditions metals such as gold and silver survive. Iron rusts and bronze decays into green patina. Stone and pottery practically indestructible - pottery therefore becomes an invaluable dating tool. Human action is often highly destructive. War, especially the capture and burning of a city, destroys much evidence.
'Tollund man' died some 2000 years ago, but was found still wearing his leather cap and with a rope around his neck, suggesting he had been hanged. The contents of his stomach showed that his last meal was porridge and herbs.
Volcanic Ash
Volcanoes have occasionally preserved cities as well as destroying them. The most famous example of this is the eruption of Vesuvius (Italy) that buried Pompeii. The destruction of Pompeii in one of the rare instances in which there is both written and archaeological evidence.
The Bottom of the Sea
A wealth of evidence lies on the ocean floor as a result of countless shipwrecks over both recent and ancient periods. In other instances, earthquakes and landslides have caused sites to sink under water, they lie in a thickening coat of mud that has preserved them.

An example of this is the Swedish warship Wasa that sunk in the Stockholm harbour (1628). In 1961 the ship was raised, and when the mud was cleared there were finds such as a sea chest (containing personal belongings) and skeletons (still clothed).
'Tollund Man'
The Lost City of Pompeii
Cemeteries and tombs
Many ancient civilizations buried their dead in elaborate graves and tombs, and made a great effort to preserve their bodies long after death. This is known as 'deliberately preserved material' - Egyptian mummies are the best example of this method.
Very Cold Conditions
In the frozen wastes of Siberia have been found remarkably well - preserved remains both of human and of prehistoric animals such as the mammoth; all were preserved in the ice.

Stratigraphy
Typology
Sequence Dating
Fluorine Dating
Palaeontological Dating
Radiocarbon Dating
Potassium-Argon Dating
Dendrochronology
Magnetic Dating
Thermoluminescene
Where to dig?
Luck and chance can and do play a part in some remarkable finds reported; the Dead Sea Scrolls are a classic example of this. However, the choice of a site to start digging is in most cases the result of scientific investigation to find telltale signs, such as those described below.
Documentary - Secrets behind the Dead Sea Scrolls
Case Study 3: The Dead Sea Scrolls (pg 28)
Obvious remains
These include ancient monuments, hill forts, burial remains, broken pottery on the surface.
This evidence is relatively easy to locate, but often is only a fraction of what lies beneath the ground.
Surface marks
Aerial photography is a big advantage in searching for the past as bumps and hallows on the surface often show up better from the air than at ground level. Three main kinds of surface marks, each indicating evidence of previous inhabitants, show up on photographs.
Crop marks - the height and abundance of crops growing in a field are often a give away as to what lies beneath because crops are taller and greener over pits and ditch.
Soil marks - if the soil has been disturbed below the ground, it can affect the colour on the surface; also, ploughing can bring anceint stones to the surface.
Shadow marks - low bump and shallow hollows, indicating relics below the ground, can be seen from the air by the shadows they cast, especially when the sun is low in the sky.
Magnetic clues
Some buried remains, such as pottery or iron objects, increase the strength of the magnetic field in the soil.
These variations in the magnetic field can be measured with instruments, the most common of which is the proton magnetometer.
Ancient Legends
Last, but not least, legends havon quite a few occasions proved to have more than an element of fact in them. Knossos was discovered by archaeologists who had faith in the basic truth of the stories of the Iliad and the legend of the Minotaur.
Where to dig?
Nippur, in Sumer
Electrical clues
Buried objects can also be detected via an instrument called a resistivity meter, which measures resistance to an electric current.
Archaeology at Work
Excavation methods
In which direction to dig?
The basic delimma is whether to take a horizontal or the vertical approach. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.
A vertical dig shows the chronological and different layers of a site, and therefore different periods of time, but reveals a very limited section of the site.
A horizontal dig, on the other hand, reveals the site as it was at any given time over a broader area but gives no indication of the different layers and chronology.
In the past , shafts used to be dug in more or less at random. However, modern excavation follows several meticulous methods. These methods include; surface marks, magnetic/electrical clues etc.

List reasons as to why random digs are considered useless?


Excavation methods
Grid excavation - this involves laying out a grid of squares or boxes with baulks (unexcavated areas) between them. The grid system was developed to a fine art by Sir Mortimer Wheeler earlier this century and is ideally suited to the vertical dimension, as each box is excavated separately.

Open area excavation - This uncovers the site layer by layer and is therefore better for the horizontal approach. It is most suitable for shallow sites where there are few layers.

Narrow trench excavation - This is just what it says: narrow trenches are dug to excavate for specific features, such as defensive banks and walls.
What kind of excavation is being conducted in the following pictures?
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