This article offers an introduction to acoustic remote sensing. In shipwreck studies, acoustic remote sensing has traditionally been used for reconnaissance surveys and for site relocation. With the advent of higher-resolution sonar systems, the focus in shipwreck studies has shifted toward site reconstruction and studies of site formation. Acoustic systems provide baseline data at rates higher than those of experienced dive teams. This article describes how acoustic data is generated. It describes the profiling methods such as single-beam echo-sounders and sub-bottom profilers, and swath methods such as side-scan sonar and multibeam echo-sounders. The last few years have seen developments of multielement sonar platforms, which allow for the acquisition of true concurrent sonar data sets from one platform. Every phase of development in sonar technology brings an increase in sensors' resolving capability and therefore the ability to image smaller and smaller artifacts in greater detail.
Wouter F.M. Henkelman
The administration of the Persepolis region is revealed in two groups of cuneiform tablets, written predominantly in Elamite and Aramaic, that were excavated at Persepolis in the 1930s by Ernst Herzfeld. The history of scholarship on these texts is discussed and the administrative system of which they formed an integral part is explained. The territorial extent of the Persepolis economy is described and the protocols used in dictating, writing, sealing, and archiving these texts are outlined.
Analytical techniques and research methodologies for archaeological ceramic analysis have changed drastically over time; however, the way we record and represent ceramics graphically has not undergone significant change in response to new technologies. This chapter discusses the method of traditional pottery illustration, line and shading or monochrome drawings done by hand, its demerits and proposes a new illustration style which combines traditional drawing formats, photography, and computer software. The new method of pottery drawing overcomes these demerits and shows the illustrations in an analytical method. Moreover this new method can benefit archaeologists to comprehend ceramic on wider geographical regions and enhances opportunities for research.
Angela Schlumbaum and Ceiridwen J. Edwards
This chapter begins by defining ancient DNA and providing a brief history of ancient DNA and its potential for archaeology, followed by discussions of the technological aspects of ancient DNA; ancient DNA methodology; and state of the art, advantages, and disadvantages of wetland/wet sites. Ancient DNA retrieval from waterlogged material remains poorly understood. In many cases, DNA is unfortunately completely destroyed. However, given the rapid evolution of technology, both of instrumentation and development of techniques (e.g., new methods to reduce inhibition), improved results from waterlogged material are expected in the future.
Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
Jago Cooper and Lindsay Duncan
This chapter considers the role of archaeology in creating solutions for coping with the impacts of global environmental change, illustrated by cases from Latin America. Past examples of the practical application of pre-Columbian innovations and techniques are considered, and the key themes of social practice and community engagement discussed. These principles are then applied to the islands of the Caribbean where archaeology can play an important role in accessing and illuminating pre-Columbian lifeways in the region. The comparative resilience of past and present lifeways to the hazards created by extreme weather events, precipitation variability, and sea level changes are discussed, and the role of archaeology as a means of engaging the public, stimulating discussion, and informing debate is considered.
Archaeobotanical research focuses on the study of past people–plant relationships. This includes a reconstruction of the diet, subsistence, agricultural strategies, social and cultural role of food, exploitation of wild resources, procurement of fodder, aspects of seasonality, and environment in which people and their animals dwelt. The accuracy of archaeobotanical reconstructions, however, depends on the quality of the botanical data recovered from excavations. This chapter discusses how both preservation and research methodology affect interpretation, emphasizing the possible routes of entry of plant remains into the deposits and the loss of evidence due to poor preservation conditions. It presents several case studies which underline the potential of waterlogged preservation and demonstrate that failure to understand the taphonomical processes can lead to inaccurate and biased interpretations of the data.
Interpreting remote sensing data is one of the most important tasks of archaeologists working in submerged environments. Researchers rely on remote-sensing technologies to aid their search for historic shipwrecks of interest. Magnetometers are essential for detection of buried shipwrecks. The main goal of magnetic interpretation has been to distinguish shipwrecks from debris, usually resulting in an archaeological assessment of each anomaly concerning its potential for historic significance. The past two decades have seen improvement in archaeologists' abilities to detect shipwreck anomalies. This article provides a basic, nonmathematical summary of magnetism relevant to archaeological interpretation and the evolving perceptions of shipwreck anomalies. The basis for assessing magnetic anomaly significance must be firmly rooted in empiricism in order to improve the objectivity of data interpretation.
William R. Caraher and David K. Pettegrew
Since the Renaissance, archaeology has played a significant albeit changing role in illuminating the history of early Christianity. This chapter surveys different historical approaches to archaeological investigations of Christianity, from early efforts to authenticate or disprove the traditions and practices of the Catholic church to the development of the field of early Christian archaeology in continental Europe and through to more recent efforts to reconstruct the social and economic contexts of early Christian sites and landscapes between the first and eighth centuries. This chapter offers a state of the field, highlighting the positive achievements of archaeologists over the last two centuries and drawing attention to problems of method, interpretation, and approach that modern scholars are working to correct. It recommends repositioning the field within the disciplinary framework of archaeology itself while also encouraging fruitful interdisciplinary conversation.
Jean-Jacques Delannoy, Bruno David, Robert G. Gunn, Jean-Michel Geneste, and Stéphane Jaillet
Understanding the rock art of a cave or rock shelter requires positioning the art in its landscape setting. This involves both spatial and temporal dimensions because a site’s layout changes through time, necessitating an examination of site formation processes. In this chapter, the authors present a new approach—archaeomorphology—that unites archaeological and geomorphological methods to explore the history of the objects and spaces that make up a site. Archaeomorphological mapping allows researchers to track through time the changing configuration of sites, including rock surfaces, the morphogenic forces at work, and, with this, the changing spatial contexts of the art on its surfaces. Archaeomorphology shifts attention away from the site as a ‘natural’ canvas upon which inscriptions were made to its social engagement as an actively constructed architectural and performative space.
When telling stories through rock art, the artist formed an intimate relationship with the audience through the act of conveying such stories. Ethnographic evidence in many parts of the world suggests that the artist is merely a device through which stories are transmitted from rock surface to audience, whereby the artist becomes an intermediary within the act of performance through the medium of the brush, chisel, and finger, thus creating a theatre of performance. During this performance, the artist used many devices to either conceal or promote the narrative; one of the props used within this performance would have been the panel on which the art was performed, placing figures into spatial context and observing the rules of grammar. This chapter explores how early artists selected and used various rock surfaces, utilizing the rock face’s colour, texture, placement, and natural topography to mimic the surrounding landscape.
Hans Barnard and Jelmer W. Eerkens
Organic residues can be defined as the carbon-based remains of plants, animals or humans, either in their original or a decomposed state. Biomolecules that can indicate the source of such residues include lipids (such as fatty acids, sterols, mono-, di-, and triglycerides, di-, and triterpenoids), alkaloids (such as caffeine, capsaicin, cocaine, ephedrine, nicotine, theobromine), carbohydrates (such as polysaccharides and starches), proteins (such as albumin, casein, collagen, gliadin, hemaglobin, hordein, myoglobin) and DNA. Archaeological organic residues have been identified in stains on teeth, deposits on stone tools, stains in soil, smoking pipes, and material adhering to pot sherds. A comprehensive overview of such an overwhelming number of compounds and range of methods is beyond the scope of this chapter. Instead, we present an overview for identifying and interpreting organic residues in ceramic vessels, followed by a brief discussion of issues related to archaeological organic residue analysis in general.
Paul Sinclair, Christian Isendahl, and Stephan Barthel
Historical ecological approaches to settlement aggregation and complexity reject modernist and post-modernist reliance on linear neo-evolutionary categorization of cities in relation to earlier farming communities. Instead, urban centres and multi-urban systems are viewed as components of complex heterarchically and hierarchically organized landscapes. Resilience theory has been applied in several archaeological efforts to characterize urban development of specific centres. Building on experience from the recently concluded Urban Mind project this chapter argues for a historical ecology approach to track the long-term cultural and environmental dynamics of multi-centred urban systems. Linking human cognition, social memory, ecosystem services, urban metabolism and food security, and institutions of urban governance, it uses data on long-term urban histories in the eastern Mediterranean, southern Africa, and Mesoamerica to identify implications for future urban planning initiatives.
This chapter presents an overview of the chaîne opératoire approach and recalls its relevance as a social and transmission signal. It describes the main components of the ceramic chaînes opératoires and the principles for identifying them on the archaeological material through diagnostic attributes including both surface features and microfabrics. Next, it takes a forward look at the classification of ceramic assemblages according to the chaîne opératoire approach in order to unravel the sociological complexity behind their variability. Finally, this chapter highlights the heuristic character of the chaîne opératoire approach when studying, on the synchronic axis, the techno-economic systems, and on the diachronic axis, changes in technical traditions considered as the expression of culture histories and the factors affecting them.
Ian Wilkinson, Patrick Quinn, Mark Williams, Jeremy Taylor, and Ian Whitbread
Microfossils found in archaeological ceramics include representatives of kingdoms Fungi, Protista, Plantae, and Animalia and are composed of calcite, silica, or resistant organic compounds capable of withstanding firing. Methods by which microfossils are isolated for study vary considerably, but the best results involve the disaggregation of potsherds into their individual grains or by cutting petrological thin sections. Microfossils can be related directly to the age and depositional environment of the source materials (clays, temper, and slip) used in the manufacturing process, although the introduction of contaminants at the time of construction must also be recognized. When incorporated into an integrated analysis, the microfossils may demonstrate provenance; contribute to a better understanding of the local environment and landscape; identify transportation routes; contribute to an understanding of the technology used, including construction methods and firing; and elucidate the use to which the vessels were put.
Any ceramic object represents the result of a well-structured production chain starting with the localization and the exploitation of a suitable raw material and ending with the artisanship and craftsmanship of the potter. The study of ceramic raw materials has been increasingly regarded in archaeometric research as the best starting point for identifying local paste recipes for pottery diachronically produced in any historical period. The classification of a ceramic paste and its assignment to a production center can be established more easily when ceramic sherds, kiln wasters, and raw material are studied in combination. The reconstruction of the “production chain” should facilitate the study of specific kiln sites or wider regional ceramic circulation. The chapter deals with the most relevant compositional and physical properties of clayey ceramic raw materials. Mineralogical and chemical compositions are discussed together with some characteristic properties such as plasticity, swelling, flocculation, and experimental texts.
Emilie Chalmin and Jillian Huntley
The materials used to make rock art contain important evidence about the cultural practices of the people who created it: their technologies, movements, and social interactions. The number of studies of archaeological pigments in the recent literature demonstrates how fruitful such enquiries can be. In this chapter, the authors discuss the physicochemical characterization of rock art pigments, outline the history of research in this area, differentiate key concepts and terminology, and describe principal methods. They conclude with illustrative case studies from France, South Africa, and Australia to demonstrate the kinds of archaeological information that can be preserved in rock art pigments.
Michael D. Glascock
Compositional analysis in archaeology involves the analysis and interpretation of chemical fingerprints obtained from archaeological materials. The primary objective of compositional analysis is to identify groups of related artifacts and/or raw materials that provide insight into archaeological questions. The evidence has application to questions about human behavior, provenance, technology, and artifact authentication. Because compositional data are inherently multivariate, a familiarity with the methods from multivariate statistics is essential. This article presents an overview of the history of compositional anlaysis and the analytical methods employed. The main multivariate procedures used for data interpretation and presentation of results are also described. Finally, before selecting an analytical method and laboratory to perform the analysis on archaeological specimens, the article recommends obtaining answers to a list of questions.
Phenomenology and hermeneutics were hugely influential methodologically in 20th-century European philosophy. They were also taken up in the human sciences more generally, but only relatively recently (from the 1980s on) incorporated into archaeological theory. Phenomenology emphasizes the human subjective and intersubjective encounter with landscape, nature, artefacts, and the whole ‘life-world’. Beginning from the careful description of life in the everyday, contemporary world, attentive to the shape of time, space, history, and culture in that world, phenomenology can also disclose aspects about the material worlds of past cultures, describing the embodied encounters of people with landscapes, monuments, and artefacts from the past.
M. Annette Grove and David F. Lancy
It is clear that societies differ with respect to their locally constructed, cultural, or ‘folk’ models of the life course. However, predictable transitions can be found as children progress through naturally occurring stages (walking, talking, gaining sense, puberty). Societies draw upon these predictable transitions to construct models of development. Ethnographic and historic records provide evidence of behavioural changes in children and the response of family members that signal a shift in the child’s status. Drawing on these data, we construct a broadly applicable cultural model of child development. This model coalesces around six life cycle stages, which correspond to evolutionary biologists’ analyses. This entry draws on a long-term project designed to develop an anthropological perspective on human development. Our database consists of archival accounts of childhood from nearly 1,000 societies, ranging from the Palaeolithic to the present and from every area of the world.
This article discusses the current status of archaeological obsidian studies, including techniques used in characterization and sourcing studies, obsidian hydration, and regional syntheses. It begins with an overview of obsidian and the unique formation processes that create it before turning to a discussion of the significance of characterization and sourcing techniques for understanding prehistoric obsidian trade and exchange. It then considers the problematic aspects of the term “sourcing,” despite its ubiquitous use in archaeology and archaeometry, along with the use of X-ray fluorescence in the chemical characterization of obsidian. It also explores obsidian hydration dating methods and equations, factors that can affect the date assignments for hydration specimens, and the various uses of obsidian in prehistoric times. Finally, it addresses some important questions relating to obsidian research and suggests new directions in the field.