Glossary of archaeology
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This page is a glossary of archaeology, the study of the human past from material remains.
- absolute age
- The age of an object with reference to a fixed and specific time scale, as determined by some method of absolute dating.
- absolute dating
- Ascertaining the age of an object with reference to a fixed and specific time scale (e.g. calendar years or radiocarbon years), as opposed to relative dating.
- aerial archaeology
- Archaeological investigations conducted from the air, e.g. using aerial photography or satellite imagery.
- A person interested in the collection, curation and/or study of antiquities, particularly in reference to the intellectual tradition that developed in Europe in the 16th–17th centuries and is considered a precursor to modern archaeology.
- Ancient artefacts, particularly in the context of their trade and collection.
- The ancient past, in particular the period of the earliest historic civilizations (see classical antiquity).
- Subdiscipline devoted to the analysis of plant remains in the archaeological record.
- See zooarchaeology.
- A person engaged in the study or profession of archaeology.
- The academic discipline concerned with the study of the human past through material remains.
- A physical object made by humans.
- Two or more excavated objects that are thought to be related are said to be in association, e.g. artefacts discovered in close proximity within the same context, or architectural features thought to have been standing at the same time.
- 1. To re-fill a trench once an excavation has been completed.
- 2. Material used for backfilling, usually spoil from the original excavation.
- A wall of earth left in place between excavated areas in order to maintain the structural integrity of the trench and/or expose a section to aid in interpretation.
- 1. As in common usage, information relating to where an artefact or feature was found and what it was found in association with.
- 2. In single context excavation, a well-defined stratigraphic unit relating to a single depositional event, used as the primary unit for recording and analysis.
- An informal term for an archaeological excavation.
- Archaeological investigations taking place in the field, e.g. excavations or surveys.
- An informal term for artifacts, features and other things discovered by archaeologists.
- finds processing
- The preparation of finds from an excavation for storage or further specialist analysis, typically including washing, labelling, sorting and listing in an inventory.
- finds specialist
- An archaeologist who specialises in the analysis of a particular type of find.
- A method for recovering very small artefacts (particularly small fragments of bone and botanical remains) from excavated sediments using water.
- industrial archaeology
- Subdiscipline devoted to the study of past industry and industrial heritage.
- A typological classification of stone tools, e.g. the Mousterian industry, the Acheulean industry.
- in situ
- Features, artefacts and other remains in their original depositional context, cf. unstratified.
- See context.
- See archaeobotany.
- pollen diagram
- pollen profile
- pollen spectrum
- A series of side-by-side graphs, produced by archaeobotanists and palynologists, showing the frequency of different types (species) of pollen in a soil sample by depth. Usually presented vertically, with the shallowest samples at the top and the deepest at the bottom, to represent a pollen core or other stratified deposit. The depth of the sample corresponds roughly to how old it is, and therefore the vertical axis may also contain an estimate of its absolute age. Used to visualise the environmental history of the place where the sample was taken.
- A fragment of pottery.
- A period of time spent working on a particular site or field project.
- See potsherd
- A colloquial term for professional excavators working in cultural resources management in the United States.
- Loose sediment excavated from a trench.
- spoil heap
- A pile of sediment from an excavation, usually located next to a trench.
- wet sieving
- The use of flowing water to force excavated sediment through a screen or mesh and recover small artefacts; may also refer to flotation.
- Subdiscipline devoted to the analysis of animal remains in the archaeological record.
- Darvill, Timothy (2009). ISBN 9780191727139. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199534043.001.0001. . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Kipfer, Barbara Ann (2000). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. ISBN 0-306-46158-7.
- Pearsall, Deborah M., ed. (2008). ISBN 9780123739629. . Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Shaw, Ian; Jameson, Robert, eds. (1999). ISBN 9780470753446. doi:10.1002/9780470753446. . Oxford: Blackwell.
- Smith, Clare, ed. (2014). ISBN 978-1-4419-0465-2. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2. . New York, NY: Springer.