Understand the Past - What is Archaeology?. Anthropology

❖    What is Archaeology?
o Archaeology is the study of the past using material culture (the stuff we make)
■    Archaeological record = all material objects constructed by humans (or ancestors) revealed by archaeology
o It is a subdivision of anthropology which the study of culture
o Archaeology is equal part of science and history
o Really archeology is anthropology in the past tense
❖    Anthropological Archaeology
o In the Americas, archaeology developed as part of anthropology
■    "Four field" approach
o In many countries archaeology is in a separate department, on its own
o In East Africa, archeology as part of history
❖    Archaeology Research Design
o Ensures archeological research is organized, efficient, and valid
o Archaeological research is undertaken to answer specific questions
■    Who, what, when, where, why
o In order to do this, must have specific research design
❖    Steps (recall fieldwork lecture)
o Formulation of research: defining a problem, where to look ad what types of data to collect, background research
o Implementation of research: obtaining permission; obtaining funding; acquiring equipment and supplies; recruiting staff and excavators
What do Archaeologists Find?
❖    Material Culture: Evidence
o Artifacts
■    Anything made, used or modified by humans (chairs) and are portable
o Ecofacts
■    Natural objects used by humans (animal remains) organic or environmental
o Fossils
■    Organic material has been replaced with minerals (impressions)
o Features
■    Non portable artifacts (walls, burials, classroom)
❖    Context: the most important concept in archaeology!
o Context is defined as the location (both vertical and horizontal) where artifacts are found
o Context provides most of the important archaeological information
o Artifacts not found in context (looted, found eroded on surface) have lost most of their value
o Ex. keeping a toothbrush in a bathroom is normal but no one stores it in the fridge
o An artifacts context is made up of its provenience, matrix and association
❖    Preservation
o What types of evidence recovered is determined by:
■    Matrix (surrounding material)
■    Climate (local and regional)
■    Organic preservation: oxygen, acid = bad
Dating Techniques
❖    AD? BC? BP? BCE? CE? (CE = common era /P = present)
o A.D. / B.C. uses Anno Domini (AD 1) as year “zero”
o B.C.E / C.E. denotes common era, and is more culturally sensitive
o In archaeology, B.P. (before present) is most often used when citing dates
o Only dates within the last 4000 years are commonly converted in B.C.E / C.E. dates. Earlier dates are left in B.P format
❖    Issues in Dating
o 2 problems in all dating techniques:
1.    Security of context
2.    Contamination
o Selection of:
■    What kind of sample
■    How much sample is required
o Tendency to over-analyze objects
o Each technique has its won pitfalls and limitations
o Some degree of error is expected
■    Expressed as age bracket (ex. 1000 +/-10years
❖    Dating Techniques
o Relative - simply indicates something isyounger/older
■    Stratigraphic sequences
■    Typological sequences
o Absolute/Chronometric/Numeric - provides actual ages and can be converted to calendar ages
■    Isotropic dating
■    Non-isotropic dating
•    Radio carbon dating
❖    14C (Radiocarbon) Dating
o Libby
■    1947 (1950's)
■    Half-life 5568 +/- 30years
•    +/- 40 years generally accepted
o Of the three isotopes of carbon, 14 is radioactive
o During life of organism 14C is constantly replenished
■    Exchange ceases with death
■    Proportion of 14C to stable C will decay logarithmically (exponentially)
o Measurements of 14C relates to the time organism ceased exchanging carbon with the biosphere = time of its death (dating when it died)
❖    Dating: Interpretation
o Accuracy
■    The closeness of a chronometric age determination to the real age - we will never know the real date
o Precision
■    The total chronometric age range the true age should lie within (with a given level of confidence = size of error)
❖    Association
o With all dating techniques - the date is only as good as its association with the object or event that it is intended to date
■    Date and technique may be sound but is of little use if it cannot be associated confidentiality to a relevant arch level or feature
❖    Dating Techniques: What you need to know for the exam?
o What is the difference between relative dating methods and absolute/chronometric/numerical dating methods?
o List the main forms of relative dating
o What are the isotropic methods of dating discussed in the text?
■    How (generally) does radiocarbon dating work?
o What are the non-isotropic methods of dating discussed in the text?
o What are some of the issues with dating techniques?
■    Why are accuracy and precision
Whose Past is it?
❖    Ethics (formally) Defined
o Ethics: set of standards that we use to guide our actions in (particular) situations (Thomas et al. 2009)
■    Consequential Ethics: moral theories where actions are judged as either "right" or “wrong” by the effects they have on the world at large, or on the happiness and well-being of others (Thomas et al. 2009)
■    Deontological Ethics: the view that human actions have an intrinsic quality that makes them right or wrong, regardless of consequence (Immanuel Kant; Thomas et al. 2009)
❖    REVIEW: Ethics and Doing Fieldwork
o Responsibility, accountability, protection, and stewardship
■    To the public, Indigenous communities, our colleagues, our students, our employers, our funders
■    To the archaeological record and material culture
■    To the past
o Numerous frameworks/policies/codes often developed by professional associations
❖    Legislation in Canada
o No coherent legal framework exists at the federal level for protection of sites on lands and in waters controlled by the federal government (Parks Canada is the exception)
■    Canada Shipping Act (2001; shipwrecks)
■    The Government of Canada Archaeological Heritage Policy Framework (1990)
■    Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2003)
■    Cultural Property Import and Export Act (1985)
■    Historic Sites and Monuments Act (1953; 1985)
o All provinces and territories have enacted legislation to protect from harm archaeological sites and historical places
o Variances include: how archeological objects and sites are defined, how old and object as to be, who gets to dig
o Varies among provinces and territories because of different histories and relative proportions of distinct ethnic
❖    Four Major Types of Archaeology
1.    Academic Archaeology - education and research
2.    Archaeology in Industry - Cultural Resource Management (CRM)
3.    Indigenous Archaeology - research design determined by Indigenous organizations
4.    Amateur Archaeology - volunteers, looters/pothunters, pseudo-archaeologists
❖    Cultural Resource Management (CRM)
o Canada has one of the strongest CRM laws in the world
■    Before any development is allowed a government clearance for cultural resources is required
o Main phases:
■    Identification and preliminary assessment
■    Assessing significance
■    Management plans and mitigation
❖    Cultural Resource Management (CRM): The Good
o Have been responsible for finding and recording a significant portion of the sites in most provinces (80% of 3000 in Ontario)
o Focused our attention on small scale sites again not typically studied by academics
o Helped municipalities develop master plans for archaeological resources using GIS
o First Nations and Inuit communities have benefited form CRM archaeology because oral history and traditional land use mapping are now required for environmental and cultural impact assessments
■    Also hire individuals from First Nations and Inuit communities as consultants bringing much needed employment
❖    Cultural Resource Management (CRM): The Bad
o Credibility (perceived lack of professionalism, partially because is archaeology for profit and is much variation in rates)
o Subject to boom and bust cycles of economy
o Young arches hired into major decision-making positions with little experience
o Dangerous working conditions (regulation issues)
o The separation between academic and CRM archaeologists
■    CRM professionals produce a lot of data that sometimes is lost in "grey literature"
■    Rapidly changing as CRM arches are becoming major participants in conferences
❖    Cultural Heritage Management
o Branch of CRM and increasingly academic archaeology
o Concerned with the identification, interpretation, maintenance, and preservation of significant cultural sites and physical heritage assets (tangible heritage) AND aspects of intangible heritage (traditional skills, language, beliefs, oral traditions, songs, dance, drama etc.)
■    Tangible = physical = archaeological
■    Intangible = cannot be stored in museum, constantly being reinterpreted, requires ongoing consultation and communication with communities (including consideration of their lives, livelihoods and living conditions) = anthropological
o Assessment and mitigation of threats
■    Rescue or salvage archaeology
❖    Indigenous Archaeology
o Aboriginal involvement in archaeology is a priority in Canada
o Indigenous archaeology is one way this can be accomplished
o See active promotion of archaeology within, by, and for the aboriginal community
o    Consultation: concerns and needs regarding the stewardship of archaeological and ethnographic
objects, and repatriation of human remains; of traditional land use; of oral history
o Advocating for telling history from a First People's point of view (internalist archaeology)
o Many nations have developed their own protocols for doing archaeology in their territory (ex. Squamish and Wet'sewet'en Nations)
o Some key figures in Canada: Eldon Yellowhorn (Blackfoot), Evelyn Sigfried (Cree), Brandi George (Anishnaabe)
❖    Responsibilities
o To the archaeological record, the public, and to colleagues
o Includes
■    Stewardship    ■    Curation
■    Protection    ■    Outreach
■    Conservation
❖    Heritage industry
o The worlds best archaeological sites are often tourist sites
o This produces bullions of dollars, critical in developing nations
o Issues arise with too much tourism
❖    Conservation
o Restoration and conservation is an entire subfield in archaeology
o The decision to conserve archaeological sites and artifact is not always obvious
❖    Curation
o The management, storage, and conservation of artifacts and other data recovered in the course of archaeological investigation
■    Organizations and institutions are responsible for establishing guidelines
■    Must consider permanent storage (need lots of space) and tasks (labeling, cataloguing, cleaning, stabilizing, preserving, storing)
■    Is expensive! Need time and money
❖    Ownership
o Perhaps the toughest ethical question is: does everyone own the past or do the direct descendants own the past?
o The USA one own any cultural resources found on their land, while in Canada any cultural resource is owned by the government
o It is not always clear who has the rightful ownership of cultural materials
o Many of the worlds greatest museums are filled with objects looted from their source during the 19th century
o Elgin Marbles, removed from the Parthenon, are now in the British museum but Greece wants them back
o Should antiques be returned to their country of origin?
❖    Looting and Collecting
o At the start of the Iraq war, the Baghdad museum was extensively looted, partly by professionals and partly by locals
■    Some objects have been recovered
o The international illegal trade in antiques rank up there with narcotics, worth an estimated $2.2 billion annually (Campbell 2013)
o Canadian sites are also looted regularly, even though laws prohibit collecting and excavation o International Law (UNESCO) has prohibited the trade and transport of antiques since 1970
❖ Publication and Outreach
o It is the responsibility of any archeologists to publish their results of all research so that it is available to the public and other scientists
■    In fact, many CRM laws include provisions for publication
o Public outreach is a growing concern for many archeologists
■    Is one of the best ways to prevent illegal activities and to promote, protection preservation and conservation