Introduction to Archaeology - Anthro 324

Final exam study guide

The final exam will emphasize material covered after the midterm: from the middle of chapter 5 in Thomas on, and the notes for class 10 and on. Answers to some questions will probably involve ideas discussed earlier in the class, since you may need to consider stratigraphy, dating, settlement patterns, levels of theory, etc. in the course of addressing other issues.

You should be able to explain and use the terms and concepts listed below. That means that you can answer questions about them, and that you can include them when relevant in answering other questions. Some questions may involve examples, especially ones that are covered extensively in Thomas or in class. For most terms, you should consider what it is, purposes of studying or using it, kinds of information it can provide, methods used, etc.

Know a little about the uses and methods of site mapping

Be able to draw basic conclusions from a site map

Theodolite and stadia rod, total station, GPS

Know a little about the uses and methods of surface collections

Be able to draw basic conclusions from a map showing surface collection data ("looks like the poor folks lived here and the wealthy ones lived there...")

Sampling strategies for surface collections (basically the same as for site surveying)

Limitations and problems in interpreting surface collections (especially poor visibility, multicomponent sites)

Noninvasive archaeological methods or remote sensing

Aerial photography: what sorts of things it can detect (crop marks, relief, vegetation...)

Soil resistivity

Ground-penetrating radar


Vertical excavations vs. horizontal excavations

Test pits, trenches

Why did neat, rectangular, vertical-sided holes?

Provenience (in 3D coordinates, and stratigraphic context)

Datum, baulk, sterile

What sorts of things are typically recorded during excavation?



Dry fine screening

Typical series of steps in studying a site

How cemetery excavations differ from residential or other kinds of excavations

The conservation ethic, or ethical responses to the destructiveness of archaeology

Systemic context vs. archaeological context

Archaeological record

Site formation processes

Depositional, reclamation, reuse, disturbance processes

Environments that are particularly good or bad for archaeological preservation, and why

N-transforms and c-transforms

Why is the archaeological record a biased subset of culture? (the "three filters" I suggested may help you think about this, but the specific terms are not important)

What are some virtues of the archaeological record, in spite of its biases?

Middle-range research


Binford's Nunamiut studies; Rathje's Garbage Project

Experimental archaeology

Replication studies.

Use-wear studies

Faunal analysis.

NISP, MNI, total weight, etc.

Percentage data, per-volume data, etc.

Comparative collections.

Archaeobotany, paleoethnobotany.

Macrobotanical remains




Bioarchaeology, Osteology, Paleopathology

Diet reconstruction using stable isotopes

Stress indicators


Very generally, kinds of traits used for aging and sexing human skeletal remains

Ancient DNA studies


The "molecular clock"

Distinguishing spatial patterns of culture from spatial movements of people

Residential groups, corporate groups, non-residential groups


Ascribed vs. achieved

Egalitarian vs. ranked vs. hierarchical societies

Ways to recognize different statuses in the archaeological record

Analysis of burials: theoretical issues and assumptions, methods used, kinds of conclusions and inferences commonly made

Sex vs. gender

Gender issues in archaeology: what do we want to find out, what kind of evidence can help, etc.

Cognitive archaeology and its two broad subtypes

Cosmology, ritual and religion, ideology, and iconography


What are cultural resources, as defined legally?

Describe the three phases of the studies required by NEPA and CEQA

Discuss the ethical conflicts involved in CRM

Purposes of historical archaeology and ethical issues associated with it

Kennewick Man, the surrounding controversy, and the general ethical issues it illustrates