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Physical Anthropology Cheat Sheet by

The Basics of Archaeology and Physical Anthropology

History and Origins

James Ussher, 1648 (not an archea­olo­gist) - The bishop that used the bible to try to determin the day the earth was created. He figured it was Oct. 23 4004BC
The bible is how history and the role of humanity was understood

The Ages

Age of Discovery - Things were found that couldn't be explained. Stone tools, and fossils of animals that did not exists. Maybe Dragons.
Age of Reason - Ways of thinking were changing. Geological time and Strati­gaphy were used. Unifor­mit­ari­anism, same process today as in the past, and Superp­osi­tion, stuff on top is young than the stuff below. Maybe not dragons.
Age of Science - Used empirical studies opposed to faith. Descartes' Empiri­cism, believe what you can see, touch, and measure. Galileo, Math and physics. Hobbes, Man in nature lives a nasty brutal life, while Europe exists because of laws and authority. No dragons.
Age of Explor­ation - New places were found that were unknown (not in the bible), and other people were discovered in these lands. Maybe sea dragons


Invented as a means to create a new orgin story after disenc­han­tment w/ biblical history
- Interested in pre history
- Creating a global inventory of history
- Finding human origins
- Finding human nature­/reason for existence


1. Antiqu­arians - Rich white guys that were treasure hunters. No much about science more about exploring and status
2. Scientists - Rich white guys that were interested in empirical evidence of the world. Evolution and classi­fic­ation became popular. Taxonomy, like with like these all have feathers
3. Anthro­pol­ogists - Rich white guys with relativist views. Aligned with history and interested in particular cultures. Emphasis on a holistic approach.
4. Today - Extremely diverse, concerned with relevance, ethics, and heritage. Looking for missing links, and repatr­iation in important.
The study of all people, past and present, thier things and the relati­onship b/w them.
No dinosaurs


Biblical - god on top and different bodies and elements going down.
Unilinear - Progress, Change over time, humans went through stages such as savagery (less European), Barbarism, Civilized (more European). Closer to civilized you are the close to god you are.
Pre History does not rely on writing. time out of mind, before memory, and immemorial
Develo­pment of Archae­ology Started at home to find the earliest "­Eur­ope­ans­", and the qualities that made up "­civ­ili­zat­ion­"
Skulls and scientific racism


Culture - is the learned, shared ideas and behaviour passed down through genera­tions w/in a group
Archae­olo­gists study material culture They figure out how to use it what it meant to people.
Direct analogy- if it looks like a hammer its probably a hammer Indirect Analogy - People who live in forests use hammers to wood work the artifact was found in the forest therefore it probably is a hammer
Ethnog­raphy - study by observ­ation, field work partic­ipating and observing, surveys, mapping, interviews


Excavation - helps get inform­ation from the past. Principle of superp­osi­tion. Stuff above is younger than stuff below.
Strati­graphy - the study of how a site was constr­ucted through time in a logical sequence.
Dig down, analyze up. Everything in one layer came from the same period (In situ or in context.
If layers are disturbed you cannot date.


Relative dating - determ­ining the relative age in relation to each other. This just tells you that one is younger than the other, not exact dates.
Absulute dating - determines chrono­logical age, carbon dating is most common determines ages up to 35,000 to 40,000


Artifacts - objects made or used by humans or hominins, the foundation of archae­ology
Osteology - study of bones. Foundation of physical anthro­pology
Lithics - the analysis of stone tools. preser­vation bias stone doesn't decay
Chipped stone technology Start with large rock then chip away to make your tool Need hammer stone And Core material being chipped Flakes chip broken off. Lithic debitage - left overs from the chipped stone Figure out what it's made out of using compar­ative collec­tion. Then figure out what it was used for.
Ceramic analysis Technology of production Start with nothing and build something opposite of lithics Look at fabric, form, and style Basket and pottery can be made in many different ways This makes it more sensitive to cultural imprinting and identity


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