Main page
Archaeological Information
The Anthropology Front Page

This page has been visited times.

Definitions and Terms

ARCHAEOLOGY is the scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples by analysis of their material remains.

SCIENCE is a set of principles and procedures for the systematic development of theory, which involves the recognition and formulation of problems, the systematic collection of data through observation and experience, and the formulation and testing of hypothesis.

THEORY is a body of principles that is designed to explain a related set of phenomena and that is capable of generating testable hypothesis.

PSEUDOARCHAEOLOGY is the description of the past that claims to be based on fact but is actually fictional or a cdeliberate distortion of observations for some nonscientific purpose.

SITE: place with archaeological remains

COMPONENT: separate occupations of the same site

FEATURES: things that are above mere artifacts. Non-portable remains. Examples include hearths, storage pits, postholes, etc.

ACTIVITY AREA: places where people were active, eg where they left debris.

ARTIFACTS: human created material remains that are found on a site.

ECOFACTS: ecological remains useful to the archaeologist. An example is prehistoric pollen (useful to determine crops grown, dates, etc).

GEOFACTS: fake artifacts. Materials that appear as though man made when really shaped/formed by environmental factors.

DEBITAGE: all of the leftover material from lithic work

TYPE: subset of artifact

VARIETY: subset of type

ATTRIBUTE: subset of variety

ASSEMBLAGE: all of the artifacts that come from one component of one site.

INDUSTRY: European term for all of the artifacts that are of the same material and are made by similar techniques.

HORIZON: a slim time period over which a specific form is distributed.

PHASE: a long horizon, one that lasted for a while.

PERIOD: time when recorded in years.

VARVE: the lake strata formed from glaciers

PALYNOLOGY: the study of pollen

MEROMICTIC: no oxygen in the environment (bottom of lake, bog, etc. good for preservation of organic materials).

PHYTOLITHS: "sand" that grows in plants. Each plant creates a different phytolith, so phytoliths discovered at a site indicate which plants were present.

TELLS: man made hills in the middle east. Example of Deposition

DEPOSITION: "upwards erosion;" man builds on top of old foundation repeatedly; ground rises.

note: this is not in the least a complete glossary, nor is it (at present) organized. However, it is 12:15 in the morning and I have a test tomorrow, so good night, and this will be further updated at a later date. Please be patient.

United States

Make your own free website on