Archaeology as Anthropology

It is argued that archaeology has made few contributions to the general field of anthropology with regard to explaining cultural similarities and differences. One major factor contributing to this lack is asserted to be the tendency to treat artifacts as equal and comparable traits which can be explained within a single model of culture change and modification. It is suggested that “material culture” can and does represent the structure of the total cultural system, and that explanations of differences and similarities between certain classes of material culture are inappropriate and inadequate as explanations for such observations within other classes of items. Similarly, change in the total cultural system must be viewed in an adaptive context both social and environmental, not whimsically viewed as the result of “influences,” “stimuli,” or even “migrations” between and among geographically defined units.

Three major functional sub-classes of material culture are discussed: technomic, socio-technic, and ideo-technic, as well as stylistic formal properties which cross-cut these categories. In general terms these recognized classes of materials are discussed with regard to the processes of change within each class.

Using the above distinctions in what is termed a systemic approach, the problem of the appearance and changing utilization of native copper in eastern North America is discussed. Hypotheses resulting from the application of the systemic approach are: (1) the initial appearance of native copper implements is in the context of the production of socio-technic items; (2) the increased production of socio-technic items in the late Archaic period is related to an increase in population following the shift to the exploitation of aquatic resources roughly coincident with the Nipissing high water stage of the ancestral Great Lakes; (3) this correlation is explicable in the increased selective pressures favoring material means of status communication once populations had increased to the point that personal recognition was no longer a workable basis for differential role behavior; (4) the general shift in later periods from formally “utilitarian” items to the manufacture of formally “nonutilitarian” items of copper is explicable in the postulated shift from purely egalitarian to increasingly nonegalitarian means of status attainment.[1]

Demographic Archaeology

This chapter focuses on the demographic archaeology. There has been a definite shift for two decades within archaeology from an obsession with material remains to a healthier concern with past peoples and their behavior. Demographic methods in archaeology are not restricted to those undertaken in the course of archaeological surveys or excavations. The sources of demographic information in archaeology are varied, consisting of human skeletal remains, settlements, artifacts, food remains, the ecological potentials of human habitat, and historical and ethnohistoric records. A more sophisticated approach utilizes the life table, which represents the mortality history from birth to death of a cohort. Palaeodemographic data on human populations at various stages of cultural evolution have significant implications for understanding the changes in the mortality and fertility patterns of past human groups as related to changing life conditions and human biology.[2]

Citation “Archaeology of the dreamtime”

The ways in which australian aborigines adapted to and modified their environment, how their art and culture developed and was passed on, and how they coped with massive environmental changes at the end of the last ice age are examined. The discussions are based on archaeology and also myths and legends. Extensive bibliography.[3]

Mercurialism Determination in Fetuses Bone Remains from Toluquilla, Queretaro, Mexico

There are few mentions in Mexican archaeology for study of prehispanic underground mining to exploit the cinnabar, but there are lots of references about their use as pigment for different kind of artifacts in Mesoamerican archaeology. Our research settled at Sierra Gorda emphasized the ancient life form specialized in production and trade of mercury ore, and that includes specific analysis to the human remains gathered in the archaeological work to determination how many of their inhabitants were evolved at this economic activity.

The ancient mining was so intensive and extensive at this region pollutes their environment affecting to the ancient population in their health. We present a few rare and special cases with important medical implications about health condition of ancient pregnant women with a journey through toxicological issues and bioaccumulation of mercury in their bodies.

The archaeological excavation provides skeletal remains of 200 individuals. We presented 37 cases that represent the diversity of population composition with adults (men and woman), adolescents and infants and 4 rare cases of fetuses buried at Toluquilla archaeological zone. In each case a bone sample was taken for determination of heavy metals by spectrometric chemical techniques.

The measurement results for total mercury in bones lead us evaluate the medical implications about their individual health condition and propose a few lines concerning the ancient public health.[4]

A Brief Overview on Chemical and Physical Aspects of Archaeological Dating Techniques and Their Applications in Dating Construction Materials and Buildings

This review is devoted to answering the important question of physical and chemical aspects of dating archaeological remains, particularly, ancient structures. Basically, stratigraphy and typology are considered relative dating techniques while radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology and thermo- luminescence are absolute dating techniques. Radiocarbon dating is particularly used to estimate the age of living beings subsequent to their death where radioactivity of 14ºc isotope is used which is the longest-lived radioisotope of carbon with a half-life of 5,700 years. Dendrochronology is the science or technique of dating events, environmental change, and archaeological artefacts by using the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings in timber and tree trunks. Thermo-luminescence is a technique based on measuring luminescence of material that has been constructed by subjecting to high temperatures. Archaeological dating is very important in structural engineering as well as in archaeology and we now review the applicability of above techniques in dating engineering materials. [5]


[1] Binford, L.R., 1962. Archaeology as anthropology. American antiquity, 28(2), pp.217-225.

[2] Hassan, F.A., 1981. Demographic archaeology. In Advances in archaeological method and theory (pp. 225-279). Academic Press.

[3] Flood, J., 1983. Archaeology of the Dreamtime.

[4] Campos, E.M.P., Campos, J.M.M.P. and Muñoz, A.H., 2015. Mercurialism Determination in Fetuses Bone Remains from Toluquilla, Queretaro, Mexico. Journal of Scientific Research and Reports, pp.1-10.

[5] Dunuweera, S.P. and Rajapakse, R.M.G., 2018. A Brief Overview on Chemical and Physical Aspects of Archaeological Dating Techniques and Their Applications in Dating Construction Materials and Buildings. Asian Journal of Physical and Chemical Sciences, pp.1-13.

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