Subsistence and Diet - Flashcards

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  1. Paleoethnobotany
    The recovery and identification of plant remains from archaeological contexts , used in reconstructing past environments and economies.

    (Chapter 7 pp. 278-79)
  2. Seasonality
    Archaeologists use evidence derived from plants' seasonality to uncover details of a society's way of life. Many plants are only available at certain times of the year, and can therefore provide clues about when a site was occupied. Plant remains can also help indicate what was eaten in particular seasons.

    (Chapter 7 p. 284)
  3. Domestication
    The purposeful cultivation of plants by humans.

    (Chapter 7 pp. 284)
  4. Neolithic Revolution
    A term coined by V.G. Childe in 1941 to describe the origin and consequences of farming (i.e. the development of stock raising and agriculture), allowing the widespread development of settled village life.

    (Chapter 7 pp. 282-83)
  5. Taphonomy
    The study of processes which have affected organic materials such as bone after death; it also involves the microscopic analysis of tooth-marks or cut marks to assess the effects of butchery or scavenging activities.

    (Chapter 7 pp. 292-93)
  6. Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI)
    A method of assessing species abundance in faunal assemblages based on a calculation of the smallest number of animals necessary to account for all the identified bones. Usually calculated from the most abundant bone or tooth from either the left or right side of the animal.

    (Chapter 7 pp. 294-95)
  7. Number of Identified Specimens (NISP)
    A gross counting technique used in the quantification of animal bones. The method may produce misleading results in assessing the relative abundance of different species, since skeletal differences and differential rates of bone preservation mean that some species will be represented more than others.

    (Chapter 7 pp. 294-95)
  8. Attritional age profile
    A mortality pattern deduced from the study of wear on animal teeth which suggests scavenging or hunting by humans of the most vulnerable animals.

    (Chapter 7 pp. 298)
  9. Catastrophic age profile
    A mortality pattern based on bone or tooth wear analysis, and corresponding to a "natural" age distribution in which the older the age group, the fewer the individuals it has. This pattern is often found in contexts such as flash floods, epidemics, or volcanic eruptions.

    (Chapter 7 p. 298)
  10. Midden
    The accumulation of debris and domestic waste resulting from human use. The long-term disposal of refuse can result in stratified deposits, which are useful for relative dating.

    (Chapter 7 pp. 304)
  11. Residues in vessels
    There are numerous ways of examining residues in food and drink vessels: through a microscope, using a mass spectrometer, by extracting fats using "ultrasonic cleaning", through chemical analysis and, by an extension of this technique, with gas liquid chromatography.

    (Chapter 7 p. 308)
  12. Secondary Products Revolution
    A theory put forward by British archaeologist Andrew Sherratt that asked whether there was a second and later stage in the domestication of animals. This second stage, he argued, arose with the need of a human population that was growing and expanding its territory to exploit livestock more intensively.

    (Chapter 7 pp. 309)
  13. Isotopic analysis
    An important source of information on the reconstruction of prehistoric diets, this technique analyzes the ratios of the principal isotopes preserved in human bone; in effect the method reads the chemical signatures left in the body by different foods. Isotopic analysis is also used in characterization studies.

    (Chapter 7 p. 313)
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Subsistence and Diet - Flashcards

From Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice (4th edition), 2006, Renfrew and Bahn, Thames & Hudson
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