C-14 __ Abbreviation for "carbon l4"; a radioactive form (or isotope)
of carbon used in radiocarbon dating. The numerical suffix indicates
that the atom contains l4 particles within its nucleus as opposed to the
l2 within the more common, stable (non-radioactive) isotope.
CACAO __ Seeds from which chocolate is extracted.
CACHE __ An excavated pit, or mound of stones used to store and/or hide food
CADASTRE (CADASTER): __ A public record of the extent, value, and ownership of
land within a district for purposes of taxation.
CADUCEUS __ A staff with two serpents coiled around it and a pair of wings at
the top. Carried by the Greek god Hermes, known as Mercury to the Romans.
CAIRN __ A mound of stones serving as a monument or marker.
CALCAREOUS CONCRETIONS __ A rounded mass of mineral matter occurring in sand
stone, clay, etc., often in concentric layers around a nucleus.
CALCINED BONE __ Burned bone reduced to white or blue mineral constituents.
CALENDRICAL SYSTEM __ System of measuring time that is based on natural
recurring units of time, such as revolutions of the earth around the sun. Time
is determined by the number of such units that have preceded or elapsed with
reference to a specific point in time.
CALICHE __ Deposits of calcium carbonate that occur as the substrata
throughout much of the US desert southwest. Caliche occurs as irregular,
impervious layers a fraction of an inch to several feet in thickness, or as the
matrix in a sand and gravel conglomerate.
CALL SYSTEM __ A repertoire of sounds, each of which is produced in response
to a particular situation.
CALLITRICHIDAE __ family of New World monkeys consisting of the marmosets and
CALUMET __ A peace pipe, usually elaborately decorated and often composed of
both wood and stone elements.
CANAAN __ A historical and Bibilical term used to describe the strip of land
which includes most of present day Gaza Strip and Israel and the Western part of
Jordan. The term was found on Egyptian writings from the 15th century BC.
CANNIBALISM __ The consumption of human flesh by other humans for reasons of
dire need or for ritual purposes. In the archaeological record, the forceful
enlargening of the foramen magnum at the base of the skull (presumably for
removal of the brains) and the smashing of long bones (for the extraction of
bone grease) are often viewed as evidence of cannibalism. In at least some
cases, however, it is possible that while the individual was thus prepared for
consumption, they were only symbolically devoured.
CANOE __ A long, narrow open boat lacking sails and rudder. It is pointed at
both ends and propelled by paddles.
CANOPIC JARS __ Ancient Egyptian containers used to hold the internal organs
that were removed from a dead person before mummification.
CARBOHYDRATES __ Organic compounds composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen;
includes the sugars and starches.
CARBON SAMPLE __ A quantity of organic material, usually charcoal, collected
for radiocarbon dating.
CARIES __ Tooth decay. The condition of the teeth of a skeleton is often an
important clue to the diet and health of the individual.
CARNIVORE __ An animal that eats primarily meat.
CARPAL __ A bone of the human wrist, or one of the corresponding bones of the
forelegs of other animals.
CARRYING CAPACITY __ The point at or below which a population tends to
CARTONNAGE __ Papyrus or linen soaked in plaster, shaped around a body. Used
for Egyptian mummy masks and coffins.
CARTOUCHE __ Elongated version of the hieroglyphic sigh W "shen" which means
'to encircle'. Two of the Pharaoh's five names were written inside the
cartouche. The sign represents a loop of rope that is never ending, such as the
arch of the sky and the world, to indicate that Pharaoh lead everything that the
CAST __ A representation of an organism created when a substance fills in a
CASTELLATION __ A projecting or raised section on the rim of a pot.
CATLINITE __ A soft, red, easily worked stone of the Upper Missouri region
which was commonly ground and polished into tobacco pipes. Also known as
CATALOGUE __ The systematic list recording artifacts and other finds,
recovered by archaeological research, including their description and
CATALOGUE NUMBER __ A number assigned all items recovered by archaeological
research to cross-index them to the catalogue.
CATARRHINE NOSE __ A nose in which the nostrils open downward and are
separated by a narrow nasal septum; found in Old World monkeys, apes, and
CATARRHINI __ Infraorder of the order Primates that includes Old World
monkeys and the hominoids plus various extinct taxa.
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.
CATASTROPHISM __ The eighteenth-century theory that earthquakes, volcanic
eruptions, and other natural disasters were responsible for the distribution of
animal fossils and artifacts.
CATION-RATIO DATING __ This method aspires to the direct dating of rock
carvings and engravings, and is also potentially applicable to Paleolithic
artifacts with a strong patina caused by exposure to desert dust. It depends on
the principle that cations of certain elements are more soluble than others;
they leach out of rock varnish more rapidly than the less soluble elements, and
their concentration decreases with time.
CATTLE COMPLEX __ An East African socioeconomic system in which cattle
represent social status as well as wealth.
CAULDRON __ A large kettle.
C.E. __ An abbreviation used to denote dates that occur within the "Common
Era," as a more neutral alternative to the "A.D." of the Christian calendar.
CEBID __ A member of the family Cebidae; the New World monkeys excluding the
marmosets and tamarins.
CEBIDAE __ Family of New World monkeys that includes the squirrel, spider,
howler, and capuchin monkeys, among others.
CELL __ The smallest unit that is considered to be alive. All living
organisms either are one cell or are composed of several cells.
CELTS __ A category of people who flourished from about 750 to 12 B.C. During
this time, the Celts were the most powerful group in central and northern
Europe. Although the Celts were composed of many different tribes, they shared
similar languages, technology, customs, artistic styles, and beliefs. By A.D.
60, their power had been destroyed by the Romans. After that, only the Celtic
tribes in the more remote areas of Europe, such as the British Isles, survived.
CENOTAPH __ From the Greek word meaning; "empty tomb". A tomb built for
ceremonial purposes that was never intended to be used for the interment of the
CENOTE __ A natural waterhole. Cenote is a corruption by the Spanish of the
Maya word dzonot, a large circular sink-hole created by the collapse of
limestone caves. The water in cenotes is filtered through limestone and
constituted one of the primary sources of drinking water for the Maya. Patterns
of settlement among the early Maya often followed the location of cenotes.
CENSUS __ A comprehensive survey of a population designed to reveal its basic
CENTRAL HALL __ A frame house consisting of two rooms and an enclosed central
CENTRALIZATION __ Concentration of political and economic decisions in the
hands of a few individuals or institutions.
CERAMIC __ Pottery, fired clay.
CERBERUS __ Three headed dog that guarded the entrance to Hades.
CERCOPITHECIDAE __ Family that includes all the Old World monkeys, such as
guenons, mangabeys, macaques, and baboons.
CERCOPITHECINAE __ Subfamily that contains the Old World monkeys that are
omnivorous and possess cheek pouches.
CERCOPITHECINAE __ Superfamily that consists of the Old World monkeys.
CEREMONIAL FUND __ The portion of the peasant budget allocated to religious
and social activities.
CHAC MOOL - Maya stone reclining figure with a place for offerings on it's
CHACO CANYON __ Site in New Mexico representative of the Anasazi culture that
thrived there between A.D. 500 and 1300.
CHAIN __ A surveying chain, or long steel tape-measure, calibrated in meters
or feet, used for site mapping and grid layout.
CHALCEDONY __ A microcrystalline form of quartz with crystals arranged in
parallel strands. Chalcedony was commonly used for tool-making and could be
either chipped or ground.
CHARCOAL __ Carbon formed by heating organic matter in the absence of air;
one of the preferred substances for radiocarbon dating.
CHARON __ In Greek myth, the boatman who rowed the souls of the dead across
the River Styx into the underworld.
CHEEK POUCH __ A pocket in the cheek that opens into the mouth; some Old
World monkeys store food in the cheek pouch.
CHEMISTRY __ The science concerned with the structure, properties, reactions
and commercial application of substances.
CHERNOZEM __ A rich, black organic soil well-suited to the growing of
grasses, which is found in cool or temperate semiarid environments.
CHERT __ A very fine grained rock formed in ancient ocean sediments. It often
has a semi-glassy finish and is usually white, pinkish, brown, gray, or
blue-gray in color. It can be shaped into arrowheads by chipping. It has often
been called flint, but true flint is found in chalk deposits and is a
distinctive blackish color.
CHIEFDOM __ The third stage in the 'stage model,' representing regional
systems with mixed economies that are integrated through the institution of
CHILAM BALAM __ A series of books written by various Maya tribes in Spanish
after the Spanish Conquest. The content probably came directly from Maya
CHINKING __ A mortar, usually composed chiefly of clay, used to plaster over
gaps in walls or to bind bricks or stones.
CHIPPING STATION __ A restricted area of "floor" within an archaeological
site which yields stone flakes to the virtual exclusion of other kinds of
artifacts. Such features are frequently interpreted as places used for the
chipping of stone.
CHITHO __ A disc-shaped biface.
CHINAMPAS __ The areas of fertile reclaimed land, constructed by the Aztecs,
and made of mud dredged from canals.
CHOL __ Maya language and ethnic group.
CHOLLA __ Several species of spiny cactus having cylindrical stems and
branches. The plants are found in many parts of semiarid and arid North America.
CHOPPER __ An axe-like tool, generally fashioned from a cobble or large
pebble, and usually worked only on one face.
C-HORIZON __ The bottom-most zone of a soil, consisting of unaltered natural
CHRONOLOGY __ Arrangement of events in the order in which they occurred.
CHRONOLOGY BUILDING __ Devising a dated history for a region by combining
numerous lines of evidence.
CHRONOMETRIC DATING __ Placing an event or process with a range of dates on a
calendrical time scale, usually by means of radiocarbon or potassium/argon
CHRONOMETRY __ The art of measuring time accurately.
CICERO __ Roman orator, died 43 BCE.
CISTS __ Boxed burials (eg: some of the Neolithic graves at El Garcel,
Almeria, Spain) are referred to as cists burials. The term simply comes from the
German word 'Kiste' meaning a box or crate.
CITY-STATE __ City and surrounding countryside under it's influence. Main
political entity of classical Greece.
CIVILIZATION __ A term used by anthropologists to describe any society that
CLADE __ A group of species with a common evolutionary ancestry.
CLADISTICS __ A theory of classification that differentiates between shared
ancestral and shared derived features.
CLADOGRAM __ A graphic representation of the species, or other taxa, being
studied, based upon cladistic analysis.
CLAN __ A unilineal descent group usually comprising more than ten
generations consisting of members who claim a common ancestry even though they
cannot trace step-by-step their exact connection to a common ancestor.
CLASS (1) __ A major division of a phylum, consisting of closely related
CLASS (2) __ A ranked group within a stratified society characterized by
achieved status and considerable social mobility.
CLASSIFICATION __ Systematic arrangement in groups or categories according to
CLAY __ Extremely fine (less than 0.0l mm in diameter) particles produced by
the weathering of certain rocks. Its primary constituent is hydrated aluminum
silicate, but numerous impurities, such as quartz, mica, calcium carbonate,
alkalies, iron compounds, humus, and sand may also be present. Clay is plastic
when moist, but hardens when dried and is used in the manufacture of ceramics.
CLEAVER __ A large core tool with a straight, sharp edge at one end.
CLEOPATRA __ Ruler of Egypt from 51 to 30 B.C. Of Macedonian (Greek) descent,
Cleopatra reigned for 21 years, until the fall of Egypt to Rome in 30 B.C. She
was the lover of the famous Roman general Mark Anthony.
CLIFF DWELLINGS __ Shelters or villages built along the edges of cliffs.
CLOSED CORPORATE COMMUNITY __ A community that strongly emphasizes community
identity and discourages outsiders from settling there by restricting land use
to village members and prohibiting the sale or lease of property to outsiders.
CLOVIS __ A town in New Mexico which has lent its name to a distinctive type
of Paleo-Indian or Early Prehistoric Period projectile point as well as to the
complex (also known as the Llano Complex) and culture within which it occurs.
The highly distinctive projectile points are concave-based and highly variable
in size, ranging from approximately 3 to l2 cm in length. One or both faces may
be fluted with the channel flake extending one-half or less of the length of the
point. Most Clovis sites are either surface finds of isolated projectile points
or kill sites and hence the full nature of he complex is not known. Associated
artifacts include a variety of scraping tools, blades, hammerstones, chopping
tools and foreshafts and defleshers of bone (Frison l978). Clovis points are
distributed from the arctic to Mexico, and from California as far east as Nova
Scotia. Radiocarbon dated sites range in age from 8500 to approximately l0,000
B.C. Where perishable materials are preserved and an association can be
demonstrated, faunal remains are nearly invariably those of the mammoth. Clovis
points are rare in Manitoba due to the fact that most of the province was
glaciated or beneath the waters of glacial Lake Agassiz during the Clovis
period. The small area in southwestern Manitoba which would have been available
for occupation at that time probably did not support the kind of vegetation upon
which mammoths depended for food (Pettipas l975).
CLUSTER ANALYSIS __ a multivariate statistical technique which assesses the
similarities between units or assemblages, based on the occurrence or
non-occurrence of specific artifact types or other components within them.
COBBLE __ A medium-sized stone (larger than a pebble but smaller than a
fieldstone) which has been rounded and occasionally polished by erosion.
COCHRANE RE_ADVANCE __ A surging of the Wisconsinan ice sheet which occurred
roughly 8000 years ago and which is associated with a rise in the level of
glacial Lake Agassiz.
CODE SHEETS __ Anthropologists' checklists of observed behaviors and inferred
motivations for or attitudes toward them.
CODY __ A town in Wyoming which has lent its name to a distinctive style of
Palaeo-Indian knife as well as a complex consisting of at least two forms of
Plano projectile points (Eden and Scottsbluff) and possibly a third (Alberta).
The knives are either single-shouldered or parallel-sided with a transverse
blade. Associated artifacts include a variety of side- and end-scrapers, drills,
knives, spokeshaves, gravers, perforators and denticulates. Cody Complex sites
are more or less restricted to grassland environments and where preservation is
good, they contain the remains of now-extinct forms of bison. In Manitoba, Cody
artifacts occur above the Manitoba escarpment in the extreme southwestern corner
of the province. Elsewhere, they have been radiocarbon dated between 5900 B.C.
and 7900 B.C. (if Alberta is included) or 7l00 B.C. if it is not.
COFFIN TEXTS __ Texts written inside coffins of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom
that are intended to direct the souls of the dead past the dangers and perils
encountered on the journey through the afterlife. More than 1,000 spells are
COGNATE WORD __ Words in different languages which are similar in terms of
meaning and structure by virtue of descent from a common ancestral language.
COGNITIVE ANTHROPOLOGY __ The study of how peoples of different cultures
acquire information about the world (cultural transmission), how they process
that information and reach decisions, and how they act on that information in
ways that other members of their cultures consider appropriate.
COGNITIVE ARCHAEOLOGY __ The study of past ways of thought and symbolic
structures from material remains.
COGNITIVE IMPERATIVE __ The human need to impose order on the world by mental
COGNITIVE PROCESSES __ Ways of perceiving and ordering the world.
COIL FRACTURE __ A potsherd, the shape of which reveals that it was a section
of one of the coils used to manufacture the vessel. see coiling.
COILING __ A method of ceramic vessel manufacture which involves the stacking
of rings of clay. The coils are later smoothed-over by hand or paddled to
complete the finish and to bind the coils to one another.
CO-INFLUENCE SPHERE __ An area within which human groups interact due to
trade, conflict, migration, the nature of local resources and the manner in
which various groups exploited them. As the basis for a research design, the
Co-Influence Sphere Model emphasizes interaction as opposed to unilineal
chronology, and relies upon cultural comparisons beyond the immediate research
area as a basis upon which to draw conclusions.
COLD HAMMERING __ Fashioning metal without the use of heat sufficient to melt
it. In prehistoric Manitoba this was restricted to copper and recent evidence
indicates that temperatures of up to l000C were often applied to render the
substance less brittle.
COLLAGEN __ A protein which occurs in bone and may be used for radiocarbon
COLLATERAL FLAKING __ When flakes on a chipped stone artifact extend to the
middle from both edges forming a medial ridge. The flakes are at right angles to
the longitudinal axis, and regular and uniform in size.
COLLECTING __ The removal of materials in archaeological context from one
settlement by the residents of another.
COLLECTION __ l. the total array of artifacts from a single site or area. 2.
the total array of artifacts in the possession of an individual or institution.
COLLUVIAL DEPOSITS __ Deposits formed on slopes near sources of sediment such
COLLUVIUM __ A mixture of rock fragments and debris occurring at the foot of
COLOBINAE __ Subfamily of Old World monkeys that includes the langurs and
colobus monkeys; species that are specialized leaf eaters, possessing a complex
stomach and lacking cheek pouches.
COLOSSUS OF RHODES __ A massive bronze statue of the sun god Helios located
on the Greek island of Rhodes. It was built around 290 B.C. and was destroyed by
an earthquake around 226 B.C. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the
Colossus was 110 feet high and was once thought to have straddled the entrance
to the city harbor (a fact which scholars now know would have been impossible).
COMMUNAL CULT __ A society with groups of ordinary people who conduct
religious ceremonies for the well-being of the total community.
COMMUNICATION __ The transmission and reception of some stimulus or message.
In relation to animal life, communication occurs when one animal transmits
information to another animal.
COMMUNITY __ The behavioral component comprised of groups of households whose
members frequently interact.
COMMUNITY IDENTITY __ An effort by speakers to identify themselves with a
specific locality and to distinguish themselves from outsiders.
COMPUTER TOMOGRAPHY __ A technique that uses X ray or ultrasound to provide
images of layers of solid objects, such as pottery or the human body. The images
are processed by a computer to create two- and three-dimensional pictures of the
CONCEPTUAL __ The major assumptions or underlying premises of a field of
CONG (Chinese) __ Jade tube.
CONQUISTADOR __ A name given to the 16th-century Spanish explorers who came
to the New World.
CONSERVATION __ The scientific process of cleaning--and often repairing
and/or restoring--an artifact in order to preserve it for further study and/or
CONSERVATION ARCHAEOLOGY __ A sub-field of archaeology which focuses on the
preservation of archaeological resources. This position encourages the
stabilization and preservation of archaeological sites as opposed to their
CONTEXT __ Relationship of artifacts and other cultural remains to each other
and the situation in which they are found.
COPAL __ An incense of Mesoamerica.
COPPER SHEATHING __ Used underwater (below the waterline) on wooden ships to
repel marine organisms.
COPROLITE __ Fossilized, desiccated< or otherwise preserved dung or human
faeces. Study of coprolites can yield information on the diet, environment and
habits of early peoples.
COPTIC __ The Afro-Asiatic language of the Copts, which survives only as a
liturgical language of the Coptic Church; of or relating to the Copts, the
Coptic Church, or the Coptic language.
CORBALLED ARCH __ A false arch constructed by putting ceiling tiles closer
together on each successive layer until a capstone could be laid.
CORE __ 1. the stone from which flakes have been removed; the nucleus. A
"prepared" core is one which has been specially modified in such a way as to
control the shape of subsequent flakes. The core itself may be modified into a
tool (core tool). core, conical. a cone-shaped core with the flat surface
serving as the striking platform. core, polyhedral. a generally sphere-shaped
core with many faces. core, wedge-shaped. a core in which flakes are removed
from two faces, thus rendering it a wedge-shaped appearance. 2. a generally
thin, cylindrical sample of soil or tree growth-rings.
CREMATION __ Destruction of the bodily remains of the deceased by burning.
This mode of postmortem treatment may be favored for many reasons; to prevent
the return of the dead, to protect the deceased from scavengers, or to prevent
the transformation of the dead into a harmful entity. Treatment of the ashes is
highly variable from one group to another. Cremation seems to have been
particularly popular with Paleo-Indians and this is one of the reasons that
skeletal remains dating to this period are so rare.
CRETACEOUS PERIOD __ A period 144 to 65 million years ago, characterized by
the growth of the first flowering plants and the height of the era of the
dinosaurs. It ended with the complete extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million
CROP MARK __ Differential vegetational growth as a result of buried features.
Some species of plants are particularly sensitive to various subsurface
conditions. For example cereals will not achieve normal height and will ripen
sooner over wall foundations, while over ditches, or trenches they will grow
taller and remain green longer. Study of these differences, particularly with
the aid of aerial photography, can reveal such features in remarkable detail.
CROSS DATING __ A relative dating technique which attributes similar ages to two
strata, components or sites on the basis of the recovery of similar artifacts
from each; the use of an artifact whose age is known elsewhere, to date a new
CUCURBIT __ The plant family which includes pumpkins, squash, gourds and
cucumbers and which occurs in tropical and subtropical regions. Some members of
this family were domesticated by Native North Americans.
CULTIGEN __ An initially wild plant which has undergone sufficient genetic
changes due to nurturing (or conscious selection), so as to be entirely
dependent upon man for its survival; a domesticated plant.
CULTIVAR __ A wild plant that is nurtured by humans. Cultivars may thus be
found thriving outside of their normal habitats due to irrigation, fertilization
CULTIVATION __ Preparation and use of land for the production of food.
CULT-STATUE __ A statue of a divinity found in a shrine dedicated to that
CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY __ That branch of anthropology that concerns itself
with homanity's non-biological adaptations. Occasionally it is used synonymously
(but incorrectly) with social anthropology.
CULTURAL DATING __ The process of comparing objects archaeologists find with
information they already have; comparing cultural attributes.
CULTURAL ECOLOGY __ The study of the ways a society adapts to its
CULTURAL EVOLUTION __ The study of how and why human adaptive systems have
changed over time.
CULTURAL FORMATION PROCESS __ Human activities responsible for forming and
modifying the archaeological record.
CULTURAL DYNAMICS __ The study of population movements and stability or
cultural change and continuity. Cultural dynamics thus includes such phenomena
as migration, diffusion, re-adaptation, population increases and expansions,
etc. and attempts to identify the reasons for their occurrence.
CULTURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT __ A branch of archaeology that is concerned
with developing policies and action in regard to the preservation and use of
cultural resources. Often called simply CRM.
CULTURAL RESOURCES __ Sites, structures, landscapes, and objects of some
importance to a culture or community for scientific, traditional, religious, or
CULTURE __ Sets of learned beliefs, values and behaviors--the way of
life--shared by the members of a society.
CULTURE AREA __ A geographic region within which the occupants are more
similar to one another (particularly in terms of material culture) than to those
beyond its limits. These rather frequently correspond to natural, environmental
areas, thus reflecting a shared mode of adaptation to a similar environment. In
practice, a culture area is defined on the basis of its center. The peripheries
often share more traits with neighboring culture areas.
CULTURE HERO __ In mythology, an animal, person or god(ess) who may be seen
as the protector of a people, and/or as being the originator of their culture
and circumstance. In Native North American folklore, he/she is frequently also a
CULTURE HISTORY __ The placement of the material remains of the culture(s) of a
region into proper chronological order and the subsequent study of their
CULTURE PROCESS __ The underlying factors which bring about change in a
culture. Processual archaeology attempt to identify such causes, and tests
hypotheses thus generated against other archaeological data.
CULTUS TEMPLE __ Temple dedicated to the worship of one or more deities.
CUNEIFORM __ The wedge-shaped characters of many ancient Near Eastern
CUPID __ Roman god of love. Knows as Eros by the Greeks.
CYCLADIC __ Dealing with the islands called the Cyclades, found between
Greece and Turkey.