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Introduction to Archaeological
Anthropology
By
Kebede Lemu B
Email:
kebedel2013@gmail.com or
kebedelemu9@gmail.com
March, 2023
Contents of the Course
• Chapter One: Introducing Archaeology
• Chapter Two: Classes of Archaeological
Data
• Chapter Three: Contemporary Theories in
Archeology
• Chapter Four: Field work in archaeology
• Chapter Five: The Beginning of Culture, and
Agricultural Traditions
• Chapter Six: Historic Archaeology of
Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa
Chapter One
Introducing Archaeology
The discipline has different across the
globe.
“Archaeology” is an American concept
and
 “Archaeological anthropology” in the
Europe and in India.
Hence, you can use these concepts
interchangeably.
Cont…..
• The word ‘archaeology’ has its origin
from two Ancient Greek words
‘arkhaios’, meaning ancient or old,
and ‘logos’, which stand for learning or
study.
• Archaeology is the study of the ancient
and recent human past through the
recovery and analysis of material
remains.
Cont….
What is Archaeology?
Archaeology, as defined by the
Oxford English Dictionary, is
the “study of human history
and prehistory through the
excavation of sites and analysis
of physical remains.”
What is Archaeology?
Archaeology is one of
four sub-disciplines of
Anthropology.
Anthropology Sub-
disciplines:
Archaeology
Cultural
Anthropology
Linguistic
Anthropology
Biological or
Physical
Anthropology
Archaeology
Culture
Speech
&
Language
Biology of Man
Cont….
Archaeological Anthropology is the
study of sociocultural behavior in the
protohistoric and pre-historic past.
The archaeologist deals with such
remains from the past societies such
as tools, shelters, remains of plants
and animals eaten as food, and
other objects that have survived.
Cont…
These remains are termed artefacts and
are used to reconstruct past behavior.
It is simply anthropology of the past.
• Archaeology, provides insights
(understanding) into broad processes of
change in material culture over long
periods of time.
• Archaeology is the study of what survives
of the material culture of people who
lived in the past.
Cont….
• Archaeological Anthropology is variously defined
– “the ethnography of extinct societies
– “study of extinct cultures”,
– “past tense of cultural anthropology” or
– simply the study of human past based on past material
objects recovered by systematic explorations and
excavations which are;
 classified,
 analyzed,
 described and
 interpreted based on various scientific methods
and theories.
What is Archaeology?
Archaeology is the
systematic, scientific
recovery and analysis
of artifacts in order to
answer questions
about past human
culture and
behavior.
Archaeology Terms
Systematic: A consistent
way of studying anything.
Science: Methods and
knowledge of studying
anything.
Recovery/ Analysis: To
collect and study artifacts.
Artifact: Any item
resulting from human
activity.
Cont….
• Archaeology is the study of past cultures
through the material (physical) remains
people left behind.
• These can range from small artifacts,
such as arrowheads, to large buildings,
such as pyramids.
• Anything that people created or
modified is part of the archaeological
record.
Cont.….
• Archaeology is branch of
anthropology that examines;
• the material traces of past
societies,
•informs us about the culture of
those societies-the shared way of
life of a group of people that
includes their; values, beliefs and
norms.
Cont.…..
• Archaeology is the only means of studying
human cultural change over very long periods
of time, which gives it great importance in a
world of increasing cultural diversity.
• It also studies the change and development of
culture.
• At the same time it seeks explanation for such
change.
• This branch not only includes prehistory but
also studies the makers of the prehistoric
culture.
Archaeology
Artifacts
Artifacts are things people leave behind.
Cont…
• Artifacts,
•the material products of former
societies,
•provide clues to the past,
•to discover how members of past
societies ate their meals,
•what tools they used and what belief
gave meaning to their lives.
• Archaeologists collect and analyze the
broken fragments of pottery, stone, glass,
and other materials.
Cont…
• It may take years to fully complete the
study of an archaeological excavation.
• While excavation or scientific digging,
and fieldwork remain the key means of
gathering archaeological data, a host of
new techniques are available to help
archaeologists locate and study
archaeological sites.
Cont…
• One innovative approach commonly used
in archaeology employs GIS
(Geographic information systems), a
tool that is also increasingly used by
geologists, geographers and other
scientists.
• Archaeologists can integrate satellite data
to plot (design) the locations of ancient
settlements, transportation routes and
even distribution of individual objects.
Cont…
• It is based on reconstruction of the day to day
life of people who lived in the past.
• Scientific archaeology began as a result of
three major developments:
–The establishment of a high antiquity for
humankind in the mid-nineteenth century.
–The discovery of early civilizations in
southwestern Asia and Central America.
–The development of stratigraphic
excavation as a scientific recording tool,
also the Direct Historical Method.
Cont…
• Archaeology helps us to appreciate and
preserve our shared human heritage.
• It informs us about the past,
• It helps us to understand where we
came from, and
• It shows us how people lived,
overcame challenges, and developed
the societies we have today.
Historical Origin of Archaeology
• In the West, the scientific discipline of
archaeology has its roots in the Italian
Renaissance, when 14th century
scholars began to question the origins of
the ancient monuments located
throughout the Mediterranean region.
• It is outcome of colonialism.
• It was clear that these monuments were
built by a civilization prior to
Renaissance Europe that in many ways
rivaled or even surpassed it.
Cont…
• It was clear that these monuments were
built by a civilization prior to
Renaissance Europe that in many ways
rivaled or even surpassed it.
• Europeans began traveling to other
lands, particularly Italy, Greece, and the
Near East, to retrieve ancient objects for
their governments’ museums or simply
to profit from the sale of the pieces.
History of Archaeology
The first archaeologists
Antiquarians or wealthy people
who collected artifacts
Early Archaeology
It was a combination of several
other sciences concerned with the
evolution of man to know about
where man came from.
1817
Danish archaeologist Christian
Jurgensen Thomsen opened the
National Museum of Antiquities in
Copenhagen to the public.
1859 Origin of Species.
Darwin publishes his book.
1920’s
Archaeology became a fully
fledged scientific discipline.
Christian Jurgensen Thomsen
Charles
Darwin
Nature and Aims of Archaeology
The academic goals of archeology are the reasons
archeologists do what they do.
This is the information that they are trying to learn.
1. One of them is cultural history, or how, why, and
when things changed over time.
2. The second is lifeways reconstruction or what
people did in the past.
This could be anything from the tools they made
and how they used them, how and where they
decided to live, how they organized themselves
socially, and what their beliefs were.
Cont…..
3. The third is culture process.
Over time archeologists have developed
theories on how people lives by the
evidence left behind.
They then created models or plans, these
models are applied to new discoveries.
Archeologists are trying to show that we
can learn about our past through
archeology and that there is a proper
way to do it.
Cont…
• They also want to stress that archeology
is a profession, it takes years of training
and that no one should dig up or take
artifacts without proper training.
• The other thing archeologists are trying to
do is educate the public, to help teach
people why our culture is important and
interesting and worth saving to teach
everyone.
Cont….
• This can be done in many ways,
Museum exhibits
Television shows
Documentary films
Public lectures, digs, or workshops.
Archaeological anthropology is now
gaining much importance in
anthropological studies, as it has become
integral in providing scientific information
for the holistic nature of anthropology.
Development of Archaeology
• In European countries, the beginning of
archaeology can be traced back to the time of the
Renaissance in Italy,
• when there was a new curiosity in the past and
in the recovery of information about ancient
Greece and Rome.
• This curiosity rapidly extended from Italy to other
European countries.
• At the end of the 16th century and during the 17th
century there were many antiquarians, and
collection of classical statuary had become a hobby
of the rich.
Cont…
• Wealthy men built up private
collections, some of which ultimately
became museums.
• One such example was the
Ashmolean Museum of Oxford, built
in 1683, which contained not only
objects of classical art but also
ethnological curios brought back
from foreign countries.
Academic sub-discipline of Archaeology
• There are many branches of archaeology, some
of which overlap.
• Prehistoric archaeologists deal with time
periods before the invention of writing.
• Historical archaeologists have the luxury of
examining both physical remains and texts
(when they survive).
• Industrial archaeologists study buildings and
remains that date to the period after the
Industrial Revolution.
Pseudo Archaeology and Archaeology
• Simply put, pseudo-archaeology is fake
archaeology. The suffix, pseudo-, which
comes from the Greek word pseudein (and
means “to cheat” or “to lie”) is added to the
word archaeology.
Cont…..
• It purports to be archaeological claims,
conclusions, ideas, or notions which have
fake, fraudulent, or overly fantastic bases
in reality rather than being solidly
grounded in scientific method.
• Pseudo Archaeology is the interpretation
of the past from outside the
archaeological science community, which
rejects the accepted data gathering and
analytical methods of the discipline.
However…………..
• Archaeology is the study of human
culture through its material remains and,
like any branch of science, it is done by
careful and thorough observation, using
consistent logic to evaluate data.
• An Archaeologist is one who undertakes
a scientific and humanistic activity which
studies past human cultures through
recovery and analysis of material
remains.
Chapter: Two
Classes of Archaeological Data
• Archaeological Sites:
An archaeological site is a place in which
evidence of past human activity is preserved.
• There are different kinds of archaeological sites.
• One kind of site is a burial site. This is a site
that contains human remains.
• Another type of site is called a habitation
site.
• In habitation sites, there are houses, hearths,
and other types of domestic activities.
Cont….
• Then there are kill sites, which are made up of
the bones of game animals that people
slaughtered, and weapons.
• There are also quarry sites, which are places
where people mined stone or metals for
making tools.
• And there are ceremonial and religious sites,
where these kinds of activities took place.
• And there are art sites, which are places where
people painted or engraved art.
Artifacts
• Within sites, there are different types of
evidence that are found.
• Things that have been made or modified
by humans and are portable are called
artifacts.
• Examples of artifacts include tools,
clothing, pottery, and jewelry.
• If the thing is not portable, like a wall or
a hearth or a storage pit, then it is called a
feature.
Ecofacts.
• There are also ecofacts.
• Ecofacts are things that were not made by
humans but are important in understanding the
archaeological record.
• They are organic and environmental remains,
and examples include animal bones and plant
remains.
• Ecofacts are used to find out things like what
people ate, and what the environment was like
back then.
Features
• A feature is a collection of one or
more contexts representing some human non-
portable activity, such as a hearth or wall.
• Features serve as an indication that the area in
which they are found has been interfered with
in the past, usually by humans.
• Features are distinguished from artifacts in
that they cannot be separated from their
location without changing their form.
• Artifacts are portable, while features are non-
portable.
Behavioral and transformational process
• There are two phases that data undertake
as they become archaeological remains.
• The first is the behavioral process,
which is how remains can enter the
archaeological record (how remains
come into archeological record), and
• the transformational process, which is
what happens to remains after they are
deposited by humans.
Cont….
• Artifacts, ecofacts, and features are
all the result of either deliberate or
accidental human activity.
• This is known as the behavioral
process, sometimes referred to
as cultural formation process.
• Therefore, all archaeological data is
the result of the behavioral process.
Transformational Process
• Natural events, such as wind storms,
floods, volcanic eruptions, organic decay,
and even the effects of plant roots and
animal burrowing, are known
as transformational processes.
• Sometimes referred to as natural
formation processes, these are the events
and conditions that affect the material
remains after it has been deposited until it
has been found or uncovered.
Cont….
• Generally, transformational process is
conditions and events that affect archaeological
data from the time of deposition to the time of
recovery.
• All types of archaeological evidence have a
context.
• A context is made up of a matrix, a
provenience, and association with other finds.
• A matrix is the material around a piece of
evidence, such as gravel, sand, or clay.
• Provenience is the horizontal and vertical
position in the matrix.
Cont….
• Association with other finds means that a
piece of evidence is found along with other
evidence in the same matrix
• The context of a piece of evidence is very
important in understanding it.
• For example, the interpretation of a piece of
pottery will be different if it is found in a
house versus a tomb, or in association with
tools versus animal bones.
• The context gives lots of information about
the piece of evidence.
Chapter Three
Contemporary Theories in
Archeology
There are three main paradigms at
work in archaeology today: culture
history, processualism, and post
processualism.
Indeed, all three have made and still
make contributions to our
understanding of the past.
Cont…
1. Culture History
Culture history emerged in the 19th
century and, as the name suggests, it
is closely allied with the field of
history.
Its primary goal is describing the
“what,” “when,” and “where” of
past peoples, based on the material
record.
Cont….
• By describing and classifying collections
of artifacts through;
• design style,
•geographic distribution, and
•time, culture historians group sites
into distinct “cultures.”
• A culture in archaeological terms is the
material manifestation of the people that
created the artifacts.
Cont…
• Using inductive reasoning, culture
historians identify common themes
between cultures, which in turn lead to
the construction of all-encompassing
narratives to explain the past.
• Creating culture histories through
archaeology is fairly straightforward
and accurate, particularly when one
deals with periods where written records
are preserved.
Cont…
• Histories are made by first buildup large
collections of artifacts (pottery, mud-
brick buildings, stone-lined tombs, stone
and metal tools, etc.) and then making
enlightened inferences about the
relationships between the people who
created the artifacts.
• Modern forms of dating have helped
arrange these collections in time, but
most inferences are still made by
comparing artifacts.
Processualism
• Culture historians do an excellent job
of classifying items and constructing
chronologies, but they do not
attempt, at least in a theoretical
sense, to explain how or why those
artifacts came to be.
• Addressing such questions is the
intent of processual archaeology.
Cont…
• The assumption on which processual
theory is based is that of cultural
evolution – the belief that culture is an
extrasomatic means of environmental
adaptation for humans.
• As such, processualists believe that
culture change is not only
understandable, but also objectively
predictable once the interaction of the
variables is understood.
Post-processualism
• Processualism began to be critiqued soon
after it emerged,
• largely by British archaeologists who
had never felt comfortable with their
American counterparts’ identification
with anthropology.
• Post-processualists believe that the entire
scientific approach to archaeology is
flawed, because we cannot possibly interpret
archaeological phenomena without relying on
our own cultural biases as part of that
interpretation.
Cont….
• That is, there is no reason to believe –
and no way to prove – that our
perception of the ancient world in any
way matches the perception of the
ancients themselves.
• Post-processualists state that personal
biases inevitably affect the very
questions archaeologists ask and direct
them to the conclusions they are
predisposed to believe.
Cont….
• The essential difference between post-
processualism and processualism can be
captured in their fundamental views of
archaeology:
•processual archaeologists attempt
to construct an objective past
whereas;
• post-processualists believe that the
past is what we create it to be.
Cont….
• Despite differences between the three
approaches, there is common ground between
them,
–all make useful contributions to
understanding the past.
–All are concerned about how we know about
people in the past and
–whether that knowledge represents the
actual past or just a personal mental
reconstruction of the past.
Cont….
• Good culture history is still the foundation for
processual-type explanations (“what,” “when,” and
“where”) need to be answered before the questions of
“how” and “why” (post-processual) can be framed.
• Even archaeologists who subscribe to post-processual
theoretical frameworks rely on many techniques such
as;
– stratified sampling,
– statistics, and
– biochemical/material analysis that originated from
the scientific, processual mind-set.
Cont….
• All archaeologists are interested in
learning about past humans by
examining the material culture they have
left behind.
• Thus, the bases for all archaeological
investigations are artifacts, ecofacts and
features.
• The myriad ways in which artifacts and
features are collected and analyzed are
known as archaeological “methods.”
Chapter Four
Field work in Archaeology
 Archaeologists explore sites and recover
information through fieldwork, including
survey and excavation.
 All excavation is destruction, so
archaeologists must be careful to record
as much information as possible while
they are digging so the site can be
"reconstructed" in the lab.
Cont.….
 Fieldwork, including excavating a
site, is just one step in recovering
information about the past.
 After coming in from the field, the
lab work, analysis and interpretation
are undertaken to learn about the
materials recovered during the
excavation.
Archaeological Reconnaissance
• Archaeologists use a wide range of
reconnaissance techniques to locate
new archaeological sites and to
investigate known sites without
excavating them.
• Reconnaissance techniques are also
used to map evidence of human
activity across a landscape.
Archaeological Excavation
• Archaeological excavation is the
procedure by which archaeologists
define, retrieve, and record cultural and
biological remains found in the ground.
• Excavation is not an easy task and not an
endeavor to jump into without having
plan/proper training.
• First it is an expensive proposition in
terms of time and financial resources.
Cont.….
• More importantly, however, it is a
destructive technique since the
archaeological record is not
renewable.
• If an error is made during the
excavation process, the archaeologist
cannot undo that work or even redo
it- what’s been dug up stays dug up.
Vertical and horizontal excavation
• One approach archaeologists can use
is vertical excavation, in which
trenches or excavation units are
deepened to determine the depth of
the time scale in the archaeological
record.
• The vertical dimension shows the
sequence of changes within a site
over time.
Cont…….
To establish a chronological sequence, vertical
excavation focuses on depth.
Horizontal Excavation
• Horizontal excavation, sometimes
called area excavation, exposes a large,
relatively shallow area to answer
questions about the larger site context and
function.
• Typically, horizontal excavations are used
to study large-scale regional areas;
• to understand how the use of the
environment differed across space.
Cont….
• However, in the case of large settlements,
several portions of the larger area will be
excavated to get a sample representation of
the site as a whole.
• Since preservation of the site is the goal,
horizontal excavation is carefully monitored
and must be consistent with the goals and
objectives of the investigation.
• It helps to identify spatial distribution of
artifacts in one particular area.
Field Record Methods
• Archaeologists must keep notes each day
about the measurements, soil, artifacts found
and work done that day.
• Archaeological field work is a scientific
process that relies on recorded observations
and measurement.
• No dig is worth more than records.
• Excavation notebooks provide a day-to-day
record of each trench of new layers and
significant finds.
Stratigraphic Observation
• It is the process of recording,
studying, and evaluating stratified
layers in archaeological sites.
• Stratigraphic observation involves
not only recording the layers but
also confirming a sequence in
time.
Survey
• Survey, is method in which reviews large
areas on the surface (extensive investigation).
• A surface survey is the process of manually
looking for artefacts on the ground surface.
• It can be used for a variety of reasons, such as
to identify where buried sites and features may
be located and areas with the potential for
excavation.
• The information is often recorded on a form
with accompanying photographs.
Survey…..
Geophysical survey
• Geophysical surveys look to discover
what cannot be seen to the naked eye,
specifically structures, features or other
phenomena below the ground surface.
• Typically specialists undertake the survey
using instruments such as;
– Ground Penetrating Radar,
–resistivity meters and
–magnetometers
Cont….
• These features stand out and give
archaeologists information about
where to excavate and what they may
find.
• Building recording, which deduces
the history of buildings that are still
standing.
Chapter Five
The Beginning of Culture, and Agricultural
Traditions
 Humans have occupied earth for several million
years, but for almost all of that period they have
lived as;
 foragers, by various combinations of
gathering,
collecting,
scavenging,
fishing, and
hunting.
Cont.….
• The first clear evidence for
activities that can be recognized
as farming is commonly identified
by scholars as at about 10,000
years ago (Neolithic revolution),
at about the same time as global
temperatures began to rise at the
end of the the ‘Ice Ages’.
Cont.…..
• Then, a variety of agricultural
systems based on cultivated plants
and, in many areas, domesticated
animals, has replaced hunting and
gathering in almost every corner of
the globe.
• The development of agriculture
brought profound changes in the
relationship between people and the
natural world.
Cont…..
• Archaeologists have usually theorized that,
with the invention of farming,
• people were able to settle down and
• increase the amount and reliability of
their food supply,
• thus allowing the same land to support
more people than by hunting and
gathering.
• opened up new pathways to economic
and social complexity.
Cont….
• Thus, farming was the precondition for
the development of the first great urban
civilizations in;
–Egypt,
–Mesopotamia,
–the Indus valley,
–China,
–the Americas, and Africa, and has been
for all later states up to the present day.
Stone Age
• Stone Age is a period characterized
by the use of primary stone tools and
weapons.
• Stone Age, prehistoric cultural stage,
or level of human development,
characterized by the creation and use
of stone tools.
Cont.….
• The Stone Age, whose origin coincides with
the discovery of the oldest known stone tools,
which have been dated to some 3.3 million
years ago, is usually divided into three
separate periods;
Early/old stone age (Paleolithic Period)
Middle stone age (Mesolithic Period)
and
Later/new stone age (Neolithic Period)-
based on the degree of sophistication in
the fashioning and use of tools.
Cont.….
Early Stone Age technology and their
corresponding sites and societies
• The earliest stone toolmaking developed by
at least 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago.
• It was the earliest and by far the longest
period of the human past.
• The Early Stone Age includes the most basic
stone toolkits made by early humans.
• It is an ancient cultural stage, or level,
of human development characterized by the
use of rudimentary chipped stone tools.
Cont.….
• Early in the Stone Age, humans lived in
small, nomadic groups.
• During much of this period, the Earth was in
an Ice age- a period of colder global
temperatures and glacial expansion.
• Early stone age people were nomadic and
move here and their with their families.
• They gathered food, firewood, and materials
for tools, clothes and shelter, all from their
surroundings.
Middle Stone Age technology and their
corresponding sites and societies
• It lasted almost 6,000 years, from 10,000
to 4,000 BC.
• It’s the Middle Stone Age, hence the
name -‘Meso’ means middle (as in
Mesopotamia).
• The Middle stone age (Mesolithic) is the
period between the end of the last ice
age to the beginning of farming.
Cont.….
• It was the step of innovation in stone
technology began to accelerate very
slightly.
• By the beginning of this time, hand-
axes were made with craftsmanship,
and eventually gave way to smaller,
more diverse toolkits, with an
emphasis on flake tools rather than
larger core tools.
Late Stone Age technology and their
corresponding sites and societies
• It was shortly after 4000 BC. Up to
3,500 BC.
• It was the beginning of human
civilization and begin to stop moving
around, and start to live in one place
permanently.
• When human society settled and started
social political organizations like nations
and governments.
Cont.….
• More land was needed for farming, and
lots of woodlands were cut down to make
space.
• In other words, it states that 99 percent
of our past cultural history is covered by
only Stone Age.
• Generally, the stone Age ended around
3,500 years ago when humans began
working with metal and making tools and
weapons from bronze (3500-1200 BC).
The Iron Age
• The Stone Age marks a period of
prehistory in which humans used
primitive stone tools.
• Lasting roughly 2.5 million years, and
• The Iron Age began at about 800 years
ago.
• It was a time when iron (a metal) was
first used to make tools and weapons
rather than bronze/Copper or stone ones.
Rock Arts in Ethiopia and the Horn
• The term rock art refers to rock paintings
(pictographs) and engravings (petroglyphs)
executed on rock surfaces in naturally formed
caves, rock shelters and boulders.
• Many scholars are in agreement that rock art
is a primary source of information about
the pre-historic and historic periods.
• It can be argued that rock art is the first
manifestation to society’s consciousness of
its own idea.
Cont.….
• Rock Art is repository or source of
information for things that it may contain
like;
•the types of vegetation,
•wild and domestic animals,
•natural and cultural landscapes, ritual
practices,
•division of labors and historical
events.
Cont.…
• The history of rock art study in Ethiopia
is less than a century old.
• It began by foreign scholars and travelers.
• Scholars have given less attention to rock
art studies in Ethiopia.
• Researchers have so far focused on
paleontological, physical anthropological
investigations in Ethiopia.
• For the same reasons, our knowledge
about the Ethiopian rock art is limited.
Cont.….
• In Ethiopia and the horn, many rock arts
are on the process of destruction by
natural factors such as flood and rainfall
because of lack of attention.
• Such destructions on the Ethiopian rock
arts are taking place partly due to the
ignorance and lack of interest among
the public and local authorities to
protect and preserve.
Cont.….
• It has become a tradition for local
authorities to focus on political
issues leaving behind other
matters, such as cultural and
educational ones.
• The absence of efficient cultural
heritage or archaeological
heritage resource management.
Early Farming in Ethiopia and the Horn
• From various kinds of evidence it can now be
argued that agriculture in Ethiopia and the Horn
was quite ancient, originating as much as 7,000
or more years ago.
• Early scholars identified the highlands of
Ethiopia as a center of agricultural origins (e.g.,
Sauer 1952; Vavilov 1951) and many continue to
hypothesize that agriculture developed along the
southern Red Sea substantially earlier than avail-
able archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological
evidence can demonstrate
Cont….
Domestication of plants
• Crops including wheat, barley, and
peas are traced to the Near East
region.
• Cereals were grown in Syria as long
as 10,000 years ago. It is marked as
neolithic revolution.
• The transition from a nomadic to a
settled way of life.
Chapter Six
• Historic Archaeology of Ethiopia and the
Horn of Africa
Early States in Ethiopia and the Horn
of Africa
Ethno-archaeology of Ethiopia and
the Horn of Africa

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Introduction to Archaeological Anthropology

  • 1. Introduction to Archaeological Anthropology By Kebede Lemu B Email: kebedel2013@gmail.com or kebedelemu9@gmail.com March, 2023
  • 2. Contents of the Course • Chapter One: Introducing Archaeology • Chapter Two: Classes of Archaeological Data • Chapter Three: Contemporary Theories in Archeology • Chapter Four: Field work in archaeology • Chapter Five: The Beginning of Culture, and Agricultural Traditions • Chapter Six: Historic Archaeology of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa
  • 3. Chapter One Introducing Archaeology The discipline has different across the globe. “Archaeology” is an American concept and  “Archaeological anthropology” in the Europe and in India. Hence, you can use these concepts interchangeably.
  • 4. Cont….. • The word ‘archaeology’ has its origin from two Ancient Greek words ‘arkhaios’, meaning ancient or old, and ‘logos’, which stand for learning or study. • Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through the recovery and analysis of material remains.
  • 5. Cont…. What is Archaeology? Archaeology, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is the “study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and analysis of physical remains.”
  • 6. What is Archaeology? Archaeology is one of four sub-disciplines of Anthropology. Anthropology Sub- disciplines: Archaeology Cultural Anthropology Linguistic Anthropology Biological or Physical Anthropology Archaeology Culture Speech & Language Biology of Man
  • 7. Cont…. Archaeological Anthropology is the study of sociocultural behavior in the protohistoric and pre-historic past. The archaeologist deals with such remains from the past societies such as tools, shelters, remains of plants and animals eaten as food, and other objects that have survived.
  • 8. Cont… These remains are termed artefacts and are used to reconstruct past behavior. It is simply anthropology of the past. • Archaeology, provides insights (understanding) into broad processes of change in material culture over long periods of time. • Archaeology is the study of what survives of the material culture of people who lived in the past.
  • 9. Cont…. • Archaeological Anthropology is variously defined – “the ethnography of extinct societies – “study of extinct cultures”, – “past tense of cultural anthropology” or – simply the study of human past based on past material objects recovered by systematic explorations and excavations which are;  classified,  analyzed,  described and  interpreted based on various scientific methods and theories.
  • 10. What is Archaeology? Archaeology is the systematic, scientific recovery and analysis of artifacts in order to answer questions about past human culture and behavior.
  • 11. Archaeology Terms Systematic: A consistent way of studying anything. Science: Methods and knowledge of studying anything. Recovery/ Analysis: To collect and study artifacts. Artifact: Any item resulting from human activity.
  • 12. Cont…. • Archaeology is the study of past cultures through the material (physical) remains people left behind. • These can range from small artifacts, such as arrowheads, to large buildings, such as pyramids. • Anything that people created or modified is part of the archaeological record.
  • 13. Cont.…. • Archaeology is branch of anthropology that examines; • the material traces of past societies, •informs us about the culture of those societies-the shared way of life of a group of people that includes their; values, beliefs and norms.
  • 14. Cont.….. • Archaeology is the only means of studying human cultural change over very long periods of time, which gives it great importance in a world of increasing cultural diversity. • It also studies the change and development of culture. • At the same time it seeks explanation for such change. • This branch not only includes prehistory but also studies the makers of the prehistoric culture.
  • 16. Cont… • Artifacts, •the material products of former societies, •provide clues to the past, •to discover how members of past societies ate their meals, •what tools they used and what belief gave meaning to their lives. • Archaeologists collect and analyze the broken fragments of pottery, stone, glass, and other materials.
  • 17. Cont… • It may take years to fully complete the study of an archaeological excavation. • While excavation or scientific digging, and fieldwork remain the key means of gathering archaeological data, a host of new techniques are available to help archaeologists locate and study archaeological sites.
  • 18. Cont… • One innovative approach commonly used in archaeology employs GIS (Geographic information systems), a tool that is also increasingly used by geologists, geographers and other scientists. • Archaeologists can integrate satellite data to plot (design) the locations of ancient settlements, transportation routes and even distribution of individual objects.
  • 19. Cont… • It is based on reconstruction of the day to day life of people who lived in the past. • Scientific archaeology began as a result of three major developments: –The establishment of a high antiquity for humankind in the mid-nineteenth century. –The discovery of early civilizations in southwestern Asia and Central America. –The development of stratigraphic excavation as a scientific recording tool, also the Direct Historical Method.
  • 20. Cont… • Archaeology helps us to appreciate and preserve our shared human heritage. • It informs us about the past, • It helps us to understand where we came from, and • It shows us how people lived, overcame challenges, and developed the societies we have today.
  • 21. Historical Origin of Archaeology • In the West, the scientific discipline of archaeology has its roots in the Italian Renaissance, when 14th century scholars began to question the origins of the ancient monuments located throughout the Mediterranean region. • It is outcome of colonialism. • It was clear that these monuments were built by a civilization prior to Renaissance Europe that in many ways rivaled or even surpassed it.
  • 22. Cont… • It was clear that these monuments were built by a civilization prior to Renaissance Europe that in many ways rivaled or even surpassed it. • Europeans began traveling to other lands, particularly Italy, Greece, and the Near East, to retrieve ancient objects for their governments’ museums or simply to profit from the sale of the pieces.
  • 23. History of Archaeology The first archaeologists Antiquarians or wealthy people who collected artifacts Early Archaeology It was a combination of several other sciences concerned with the evolution of man to know about where man came from. 1817 Danish archaeologist Christian Jurgensen Thomsen opened the National Museum of Antiquities in Copenhagen to the public. 1859 Origin of Species. Darwin publishes his book. 1920’s Archaeology became a fully fledged scientific discipline. Christian Jurgensen Thomsen Charles Darwin
  • 24. Nature and Aims of Archaeology The academic goals of archeology are the reasons archeologists do what they do. This is the information that they are trying to learn. 1. One of them is cultural history, or how, why, and when things changed over time. 2. The second is lifeways reconstruction or what people did in the past. This could be anything from the tools they made and how they used them, how and where they decided to live, how they organized themselves socially, and what their beliefs were.
  • 25. Cont….. 3. The third is culture process. Over time archeologists have developed theories on how people lives by the evidence left behind. They then created models or plans, these models are applied to new discoveries. Archeologists are trying to show that we can learn about our past through archeology and that there is a proper way to do it.
  • 26. Cont… • They also want to stress that archeology is a profession, it takes years of training and that no one should dig up or take artifacts without proper training. • The other thing archeologists are trying to do is educate the public, to help teach people why our culture is important and interesting and worth saving to teach everyone.
  • 27. Cont…. • This can be done in many ways, Museum exhibits Television shows Documentary films Public lectures, digs, or workshops. Archaeological anthropology is now gaining much importance in anthropological studies, as it has become integral in providing scientific information for the holistic nature of anthropology.
  • 28. Development of Archaeology • In European countries, the beginning of archaeology can be traced back to the time of the Renaissance in Italy, • when there was a new curiosity in the past and in the recovery of information about ancient Greece and Rome. • This curiosity rapidly extended from Italy to other European countries. • At the end of the 16th century and during the 17th century there were many antiquarians, and collection of classical statuary had become a hobby of the rich.
  • 29. Cont… • Wealthy men built up private collections, some of which ultimately became museums. • One such example was the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford, built in 1683, which contained not only objects of classical art but also ethnological curios brought back from foreign countries.
  • 30. Academic sub-discipline of Archaeology • There are many branches of archaeology, some of which overlap. • Prehistoric archaeologists deal with time periods before the invention of writing. • Historical archaeologists have the luxury of examining both physical remains and texts (when they survive). • Industrial archaeologists study buildings and remains that date to the period after the Industrial Revolution.
  • 31. Pseudo Archaeology and Archaeology • Simply put, pseudo-archaeology is fake archaeology. The suffix, pseudo-, which comes from the Greek word pseudein (and means “to cheat” or “to lie”) is added to the word archaeology.
  • 32. Cont….. • It purports to be archaeological claims, conclusions, ideas, or notions which have fake, fraudulent, or overly fantastic bases in reality rather than being solidly grounded in scientific method. • Pseudo Archaeology is the interpretation of the past from outside the archaeological science community, which rejects the accepted data gathering and analytical methods of the discipline.
  • 33. However………….. • Archaeology is the study of human culture through its material remains and, like any branch of science, it is done by careful and thorough observation, using consistent logic to evaluate data. • An Archaeologist is one who undertakes a scientific and humanistic activity which studies past human cultures through recovery and analysis of material remains.
  • 34. Chapter: Two Classes of Archaeological Data • Archaeological Sites: An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past human activity is preserved. • There are different kinds of archaeological sites. • One kind of site is a burial site. This is a site that contains human remains. • Another type of site is called a habitation site. • In habitation sites, there are houses, hearths, and other types of domestic activities.
  • 35. Cont…. • Then there are kill sites, which are made up of the bones of game animals that people slaughtered, and weapons. • There are also quarry sites, which are places where people mined stone or metals for making tools. • And there are ceremonial and religious sites, where these kinds of activities took place. • And there are art sites, which are places where people painted or engraved art.
  • 36. Artifacts • Within sites, there are different types of evidence that are found. • Things that have been made or modified by humans and are portable are called artifacts. • Examples of artifacts include tools, clothing, pottery, and jewelry. • If the thing is not portable, like a wall or a hearth or a storage pit, then it is called a feature.
  • 37. Ecofacts. • There are also ecofacts. • Ecofacts are things that were not made by humans but are important in understanding the archaeological record. • They are organic and environmental remains, and examples include animal bones and plant remains. • Ecofacts are used to find out things like what people ate, and what the environment was like back then.
  • 38. Features • A feature is a collection of one or more contexts representing some human non- portable activity, such as a hearth or wall. • Features serve as an indication that the area in which they are found has been interfered with in the past, usually by humans. • Features are distinguished from artifacts in that they cannot be separated from their location without changing their form. • Artifacts are portable, while features are non- portable.
  • 39. Behavioral and transformational process • There are two phases that data undertake as they become archaeological remains. • The first is the behavioral process, which is how remains can enter the archaeological record (how remains come into archeological record), and • the transformational process, which is what happens to remains after they are deposited by humans.
  • 40. Cont…. • Artifacts, ecofacts, and features are all the result of either deliberate or accidental human activity. • This is known as the behavioral process, sometimes referred to as cultural formation process. • Therefore, all archaeological data is the result of the behavioral process.
  • 41. Transformational Process • Natural events, such as wind storms, floods, volcanic eruptions, organic decay, and even the effects of plant roots and animal burrowing, are known as transformational processes. • Sometimes referred to as natural formation processes, these are the events and conditions that affect the material remains after it has been deposited until it has been found or uncovered.
  • 42. Cont…. • Generally, transformational process is conditions and events that affect archaeological data from the time of deposition to the time of recovery. • All types of archaeological evidence have a context. • A context is made up of a matrix, a provenience, and association with other finds. • A matrix is the material around a piece of evidence, such as gravel, sand, or clay. • Provenience is the horizontal and vertical position in the matrix.
  • 43. Cont…. • Association with other finds means that a piece of evidence is found along with other evidence in the same matrix • The context of a piece of evidence is very important in understanding it. • For example, the interpretation of a piece of pottery will be different if it is found in a house versus a tomb, or in association with tools versus animal bones. • The context gives lots of information about the piece of evidence.
  • 44. Chapter Three Contemporary Theories in Archeology There are three main paradigms at work in archaeology today: culture history, processualism, and post processualism. Indeed, all three have made and still make contributions to our understanding of the past.
  • 45. Cont… 1. Culture History Culture history emerged in the 19th century and, as the name suggests, it is closely allied with the field of history. Its primary goal is describing the “what,” “when,” and “where” of past peoples, based on the material record.
  • 46. Cont…. • By describing and classifying collections of artifacts through; • design style, •geographic distribution, and •time, culture historians group sites into distinct “cultures.” • A culture in archaeological terms is the material manifestation of the people that created the artifacts.
  • 47. Cont… • Using inductive reasoning, culture historians identify common themes between cultures, which in turn lead to the construction of all-encompassing narratives to explain the past. • Creating culture histories through archaeology is fairly straightforward and accurate, particularly when one deals with periods where written records are preserved.
  • 48. Cont… • Histories are made by first buildup large collections of artifacts (pottery, mud- brick buildings, stone-lined tombs, stone and metal tools, etc.) and then making enlightened inferences about the relationships between the people who created the artifacts. • Modern forms of dating have helped arrange these collections in time, but most inferences are still made by comparing artifacts.
  • 49. Processualism • Culture historians do an excellent job of classifying items and constructing chronologies, but they do not attempt, at least in a theoretical sense, to explain how or why those artifacts came to be. • Addressing such questions is the intent of processual archaeology.
  • 50. Cont… • The assumption on which processual theory is based is that of cultural evolution – the belief that culture is an extrasomatic means of environmental adaptation for humans. • As such, processualists believe that culture change is not only understandable, but also objectively predictable once the interaction of the variables is understood.
  • 51. Post-processualism • Processualism began to be critiqued soon after it emerged, • largely by British archaeologists who had never felt comfortable with their American counterparts’ identification with anthropology. • Post-processualists believe that the entire scientific approach to archaeology is flawed, because we cannot possibly interpret archaeological phenomena without relying on our own cultural biases as part of that interpretation.
  • 52. Cont…. • That is, there is no reason to believe – and no way to prove – that our perception of the ancient world in any way matches the perception of the ancients themselves. • Post-processualists state that personal biases inevitably affect the very questions archaeologists ask and direct them to the conclusions they are predisposed to believe.
  • 53. Cont…. • The essential difference between post- processualism and processualism can be captured in their fundamental views of archaeology: •processual archaeologists attempt to construct an objective past whereas; • post-processualists believe that the past is what we create it to be.
  • 54. Cont…. • Despite differences between the three approaches, there is common ground between them, –all make useful contributions to understanding the past. –All are concerned about how we know about people in the past and –whether that knowledge represents the actual past or just a personal mental reconstruction of the past.
  • 55. Cont…. • Good culture history is still the foundation for processual-type explanations (“what,” “when,” and “where”) need to be answered before the questions of “how” and “why” (post-processual) can be framed. • Even archaeologists who subscribe to post-processual theoretical frameworks rely on many techniques such as; – stratified sampling, – statistics, and – biochemical/material analysis that originated from the scientific, processual mind-set.
  • 56. Cont…. • All archaeologists are interested in learning about past humans by examining the material culture they have left behind. • Thus, the bases for all archaeological investigations are artifacts, ecofacts and features. • The myriad ways in which artifacts and features are collected and analyzed are known as archaeological “methods.”
  • 57. Chapter Four Field work in Archaeology  Archaeologists explore sites and recover information through fieldwork, including survey and excavation.  All excavation is destruction, so archaeologists must be careful to record as much information as possible while they are digging so the site can be "reconstructed" in the lab.
  • 58. Cont.….  Fieldwork, including excavating a site, is just one step in recovering information about the past.  After coming in from the field, the lab work, analysis and interpretation are undertaken to learn about the materials recovered during the excavation.
  • 59. Archaeological Reconnaissance • Archaeologists use a wide range of reconnaissance techniques to locate new archaeological sites and to investigate known sites without excavating them. • Reconnaissance techniques are also used to map evidence of human activity across a landscape.
  • 60. Archaeological Excavation • Archaeological excavation is the procedure by which archaeologists define, retrieve, and record cultural and biological remains found in the ground. • Excavation is not an easy task and not an endeavor to jump into without having plan/proper training. • First it is an expensive proposition in terms of time and financial resources.
  • 61. Cont.…. • More importantly, however, it is a destructive technique since the archaeological record is not renewable. • If an error is made during the excavation process, the archaeologist cannot undo that work or even redo it- what’s been dug up stays dug up.
  • 62. Vertical and horizontal excavation • One approach archaeologists can use is vertical excavation, in which trenches or excavation units are deepened to determine the depth of the time scale in the archaeological record. • The vertical dimension shows the sequence of changes within a site over time.
  • 63. Cont……. To establish a chronological sequence, vertical excavation focuses on depth.
  • 64. Horizontal Excavation • Horizontal excavation, sometimes called area excavation, exposes a large, relatively shallow area to answer questions about the larger site context and function. • Typically, horizontal excavations are used to study large-scale regional areas; • to understand how the use of the environment differed across space.
  • 65. Cont…. • However, in the case of large settlements, several portions of the larger area will be excavated to get a sample representation of the site as a whole. • Since preservation of the site is the goal, horizontal excavation is carefully monitored and must be consistent with the goals and objectives of the investigation. • It helps to identify spatial distribution of artifacts in one particular area.
  • 66. Field Record Methods • Archaeologists must keep notes each day about the measurements, soil, artifacts found and work done that day. • Archaeological field work is a scientific process that relies on recorded observations and measurement. • No dig is worth more than records. • Excavation notebooks provide a day-to-day record of each trench of new layers and significant finds.
  • 67. Stratigraphic Observation • It is the process of recording, studying, and evaluating stratified layers in archaeological sites. • Stratigraphic observation involves not only recording the layers but also confirming a sequence in time.
  • 68. Survey • Survey, is method in which reviews large areas on the surface (extensive investigation). • A surface survey is the process of manually looking for artefacts on the ground surface. • It can be used for a variety of reasons, such as to identify where buried sites and features may be located and areas with the potential for excavation. • The information is often recorded on a form with accompanying photographs.
  • 70. Geophysical survey • Geophysical surveys look to discover what cannot be seen to the naked eye, specifically structures, features or other phenomena below the ground surface. • Typically specialists undertake the survey using instruments such as; – Ground Penetrating Radar, –resistivity meters and –magnetometers
  • 71. Cont…. • These features stand out and give archaeologists information about where to excavate and what they may find. • Building recording, which deduces the history of buildings that are still standing.
  • 72. Chapter Five The Beginning of Culture, and Agricultural Traditions  Humans have occupied earth for several million years, but for almost all of that period they have lived as;  foragers, by various combinations of gathering, collecting, scavenging, fishing, and hunting.
  • 73. Cont.…. • The first clear evidence for activities that can be recognized as farming is commonly identified by scholars as at about 10,000 years ago (Neolithic revolution), at about the same time as global temperatures began to rise at the end of the the ‘Ice Ages’.
  • 74. Cont.….. • Then, a variety of agricultural systems based on cultivated plants and, in many areas, domesticated animals, has replaced hunting and gathering in almost every corner of the globe. • The development of agriculture brought profound changes in the relationship between people and the natural world.
  • 75. Cont….. • Archaeologists have usually theorized that, with the invention of farming, • people were able to settle down and • increase the amount and reliability of their food supply, • thus allowing the same land to support more people than by hunting and gathering. • opened up new pathways to economic and social complexity.
  • 76. Cont…. • Thus, farming was the precondition for the development of the first great urban civilizations in; –Egypt, –Mesopotamia, –the Indus valley, –China, –the Americas, and Africa, and has been for all later states up to the present day.
  • 77. Stone Age • Stone Age is a period characterized by the use of primary stone tools and weapons. • Stone Age, prehistoric cultural stage, or level of human development, characterized by the creation and use of stone tools.
  • 78. Cont.…. • The Stone Age, whose origin coincides with the discovery of the oldest known stone tools, which have been dated to some 3.3 million years ago, is usually divided into three separate periods; Early/old stone age (Paleolithic Period) Middle stone age (Mesolithic Period) and Later/new stone age (Neolithic Period)- based on the degree of sophistication in the fashioning and use of tools.
  • 80. Early Stone Age technology and their corresponding sites and societies • The earliest stone toolmaking developed by at least 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. • It was the earliest and by far the longest period of the human past. • The Early Stone Age includes the most basic stone toolkits made by early humans. • It is an ancient cultural stage, or level, of human development characterized by the use of rudimentary chipped stone tools.
  • 81. Cont.…. • Early in the Stone Age, humans lived in small, nomadic groups. • During much of this period, the Earth was in an Ice age- a period of colder global temperatures and glacial expansion. • Early stone age people were nomadic and move here and their with their families. • They gathered food, firewood, and materials for tools, clothes and shelter, all from their surroundings.
  • 82. Middle Stone Age technology and their corresponding sites and societies • It lasted almost 6,000 years, from 10,000 to 4,000 BC. • It’s the Middle Stone Age, hence the name -‘Meso’ means middle (as in Mesopotamia). • The Middle stone age (Mesolithic) is the period between the end of the last ice age to the beginning of farming.
  • 83. Cont.…. • It was the step of innovation in stone technology began to accelerate very slightly. • By the beginning of this time, hand- axes were made with craftsmanship, and eventually gave way to smaller, more diverse toolkits, with an emphasis on flake tools rather than larger core tools.
  • 84. Late Stone Age technology and their corresponding sites and societies • It was shortly after 4000 BC. Up to 3,500 BC. • It was the beginning of human civilization and begin to stop moving around, and start to live in one place permanently. • When human society settled and started social political organizations like nations and governments.
  • 85. Cont.…. • More land was needed for farming, and lots of woodlands were cut down to make space. • In other words, it states that 99 percent of our past cultural history is covered by only Stone Age. • Generally, the stone Age ended around 3,500 years ago when humans began working with metal and making tools and weapons from bronze (3500-1200 BC).
  • 86. The Iron Age • The Stone Age marks a period of prehistory in which humans used primitive stone tools. • Lasting roughly 2.5 million years, and • The Iron Age began at about 800 years ago. • It was a time when iron (a metal) was first used to make tools and weapons rather than bronze/Copper or stone ones.
  • 87. Rock Arts in Ethiopia and the Horn • The term rock art refers to rock paintings (pictographs) and engravings (petroglyphs) executed on rock surfaces in naturally formed caves, rock shelters and boulders. • Many scholars are in agreement that rock art is a primary source of information about the pre-historic and historic periods. • It can be argued that rock art is the first manifestation to society’s consciousness of its own idea.
  • 88. Cont.…. • Rock Art is repository or source of information for things that it may contain like; •the types of vegetation, •wild and domestic animals, •natural and cultural landscapes, ritual practices, •division of labors and historical events.
  • 89. Cont.… • The history of rock art study in Ethiopia is less than a century old. • It began by foreign scholars and travelers. • Scholars have given less attention to rock art studies in Ethiopia. • Researchers have so far focused on paleontological, physical anthropological investigations in Ethiopia. • For the same reasons, our knowledge about the Ethiopian rock art is limited.
  • 90. Cont.…. • In Ethiopia and the horn, many rock arts are on the process of destruction by natural factors such as flood and rainfall because of lack of attention. • Such destructions on the Ethiopian rock arts are taking place partly due to the ignorance and lack of interest among the public and local authorities to protect and preserve.
  • 91. Cont.…. • It has become a tradition for local authorities to focus on political issues leaving behind other matters, such as cultural and educational ones. • The absence of efficient cultural heritage or archaeological heritage resource management.
  • 92. Early Farming in Ethiopia and the Horn • From various kinds of evidence it can now be argued that agriculture in Ethiopia and the Horn was quite ancient, originating as much as 7,000 or more years ago. • Early scholars identified the highlands of Ethiopia as a center of agricultural origins (e.g., Sauer 1952; Vavilov 1951) and many continue to hypothesize that agriculture developed along the southern Red Sea substantially earlier than avail- able archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological evidence can demonstrate
  • 94. Domestication of plants • Crops including wheat, barley, and peas are traced to the Near East region. • Cereals were grown in Syria as long as 10,000 years ago. It is marked as neolithic revolution. • The transition from a nomadic to a settled way of life.
  • 95. Chapter Six • Historic Archaeology of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa
  • 96. Early States in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa
  • 97. Ethno-archaeology of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa