Glossary of Archaeological/Anthropological Terms


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NATAL GROUP __ The (residence) group to which one belongs upon birth as opposed to that which one joins by virtue of marriage.

NATION STATE __ A political unit consisting of an autonomous state inhabited predominantly by a people sharing a common culture, history, and language.

NATRON __ A naturally occurring salt used as a preservative and drying agent during mummification. It is a mixture of four salts that occur in varying proportions: sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride and sodium sulfate.

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT __ Climate, terrain, geological resources, and flora and fauna.

NEANDERTHAL __ An extinct form of humans that existed between 40,000 and 35,000 B.C. They were normally chinless, with prominent brow ridges and a receding forehead, but had the same size brain as modern humans. 

NEAR EAST __ The area (sometimes called Middle East) in the vicinity of the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.

NECROPOLIS __ Normally describes large and important burial areas that were in use for long periods. From Greek nekros (corpse) and polis (city).

NEMES __ A striped headcloth worn by Pharaohs.

NEO-ATLANTIC __ A central North American climatic episode dating from A.D. 690 to A.D. ll00 which is believed to have been somewhat cooler and moister than the present.
NEO-BOREAL __ A central North American climatic episode, known to some as the "Little Ice Age", which dates approximately A.D. l550 to l850. Average temperatures were l C cooler throughout this period than the present.

NEOLITHIC __ The first era of village farmers in any region.

NEPHTHYS __ Egyptian goddess and protector of the dead. Sister of Isis, Osiris and Seth.

NEPTUNE __ Roman god of the sea. Called Poseidon by the Greeks.

NEUTRON ACTIVATION __ A technique of nuclear chemistry by which minute amounts of elements in a material are identified.

NET-IMPRESSED __ A surface finish of ceramics produced by impressing the wet clay with a net. Depending upon how this is accomplished, the vessel's surface may be the precise imprint of the mesh or a much more irregular, roughened pattern.
NETSINKER __ A notched or grooved cobble attached to a net in order to sink one edge.

NEWGRANGE __ Irish passage tomb of great beauty, built about 3200 BC and re-discovered in 1699.

NEW KINGDOM __ Egyptian chronological term for dynasties 17-20.

NIKE __ Winged goddess of victory.

NILE RIVER __ The largest river in Egypt. Yearly flooding brings water to the land surrounding the river and allows people to grow food along the banks of the river.

NILOMETER __ Staircase descending into the Nile and marked with levels above low water; used for measuring, and in some cases recording, inundation levels. The most famous are on Elephantine island and on Roda island in Cairo.
NOMAD __ A member of a group of people who move according to the seasons from place to place in search of food, water, and grazing land.

NOME __ From the Greek, nomos; this is an administrative province of Egypt (42 in all). The nome system started in the Early Dynastic Period. During some periods, when there was a highly centralized government the nomes had little political importance.

NON-LITERATE __ Pertaining to peoples who lack a written language.

NORTHERN TRANSITION ZONE __ The northern part of the Boreal Forest which marks the shift from the dense coniferous forest in the south and the open tundra to the north. Black spruce is the most common tree species although white spruce dominates on sand ridges and floodplains. Swamp and muskeg is common throughout. As one proceeds north, trees become less numerous and more stunted and permafrost becomes more widespread.

NOTCHING __ A V or U-shaped indentation. basal notching. in projectile points, a deep often shallow indentation into the base; narrower and often more pronounced than a basal concavity. ceramic notching. the creation of notches, presumably as a decorative element, into the clay of a vessel prior to firing.

NUCLEAR AREAS __ Regions where large, complex societies arose again and again.

NUCLEAR FAMILY __ A family unit consisting of a married couple and their offspring. A grandparent or a spouse of one of the children may be included.


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