Glossary of Archaeological/Anthropological Terms


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SAFF TOMB __ An Arabic word that means "row", it describes the rock-cut tombs of the early 11th Dynasty that consisted of a row of openings on the hillside. (Egypt) 

SAGUARO __ One of the largest cacti, the saguaro has one central trunk with one or more upward curving branches. This tree-size cactus played an important role in the economy of the Hohokam and the Pima and Papago cultures.

SALVAGE ARCHAEOLOGY __ Archaeology conducted primarily because a site or area is in imminent danger of destruction by natural forces or by construction or development. The British equivalent to this term -- rescue archaeology -- is self-explanatory.

SAMPLE __ Any part of subset of a population.

SAMPLE SIZE __ The number of sample units chosen for a study.

SAMPLE STATISTICS __ The characteristics of a sample.

SAMPLE UNIT __ A member of a population examined.

SAMPLING __ Selecting from within regions those areas to be surveyed and, within sites, those areas to be excavated.

SAMPLING BIAS __ The tendency of a sample to exclude some members of the sampling universe and overrepresent others. 

SAMPLING ERROR __ In population genetics, the transmission of a nonrepresentative sample of the gene pool over space or time due to chance.

SAMPLING UNIVERSE __ The largest entity to be described, of which the sample is a part. 

SANCTION __ Any means used to enforce compliance with the rules and norms of a society.

SAND __ A loose material composed of minute (0.2 to 2 mm in diameter) particles of weathered rock, especially quartz.

SANDIA __ A mountain range in New Mexico which has given its name to a local cave and to the oldest of the three archaeological components within it. Beneath a Folsom occupation, Frank Hibben (l94l) found another component which bore scrapers, prismatic flakes, two hearths, two bone artifacts which may have been used as projectile points, and a number of stone projectile points of a hitherto unknown type. These were of two forms; Sandia I points were characterized by convex bases, while Type II had concave bases and were occasionally fluted. Both were generally crudely flaked and were single-shouldered. Associated fauna included horse, camel, mastodon, mammoth and a now-extinct species of bison. Both the stratigraphy and the faunal association argue for an age greater than Folsom and possibly older than Clovis but unfortunately it is currently impossible to place Sandia in time with any degree of confidence. Sandia are probably the rarest of the Palaeo-Indian styles and because of their frequent crudeness of manufacture, among the most commonly misidentified. Points which have been called Sandia have been reported in widely scattered localities from the Canadian Prairie Provinces to Texas, and from California as far east as Alabama.

SANDSTONE __ A general name for any of the common sedimentary rocks composed of sand grains cemented together with clay, iron oxide or calcium carbonate.

SAPIR-WORF HYPOTHESIS __ The notion that a person's language shapes her or his perception and view of the world.

SARCOPHAGUS __ From the Greek word meaning; "flesh eater". It was the name given to the stone container within which the dead were placed.

SARDIS __ Capital of the Lydian kingdom; located in western Anatolia.

SASSANIAN __ A Persian dynasty that ruled from 224 to 651 C.E. The Sassanians sought to obliterate Greek cultural influences and revive Persian traditions. At one point the Empire controlled territory from Indus to the Nile, and from Yemen to the Caucasus.

SATYR __ Half human half beast follower of the god Dionysos.

SCANDIC __ A central North American climatic Episode dating from A.D. 270 to A.D. 690 which represents the warming trend which culminated in the Neo-Atlantic Climatic Episode.

SCAPULA HOE __ A hoe fashioned from a scapula (shoulder blade). 

SCARAB __ The dung-rolling beetle was, to the ancient Egyptians, a symbol of regeneration and spontaneous creation, as it seemed to emerge from nowhere; in fact it came from eggs previously laid in the sand. Seals and amulets in scarab form were very common and were thought to possess magic powers.

SCARCE RESOURCES __ A central concept of Western economics which assumes that people have more wants than they have resources to satisfy them. 

SCARP __ An escarpment, cliff or other steep slope, such as the slope between fluvial terraces.

SCENT MARKING __ Marking territory by urinating or defecating or by rubbing scent glands against trees or other objects.

SCAVENGING __ The removal of materials from archaeological context by the residents of a settlement.

SCHIST __ Any of a group of metamorphic rocks which may be split into plates or needle-shaped grains. Constituent elements may include mica, chlorite, talc or iron.

SCIENCE __ a method of learning about the world by applying the principles of the scientific method, which includes making empirical observations, proposing hypotheses to explain those observations, and testing those hypotheses in valid and reliable ways; also refers to the organized body of knowledge that results from scientific study.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD __ A method of obtaining information by systematic observation, hypothesis testing, and experimentation.

SCIENTIFIC THEORY __ A statement that postulates ordered relationships among natural phenomena.

SCIENTISM __ The belief that there is one and only one method of science and that it alone confers legitimacy upon the conduct of research.

SCRAPER __ An artifact used to remove the fat from the underside of a hide or to smooth wood. Unless otherwise specified, these are generally understood to be made of stone. combination (side- end-) scraper. one which is sharpened on at least one side and one end. dome (-shaped) scraper. a scraper which is roughly circular as seen from above, dome-shaped in cross-section and sharpened around most or all of its circumference. end-scraper. one which is worked at one or both ends. The "end" may be defined as the shorter of the edges in a rectangular specimen or the end which initially formed part of the striking platform or the edge opposite it. flake scraper. technically any scraper fashioned from a flake, but in general usage a scraper made on a thin flake; a raclette. keeled scraper. a scraper with an intact dorsal ridge. scraper plane. a large, often oval scraper with a flat ventral face and dome-shaped dorsal face which is often sharpened on one side. side-scraper. a scraper which is sharpened on one or both sides only. The "side" may be defined as one of the longer edges, or one of the edges adjacent to the striking platform. tabular scraper. a scraper fashioned from a flake with flat, often parallel dorsal and ventral faces. thumb(nail) scraper. a small, often domed scraper shaped like a thumbnail.

SCREEN __ A wire mesh mounted on a frame which is used to sift the soil from an archaeological excavation. The screen may be used manually or shaken by means of a small motor and serves to catch the specimens which are too small for the excavator to collect practically. The size of the mesh depends at least partially on the fineness of the deposits on the site. In Manitoba, sizes from l/l6" to l/4" are the most common. Experiments have shown that different mesh sizes produce dramatically different results in the relative frequencies of objects of different sizes.

SCRIBES __ Ancient Egyptians trained to read and write.

SEA PEOPLES __ A group of people who migrated to eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea around 1400 BC.
SEASONAL ISOLATION __ A form of reproductive isolation in which the breeding seasons of two closely related populations do not exactly correspond.

SEASONAL ROUND __ l. the sequence of places or different ecological zones which a group of people exploit throughout the course of the year. see Primary Forest Efficiency. 2. the cycle of activities pursued throughout the year.

SECONDARY BURIAL __ a human interment which was moved and re-buried

SECONDARY CENTER OF OSSIFICATION __ An area of ossification, usually near the end of a long bone.  

SECONDARY DATUM __ A local base measuring point at a known distance from the main horizontal or vertical datum points. 

SECONDARY DEPOSIT __ a body of natural or cultural sediments which have been disturbed and re-transported since their original deposition.

SECONDARY REFUSE __ Trash deposited at other than the location of use.

SECONDARY RETOUCH __ finishing or resharpening flaking done after the basic shape of a lithic tool has been completed.

SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERISTICS __ physical features other than the genitalia that distinguish males from females after puberty.

SECONDARY STATE __ A society that achieved a state level of organization through contact with another state.

SECTARIAN __ Relating to or characteristic of a sect or denomination; adhering to the viewpoint of that sect; partisan.

SECTION (1) __ A vertical cut (or exposure) through a body of sediments or a feature.

SECTION (2) __ A one-square mile unit in the legal subdivision system.

SECULAR __ General term for nonreligious, or the opposite of religious.

SECULAR TREND __ The tendency over the last hundred or so years for each succeeding generation to mature earlier and become, on the average, larger.

SECULARIZATION __ The act of transferring control or ownership from religious to civil authorities.

SEDENTARY __ A term applied to human groups leading a settled, non-migratory lifestyle.
SEDENTARY PASTORALISM __ Animal husbandry that does not involve mobility. 

SEDENTISM __ The practice of establishing a permanent, year-round settlement. 

SEDIMENT __ Material that was suspended in water and that settles at the bottom of a body of water.

SEDIMENTARY __ Pertaining to stone which has been formed from loose deposits which have been subsequently compacted by the weight of overlying deposits or water.

SEDIMENTARY BEDS __ Beds, or layers, of sediments; also called strata. 

SEDIMENTATION __ The accumulation of geological or organic material deposited by air, water, or ice. 

SEDIMENTOLOGY __ A subset of geomorphology concerned with the investigation of the structure and texture of sediments i.e. the global term for material deposited on the earth's surface. 

SEGMENTARY LINEAGE __ A descent group in which minimal lineages are encompassed as segments of minor lineages, minor lineages as segments of major lineages, and so on. 

SEGMENTARY SOCIETIES __ Relatively small and autonomous groups, usually of agriculturalists. who regulate their own affairs; in some cases, they may join together with other comparable segmentary societies to form a larger ethnic unit. 

SEISMIC REFLECTION PROFILER __ An acoustic underwater survey device that uses the principle of echo-sounding to locate submerged landforms; in water depths of 100 m, this method can achieve penetration of more than 10 m into the sea-floor. 

SELECTIVE AGENT __ Any factor that brings about differences in fertility and mortality. 

SELECTIVE ATTENTION __ Unconscious focusing on and response to stimuli that are perceived to be important, to the exclusion of other stimuli. 

SELF ORGANIZATION __ The product of a theory derived from thermodynamics which demonstrates that order can arise spontaneously when systems are pushed far from an equilibrium state.

SELF-REDUCING TACHEOMETER __ A major surveying instrument (transit or alidade) which allows the direct read-out of true vertical and horizontal distances within the eye-piece without the use of trigonometric formulae or tables.

SELKIRK CHERT __ A white to cream-colored medium to fine-grained limestone chert which occurs naturally along the banks of the Red River. Most nodules are dense, gray, and often mottled in appearance while those of poorer quality are chalk-like. Due to its conchoidal fracturing properties, Selkirk Chert was a popular material for the manufacture of stone tools throughout most of the province's prehistory (Leonoff l970).

SEMANTIC DOMAINS __ Groups of related categories of meaning in a language. 

SEMANTICS __ The study of the larger system of meaning created by words.

SEMITES __ People who spoke a Semitic language which originated in Arabia and Mesopotamia. Some of the peoples include the: Arabs, Hebrews, Canaanites, and Phoenicians.

SENESCENCE __ Old age. 

SERIAL MONOGAMY __ An exclusive union followed by divorce and remarriage, perhaps many times.

SERIATION __ Determination of the chronology or sequence of styles or assemblages by any of a number of different means. It is often assumed that a style, such as a pottery decoration, will be rare in relation to other styles when it is first used, will subsequently increase in popularity (and frequency), and will finally become increasingly rare once again. Thus, a number of assemblages can be placed in varying orders until the relative frequencies of different styles all fall into a smooth sequence. Once the proper sequence is established, it can be used as a relative dating technique to place other assemblages into the overall chronology. Stratigraphy is another more direct method of seriating assemblages. If various combinations of assemblages occur at a number of multi-component sites, all of the assemblages may be placed in proper sequence relative to one another.

SERPENTINE __ A metamorphic mineral altered from limestone or basic igneous rocks such as olivine and amphibole. One form of serpentine-chrysolite-is a common source of asbestos.

SERPENT MOUND __ A snake-shaped site in south-central Ohio built by Native Americans of the Fort Ancient culture between A.D. 900 and 1600.

SERRATED __ Having a notched, toothed or saw-like edge.

SETH __ Egyptian god associated with evil. Brother and murderer of Osiris.

SETTLEMENT __ A cluster of activity areas used by a community and forming a camp, village, town, or city.

SETTLEMENT PATTERN __ l. the spatial relationship of artifact classes within a single site. Such studies serve to indicate the activity areas at a site and may allow inferences of social and political organization to be made. For example, such elements as the presence of more exotic trade goods, or a greater diversity of faunal remains associated with a larger house structure might indicate that its occupants were more affluent and perhaps more influential than their "poorer" neighbors. 2. the spatial relationship of a number of sites of the same culture and the environmental setting within which each occur. The investigation of such patterns can provide useful information on the relationship between subsistence, technology and ecology.

SETTLEMENT SYSTEM __ The entire set of settlements used by a community; for example, all the base camps and hunting camps used by a band of hunter-gatherers.

SEXUAL DIVISION OF LABOR __ The situation in which males and females in a society perform different tasks. In hunting-gathering societies males usually hunt while females usually gather wild vegetable food. 

SEXUAL STRATIFICATION __ The ranking of people in a society according to sex.

SHAFT SMOOTHER __ A coarse-grained object (usually stone) with a groove for an arrow or spear shaft. The shafts are smoothed by abrasion after the fashion of sanding. Shaft smoothers may come in pairs which fit together around the shaft.

SHAFT STRAIGHTENER __ A naturally or artificially perforated tool of bone or stone. The wooden shaft, while still in a "green" state, is inserted into the hole and the implement is then used as a lever to bend the shaft straight.

SHALE __ A dark, fine-grained sedimentary rock formed of clay with cleavage planes parallel to the bedding.

SHAMAN __ The Siberian term for medicine man. By extension, the term is now used for an individual in any society who derives power directly from the supernatural and uses it for healing or for interpreting unusual phenomena. Only rarely do shamans use their power to harmful ends.

SHARE CROPPING __ Working land owned by others for a share of the yield. 

SHARED ANCESTRAL FEATURE __ Compared with a shared derived feature, a homology that did not appear as recently and is therefore shared by a larger group of species.

SHARED DERIVED FEATURE __ A recently appearing homology that is shared by a relatively small group of closely related taxa. 

SHARING CLUSTERS __ Among chimpanzees, temporary groups that form after hunting to eat the meat.

SHARIA __ Meaning "path" in Arabic, Sharia law tells devout Muslims what to eat, how to pray, and how to behave in public. Muslims believe the Sharia are revelations from God (Allah). Under strict Sharia law, people may not consume alcohol, borrow money at interest, or allow women in their family to go out in public without a veil.

SHAWABTY __ Also called "ushabty." A statuette placed in an Egyptian tomb to labor for the deceased in the afterlife. 

SHELL MIDDEN __ An archaeological accumulation of shells such as those found on the Hebredean islands.

SHERDS __ The individual pieces of broken pottery vessels.

SHIELD ARCHAIC __ An archaeological tradition associated with the Pre-Cambrian Shield-Boreal Forest of the eastern half of Canada throughout the Archiac Period. According to the chief proponent of this construct, J.V. Wright (l972), Shield Archaic populations developed from an earlier northern Plano (Agate Basin, Keewatin Lanceolate) base in the Keewatin District. The recession of glacial ice allowed plants and animals to invade the Shield which in turn provided the impetus for early Shield Archaic peoples to expand throughout the area. Ongoing climatic change, however, together with the expansion of Pre-Dorset peoples which it favored, forced the earlier residents from Keewatin at approximately l000 B.C. Once adopted to life in the Boreal Forest, Shield Archaic peoples' lifeways remained essentially unchanged for thousands of years with little if any influence from cultures in adjacent environmental zones. Continuities in lifeways, artifact styles and the geographic area occupied, lead Wright to suggest that Shield Archiac people spoke a language ancestral to modern Algonkian. Artifacts recovered from Shield Archaic sites include a variety of notched and lanceolate projectile points, various scraper and biface forms, uniface blades (sense 2), wedges, flake knives, hammerstones, preforms, ground slate objects, drills, abraders, manos, metates, paintstones, spokeshaves, anvils, ground clets, points and knives, backed blades (sense 2), flaked adzes, and copper fishhooks, barbs and gaffs. For Wright (l972), the relative frequencies of the major artifact classes, projectile points (l6.3%), biface blades (25.8%) and scrapers (4l.6%) are diagnostic of Shield Archaic sites. The Shield Archaic is poorly dated. Wright suggests a date on the order of 5000 B.C. for the beginnings of the tradition and accepts a radiocarbon date of A.D. 727 from a site on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence as representative of a late survival of the Shield Archaic. Unfortunately, bone preservation is extremely poor throughout the Shield and thus radiocarbon dates are few and the reconstruction of subsistence patterns is a highly inferential matter.

SHIFTING CULTIVATION __ (swidden, slash and burn) a form of plant cultivation in which seeds are planted in the fertile soil prepared by cutting and burning the natural growth; relatively short periods of cultivation on the land are followed by longer periods of fallow.

SHIP BURIAL __ A ship burial or boat grave is a burial in which a ship or boat is used either as a container for the dead and for grave goods, or as part of the actual grave goods. If the ship is really small, it's called a boat grave.

SHIPWORM __ This little animal eats wood. It only resides in salt water. Thus wooden wrecks in the Baltic Sea and freshwater lakes are spared.

SHOULDERED __ Having a lateral extension or protrusion. This term may be used to describe knives, projectile points or ceramic pots.

SHOVEL SCREENING __ A rapid excavation procedure in which the site matrix is shoveled directly through a screen (usually 1/4" mesh).

SHOVEL TEST __ A small scale, generally informal test excavation to ascertain the nature of the deposits, to determine the presence or absence of an archaeological site, or to delimit the boundaries of a known site.

SIDE-BLADE __ A sharp, bifacial tool set into the side of a harpoon.

SILENT TRADE (or dumb barter) __ a system by which two groups exchange goods without making direct contact with one another. One group leaves its goods at an appointed place and departs. The second group then arrives, leaves its exchange goods and departs. The firs group returns and if satisfied with the offer, takes the exchange goods; if not, they reclaim their own goods. Finally, the second group returns and goes home with whichever set of goods remains.

SILCHESTER __ Romano-British town in Northern Hampshire south of modern Reading. Site of long-term dig by Reading University Archaeology Department.

SILK ROAD __ A widespread network of caravan trails crossing Europe and Asia from the Miditerranean coast to China. By the middle of the second century B.C.E., the Silk Route began to function as a regular diplomatic and commercial artery, carrying silk from China, spices and gemstones from India, silver goods from Iran, Byzantine cloth, and many other goods.

SILT __ A fine, loose sediment deposited by water and composed of particles between 0.02 and 0.002 mm in diameter.

SIMULATION __ The formulation and computer implementation of dynamic models i.e. models concerned with change through time. Simulation is a useful heuristic device, and can be of considerable help in the development of explanation.

SINEW __ Tendon; the tough tissue which attaches a muscle to a bone.

SINEW STONE __ A soft, abrasive stone against which a length of sinew is drawn back and forth. This thins the sinew and makes it more uniform. Over time, deep grooves are worn into the stone from repeated use.

SINGLE COMPONENT SITE __ An archaeological site which contains the remains of only one culture.

SIOUAN __ A language family which, among others includes Crow, Hidatsa, Mandan, Assiniboine and Dakota.

SISTRUM __ The sistrum was a sacred noise-making instrument used in the cult of Hathor. The sistrum consisted of a wooden or metal frame fitted with loose strips of metal and disks which jingled when moved. This noise was thought to attract the attention of the gods. There are two types of sistrum, an iba, was shaped in a simple loop, like a closed horse-shoe with loose cross bars of metal above a Hathor head and a long handle. The seseshet had the shape of a naos temple above a Hathor head, with ornamental loops on the sides. The rattle was inside the box of the naos. They were usually carried by women of high rank.

SITE CATCHMENT ANALYSIS __ A type of off-site analysis which concentrates on the total area from which a site's contents have been derived; at its simplest, a site's catchment can be thought of as a full inventory of artifactual and non-artifactual remains and their sources. 

SITE SURVEY __ The process of searching for and describing archaeological sites in a given area.

SITE __ A distinct spatial clustering of artifacts, features, structures, and organic and environmental remains. as the residue of human activity.

SLAG __ The material residue of smelting processes from metalworking. Analysis is often necessary to distinguish slags derived from copper smelting from those produced in iron production. Crucible slags (from the casting process) may be distinguished from smelting slags by their high concentration of copper. 

SLASH AND BURN AGRICULTURE __ A method of farming, also called swidden agriculture, by which fields are cleared, trees and brush are burned, and the soil, fertilized by the ash, is then planted.

SLATE __ A fine-grained metamorphic rock formed of mudstone or shale and generally dark in colour. Slate may be sculpted or ground to produce a sharp edge.

SLAVERY __ A practice that permits some people within a society to own other persons and to claim the right to their labor.

SLIP __ A creamy or watery mixture of clay and water which is applied to the surface of a pot before it is fired. This serves to smooth the vessel surface and renders it more waterproof by clogging the pores of the earthenware. A slip may also change the color of the pot to virtually any desired shade.

SLOPE DISTANCE __ in mapping the inclined distance (as opposed to true horizontal or vertical distance) between 2 points.

SLUMP __ The collapsing of a cliff or the walls of an excavation.

SMUDGE __ A small fire which produces smoke and drives away insects.

SNOW KNIFE __ A large flat-bladed knife often fashioned from bone which is used by the Eskimo to cut the blocks of snow for igloos.

SOCIAL CLASS __ A group of people having similar social standing.

SOCIAL DIFFERENTIATION __ The number and variety of social roles and classes in a community.

SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT __ Human adaptive systems - communities, regional systems, or empires - surrounding a society.

SOCIAL ORGANIZATION __ The way individuals and social units interact to form a society.

SOCIAL PRESSURE __ A means of social control in which people who venture over the boundaries of society's rules are brought back into line.

SOCIAL ROLE __ The activities carried out by an individual in a social unit.

SOCIAL UNIT __A group of people organized to carry out particular activities.

SOCIETY __ A human adaptive system.

SOCIOBIOLOGY __ The study of the biological control of social behavior. 

SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY __ A branch of anthropology that deals with variations in patterns of social interaction and differences in cultural behavior.

SOCIO-FUNCTION - The role of an artifact in a society's social organization.

SOCIOLINGUISTICS __ A branch of anthropological linguistics that studies how language and culture are related and how language is used in different social contexts.

SOIL __ The loose layer at the earth's surface which is composed of weathered rock particles, water, humus and air and which is capable of supporting rooted plants.

SOIL RESISTIVITY __ A method of subsurface detection which measures changes in conductivity by passing electrical current through ground soils. This is generally a consequence of moisture content, and in this way, buried features can be detected by differential retention of groundwater. 

SOIL TEXTURE __The relative proportion of clay, silt and sand sized particles in a soil. 

SOIL-SIEVES __ Small, precision metal screens, used for determining the proportions of different sized particles in a soil sediment sample. 

SOIL-SOUNDING RADAR __ A method of subsurface detection in which short radio pulses are sent through the soil, such that the echoes reflect back significant changes in soil conditions. 

SOLIFLUCTION __The slow downslope movement of surface sediments in a saturated condition. Prevalent in permafrost areas due to the seasonal thawing of the surface of the permafrost zone. Can cause complete mixture of site stratigraphy and archaeological components. 

SOMATIC __ A term that refers to the body.

SONORAN DESERT __ a region stretching from Parker, Wickenburg, and the Tonto Basin in Arizona on the north; to the Rio Culiacan in Sinaloa, Mexico on the south; east to the Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico, and the Huachuca, Santa Catalina, Rincon, and Pinaleño Mountains in Arizona, and west to the Gulf of California, the Colorado River delta, and the Salton Sea in California. The desert includes parts of the state of Sinaloa, most of Sonora, and the northeast corner of Baja California in Mexico; and the southern half of Arizona and the southeastern corner of California in the United States. The area is characterized by vegetation ranging from creosote bush and bursage at lower elevations to palo verde, mesquite, and saguaro at higher elevations.

SONOTA COMPLEX __ A Late Prehistoric Period complex originally defined on the basis of village and burial mound sites on the Missouri River in North and South Dakota. These bison-hunting people made extensive use of Knife River Flint to manufacture various tools including an atlatl point which is in many respects similar to the Besant type. One rather curious trait of this complex is the occurrence of bison longbones driven vertically into the ground. The same phenomenon has also been noted at Besant sites and it has been suggested that they were used as anvils in flint knapping. Sonota people buried the bundled bones of their dead in mounds. The presence of whole and partial skeletons of bison in these mounds attests to the symbolic as well as practical significance attached to this animal. Authorities are divided in their interpretation of the relationship between Besant and Sonota. Some view them as separate complexes while others would group them all as Besant (Reeves l983; Syms l977).

SOROATE __ A social custom under which a widower has the right to marry one of his deceased wife's sisters, and her kin are obliged to provide him with a new wife.

SOUTHERN CULT Southern Cult (also Buzzard Cult, Death Cult) __ The name attached to the ceremonial artifacts and art style shared by Mississippian sites. Wood, copper, clay, stone and shell were used to fashion figurines, headdresses, earspools, celts, plaques, axes, masks, effigy rattles, maces, and effigy pipes. Depicted through these media are birds of prey, vultures, skulls, spiders, dancers with snakes, winged warriors holding human heads, the hand-eye symbol, the sun symbol and the weeping eye motif. Included too are depictions of priest-like figures holding daggers to the throats of their victims and various other scenes suggestive of human sacrifice. Fairly clearly of Mexican inspiration, the ceremonial artifacts are more like one another over a broader area than are the more mundane tool and weapon styles. For this reason, they are seen as representative of rituals and beliefs which are shared by a large number of peoples irrespective of the differences in the other aspects of their lives.

SPALL __ A flake which has been produced naturally (such as by exposure to heat) or by human design.

SPEAR __ A weapon consisting of a long shaft and a sharp point which may be thrown (as a javeline) or thrusted.

SPECIALIZATION __ The limited range of activities in which a single individual is likely to be engaged.

SPECIALIZED PASTORALISM __ The adaptive strategy of exclusive reliance on animal husbandry. 

SPECIALIZED SPECIES __ A species closely fit to a specific environment and able to tolerate little change in that environment. 

SPECIALIZED TRAIT __ A structure used basically for one function. 

SPECIATION __ The evolutionary process that is said to occur when two previous subspecies (of the same species) are no longer capable of successful interbreeding; they are then two different species. 

SPECIES __ The largest natural population whose members are able to reproduce successfully among themselves.

SPEECH COMMUNITY __ A socially distinct group that develops a dialect; a variety of language that diverges from the national language in vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar.

SPHINX __ A figure with the body of a lion and the head of a man, hawk or a ram.

SPIRIT HELPER __ A personal guardian or protective spirit who was often acquired by questing and privation and who usually communicated through dreams or visitations.

SPIRIT POSSESSION __ The supposed control of a person's behavior by a supernatural spirit that has entered the body.

SPOKSHAVE __ A scraper with a pronounced concave working edge used for scraping arrow or spear shafts or bows, etc.

SPONTANEOUS GENERATION __ An old and incorrect idea that complex life forms could be spontaneously created from nonliving material. 

STABILITY __ The ability of an ecosystem to return to equilibrium after disturbances.

STADIAL ROD __ A graduated staff used in conjunction with a transit or theodolite in surveying. The distance from the instrument to the rod may be calculated in the same units with which the rod is calibrated (meters or feet).

STAGE __ A distinct "level" or period of development of an organism or a culture.

STAMNOS __ Storage jar with two handles.

STANDARD DEVIATION __ Statistical measurement of the amount of variation in a series of determinations; the probability of the real number's falling within plus or minus one standard deviation is 67 percent. 

STANDING WAVE TECHNIQUE __ Acoustic method, similar to bosing, used in subsurface detection.
STATE __ Term used to describe a social formation defined by distinct territorial boundries, and characterized by strong central government in which the operation of political power is sanctioned by legitimate force. In cultural evolutionist models, it ranks second only to the empire as the most complex societal development stage. 

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS __ The application of probability theory to quantified descriptive data.

STATISTICS __ l. the science which concerns itself with the collection, classification and use of quantitative data and with the application of probability theory to estimate aspects of a population from a sample. 2. the numerical data themselves.

STATUS __ Position in a pattern of reciprocal behavior.

STEATITE __ A soft gray-green or brown talc which was worked into smoking pipes and bowls by grinding and polishing; also known as "soapstone".

STELA __ An upright stone monument in the form of a slab or pillar, often carved, and having a rectangular cross-section

STEP TRENCHING __ Excavation method employed on very deep sites, such as Near Eastern tell sites, in which the excavation proceeds downwards in a series of gradually narrowing steps.

STERILE __ In archaeology, lacking in any evidence of human activity.

STOCKADE __ An enclosure or a strong, high barrier made of stakes or timbers.

STONEHENGE __ Near the town of Avebury in Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge is perhaps the finest of the British megalithic monuments. It stands in the center of Salisbury Plain, surrounded by a complex of cemeteries and ritual sites. Stonehenge is believed to date to about 2780 B.C., near the end of the Neolithic period. The function of the monument is thought to have been spiritual, but the arrangement of the megaliths also suggest possible astronomical uses, such as a calendar.

STONEWARE __ A kind of pottery made of a clay high in vitreous minerals and fired at such a high temperature (l200 c) that it fuses into an extremely dense, non-porous substance. Stoneware is very hard and impervious to acids and scratching.

STORAGE PIT __ Circular excavations usually less than 3 m in diameter assumed to have aboriginally functioned as storage "cellars".

STRANDLINE __ Shoreline; an active beach or one which marks the edge of a now-extinct body of water.

STRATIFICATION __ Layers of deposits that provide archaeologists with one of the major tools or clues for interpreting archaeological sites (stratigraphy). Over time, debris and soil accumulate in layers. Color, texture, and contents may change with each layer. Archaeologists try to explain how each layer was added--if it occurred naturally, deliberately (garbage), or from the collapse of structures--and they record it in detailed drawings so others can follow.

STRATIFIED RANDOM SAMPLING __ A sampling method in which the area or site to be tested is first divided into a number of smaller sections (strata) and then each of these is sampled randomly. Excavation is such a time-consuming business that archaeologists rarely have the time or funds to excavate an entire site. The problem becomes completely insurmountable when the region to be investigated comprises a township, valley or county. For that reason, archaeologists must concern themselves with methods of taking a sample, the object of which is to achieve a body of data which is representative of all that the site or region contains. To avoid human bias, an archaeologist might take a sample randomly, but too often, truly randomized units cluster together leaving some areas untested while "oversampling" others. Stratified random sampling ensures that the entire length and breadth of a site or all of the ecological zones within an area are tested while at the same time retaining an acceptable degree of randomness for most purposes.

STRATIFIED SOCIETY __ Society in which extensive subpopulations are accorded differential treatment.

STRATIGRAPHY __ Having the property of being arranged in a series of layers, after the fashion of a layer cake. According to the Law of Superposition, when one deposit overlies another, the higher must have been laid down more recently. As a consequence, any artifacts found in the upper layer must be younger than those from the lower layer. Different kinds of deposits accumulate in response to different environmental factors. Wind-blown (aeolian) sediments are different from those laid down by flowing water (alluvium) and soils which form under coniferous forests vary from those which form under deciduous or grassland conditions. Consequently a soil profile may consist of a series of layers (strata) which are visibly distinct from one another in terms of their composition, color, texture and particle sizes. If the layers bear artifacts, the archaeologist con be confident that those from a single stratum "belong together" and are of approximately the same age. Furthermore he can be assured that they are younger than those from the lower level, but older than those from the overlying stratum. Stratified multi-component sites are therefore invaluable tools for establishing a cultural chronology of a region. A study of the strata themselves (pedology) may indicate the sequence of environmental conditions which characterized the area over time and suggest the various modes of adaptation and subsistence which the local cultures employed. Unfortunately, most multi-component sites in Manitoba are mixed due to frost action, rodent tunnelling or root growth. collapsed stratigraphy. a profile in which one stratum has eroded out thus causing the upper strata to slump down upon a lower stratum.

STRATUM __ A level or layer, particularly when part of a series of layers. (plural strata).

STRIKE-A-LIGHT __ An object of stone, iron or steel which is struck against a stone to produce a spark for igniting gunpowder or tinder.

STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM __ The theory that the central function of the various aspects of a society is to maintain the social structure--the society's pattern of social relations and institutions. 

STRUCTURALIST APPROACHES __ Interpretations which stress that human actions ate guided by beliefs and symbolic concepts, and that underlying these ate structures of thought which find expression in various forms. The proper object of study is therefore to uncover the structures of thought and to study their influence in shaping the ideas in the minds of the human actors who created the archaeological record. 

STYLE __ According to the art historian, Ernst Gombrich, style is "any distinctive and therefore recognizable way in which an act is performed and made." Archaeologists and anthropologists have defined "stylistic areas" as regional units representing shared ways of producing and decorating artifacts.

STYX __ River that separated the world of the living from the world of the dead in Greek and Roman myth.

SUBARCTIC __ l. of or pertaining to regions south of the Arctic Circle; these regions themselves. 2. of or pertaining to the coniferous (Boreal) forest zone which lies south of the tundra and north of the grasslands and deciduous forests; this zone itself.

SUB-ATLANTIC __ A central North American climatic episode dating from 8l0 B.C. to A.D. 270 which was cooler and moister than the present.

SUB-BOREAL __ A central North American climatic episode dating from 3ll0 to 8l0 B.C. which marks the transition from the hot, dry Atlantic to the cool, moist Sub-Atlantic episode.

SUBSISTENCE __ Livelihood; the means by which an individual or group maintains life.

SUBSISTENCE PATTERN __ The basic means by which a human group extracted and utilized energy from its environment. 

SUBSTANTIVISM __ A school of economic anthropology that seeks to understand economic processes as the maintenance of an entire cultural order.

SUCKING TUBE __ A hollow cylinder, often made from a cut section of longbone, through which a shaman or other healer magically withdraws an intrusive object from a patient. The belief that illness is a result of some foreign object within a person is fairly widespread. Sometimes the shaman will hide a small object within his mouth beforehand so that after his treatment he may produce it as proof of the cure.

SUMER __ A region in the southern part of ancient Mesopotamia. The Sumerians arrived about 5000 B.C.; the civilization was made up of independent walled city-states, and declined around 1700 B.C. with the rise of the Babylonians.

SUNDANCE __ A renewal and purification ceremony fairly common among North American plains Indians. Generally, a man would pledge to give a Sundance if he or a relative was guilty of some misconduct or if the hunters had been unable to locate buffalo. The ceremony often lasted four days and nights and was marked by much singing, dancing, self torture and mutilation as well as more purely social activities such as courting, gambling and playing of games.

SUPERNATURAL BELIEFS __ A set of beliefs found in all societies that transcend the natural, observable world.

SUPERPOSITION __ This describes how layers are usually laid down according to their age: the oldest layer is found on the bottom, and the most recent layer is on top. So, if a layer is on top of another layer, it is probably more recent.

SURFACE COLLECTION __ The recovery of artifacts from the ground surface; the artifacts themselves. These are generally of limited interpretive value as their original spatial relationships (see context, in situ, provenience) have been disturbed. Nonetheless it may be sufficient to determine the age and cultural affiliation of the original site. If done systematically, it can also indicate the size of the site and the location of specific activity areas.

SURFACE FINISH __ In the study of ceramic artifacts, the mainly decorative outer elements of a vessel.
SURFACE SCATTER __ Archaeological materials found distributed over the ground surface. 

SURFACE STRUCTURE __ Particular arrangement of words that we hear or read.

SURVEY __ l. the investigation of an area to locate archaeological sites and to acquire a preliminary understanding of its prehistory. This latter aim is most commonly achieved by means of surface collecting and the excavation of test pits. 2. to systematically map and grid an archaeological site. Surveying instruments such as the transit and the theodolite are generally used.

SWAN RIVER CHERT __ A multi-coloured (white, gray, pink, yellow, orange) chert with a glossy, waxy or dull lustre with concoidal fracturing properties composed largely of quartz with chalcedony as a cementing agent. Swan River Chert is quite common in the western half of the province and was a popular material for the production of stone tools throughout its prehistory.

SYMBOL __ Something that can represent something distant from it in time and space.

SYNCRETISM __ Absorption of one God into the cult or persona of another.

SYSTEMATIC SAMPLING __ The selection of sample units according to some regular interval, such as every tenth one.


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