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Glossary of Terms
Absolute Dating - a form of dating that determines how old an artifact is in calendar years.
Anthropology - the study of man's ancestors.
Archaeoastronomy - the study of how people in the past used astronomy.
Archaeology - the study of the human past.
Archaeometry - the dating of artifacts.
Artifact - any object made by or used by humans.
Assemblage - a group of artifacts related to each based on where they are found in a site.
B.C.E - before the common era - parallels with B.C.
B.P. - before present (years ago) carbon has decayed.
C.E. - common era - parallels with A.D.
Context - the land and other artifacts surrounding an artifact - provides clues to the interpretation of the artifact.
Culture - a civilization, its religious and everyday life.
Cuneiform - a type of wedge-shape writing that is usually carved into clay.
Ecology - the study of all organisms and their habitats.
Egyptology - the study of ancient Egypt.
Experimental Archaeology - a form of archaeology that tries to understand the past by re-enacting past events or human activity.
Geology - the study of rocks and the Earth's crust.
Hieroglyphs - a type of writing that uses pictures and symbols.
Neo - a prefix from the Greek meaning "new" (in archaeology it's all relative).
Neolithic - the New (or later) Stone Age, when people used polished stone tools and agriculture began.
New World - North and South America.
Old World - the inhabited parts of Europe and Asia that were known before Columbus' time.
Osteology - the study of bones.
Paleo - a prefix from the Greek meaning "old".
Paleography - the study of ancient forms of writing.
Paleolithic - the time between 500,000 B.C.E., also known as the Old Stone Age.
Paleontology - the study of life that existed in earlier geological periods represented by fossil animals and plant.
Radiocarbon Dating - a type of absolute dating that determines how much carbon-14 has decayed.
Relative Dating - a form of dating that determines how old an artifact is relative to something else.
Site - the location of an archaeological excavation.
Stratigraphy - a method of dating an artifact based on the level of soil it is found in.
Survey - to look at the land to see where to begin excavating; also, once a site has been selected, to look over the site to identify the physical make-up of the site.
Tell (or Tel) - a large mound made by the rubble of several ancient cities that all stood on the same spot.