Glossary of Key Terms
The Clovis people are thought to be the first humans to come to the Americas via the Bering Land Bridge roughly 13,000 years ago. This long-accepted theory is now being challenged as new archaeological evidence suggests humans may have been in the Americas long before.
Petrified or preserved human excrement. Considered "gold" to the modern archaeologist for the wealth of information they provide when they are re-hydrated and the contents are analyzed.
The by-product of making stone tools, a common artifact associated with Native American sites.
A way to better understand past technologies by recreating structures, tools or other artifacts using traditional methods.
An artifact that cannot be taken to the lab, such as a rock wall or fire pit. Read More
Slang for geophysics, this remote ground sensing technology allows archaeologists to look at what lies beneath the soil. Read More
'Law of Superposition'
Archaeologists rely on the 'Law of Superposition' to help them identify and interpret stratigraphic layers. The Law of Superposition says that, under normal conditions, the layers get older the deeper you get. Soil and sediment build up over time and changes in environmental conditions, human activities or natural disasters can all leave visible evidence in the form stratagraphic layers. Read More
An imaging technique that can be used to produce three dimensional computer models of an archaeological site or rock art feature.
A geophysics technique that measures variations in the soil's magnetic field and can be used to locate pits, ditches or burned buildings. Read More
Stone tools used for grinding foods like corn, acorns or seeds. The Mano is a hand held grinder or pounder and the Metate is the larger flat or bowl surface the food is ground in.
Essentially an old garbage pile, often containing remains of food or other household debris.
Refers to the early people living in the Western Hemisphere. The Clovis people would be one of these groups.
A method used during excavation, where the artifact is left in place and dirt is removed around it. This helps archaeologists see how artifacts are placed in relation to each other.
A semi-subterranean house built of stone or wood. Pit houses are commonly found with the Southwest Native American cultures.
The remains of a wooden post in the ground. Usually the wood is long gone, and all that remains is a dark stain (where the post was) in disturbed soil (where the hole was dug for the post). Read More
Refers to an old outhouse. These commonly were used as trash pits after they were abandoned, and often contain large amounts of well-preserved artifacts.
Another geophysics technique that measures soil conductivity and can be used to spot old privies or rock walls. Read More
Images painted or pecked into rock surfaces that can survive for centuries.
Small excavation units designed to give archaeologists clues about the archaeological deposits and where best to focus their excavation efforts.
A path along which data is collected in a grid. By dividing an area into transects, archaeologists can make accurate maps of a site.
An excavation technique where a sharpened shovel is used almost like a trowel to remove dirt quickly and carefully.
A fragment of pottery. These come in all sizes and shapes and can tell archaeologist many things like who occupied a site, when they were there and how they were eating.
The study of strata, or layers, in the earth. During excavation, archaeologists are not just concerned with what is at the bottom of their unit. They are also keenly interested in their sidewalls, where they can get a profile view of the stratigraphy in the archaeological deposit. Stratigraphy provides archaeologists a useful guide to the environmental and cultural history of an archaeological site. Archaeologists use this to 'read' the past by identifying how layers of dirt or other materials were deposited on a site over time. Read More