Middle Range Theory

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  • Created by: ktommo
  • Created on: 09-05-17 20:10
What is 'middle range' theory?
The way of thinking about material remains in order to use them to interpret past behavior.
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Why is a basic grasp of middle-range theory useful?
To help you asses the strengths and weaknesses of different interpretations of particular sites.
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What could a clustering of broken pottery, burnt stones and processed animal bones represent?
A cooking area or the result of many people spreading domestic rubbish on a field as fertilizer.
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Why have Neolithic sites from Orkney, such as Skara Brae, survived better than any other in the British Isles?
Because the absence of suitable trees meant that they had to be built from local flagstone.
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What are transformation processes?
Labels for the way evidence from human behavior in the past has been shaped by human and natural forces into the data recorded in archaeological reports.
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What are the 4 stages of transformation processes?
Behavioral;depositional;post-depositional;recovery.
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What do behavioral processes include?
Things people did prior to an object, butchered animal or structure entering the archaeological record.
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What are depositional processes?
The ways in which remains actually find their way into the ground.
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What is primary and secondary refuse?
Primary-smaller items tend to be dropped were they are. Secondary-larger or smellier items tended to be removed from a grater distance.
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What is curation?
Deliberately keeping and preserving an artefact.
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What natural forces can create particular deposits?
Erosion, flooding or volcanic activity.
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What can archaeologists learn by understanding formation processes?
To differentiate between what was caused by humans and what was caused by nature.
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What is structured deposition?
Patterns due to material being deliberately deposited in the past, often during rituals.
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What can create new soil?
Animal droppings and dying vegetation, particularly leaf mould on dry land and peat on wetland.
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Why are deposits in towns usually much more deeply buried than contemporary remains in the countryside?
Rubbish was often burnt or buried in towns and this increased the depth of the soil, as did the addition of human remains and coffins in the churchyards.
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Name 5 natural transforms.
Bacteria;acid;water;gravity;roots.
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Name 5 cutural transforms.
bombing;mining;building;draining;ploughing
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What is taphonomy?
The study of the effects of such processes on animal and plant remains.
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What changes can these factors result in?
Movement;destruction;partial decay;texture and shape changes.
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Which inorganic materials are preserved best?
Stone;pottery and high quality bronze.
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Which organic materials are less likely to survive?
Wood;wool and bodies.
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What can further complicate basic distinctions?
The size of buried objects, their depth of burial, climate and the nature of the soil.
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What is seawater corrosive of?
Iron
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What can happen in arid sites?
Remains can dry out before they have a chance to decay.
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What type of site has been important in European archaeology?
Waterlogged sites including peat bogs or submarine sites.
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What finds have frozen sites produced?
The bodies of Otzi the Ice Man from the Alps and the Pazyrk 'Ice Maiden' from Siberia.
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What can rapidly buried sites reveal?
A lot that is normally lost; examples including Pompeii volcanic ash, Copan earthquake and Ozette in the USA, where mudslides also preserve organic material.
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What can sieving increase the recovery of?
Earth-coloured pottery, coins, lithics and organic remains.
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What artefacts are not always recovered using flotation techniques?
Pollen, metal debris and small bone fragments or have the laboratory support to analyse them.
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Name 5 case studies.
Star Carr;Mary Rose;Tollund Man;Skara Brae;Otzi the Iceman.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Why is a basic grasp of middle-range theory useful?

Back

To help you asses the strengths and weaknesses of different interpretations of particular sites.

Card 3

Front

What could a clustering of broken pottery, burnt stones and processed animal bones represent?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Why have Neolithic sites from Orkney, such as Skara Brae, survived better than any other in the British Isles?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What are transformation processes?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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