P200 Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology
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10% of your grade will be based on this written assignment.
It is DUE on Friday, May 5, 10AM
Four sites have been found and excavated in a region located in the eastern end of the Mediterranean in a region called Klubmeddish. Below you will find key information about the geography of the region, the sites, and what was found in them. Study the data and play around with possible interpretations, to puzzle out as much as you can about the prehistory of the region, and about changes in material culture, subsistence and the prehistoric ways of life. Use chapters 5 and 9 in the Images text, as well as the articles on Catal Huyuk, as references. Then write an essay (~4 typed pages) that interprets the evidence, referring specifically to your readings, and answers the following questions:
- Describe the main changes in prehistoric artifact assemblages in the region. Can you divide the sequence into important phases of culture history? Describe the basis for your classification scheme, and how the excavated levels from the different sites would fit into your sequence. (For example, would you classify any of the occupation layers as "Mesolithic" based on artifact or other comparisons with other archaeological sites described in you textbook?)
- What are the main changes you find evidence for in subsistence patterns in the region? (e.g. evidence for seasonal foraging patterns?) Can you suggest any potential biases in the types of data available that limits your ability to interpret the evidence? Can you suggest reasons for some of the changes? (e.g. environmental reasons? social reasons?) What relationships do you see between changes in the subsistence and technology or other forms of material culture?
- What does evidence suggest about the types of activities that occurred at each site during different time periods? Is there any evidence for changes in the settlement system through time? For example, focus on the time periods when more than one site is occupied, and look for evidence that would suggest socio-economic relationships between the sites in that region, or elsewhere (e.g. evidence for seasonal patterns of site occupation or mobility? evidence for economic networks or trade links?)
The Region: Klubmeddish
The map shows an area of about 20 x 20 miles. A river runs down between two ranges of hills and forms a delta in an embayment of the Meditteranean sea coast. Although most of the area is deforested today, under natural vegetation and current climate, the limestone hills would have been covered in light oak-pistachio woodland, with denser tree growth in sheltered valleys. Stands of cereal grasses would have occurred in patches in the woodlands and open slopes. The lowland river floodplains and coastal plains would have been covered in shorter grazing grasses. Evidence for ancient vegetation in the region comes from a sediment core taken from a small lake in the inland hills. A diagram of the changing pollen types recovered from lake demonstrates interesting changes during the last 20,000 years, since the last extreme of glacial climate.
Seasons: The region today has a Mediterranean climate, with cold wet winters and hot, dry summers. The large game (deer and wild mountain goats) do not migrate, and give birth to their young in the spring. Deer lose their antlers after the fall rutting season, and grow new ones during the spring and summer. Gazelle would have grazed on the lowland plains. After the winter rains, the spring is also the time when many seeds from annual grasses ripen, such as the wild cereals einkorn an emmer wheat and barley. In the summer dry season, migrant water birds such as ducks and herons frequent the lagoons and marshes along the coast. Some fruits and berries and wild lentils and peas also ripen during the summer. In the fall, chickpeas wild grapes and several wild tree foods, pistachio nuts, almonds and acorns, ripen in the woodlands of the hill slopes and inland valleys. Shellfish, normally abundant in rocky tidepools along the coast, would have been inedible during the fall, due to toxicity from the "red tides."
Natural Resources: Raw materials local to the area include clays, limestone outcrops, and nodules of chert. The nearest sources of volcanic glass (obsidian) are over 100 miles away in Turkey. Fresh drinking water would have been available seasonally in the streams draining the hills, and from natural springs that well up at the lowland margins of the limestone hills, where they intersect the plains.
Archaeological survey has been done and four sites have been found and partially excavated:
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