Glossary

  • Activity Areas - areas of distinct patterning of objects and features that reflect specific human activities
    Anachronistic - representing something out of its proper historical period
    Archaeology - study of past cultures primarily through the study of material culture (sites and artifacts)
    Antiquity - the distant past, ancient times; usually the classical Greek and Roman period and everything prior to that time
    Artifact - an object that has been made or modified by human activity
    Association - the occurrence together in one context of archaeological remains
    Balk sections - the balk is the unexcavated 1.0 meter area between squares; the section is the vertical face of the balk that remains; it is drawn and photographed
    BCE / CE - "Before the Common Era" and "Common Era" - terms that are gradually replacing the more traditional BC/AD
    Bovine - an ox or a cow
    Byzantine - a term that reflects a shift in the biblical lands from dominance by the Roman Empire to influences from Constantinople and the East. Officially begins the period when the term "Holy Land" began to be used; 333 CE to 640 CE
    Canaanean blade - a flint knife worked on both sides and trapezoidal in shape
    Canaanites - Biblical term for the people who possessed the biblical lands before the Israelites; general term for populations in the southern Levant
    Ceramist - an expert in the study of pottery
    Chronology - study of the relationship of materials in a time sequence; the sequence of layers
    Cist Tomb - a type of tomb that consisted of a pit over which stone slabs were laid.
    Classification - an arrangement into categories of similarly related materials
    Contour map - map showing characteristics or different elevations of an area; a series of contour lines shows different elevations
    Cores - a lithic artifact from which flakes are removed
    Cultic - the ritualistic practices of ancient religions
    Culture - the way of life or sum total of the behavior and beliefs shared by a particular group
    Culture Change - the variations in human culture over time, e.g., change from urban to nomadic lifestyle
    Cultural complexity - a term to describe the scale of a society, usually urban, that evidences full-time specialists, e.g., priest, craftsman, farmer
    Debitage - the refuse or workshop debris resulting from flintknapping
    Dipper Juglet - a type of vessel, usually miniature or small-sized, that serves as a type of ladle for liquids
    Duckbill Jar - a type of EB I vessel whose side handles resemble a duck's bill.
    Elites - members of a community who belong to an upper class or privileged element in society
    Excavation - the systematic investigation of an archaeological site
    Faunal - animal remains
    Feature - material remains found at a site that are not architecture, but permanent structures such as pits, bins, ovens, etc.
    Flintknapping - the art of manufacturing stone tools
    Floral - plant remains
    Geomorphologist - a geologist whose primary concern is the study of geological processes that affect the environmental history of an area.
    Grid - a network of squares, usually 5 x 5 meters, that divides the site into units in which artifacts and materials can be precisely recorded
    Hematite - a reddish brown ore that can be pulverized into a reddish powder and used as a coloring agent
    Horizontal Excavation - the exposure of archaeological remains of contemporary date; allows a view of settlement plan on a site
    Hunter - Gatherer - a society of people not permanently settled, who hunt animals and gather wild food like seed and nuts.
    Khirbet - an Arabic term for ruin; refers to a ruin that arose on a hilltop; similar to tell.
    King's Highway - the major caravan route, mentioned in the Bible, that runs through Jordan from the Red Sea to Damascus, Syria
    Israelites - a Biblical people who gradually took control of the ancient land of Canaan (modern day Israel) from the Canaanites
    Levant - the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, usually Syria, Israel and Jordan.
    Libations - cultic offerings such as precious oils poured from special vessels
    Lifeways - the cultural aspects of people, their customs, rituals, patterns of life that reflect their society
    Lithic - stone materials, used often as a general term for stone tools and weapons
    Magnetometer - a remote sensing device to detect differences in magnetism below ground and thus reveal probable features and materials
    Material Remains - the physical side of human remains; anything that exhibits activities of human beings
    Menhir - an orthostat or single standing stone that is generally accepted as having a cultic or religious significance
    Mesopotamia - "the land between the rivers." The Greek name for the area between the Tigris an the Euphrates in modern-day Iraq
    Mortar - a stone bowl-like object used with pestle for grinding materials into powder, e.g., flour from grain.
    Nomadism - a non-permanently settled way of life; nomads move constantly with their animals in search of pasture
    Osteologist - an expert in the study of human skeletal remains
    Palaeoethnobotanist - an expert in the study of ancient plant life and interrelations with people
    Palaeoethnozoologist - an expert in the study of ancient animal life and interrelations with people
    Pastoral - nomadism - a type of nomadism that refers to herders of sheep and goats, who migrate seasonally in search of pasture; may be settled for short periods of time
    Patina - the glossiness found on flint knives, generally resulting from the cutting of grain
    Pivot Stone - a socket that served as a pivot for the shaft of a door
    Plan - an architectural drawing that shows the area as viewed from the top
    Probe - a preliminary investigation of a small area or trench; it serves as a stratigraphical guide to later excavation
    Radiocarbon (C14) samples - carbonized remains like seeds or wood that can be analyzed for dating purposes.
    Random Survey - an archaeological survey that is based on sampling techniques in order to ensure control and reliability of statistics
    Redistribution Center - a public administrative building where surpluses were stored and used to support certain services, e.g. army
    Remote Sensing - exploring features of sites and regions without excavation, e.g., infrared photography, radar, magnetometers
    Research Design - a plan constructed prior to excavation that seeks systematic problems to solve; a research strategy
    Roman - the term that reflects the Roman conquest and the cultural period in the biblical lands that dates to ca. 63 BCE to ca. 324 CE
    Sedentism - permanent settlement of people; opposite of nomadism
    Shaft Tomb - a tomb that consists of a shaft cut through the rock as a passage and a carved out chamber where the human remains and gifts were laid.
    Sherded - the technique in survey of picking up all pottery sherds
    Site - a place where there is evidence of human activity, a tell, a scatter of flints
    Sieved - process of straining soil through small-meshed sieves to recover small objects, e.g., seeds, beads
    Specialized - refers to differentiated occupations of people as reflected in distinctive activity areas on the mound
    Squares - the areas of excavation within the grid, usually 5 x 5 meters surrounded by 1.0 meter balks or catwalks
    Stratigraphic Profile - Refers to the accumulations of layers that vertical excavation reveals concerning the history of a site
    Stratigraphy - the study of the layers of deposits at archaeological sites. The study of the sequence of data and their dates
    Stratum - a layer of earth that is distinct and discrete from those above or below.
    Surpluses - supplies of foodstuffs that go beyond the everyday needs of the people; excess quantities
    Survey - Investigation of the remains of human culture by the discovery of artifacts and features on the ground surface; refers to sites and regions
    Symbiotic Relationship - the association of two dissimilar groups, e.g., nomads and urban people
    Tabun - or Tannur; an oven for baking bread
    Tell - a ruin or mound; an accumulation of layers of human deposits; usually the debris of city upon city
    Theoretical inferences - archaeologists draw logical conclusions and set forth hypotheses about past societies based on material remains
    Topographical - refers to the physical features of a site or area
    Type Site - refers to a site that is a model of a particular period, culture, material, etc.
    Typology - a classification of objects into groups (or types) according to similar traits; the study of types through time to establish a chronology
    Urban cultures - societies that are not rural or of the countryside; society that is composed of cities and towns
    Vertical Excavation - refers to depth, chronology and stratigraphy; opposite of horizontal excavation
    Wadi - an Arabic term meaning dry river bed; often the wadi runs with water during the rainy season
    Worked - sharpened edges of flint tools and weapons
    Working hypothesis - the theory or speculation archaeologists set forth to investigate in their work; an argument that needs further investigation and testing