Glossary

Anthropology. The field that studies humans as biological and cultural beings. Such study includes human culture, biology, language, and history. See also Culture.

Archaeology. The subfield of anthropology that studies and reconstructs past cultures and societies.

Coprolites. Naturally dried fecal matter.

Culture. The patterned thought and behavior—such as social, political, economic, and religious—that individuals learn and are taught as members of social groups and that is transmitted from one generation to the next.

Ethnography. The anthropological study and description of the cultures of living groups: their social, political, economic, and ideological systems and all the behavior that relates to these.

Food bones. The bones of animals consumed by humans.

Foraging. The collection of edible wild plants and small animals, such as birds, rodents, reptiles, and insects.

Hominid. The common name for those primates referred to in the taxonomic family Hominidae: modern humans and their nearest evolutionary ancestors.

Homo. The genus to which modern humans and their nearest evolutionary ancestors belong: Homo habilis (handy human), Homo erectus (upright human), Homo sapiens (knowing human), and Homo sapiens sapiens (modern human).

Kill and butchery sites. Locations where an animal or animals were killed by humans and butchered on the same spot.

Living floors. Locations where concentrations of living debris are found. Such debris may be tools, debris from tool manufacture, food bones, and other evidence for human occupation.

Lower Paleolithic. Dating from 2.5 mya to about 100,000 yr ago. The beginning of the period is marked by the presence of the earliest known stone tools and probably, the first appearance of the Homo genus. The period is characterized by increasing human brain size, and capacity, intelligence, and the evolution toward greater complexity of human technology and culture.

Middle America. Mexico and Central America.

Mesolithic. A term that designates immediately pre-agricultural societies in the Old World. A diagnostic technological characteristic is the presence of microliths, small stone blades set into bone or wood. In the Near East, sickels used for the harvesting of wild grains were made using this technique.

Middle Paleolithic. Dating from about 100,000 to 40,000 yr ago. The period is marked by increased sophistication in stone tool technology, such as the making of tools from prepared cores, and by the presence of Homo sapiens. Human culture became more complex, particularly with regard to the ideological system. Religious ritual, as manifested archaeologically in the burial of the dead with grave goods, came into being.

mya. Million years ago.

Neolithic. A stage in cultural evolution generally marked by the appearance of ground stone tool technology (bowls, adzes, axes, etc) and frequently by domesticated plants and animals and permanent villages.

Paleoanthropology. The multidisciplinary approach to the study of human biological and cultural evolution. It includes physical anthropology, archaeology, geology, ecology, and many other fields.

Paleolithic. Dating from about 2.5 mya to 10,000 BC. The period during which stone tools were produced by percussion flaking (chipping). This period is characterized by the origin and evolution of modern humans and culture.

Physical anthropology. The subfield of anthropology that studies human biology and evolution.

Presapiens. Members of the genus Homo who lived before the appearance of the sapiens species: Homo habilis and Homo erectus.

Primates. The order of mammals that includes prosim-ians, Old and New World monkeys, apes, and humans.

Sapiens. The species to which Middle and Upper Paleolithic and modern humans belong.

Scavanging. The procurement of meat from animals killed by carnivores.

Site. A confined geographic area or location of interest to archaeologists in which the remains of earlier human activity are concentrated.

Subsistence economy. A term referring to food resources and their modes of procurement: foraging, gathering, and hunting for wild plants and animals, agriculture, marketing, etc.

Upper Paleolithic. Dating from about 40,000 to 12,000 yr ago. The final stage of the Paleolithic. It is characterized by the prevalence of modern humans with more sophisticated culture. Characteristic remains in western Europe are polychrome cave paintings, sculpture, engraving, and stone tools made from blades.

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