convergence: the evolution of nonhomologous similarities in different evolutionary lines; the result of similarities in selective pressures.
conversion: the use of a sphere of exchange for a transaction with which it is not generally associated.
coprolites: fossilized feces; these contain food residues that can be used to reconstruct diet and subsistence activities.
core area: a section within the home range of a primate population that may contain a concentration of food, a water hole, and a good resting place or sleeping trees and in which most of the troop's time will be spent.
core tool: a tool that is manufactured by the removal of flakes from a core.
core: (1) a blocky nucleus of stone from which flakes or blades have been removed. (2) a column or lineal sample of materials obtained by "coring" the ground, trees, etc..
corporate ownership control: of land and other productive resources by a group rather than by individuals.
corporateness: the sharing of group members in specific rights.
cortex: the naturally weathered outer surface of a pebble.
cortical spall: a flake struck from the surface of a pebble or nodule which retains the natural cortex on one face. A "Cortical Spall Tool" is generally a relatively large ovate cortical spall exhibiting retouch or use-wear on one or more edges.
corvee: unpaid labor in lieu of taxation, usually on road construction and maintenance.
cranial capacity: the volume of the brain case of the skull.
creation-science: the idea that scientific evidence can be and has been gathered for creation as depicted in the Bible. Mainstream scientists and the Supreme Court discount any scientific value of creation-science statements.
cremation: an intentionally burned human interment.
crenelation: a fine wrinkling found around the base of a tooth.
creole: a pidgin language than has evolved into a fully developed language, with a complete array of grammatical distinctions and a large vocabulary.
critical temperature: the temperature at which the body must begin to resist a lowering of body temperature; occurs in the nude human body at approximately 31 degrees C (87.8 degrees F).
Critical Theory: a theoretical approach developed by the so-called "Frankfurt School" of German social thinkers, which stresses that all knowledge is historical, and in a sense biased communication; thus, all claims to "objective" knowledge are illusory.
cross-cousin preferential marriage: marriage between a person and his or her cross-cousin (father's sister's child or mother's brother's child).
cross-cousins: mother's brothers' children and father's sisters' children.
cross-cultural research: (holocultural research) a method that uses a global sample of societies in order to test hypotheses.
crossing-over: the phenomenon whereby sections of homologous chromosomes are interchanged during meiosis.
cryptocrystalline: a term for glassy rocks which break with a conchoidal fracture, such as obsidian.
cultural anthropology: a subdiscipline of anthropology concerned with the non-biological, behavioral aspects of society; i.e. the social, linguistic, and technological components underlying human behavior. Two important branches of cultural anthropology are ethnography (the study of living cultures) and ethnology (which attempts to compare cultures using ethnographic evidence). In Europe, it is referred to as social anthropology.
cultural determinism: the idea that except for reflexes all behavior is the result of learning.
cultural diffusion: the spreading of a cultural trait (e.g., material object, idea, or behavior pattern) from one society to another.
cultural ecology: a term devised by Julian Steward to account for the dynamic relationship between human society and its environment, in which culture is viewed as the primary adaptive mechanism.
cultural environment: the complex of products of human endeavor, including technology and social institutions.
cultural evolution: the theory that societal change can be understood by analogy with the processes underlying the biological evolution of species.
cultural group: a complex of regularly occurring associated artifacts, features, burial types, and house forms comprising a distinct identity.
cultural materialism: the theory, espoused by Marvin Harris, that ideas, values, and religious beliefs are the means or products of adaptation to environmental conditions ("material constraints").
cultural relativism: the ability to view the beliefs and customs of other peoples within the context of their culture rather than one's own.
cultural resource management (CRM): the safeguarding of the archaeological heritage through the protection of sites and through salvage archaeology (rescue archaeology), generally within the framework of legislation designed to safeguard the past.
cultural universal: those general cultural traits found in all societies of the world. culture shock a psychological disorientation experienced when attempting to operate in a radically different cultural environment.
culture area: a region in which several groups have similar culture complexes.
culture history: the identification and classification of cultural change through time. A primary aspect of archaeological interpretation concerned with establishing the chronological context of cultural items and complexes.
culture of poverty: a self-perpetuating complex of escapism, impulse gratification, despair, and resignation; an adaptation and reaction of the poor to the marginal position in a class-stratified, highly individuated, capitalistic society.
culture sequence: the chronological succession of cultural traits, phases, or traditions in a local area.
culture-area: a classification of cultures within a specific geographic-environmental region, sharing enough distinctive traits to set them apart from adjacent areas, e.g. Northwest Coast, Arctic, etc.
culture-bound: the state or quality of having relevance only to the members of a specific cultural group.
culture-historical approach: an approach to archaeological interpretation which uses the procedure of the traditional historian (including emphasis on specific circumstances elaborated with rich detail, and processes of inductive reasoning).
culture: learned, nonrandom, systematic behavior and knowledge that can be transmitted from generation to generation.
cusp: a point on a tooth.
cutting blade: (also "end blade".) the Piercing element of a composite projectile point or harpoon head. (See also projectile point.)
cytogenetics: the study of the heredity mechanisms within the cell.
cytology: the study of the biology of the cell.
cytoplasm: material within the cell between the plasma membrane and the nuclear membrane.
cytosine: one of the pyrimidines found in the DNA and RNA molecules.
datum plane: an arbitrary or imaginary horizontal surface surveyed over a site from which vertical measurements are taken.
datum: a fixed reference point on an archaeological site from which measurements are taken.
debitage: waste by-products from tool manufacture.
deciduous teeth: the first set of teeth that develop in mammals; also known as the baby, or milk, teeth.
deduction: a process of reasoning by which more specific consequences are inferred by rigorous argument from more general propositions (cf. induction).
deductive nomological (D-N) explanation: a formal method of explanation based on the testing of hypotheses derived from general laws.
deep structure: an abstract two-part mental model consisting of a noun phrase and a verb phrase, with the optional addition of an adverb or adverbial phrase.
deep-sea cores: cores drilled from the sea bed that provide the most coherent record of climate changes on a worldwide scale. The cores contain shells of microscopic marine organisms (foraminifera) laid down on the ocean floor through the continuous process of sedimentation. Variations in the ratio of two oxygen isotopes in the calcium carbonate of these shells give a sensitive indicator of sea temperature at the time the organisms were alive.
deletion: a chromosome aberration in which a chromosome breaks and a segment that is not attached to the spindle is not included in the second-generation cell. The genetic material on the deleted section is lost.
deme: the local breeding population; the smallest reproductive population.
demographic transition: a rapid increase in a society's population with the onset of industrialization, followed by a leveling off of the growth rate due to reduced fertility.
demography: the study of the processes which contribute to population structure and their temporal and spatial dynamics. .
dendrite: a branchlike projection from a cell.
dendrochronology: the study of tree-ring patterns; annual variations in climatic conditions which produce differential growth can be used both as a measure of environmental change, and as the basis for a chronology.
dental age: a standard age based upon the time of eruption of particular teeth.
dental arcade: the tooth row as seen from above.
dental comb: a structure formed by the front teeth of the lower jaw projecting forward almost horizontally; found in prosimians.
dental formula: formal designation of the types and numbers of teeth. The dental formula 126.96.36.199/188.8.131.52 indicates that in one-half of the upper jaw and lower jaw there are two incisors, one canine, two premolars, and three molars.
dentalia: small, slender horn-like Pacific Ocean shell used and traded as beads and wealth-items.
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): a nucleic acid that controls the structure of proteins and hence determines inherited characteristics. Genes are portions of the DNA molecule that fulfill specific functions.
deoxyribose: a five-carbon sugar found in the DNA molecule.
dependent variable: a variable that is affected by the independent variable.
descent group: a group of consanguineal kin united by presumed lineal descent from a common ancestor.
descent ideology: the concept of kinship as a basis of unambiguous membership in a group and possibly of property rights and political obligations.
descent relationship: the ties between mother and child and between father and child.
descent tracing: one's kinship connections back through a number of generations.
descriptive linguistics: that branch of anthropological linguistics that studies how languages are structured.
detritus: waste by-products from tool manufacture. Most frequently applied to chips and fragments resulting from stone flaking.
development: the process whereby cells differentiate into different and specialized units.
developmental adjustments: alterations in the pattern of growth and development resulting from environmental influence.
diachronic studies: use of descriptive data from one society or population that has been studied at many points in time.
diachronic: referring to phenomena as they change over time; i.e. employing a chronological perspective (cf. synchronic).
diaphragm: a muscle that lies beneath the lungs. When the diaphragm contracts, the volume of the lungs increases, causing a lowering of pressure within the lungs and movement of air from the outside into the lungs. When the diaphragm relaxes, air is expelled from the lungs.
diaphysis: the shaft of a long bone.
diastema: a space between teeth.
diatom analysis: a method of environmental reconstruction based on plant microfossils. Diatoms are unicellular algae, whose silica cell walls survive after the algae die, and they accumulate in large numbers at the bottom of rivers and lakes. Their assemblages directly reflect the floristic composition of the water's extinct communities, as well as the water's salinity, alkalinity, and nutrient status.
differential fertility rate: the situation in which some matings produce more offspring than others.
differential fluxgate magnetometer: a type of magnetometer used in subsurface detection with the advantage of producing a continuous reading.
differentiation: organization in separate units for various activities and purposes.
diffusion: when elements of one culture spread to another without wholesale dislocation or migration.
diffusionist approach: the theory popularized by V.G. Childe that all the attributes of civilization from architecture to metalworking had diffused from the Near East to Europe.
diglossia: the situation in which two forms of the same language are spoken by people in the same language community, depending on the social situation.
diphyodonty: the successive development of two sets of teeth, the deciduous and the permanent teeth.
diploid: a term that refers to the full complement of chromosomes (23 chromosomes). The diploid number in humans is forty-six.
discontinuous variation: the distribution of alleles, allele combinations, or any traits characterized by little or no gradation in frequencies between adjacent regions.
discrete signal: a characteristic of language that refers to the fact that signals, such as words, represent distinct entities or experiences. A discrete signal does not blend with other signals.
displacement (behaviors): the situation in which one animal can cause another to move away from food, a sitting place, etc.
displacement (language) The ability to communicate about events at times and places other than those of their occurrence; enables a person to talk and think about things not directly in front of him or her.
distal: that portion of a tool or bone farthest from the body of the user or "owner".
distance curve: a graph that shows the total height (or other measurement) of an individual on a series of dates.
disturbance: a cultural deposit is said to be disturbed when the original sequence of deposition has been altered or upset by post-depositional factors. Agents of disturbance include natural forces such as stream or wind erosion, plant or animal activity, land-slides etc.; and cultural forces such as later excavations.
diurnal: active during daylight hours.
divination: a practice in which an element of nature acts as a sign to provide supernatural information to the diviner.
division of labor: the set of rules found in all societies dictating how the day to day tasks are assigned to the various members of a society.
dizygotic twins: fraternal twins; twins derived from separate zygotes.
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid): the material which carries the hereditary instructions (the "blueprint") which determine the formation of all living organisms. Genes, the organizers of inheritance, are composed of DNA.
DNA hybridization: a method of comparing DNA from different species by forming hybrid DNA.
domestic cycle: the changes in household organization that result from a series of demographic events.
domestic mode of production: the organization of economic production and consumption primarily in the household.
domestication: the process by which people try to control the reproductive rates of animals and plants by ordering the environment in such a way as to favor certain species.
dominance (behavior): the situation in which one animal may displace another and take preference in terms of sitting place, food, and estrus females.
dominance (genetic): the situation in which, in a heterozygous individual, only one allele is expressed in the phenotype.
dominance hierarchy: a system of social ranking based upon the relative dominance of the animals within a social group.
dorsal: toward the top or back of an animal.
double descent: a system of descent in which individuals receive some rights and obligations from the father's side of the family and others from the mother's side.
Down's syndrome: a condition characterized by a peculiarity of eyefolds, malformation of the heart and other organs, stubby hands and feet, short stature, and mental retardation; the result of an extra chromosome 21.
dowry: payment made by the bride's family to the groom or to the groom's family.
dowsing: the supposed location of subsurface features by employing a twig, copper rod, pendulum, or other instrument; discontinuous movements in these instruments are believed by some to record the existence of buried features.
drinking tube: a length of hollow bird-bone used in aboriginal ceremonial situations for drinking liquids.
drive-lanes: aboriginal fences of rock piles or brush used to direct game-animals towards a trap.
drumlin: a streamlined hill or mound formed by a moving glacier, with the "tail" in the direction of ice-flow.
duplication: a chromosomal aberration in which a section of a chromosome is repeated.
dysfunction: the notion that some cultural traits can cause stress or imbalance within a cultural system.
dyspnea: difficult or painful breathing.
early man: in the New World this term refers to the oldest known human occupants - i.e. prior to ca. 8,000 B.P.
ecclesiastical cult: a highly complex religious system headed by a full-time priest.
echo-sounding: an acoustic underwater-survey technique, used to trace the topography of submerged coastal plains and other buried land surfaces (see also seismic reflection profiler).
ecofacts: non-artifactual organic and environmental remains which have cultural relevance, e.g. faunal and floral material as well as soils and sediments.
ecological determinism: a form of explanation in which it is implicit that changes in the environment determine changes in human society.
ecological isolation: a form of reproductive isolation in which two closely related species are separated by what is often a slight difference in the niches they occupy; also called habitat isolation.
ecological niche: the specific microhabitat in which a particular population lives and the way that population exploits that microhabitat.
ecology: the study of the dynamic relationships of organisms to each other and the total environment.
economic anthropology: a subdiscipline of anthropology that attempts to understand how the schedule of wants and demands of a society is balanced against the supply of goods and services available, withthe recognition that economic processes cannot be interpreted without culturally defining the demands and understanding the conventions that dictate how and when they are satisfied.
economic class: a group that is defined by the economic position of its members in relation to the means of production in the society--the wealth and relative eocnomic control they may command.
economic system: the ideas and institutions that people draw upon and the behaviors in which they engage in order to secure resources to satisfy their needs and desires.
ecosystem: a group of organisms with specific relationships between themselves and a particular environment.
ectotherm: an animal that derives much of its body heat from external heat sources.
ectotympanic: a bony element within the middle ear that supports the tympanic membrane or eardrum.
edema: retention of water in the tissues of the body.
effector: an enzyme produced by one of the structural genes that binds with the repressor and prevents the repressor from binding to the operator.
effigy mound: an earthwork in the general shape of an animal (e.g. a snake, bird, etc.).
effigy pipe: an aboriginal smoking pipe shaped to resemble a human or animal form.
electrical resistivity: see soil resistivity. electrolysis A standard cleaning process in archaeological conservation. Artifacts are placed in a chemical solution, and by passing a weak current between them and a surrounding metal grill, the corrosive salts move from the cathode (object) to the anode (grill), removing any accumulated deposit and leaving the artifact clean.
electron probe microanalysis: used in the analysis of artifact composition, this technique is similar to XRF (X-ray fluorescence spectrometry), and is useful for studying small changes in composition within the body of an artifact.
electron spin resonance (ESR): a chronometric dating technique based upon the behavior of electrons in crystals exposed to naturally occurring radioactivity; used to date limestone, coral, shell, teeth, and other materials. Enables trapped electrons within bone and shell to be measured without the heating that thermoluminescence requires.
electrophoresis A method for separating proteins in an electric field.
elevation: a measurement of vertical distance in mapping.
Ellis-van Creveld syndrome: a rare recessive abnormality characterized by dwarfism, extra fingers, and malformations of the heart; high incidence among the Amish.
embryology: the branch of biology that studies the formation and development of the embryo.
emic: a perspective in ethnography that uses the concepts and categories that are relevant and meaningful to the culture under analysis.
empathetic method: the use of personal intuition (in German Einfuhlung to seek to understand the inner lives of other people, using the assumption that there is a common structure to human experience. The assumption that the study of the inner experience of humans provides a handle for interpreting prehistory and history is made by idealist thinkers such as B. Croce, R.G. Collingwood and members of the "postprocessual" school of thought.