Anthropology Glossary abductor

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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.

empirical: received through the senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste), either directly or through extensions.

empiricism: reliance on observable and quantifiable data.

emulation: one of the most frequent features accompanying competition, where customs, buildings, and artifacts in one society may be adopted by neighboring ones through a process of imitation which is often competitive in nature.

encephalization quotient: a number reflecting the increase in brain size over and beyond that explainable by an increase in body size.

enculturation: the process by which human infants learn their culture.

endocranial cast: a cast of the inside of the brain case.

endocrine glands: organs that produce hormones.

endogamy: a rule requiring marriage within a specified social or kinship group.

endotherm: an animal whose body heat is regulated by internal physiological mechanisms.

engineer's level: an optical surveying instrument designed to obtain accurate level lines of sight and turn.

entrepreneurs: individuals who are willing to take risks and break with traditional practices in order to make a profit.

entrepreneurship: economic innovation and risk taking.

environment: everything external to the organism.

environmental archaeology: a field in which inter-disciplinary research, involving archaeologists and natural scientists, is directed at the reconstruction of human use of plants and animals, and how past societies adapted to changing environmental conditions.

environmental circumscription: an explanation for the origins of the state propounded by Robert Carneiro that emphasizes the fundamental role exerted by environmental constraints and by territorial limitations.

eolian deposits: sediments transported by wind (e.g. sand-dunes, loess, etc.).

eoliths: crude stone pebbles found in Lower Pleistocene contexts; once thought to be the work of human agency, but now generally regarded as natural products.

epidermal ridges: fine ridges in the skin on the hand and foot that are richly endowed with nerve endings and are responsible for a highly developed sense of touch; responsible for fingerprint pattern.

epidermis: the outermost layer of the skin.

epiphyses: secondary centers of ossification near the ends of long bones.

epoch: a unit of geological time; a division of a period.

equilibrium: a balance among the components of an ecosystem.

era: a major division of geological time defined by major geological events and delineated by the kinds of animals and plant life it contains. Humans evolved in the Cenozoic era.

erect bipedalism: in humans, the locomotor pattern in which the body is maintained in an upright posture on two legs while moving by means of a heel-toe stride.

ergonomics The study of scientific data on the human body and the application of such data to problems of design.

erratic: a glacially transported boulder.

erythroblastosis fetalis: a hemolytic disease affecting unborn or newborn infants that is caused by the destruction of the infant's Rh + blood by the mother's anti-Ah antibodies.

erythrocyte: a red blood cell; found in blood, lacks a nucleus, and contains the red pigment hemoglobin.

esker: a sinuous ridge of fluvial deposits resulting from a sub-glacial melt-water stream.

estrogen: a hormone produced in the ovary.

estrus: the time period during which the female is sexually receptive.

ethnicity: a basis for social categories that are rooted in socially perceived differences in national origin, language, and/or religion.

ethnoarchaeology: the study of contemporary cultures with a view to understanding the behavioral relationships which underlie the production of material culture.

ethnobotany: a subdiscipline of anthropology that explores how societies perceive and categorize plants in their environment and how they use these plants for food, medicine, ritual, etc.

ethnocentrism: the tendency to judge the customs of other societies by the standards of one's own ethnographic present: describes the point in time at which a society or culture is frozen when ethnographic data collected in the field are published in a report.

ethnographic analogy: interpretation of archaeological remains by comparison to historical cultures.

ethnography: that aspect of cultural anthropology concerned with the descriptive documentation of living cultures.

ethnohistory: the study of ethnographic cultures through historical records.

ethnology: a subset of cultural anthropology concerned with the comparative study of contemporary cultures, with a view to deriving general principles about human society.

ethnomusicology: the study of music in a cross-cultural perspective.

ethnos: the ethnic group, defined as a firm aggregate of people, historically established on a given territory, possessing in common relatively stable peculiarities of language and culture, and also recognizing their unity and difference as expressed in a self-

ethnoturbinals: bony plates, occurring as pairs, that are found within the nasal region of the skull and support the nasal membranes.

etic: a perspective in ethnography that uses the concepts and categories of the anthropologist's culture to describe another culture.

eugenics: the study of the methods that can improve the inherited qualities of a species.

eukaryote: a cell with a nucleus that contains nDNA.

euprimates: "true" primates; primates that show features of the modem primate complex.

eutherian mammal: a placental mammal.

evolution: the process by which small but cumulative changes in a species can, over time, lead to its transformation; may be divided into two categories: physical evolution (adaptive changes in biological makeup) and cultural evolution (adaptive changes in thought and behavior).

evolutionary ecology: the study of living organisms within the context of their total environment, with the aim of discovering how they have adapted.

excavation grid: a system of rectangular coordinates, established on the ground surface by stakes and string, which divides a site into excavation units.

excavation: the principal method of data acquisition in archaeology, involving the systematic uncovering of archaeological remains through the removal of the deposits of soil and the other material covering them and accompanying them.

exchange: the distribution of goods and services among members of a society.

exogamy: marriage outside a particular group with which one is identified.

exons: the sequences in the DNA molecule that code for the amino acid sequences of corresponding proteins.

experimental archaeology: the study of past behavioral processes through experimental reconstruction under carefully controlled scientific conditions.

exposure: (1) a natural or artificial section or cut into the ground, such as a wind blow-out, sea-cliff, or roadcut. (2) the orientation of a site in relation to magnetic direction or the sun - e.g. a "southern exposure". (3) the quality of color, contrast and light in a photograph.

extended family household: a multiple-family unit incorporating adults of two or more generations.

extensor: a muscle that straightens out the bones around a joint.

extinction: the disappearance of a population.

extrasomatic: behavioral.

fabric: (1) a material woven of plant or animal fibers. (2) the orientation of sedimentary particles.

facial sinus: a hollow, air-filled space in the bones of the front of the skull.

factor analysis: a multivariate statistical technique which assesses the degree of variation between artifact types, and is based on a matrix of correlation coefficients which measure the relative association between any two variables.

faience: glass-like material first made in predynastic Egypt; it involves coating a core material of powdered quartz with a vitreous alkaline glaze.

fall-off analysis: the study of regularities in the way in which quantities of traded items found in the archaeological record decline as the distance from the source increases. This may be plotted as a falloff curve, with the quantities of material (y-axis) plotted against distance from source (X-axis).

familial hypercholesterolemia: a rare dominant abnormality controlled by a multiple-allele series of at least four alleles. The disease is caused by a defective protein that can result in extremely high levels of cholesterol in the blood.

family household: a household formed on the basis of kinship and marriage.

family unit: among chimpanzees, a small group consisting of a mother with some or all of her offspring.

family: a major division of an order, consisting of closely related genera.

faunal dating: a method of relative dating based on observing the evolutionary changes in particular species of mammals, so as to form a rough chronological sequence.

faunal remains: bones and other animal parts found in archaeological sites. Important in the reconstruction of past ecosystems and cultural subsistence patterns.

feature: a non-portable product of human workmanship. Usually clusters of associated objects; structural remains; hearths, etc.

fetalization hypothesis: see neoteny hypothesis.

fictive kin: persons such as godparents, compadres, "blood brothers," and old family friends whom children call "aunt" and "uncle".

field data forms: printed forms used to record archaeological survey or excavation information. Special forms are frequently used to record artifact proveniences; features and burials; site locations and descriptions; and level-notes.

field dependence: the tendency to see the field of vision as a single unit, with separate objects existing only as part of the whole.

field independence: the tendency to see the objects in one's field of vision as discrete units, distinct from the field as a whole.

fieldwork: the firsthand observation of human societies.

filigree: fine open metalwork using wires and soldering, first developed in the Near East.

fire-cracked rock (f.c.r.): (also "fire-broken rock"). Rocks which have been cracked or broken by the heat of a fire. A common element in aboriginal campsite debris.

fishing station: a special type of site located on streams, lakes, or ocean beaches, where fishing activities were carried on. May be characterized by a fish-trap or WEIR.

fission-fusion society: a constantly changing form of social organization whereby large groups undergo fission into smaller units and small units fuse into larger units in response to the activity of the group and the season of the year.

fission-track dating: a dating method based on the operation of a radioactive clock, the spontaneous fission of an isotope of uranium present in a wide range of rocks and minerals. As with potassium-argon dating, with whose time range it overlaps, the method gives useful dates from rocks adjacent to archaeological material.

fitness: the measure of how well an individual or population is adapted to a specific ecological niche.

flagging (also "survey tape"): brightly colored plastic ribbon used to mark features, sites, surveyed stakes etc., to aid in their relocation.

flake tool: a tool manufactured from a flake.

flake-scar: the negative area left on a stone core or nucleus after the removal of a conchoidal flake.

flake: a fragment removed from a core or nucleus of cryptocrystalline or fine-grained rock by percussion or pressure. May be used as a tool with no further deliberate modification, may be retouched, or may serve as a preform for further reduction.

flaking station: a specialized site, or activity area within a site, dominated by evidence for the past manufacture of flaked stone artifacts. Might consist of an area of concentrated detritus, cores, flaking-tools, and preforms.

flaking-tool (also "flaker"): any implement used to remove conchoidal flakes by percussion or pressure from a nucleus of suitable material. May be a pointed antler or bone pressure-flaking tool, or a small hammer-stone used for percussion.

flesher: a toothed implement manufactured on an animal long-bone, used for scraping hides.

flexed burial: a human interment where the body is placed in a semi-fetal Position with the knees drawn up against the chest and hands near the chin.

flint: a microcrystalline silicate rock similar to chert, used for the manufacture of flaked stone tools. Color most commonly gray, honey-brown, or black.

floodwater farming: the practice of planting crops in areas that are flooded every year in the rainy season, the floodwaters thus providing natural irrigation.

floor-plan: a scale drawing of features, matrix changes, and important associations completed for the end of each excavation level in a given

floral remains: remnants of past vegetation found in archaeological sites (see microfloral remains). Useful in the reconstruction of past environments.

flotation: the process of recovering small particles of organic material by immersing sediment samples in water or other fluids and skimming off the particles which float on the surface. An important method for obtaining microfloral and microfaunal remains and carbon samples.

fluted: grooved or channeled. A fluted point is a projectile point which has had one or more long thinning flakes removed from the base along one or both faces (e.g. Clovis or Folsom points).

fluvial deposits: sediments laid down by running water.

folivore: an animal that eats primarily leaves.

folk taxonomy: the classification of phenomena on the basis of cultural tradition.

folktales: traditional stories found in a culture (generally transmitted orally) that may or may not be based on fact.

food chain: a sequence of sources of energy in which each source is dependent on another source.

foraging: collecting wild plants and hunting wild animals for subsistence.

foramen magnum: a large opening in the occipital bone at the base of the skull through which the spinal cord passes.

forebrain: the anterior of three swellings in the hollow nerve cord of the primitive vertebrate brain; formed by a thickening of the wall of the nerve cord.

forensic anthropology: the application of the techniques of osteology and skeletal identification to legal problems.

foreshaft: a separate, often detachable piece, between the point and main shaft of a projectile.

formal interview: an interview that consists of questions designed to elicit specific facts, attitudes, and opinions.

formal organization: a group that restricts membership and makes use of officially designated positions and roles, formal rules and regulations, and a bureaucratic structure.

formalism: a school of economic anthropology which argues that if the concepts of formal economic theory are broadened, they can serve as analytic tools for the study of any economic system.

formation processes: those processes affecting the way in which archaeological materials came to be buried, and their subsequent history afterwards. Cultural formation processes include the deliberate or accidental activities of humans; natural formation processes refer to natural or environmental events which govern the burial and survival of the archaeological record.

fossil beach (also: "paleo-beach", "raised beach", "fossil strandline"): a lake or ocean beach developed when the water-level was significantly different from that of the present. Most commonly these will be "raised beaches", or old strandline features and sediments found above the modern shoreline.

fossil cuticles: the outermost protective layer of the skin of leaves or blades of grass, made of cutin, a very resistant material that survives in the archaeological record often in feces. Cuticular analysis is a useful adjunct to palynology in environmental reconstruction.

fossil ice wedges: soil features caused when the ground freezes and contracts, opening up fissures in the permafrost that fill with wedges of ice. The fossil wedges are proof of past cooling of climate and of the depth of permafrost.

fossil: the remains or traces of any ancient organism.

founder principle: the situation in which a founding population does not represent a random sample of the original population; a form of sampling error.

four-chambered heart: a heart that is divided into two sets of pumping chambers, effectively separating oxygenated blood from the lungs from deoxygenated blood from the body.

fovea: a depression within the macula of the retina of the eye that contains a single layer of cones with no overlapping blood vessels; the region of greatest visual acuity.

fraternal polyandry: marriage of one woman with a set of brothers.

free morphemes: morphemes that are complete words when standing alone.

freehold: private ownership of property.

French structuralism: the theoretical school founded by Claude Levi-Strauss that finds the key to cultural diversity in cognitive structures.

frequency seriation: a relative dating method which relies principally on measuring changes in the proportional abundance, or frequency, observed among finds (e.g. counts of tool types, or of ceramic fabrics).

frugivore: an animal that eats primarily fruits.

function: the contribution that a particular cultural trait makes to the longevity of the total culture.

functional-processual approach: see processual archaeology.

functionalism: the theory that all elements of a culture are functional in that they serve to satisfy culturally defined needs of the people in that society or requirements of the society as a whole.

gamete: a sex cell produced by meiosis that contains one copy of a chromosome set (twenty-three chromosomes in humans). In a bisexual animal the sex cell is either a sperm or an ovum.

gametic mortality: a form of reproductive isolation in which sperm are immobilized and destroyed before fertilization can take place.

gathering: among chimpanzees, the largest observed group within the community.

gender: a cultural construct consisting of the set of distinguishable characteristics associated with each sex.

gene flow: the process in which alleles from one population are introduced into another population.

gene pool: the sum of all alleles carried by the members of a population.

gene therapy: a genetic-engineering method in which a gene is altered and then inserted into a cell to correct an inherited abnormality.

generalized reciprocity: informal gift giving for which no accounts are kept and no immediate or specific return is expected.

generalized species: species that can survive in a variety of ecological niches.

generalized trait: a trait used for many functions.

genes: the basic units of inheritance, now known to be governed by the specific sequence of the genetic markers within the DNA of the individual concerned.

genetic counselor: a medical professional who advises prospective parents or a person affected by a genetic disease of the probability of having a child with a genetic problem.

genetic determinism: the idea that all behavior, including very specific behavior, is biologically based, in contrast to cultural determinism.

genetic drift: the situation in a small population in which the allelic frequencies of the Fl generation will differ from those of the parental generation due to sampling error.

genetic engineering: the artificial manipulation of the genetic material to create specific characteristics in individuals.

genetic equilibrium: a hypothetical state in which a population is not evolving because the allele frequencies remain constant over time.

genetic load: the totality of deleterious alleles in a population.

genetics: the study of the mechanisms of heredity and biological variation.

genome imprinting: the phenomenon whereby an allele may have a different effect on the offspring depending on the sex of the contributing parent.

genome: all the genes carried by a single gamete.

genotype: the genetic constitution of an individual.

genus: a group of closely related species.

geochemical analysis: the investigatory technique which involves taking soil samples at regular intervals from the surface of a site, and measuring their phosphate content and other chemical properties.
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