Anthropology Glossary abductor

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proxemics: the study of human perception and use of space in communication and social relations.

proximal: the portion of an artifact or bone closest to the body of the user or "owner".

pseudo-archaeology: the use of selective archaeological evidence to promulgate nonscientific, fictional accounts of the past.

psychic unity: a concept popular among some nineteenth-century anthropologists that assumed that all people when operating under similar circumstances will think and behave in similar ways.

psychological anthropology: the study of the relationship between culture and individual personality.

ptyalin: a digestive enzyme found in saliva that begins the digestion of starches in the mouth.

puberty: an event in the life cycle that includes rapid increase in stature, development of sex organs, and development of secondary sexual characteristics.

pubic symphysis: the area of the pelvis at which the two innominates join.

punctuated equilibria: principal feature of the evolutionary theory propounded by Niles Eldredge and Stephen J. Gould, in which species change is represented as a form of Darwinian gradualism "punctuated" by periods of rapid evolutionary change.

purdah: the Muslim or Hindu practice of keeping women hidden from men outside their own family; or, a curtain, veil, or the like used for such a purpose.

purine: a base found in nucleic acids that consists of two connected rings of carbon and nitrogen; in DNA and RNA, adenine and guanine.

pyrimidine: base found in nucleic acids that consists of a single ring of carbon and nitrogen; in DNA, thymine and cytosine, and in RNA, uracil and cytosine.

pyrotechnology: the intentional use and control of fire by humans.

quadrant: generally refers to one-quarter of an excavation unit or level, e.g. "the northwest quadrant of excavation unit N. 2-4, E. 4-6".

quadrat: a rectangular sampling unit.

quadrupedalism: locomotion on four limbs.

quarry site: a site where lithic raw materials have been mined.

quartz-crystal: pure silicate rock-crystal. Usually perfectly clear with six crystal surfaces. May be used as a raw material for lithic tool manufacture.

quartzite: a granular stone formed of fused quartz grains. Commonly white, yellow or red. Used as a raw material, for flaked stone tools.

race: a subgroup of human population that shares a greater number of physical traits with one another than they do with those of other subgroups.

radioactive decay: the regular process by which radioactive isotopes break down into their decay products with a half-life which is specific to the isotope in question (see also radiocarbon dating).

radiocarbon dating: an absolute dating method based on the radioactive decay of Carbon-14 contained in organic materials.

radioimmunoassay: a method of protein analysis whereby it is possible to identify protein molecules surviving in fossils which are thousands and even millions of years old.

radiometric dating: a type of chronometric dating that involves methods based upon the decay of radioactive materials; examples are radiocarbon and potassium-argon dating.

raised beaches: these are remnants of former coastlines, usually the result of processes such as isostatic uplift or tectonic movements.

random sample: a sample in which each individual in a population has the same chance of being selected as any other.

range: see home range.

ranked societies: societies in which there is unequal access to prestige and status e.g. chiefdoms and states.

rational economic decisions: the weighing of available alternatives and calculation of which will provide the most benefit at the least cost.

reaves: Bronze Age stone boundary walls, for instance on Dartmoor, England, which may designate the territorial extent of individual communities.

rebellion: an attempt within a society to disrupt the status quo and redistribute the power and resources.

recessive: a genetically determined characteristic that is expressed only in the homozygous recessive condition.

reciprocity: a mode of exchange in which transactions take place between individuals who are symmetrically placed, i.e. they are exchanging as equals, neither being in a dominant position.

recombinant DNA: a technique for transferring genetic material from one organism to another.

recombination: a mechanism of meiosis responsible for each gamete's uniqueness. As the chromosomes line up in metaphase, they can combine into several configurations.

reconnaissance survey: a broad range of techniques involved in the location of archaeological sites, e.g. the recording of surface artifacts and features, and the sampling of natural and mineral resources.

red blood cell: see erythrocyte.

redistribution: a mode of exchange which implies the operation of some central organizing authority. Goods are received or appropriated by the central authority, and subsequently some of them are sent by that authority to other locations.

refitting: sometimes referred to as conjoining, this entails attempting to put stone tools and flakes back together again, and provides important information on the processes involved in the knapper's craft.

refutationist view: approach which holds that science consists of theories about the empirical world, that its goal is to develop better theories, which is achieved by finding mistakes in existing theories, so that it is crucial that theories be falsifiable (vulnerable to error and open to testing). The approach, developed by Karl Popper, emphasizes the important of testability as a component of scientific theories.

regional continuity model: a hypothesis which states that modem H. sapiens had multiple origins from existing local populations. Each local population of archaic humans gave rise to a population of modem H. sapiens.

regulation of access to resources: control over the use of land, water, and raw materials.

regulatory gene: a segment of DNA that functions to initiate or block the function of another gene.

relative dating: the determination of chronological sequence without recourse to a fixed time scale; e.g. the arrangement of artifacts in a typological sequence, or seriation (cf. absolute dating).

relative fitness (RF): the fitness of a genotype compared with the fitness of another genotype in the same gene system. Relative fitness is measured on a scale of O to 1.

relativism: the concept that a cultural system can be viewed only in terms of the principles, background, frame of reference, and history that characterize it.

religion: a framework of beliefs relating to supernatural or superhuman beings or forces that transcend the everyday material world.

remote sensing: general term for reconnaissance and surface survey techniques that leave subsurface archaeological deposits undisturbed.

rent fund: the portion of the peasant budget allocated to payment for the use of land and equipment.

replacement fund: the portion of the peasant budget allocated to the repair or replacement of materials depleted by normal wear and tear.

replacement model: a hypothesis which states that modern H. sapiens evolved in Africa or Asia and radiated out of one of these areas replacing archaic hominid populations.

replication: the experimental reproduction or duplication of prehistoric artifacts in an attempt to better understand how they were made and used in the past.

repressor protein: the product of a regulatory gene that blocks the function of another gene.

reproductive isolating mechanism: a mechanism that prevents reproduction from occurring between two populations.

reproductive population: a group of organisms capable of successful reproduction.

reproductive risk: a measure expressed in terms of the number of zygotes needed from a mating pair to produce two offspring that will in turn reproduce.

rescue archaeology: see salvage archaeology.

research design: systematic planning of research, usually including (1) the formulation of a strategy to resolve a particular question; (2) the collection and recording of the evidence; (3) the processing and analysis of these data and their interpretation; and (4) the publication of results.

resharpening flakes: usually small flakes removed from the edges of chipped-stone cutting or scraping tools to rejuvenate the effectiveness of the edge.

residual volume: the amount of air still remaining in the lungs after the most forceful expiration.

resilience: the ability of an ecosystem to undergo change while still maintaining its basic elements or relationships.

resistivity meter: see soil resistivity. Natural accretions of manganese and iron oxides, together with clay minerals and organic matter, which can provide valuable environmental evidence. Their study, when combined with radiocarbon methods, can provide a minimum age for some landforms, and even some types of stone tool which also accumulate varnish.

resistivity: a means of detecting buried features and areas of disturbance by measuring the resistance of an electrical current passed through the ground.

restriction enzyme: an enzyme used to "cut" the DNA molecule at specific sites; used in recombinant DNA technology.

retina: the layer of cells in the back of the eye that contains two types of cells, rods and cones, that are sensitive to light.

retinoblastoma: a cancer of the retina of the eye in children, inherited as a dominant.

retouch: the removal of small secondary flakes along the edge of a lithic artifact to improve or alter the cutting properties of that edge. Retouch flaking may be bifacial or unifacial.

retouched flake: a stone flake which has had one or more edges modified by the deliberate removal of secondary chips.

revitalization movements: conscious efforts to build an ideology that will be relevant to changing cultural needs.

revolution: an attempt to overthrow the existing form of political organization, the principles of economic production and distribution, and the allocation of social status.

Rh blood-type system: a blood-type system consisting of two major alleles. A mating between an Rh - mother and Rh + father may produce in the infant the hemolytic disease erythroblastosis fetalis.

rhinarium: the moist naked area surrounding the nostrils in most mammals; absent in most primates.

rhyolite: a fine-grained light colored volcanic rock, chemically identical to obsidian. color may range from white, through gray, and yellow to reddish-pink. Sometimes used as a raw material for lithic tools.

ribonucleic acid A type of nucleic acid based upon the sugar ribose; exists in cells as messenger RNA and transfer RNA.

ribose: a five-carbon sugar found in RNA.

ribosome: a small, spherical body within the cytoplasm of the cell in which protein synthesis takes place.

rimsherd: a fragment of the rim, or top edge, of a ceramic vessel. important archaeologically since rims-herds frequently show the greatest degree of stylistic variability.

rite of solidarity: any ceremony performed for the sake of enhancing the level of social integration among a group of people.

rites of intensification: rituals intended either to bolster a natural process necessary to survival or to reaffirm the society's commitment to a particular set of values and beliefs.

rites of passage: rituals that mark a person's transition from one set of socially identified circumstances to another.

ritual: behavior that has become highly formalized and stereotyped.

rock alignment: any artificial arrangement of rocks or boulders into rows or other patterns.

rock-art: an inclusive term for petroglyphs and pictographs.

rock-shelter: a shallow cave or rock overhang large enough to have allowed human occupancy at some time.

rods: cells of the retina of the eye that are sensitive to the presence or absence of light; function in black-and-white vision. ~

role: a set of behavioral expectations appropriate to an individual's social position.

sacred: the sphere of extraordinary phenomena associated with awesome supernatural forces.

sagittal crest: a ridge of bone along the midline of the top of the skull that serves for the attachment of the temporalis muscle.

sagittal keel: a bony ridge formed by a thickening of bone along the top of the skull; characteristic of H. erectus.

salvage archaeology (also "rescue archaeology", or "crisis archaeology"): archaeological research carried out to preserve or rescue sites, materials and data from areas threatened by man-made or natural disturbance. The most common type of archaeological fieldwork conducted in North America at the present time.

sampling bias: the tendency of a sample to exclude some members of the sampling universe and overrepresent others.

sampling error: in population genetics, the transmission of a nonrepresentative sample of the gene pool over space or time due to chance. See also founder principle and genetic drift.

sampling unit: the sub-element of the total population selected for sampling.

sampling universe: the largest entity to be described, of which the sample is a part.

sampling: the probabilistic, systematic, or judgmental selection of a sub-element from a larger population, with the aim of approximating a representative picture of the whole.

sanction: any means used to enforce compliance with the rules and norms of a society.

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: the notion that a person's language shapes her or his perception and view of the world.

scarce resources: a central concept of Western economics which assumes that people have more wants than they have resources to satisfy them.

scarp: an escarpment, cliff or other steep slope, such as the slope between fluvial terraces.

scent marking: marking territory by urinating or defecating or by rubbing scent glands against trees or other objects.

science: a method of reaming about the world by applying the principles of the scientific method, which includes making empirical observations, proposing hypotheses to explain those observations, and testing those hypotheses in valid and reliable ways; also refers to the organized body of knowledge that results from scientific study.

scientific theory: a statement that postulates ordered relationships among natural phenomena.

scientism: the belief that there is one and only one method of science and that it alone confers legitimacy upon the conduct of research.

scraper: a tool presumably used in scraping, scouring, or planing functions. Most frequently refers to flaked stone artifacts with one or more steep unifacially retouched edge(s).

seasonal isolation: a form of reproductive isolation in which the breeding seasons of two closely related populations do not exactly correspond.

secondary burial: a human interment which was moved and re-buried aboriginally.

secondary center of ossification: an area of ossification, usually near the end of a long bone.

secondary datum: a local base measuring point at a known distance from the main horizontal or vertical datum points.

secondary deposit: a body of natural or cultural sediments which have been disturbed and re-transported since their original deposition.

secondary retouch: finishing or resharpening flaking done after the basic shape of a lithic tool has been completed.

secondary sexual characteristics: physical features other than the genitalia that distinguish males from females after puberty.

section: (1) a vertical cut (or exposure) through a body of sediments or a feature. (2) a one-square mile unit in the legal subdivision system.

sectorial premolar: a unicuspid first lower premolar with a shearing edge.

secular trend: the tendency over the last hundred or so years for each succeeding generation to mature earlier and become, on the average, larger.

sedentary pastoralism: animal husbandry that does not involve mobility.

sedentism: the practice of establishing a permanent, year-round settlement.

sediment: material that was suspended in water and that settles at the bottom of a body of water.

sedimentary beds: beds, or layers, of sediments; also called strata.

sedimentation: the accumulation of geological or organic material deposited by air, water, or ice.

sedimentology: a subset of geomorphology concerned with the investigation of the structure and texture of sediments i.e. the global term for material deposited on the earth's surface.

segmentary lineage: a descent group in which minimal lineages are encompassed as segments of minor lineages, minor lineages as segments of major lineages, and so on.

segmentary societies: relatively small and autonomous groups, usually of agriculturalists. who regulate their own affairs; in some cases, they may join together with other comparable segmentary societies to form a larger ethnic unit.

segregation: in the formation of sex cells, the process in which paired hereditary factors separate, forming sex cells that contain either one or the other factor.

seismic reflection profiler: an acoustic underwater survey device that uses the principle of echo-sounding to locate submerged landforms; in water depths of 100 m, this method can achieve penetration of more than 10 m into the sea-floor.

selective agent: any factor that brings about differences in fertility and mortality.

selective attention: unconscious focusing on and response to stimuli that are perceived to be important, to the exclusion of other stimuli.

selective coefficient: a numerical expression of the strength of a selective force operating on a specific genotype.

selective pressure: pressure placed by a selective agent upon certain individuals within the population that results in the change of allele frequencies in the next generation.

self-organization: the product of a theory derived from thermodynamics which demonstrates that order can arise spontaneously when systems are pushed far from an equilibrium state. The emergence of new structure arises at bifurcation points, or thresholds of instability (cf. catastrophe theory).

self-reducing tacheometer: a major surveying instrument (transit or alidade) which allows the direct read-out of true vertical and horizontal distances within the eye-piece without the use of trigonometric formulae or tables.

semantic domains: groups of related categories of meaning in a language.

semantics: the study of the larger system of meaning created by words.

senescence: old age.

serial monogamy: an exclusive union followed by divorce and remarriage, perhaps many times.

seriation: a relative dating technique based on the chronological ordering of a group of artifacts or assemblages, where the most similar are placed adjacent to each other in the series. Two types of seriation can be recognized, frequency seriation and contextual seriation.

serrated: notched or toothed. may refer to the edge of a tool.

serum: plasma after the clotting material has settled out.

settlement pattern: the spatial distribution of cultural activities across a landscape at a given moment in time.

sex chromosomes: the X and Y chromosomes. Normal males have one X and one Y; normal females have two X's.

sex-controlled trait: a trait that is expressed differently in males and females.

sex-limited trait: a trait that is expressed in only one of the sexes.

sexual dimorphism: the condition in which differences in structure exist between males and females of the same species.

sexual division of labor: the situation in which males and females in a society perform different tasks. In hunting-gathering societies males usually hunt while females usually gather wild vegetable food.

sexual isolation: a form of reproductive isolation in which one or both sexes of a species initiate mating behavior that does not act as a stimulus to the opposite sex of a closely related species.

sexual skin: skin in the anal region that turns bright pink or red and may swell when the animal is in estrus; found in the female of some primate species.

sexual stratification: the ranking of people in a society according to sex.

shaman: a medium of the supernatural who acts as a person in possession of unique curing, divining, or witchcraft capabilities.

shamanistic cult: that form of religion in which part-time religious specialists called shamans intervene with the deities on behalf of their clients.

sharecropping: working land owned by others for a share of the yield.

shared ancestral feature: compared with a shared derived feature, a homology that did not appear as recently and is therefore shared by a larger group of species.

shared derived feature: a recently appearing homology that is shared by a relatively small group of closely related taxa.

sharing clusters: among chimpanzees, temporary groups that form after hunting to eat the meat.

shell midden: a site formed of mainly concentrated shellfish remains.

shifting cultivation: (swidden, slash and burn) a form of plant cultivation in which seeds are planted in the fertile soil prepared by cutting and burning the natural growth; relatively short periods of cultivation on the land are followed by longer periods of fallow.

shovel-screening: a rapid excavation procedure in which the site matrix is shoveled directly through a screen (usually 1/4" mesh).

shovel-shaped incisors: incisors that have a scooped out shape on the tongue side of the tooth.

sickle-cell anemia: a disorder in individuals homozygous for hemoglobin S in which red blood cells will develop into a sickle shape that, in turn, will clog capillaries, resulting in anemia, heart failure, etc.
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