participant observation: actual participation in a culture by an investigator, who seeks to gam social acceptance in the society as a means to acquire understanding of her or his observations.
pastoralism: a form of social organization based on herding.
patination (patina): crust formed on an artifact by chemical alteration of its surface or accretion of calcium carbonate.
patriclan: a group that claims but cannot brace their descent through the male line from a common male ancestor.
patrilineage: a lineage whose members brace their genealogies through specified male links to a common male ancestor.
patrilineal descent group: a unilineal descent group in which membership is inherited through the paternal line.
patrilineal descent: descent traced through the male line.
patrilocal postmarital residence: a custom where by a married couple resides in the household or vicinity of the husband's parents.
patrilocal residence: residence of a married couple with or near the husband's kin.
patrimonial system: a system of ownership, followed in northern and central Europe during the Middle Ages, in which land was controlled by feudal lords who held their domains by hereditary right.
patron client relationship: a mutually obligatory arrangement between an individual who has authority, social status, wealth, or some other personal resource (the patron) and another person who benefits from his or her support or influence (the client).
peasants: farmers who lack control over the means of their production--the land, the other resources, and the capital they need to grow their crops, and the labor they contribute to the process.
pebble tool: a natural rounded pebble manufactured into a simple cutting tool by the removal of a few percussion flakes, usually unifacially on one edge.
pecking (also "pecking and grinding"): the process of manufacturing heavy-duty stone tools (bowls, mauls etc.) from granular rocks by prolonged hammering with a hammerstone. Abrasive techniques might be used to finish the piece.
pedestal: a raised area isolated around important excavated materials to facilitate their study.
pedigree: a diagrammatic reconstruction of past mating in a family.
pedology: the scientific study and classification of soils.
peer-polity interaction: the full range of exchanges taking place -- including imitation, emulation, competition, warfare, and the exchange of material goods and information -- between autonomous (self-governing) sociopolitical units, generally within the same geographic region.
pendant: any ornamental object designed for suspension.
penetrance: the degree to which an allele is expressed in the phenotype.
pentadactylism: the presence of five digits on the hand and/or foot.
peptide bond: a link between amino acids in a protein.
percussion flaking (also "direct percussion flaking"): the technique of shaping stone artifacts by removing flakes with direct blows with a hammer of stone, antler, or wood.
pericentric inversion: a type of inversion in which two breaks occur in a chromosome, one on either side of the centromere, and the centerpiece becomes fumed around and rejoined with the two outside pieces.
periglacial phenomena (also "cryoturbation"): a general term for disturbance of surficial deposits caused by frost action. Most prevalent in areas of permafrost and can be very damaging to archaeological sites.
period: a unit of geological time; a division of an era.
peripheralization: the process whereby an adolescent animal encounters aggressive behavior from adults and gradually moves away from the group over time.
permanent teeth The second set of teeth that erupt in mammals. Humans have thirty-two permanent teeth.
petrified wood: agatized wood, sometimes used as a raw material for the manufacture of flaked stone artifacts. Often banded or laminated and of variable color.
petroglyph: pictures, symbols, or other art work pecked, carved or incised on natural rock surfaces.
pH: The measurement of acidity or alkalinity. A pH of 7 is neutral; less than 7 is acid; greater than 7 is basic or alkaline.
phase (also "focus"): a chronologically limited cultural unit within a local culture sequence, characterized by sufficient diagnostic traits to set it apart from all other units. A phase is generally represented by 2 or more components in several sites and is the basic classificatory unit of archaeological "cultures".
phenotype: the observable and measurable characteristics of an organism.
phenylketonuria (PKU): a genetic disease, inherited as a recessive, brought about by the absence of the enzyme responsible for the conversion of the amino acid phenylalanine to tyrosine. Phenylalanine accumulates in the blood and then breaks down into by-products that cause severe mental retardation in addition to other symptoms.
phenylthiocarbamide (PTC): an artificially created substance whose main use is in detecting the ability to taste it. The ability to taste PTC is inherited as a dominant.
phoneme: a class of sounds that differ slightly from one another but that may be substituted for one another without any change of meaning.
phonology: the sound system of a language.
phosphate unit: a unit of the DNA molecule consisting of a phosphate and four oxygen atoms.
photo-mosaic: a number of overlapping photographs glued together to provide continuous coverage of a large area. Aerial photographic mosaics are used in the production of modern topographic maps.
photogrammetry: the science of obtaining accurate measurements and maps from photographs.
phratry: a group that typically consists of several clans that extend the rights and obligations of kinship to one another but retain distinct identities.
phyletic gradualism model: the idea that evolution is a slow process with gradual transformation of one population into another.
phyllite: a soft laminated shale-like rock used for the manufacture of decorative objects such as pendants and beads.
phylogenetic tree: a graphic representation of evolutionary relationships among animal species.
phylogeny: the evolutionary history of a species.
phylum: a major division of a kingdom, consisting of closely related classes; represents a basic body plan.
physical anthropology: the scientific study of the physical characteristics, variability, and evolution of the human organism.
physical environment: the complex of inanimate elements that surround an organism.
phytoliths: minute particles of silica derived from the cells of plants, able to survive alter the organism has decomposed or been burned. They are common in ash layers, pottery, and even on stone tools.
pictograph: aboriginally painted designs on natural rock surfaces. Red ochre is the most frequently used pigment and natural or abstract motifs may be represented.
pidgin: a language based on a simplified grammar and lexicon taken from one or more fully developed languages.
piece esquillee (fr. "splintered piece"): a type of flaked stone artifact manufactured by the bipolar percussion technique. Generally characterized by a lenticular or wedge-shaped cross-section; opposed bifacial crushing, battering and hinge-fracturing; and frequently relatively long columnar "blade-like" flake scars.
pinger (or boomer profiler): an underwater survey device, more powerful than sidescan sonar, capable of probing up to 60 m (197 ft) below the seabed.
pipestone: any soft stone used in the manufacture of aboriginal smoking pipes.
piston corer: a device for extracting columns of sediment from the ocean floor. Dates for the different layers are obtained by radiocarbon, archaeomagnetic, or uranium series methods.
pithouse: a semi-subterranean "earth-lodge" dwelling. Usually consisted of an earth-covered log framework roof over a circular to rectangular excavation.
placenta: an organ that develops from fetal membranes and functions to pass oxygen, nutrients, and other substances to and waste material from the fetus.
placental mammals: members of the infraclass Eutheria of the class Mammalia; mammals that form a placenta.
placoderm: a member of the extinct class of early jawed vertebrates.
plane-table mapping: the construction of small-scale topographic maps, on the site, by use of an alidade, plane-table, and stadia-rod.
plane-table: a small drawing table mounted on a tripod in such a way that it can be leveled and rotated. Provides the base for the alidade in plane-table mapping.
plasma membrane: a structure that binds the cell but allows for the entry and exit of certain substances.
plasma: the liquid portion of the blood containing salts, sugars, fats, amino acids, hormones, plasma, proteins, etc.
plastic arts: those forms of art such as sculpture, carving, pottery, and weaving.
plate tectonics: the theory that the surface of the earth is divided into a number of plates that move in relationship to each other. Some of these plates carry the continents.
platelets: cell fragments in the blood that function in blood clotting.
plating: a method of bonding metals together, for instance silver with copper or copper with gold.
platycephalic: having a low and relatively flat forehead.
platyrrhine nose: a nose in which the nostrils open sideways and are usually separated by a broad nasal septum; characteristic of the New World monkeys.
Platyrrhini: infraorder of the order Primates that includes the New World monkeys and various New World fossil taxa.
play group: a group of juveniles within a larger social unit that engage in play behavior.
play: energetic and repetitive activity engaged in primarily by infants and juveniles.
pleiotropy: a situation in which a single allele may affect an entire series of traits.
Pleistocene: the latest major geological epoch, colloquially known as the "Ice Age" due to the multiple expansion and retreat of glaciers. Ca. 3.000,000-10,000 years B.P.
plesiomorphic: in cladistics, this term describes primitive or generalized characteristics that arose early in the evolutionary history of a taxonomic group. These will be very widespread and will therefore not help in dividing the group into lower-level taxa.
pneumatized: the presence of air spaces within some bones of the skull.
point mutation: an error at a particular point on the DNA molecule.
polar bodies: cells that develop in oogenesis, contain little cytoplasm, and do not develop into mature ova.
political economy approach: assumes that I peasants rationally calculate the advantages.
politics: the process by which a community's decisions are made, rules for group behavior are established, competition for positions of leadership is regulated, and the disruptive effects of disputes are minimized.
polity: a politically independent or autonomous social unit, whether simple or complex, which may in the case of a complex society (such as a state) comprise many lesser dependent components.
pollen analysis: see palynology.
polyandry: marriage between one woman and two or more men simultaneously.
polygamy: plural marriage.
polygenic: the result of the interaction of several genes.
polygyny: marriage between one man and two or more women simultaneously.
polymorphism: the presence of several distinct forms of a gene or phenotypic trait within a population with frequencies greater than 1 percent.
polypeptide: a chain of amino acids.
polyphyodonty: the continuous replacement of teeth such as occurs in reptiles.
polytheism: belief in many gods.
polytypic: a situation in which a species is composed of several distinct populations.
Pongidae: family within the superfamily Hominoidea that consists of the orangutan.
populationist viewpoint: the concept that only individuals have reality and that the type is illusory. Since no two individuals are exactly alike, variation underlies all existence.
positive eugenics: a method of increasing the frequency of desirable traits by encouraging reproduction by individuals with these traits.
positive feedback: a term used in systems thinking to describe a response in which changing output conditions in the system stimulate further growth in the input; one of the principal factors in generating system change or morphogenesis (see also multiplier effect).
positivism: theoretical position that explanations must be empirically verifiable, that there are universal laws in the structure and transformation of human institutions, and that theories which incorporate individualistic elements, such as minds, are not verifiable.
post-contact period (also "historic period"): refers to the period following the first arrival of Europeans.
post-mold: the impression, stain, or cavity, left in the ground by a rotted wooden post.
post-partum sex taboo: the prohibition of a woman from having sexual intercourse for a specified period of time following the birth of a child.
postmating mechanism: any form of reproductive isolation that occurs after mating.
postorbital bar: a feature of the skull formed by a downward extension of the frontal bone that supports the eye.
postorbital constriction: as seen from the top view, a marked constriction in the skull immediately behind the orbits and supraorbital torus.
postorbital septum: a bony petition behind the eye that isolates the eye from the muscles of the jaw and forms a bony eye socket, or orbit, in which the eye lies.
postprocessual explanation: Explanation formulated in reaction to the perceived limitations of functional-processual archaeology. It eschews generalization in favor of an "individualizing" approach that is influenced by structuralism, Critical Theory, and neo-Marxist thought.
pot-hunter: an "amateur archaeologist" who vandalizes and destroys sites to add to his private collection, or for monetary gain.
pot-lid fracture: a circular flake removed from cryptocrystalline materials by sudden heating. Leaves a small saucer-shaped depression in the surface of the stone.
potassium argon dating: a chronometric dating technique based on the rate of decay of potassium 40 to argon 40. Used to date rocks up to thousands of millions of years old though it is restricted to volcanic material no more recent than c 100 000 years old. One of the most widely used methods in the dating of early hominid sites in Africa.
potlatch: a form of competitive giveaway found among the Northwest Coast American Indians that serves as a mechanism for both achieving social status and distributing goods.
power grip: a grip in which an object is held between the fingers and the palm with the thumb reinforcing the fingers.
power: the ability to exert influence because one's directives are backed by negative sanctions of some sort.
pre-ceramic period: the period prior to the introduction of ceramic artifacts.
pre-contact: refers to the period before the first arrival of europeans in a given area.
Pre-Wisconsinan: prior to the Wisconsinan glacial period or older than about 70,000 B.P.
preadaptation: the potential to adapt to a new niche.
prebendal system: a system of ownership common in the centralized bureaucratic states that arose in China, Mogul India, Peru, and the Ottoman Empire, in which land was temporarily assigned to administrators or tax collectors by the ruler.
precision handling: a situation in which an object is held between one or more fingers with the thumb fully opposed to the fingertips.
preform: an early preliminary stage in the reduction-manufacture of a flaked stone artifact.
prehensile tail: a tail found in some New World monkeys that has the ability to grasp.
prehistoric: the period prior to written records for any given area. In North America synonymous with
prehistory: the period of human history before the advent of writing.
premating mechanism: a form of reproductive isolation that prevents mating from occurring.
prenatal: the period of an individual's life cycle from conception to birth.
presenting: a behavior in which a subordinate primate shows his or her anal region to a dominant animal.
preservation potential: the probability of a bone's being preserved after death.
pressure flaking: the technique of shaping tools from cryptocrystalline or fine-grained rocks by pressing off small concoidal flakes by flaking.tools of antler or bone.
prestige goods: a term used to designate a limited range of exchange goods to which a society ascribes high status or value.
primary center of ossification: the area of first appearance of bone within the cartilage model of a long bone.
primary context: the original depositional situation, unaffected by any later disturbance.
primary deposit: a primary deposit is a body of sediments which have not been significantly disturbed since their original deposition.
primary flakes: the first series of flakes removed from a core or nucleus in the process of tool manufacture.
Primates: order of the class Mammalia that includes the living prosimians, tarsiers, New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, lesser apes, great apes, and humans.
primatology: the study of living nonhuman primates.
primitive valuables: a term coined by Dalton to describe the tokens of wealth and prestige, often of specially valued items, that were used in the ceremonial exchange systems of non-state societies; examples include the shell necklaces and bracelets of the kula systems (cf. prestige goods).
primitive: a derogatory term used to describe small-scale, preliterate, and technologically simple societies.
prion: a microscopic particle that causes nervous system diseases in nonhuman animals and has been implicated as the cause of kuru. The prion appears to be composed of protein and lacks any nucleic acid.
probabilistic sampling: sampling method, employing probability theory, designed to draw reliable general conclusions about a site or region, based on small sample areas. Four types of sampling strategies are recognized: (1) simple random sampling; (2) stratified random sampling; (3) systematic sampling; (4) stratified systematic sampling.
processors: hunter-gatherers who occupy one permanent settlement, from which they move to temporary camps to exploit seasonally available resources (a foraging pattern).
processual archaeology: an approach that stresses the dynamic relationship between social and economic aspects of culture and the environment as the basis for understanding the processes of culture, change. Uses the scientific methodology of problem statement, hypothesis formulation, and subsequent testing. The earlier functional-processual archaeology has been contrasted with cognitive-processual archaeology, where the emphasis is on integrating ideological and symbolic aspects.
Proconsulidae: Miocene hominoids from Africa.
production: the conversion of natural resources to usable forms.
productive life span: the period bounded by the culturally established ages at which a person ideally enters and retires from the work force.
productivity: the amount of work a person accomplishes in a given period of time.
profane: the sphere of the ordinary and routine; the everyday, natural world.
profile drawing: a precise scale drawing of the strata and horizons revealed in the walls of an excavation or other exposure. A section which has been drawn is said to have been "profiled".
profile: a section, or exposure of the ground, showing depositional or developmental strata or horizons.
prognathism: a jutting forward of the facial skeleton and jaws.
projectile point: An inclusive term for arrow, spear or dart-points. Characterized by a symmetrical point, a relatively thin cross-section and some element to allow attachment to the projectile shaft. Flaked stone projectile points are usually classified by their outline form.
prokaryote: a cell, more primitive than a eukaryote, having no nucleus. Prokaryotes include bacteria and blue-green algae.
pronograde: a posture in which the body is held parallel to the ground.
Propliopithecidae: family of the infraorder Catarrhini from the Middle Oligocene to Late Miocene of Africa and Europe that may have given rise to the Old World monkeys and the hominoids.
prosimians: members of the suborder Prosimii, including the living Madagascar lemuriformes and the lorises, potto, angwantibo, and galagos.
Prosimii: suborder of the order Primates that includes the living Madagascar lemuriformes and the lorises, potto, angwantibo, and galagos.
protein-caloric malnutrition: a class of malnutrition that includes kwashiorkor and marasmus.
protein: a long chain of amino acids joined together by peptide bonds (a polypeptide chain).
protoculture: the simplest or beginning aspects of culture as seen in some nonhuman primates.
protohistoric: a period prior to the beginning of written records in an area, but after that area has been initially mentioned in reports written elsewhere.
proton magnetometer: a device used in subsurface detection which records variation in the earth's magnetic field.
prototherian mammals: mammals belonging to the subclass Prototheria; monotremes or egg-laying mammals.
provenience: the horizontal and/or vertical position of an object in relation to a set of spatial coordinates.
provisional site designation: a temporary code or number applied to newly located sites during site-surveying, until a final Borden System number can be assigned.
provisionized colony: groups of free-ranging primates that have become accustomed to humans because of the establishment of feeding stations.