LOST WORLDS and ARCHAEOLOGY Paper Assignment #1


Paper Assignment #1 



The purpose of this assignment is to think about the importance of context when we are interpreting artifacts, ecofacts, and features. Proper context can only be understood by careful excavation.


  1. Watch and listen to the PowerPoint lecture called “IntroPart2.”
  2. Write a one page paper addressing the questions below, double spaced, with only your name at the top, not the date, course name, or anything else.
  3. Title your file [Last name_Paper1] and save as a .doc or .docx or .pdf
  4. Submit it to Dropbox (which is under the Assessments menu above)


Think about an object, perhaps in a museum or one that someone found on their property, but that was not properly excavated. You can use an artifact as an example, either one you can imagine or one from a museum collection online that has no context information.

a) Talk about what we can learn about it from just observing and examining it. What kinds of descriptions or measurements could we make? 

b) What are we losing out on, when we just have the object by itself without knowing the exact provenience, association, and matrix it came from? c) What kinds of additional information do we have, when we know the context of an object? Write about the other information we gain from excavation, such as dating (often association helps with dating), composition (what it’s made of), how it was used, where it was used (provenience helps tell what kind of building and room it was in), by whom, etc.

d) What are the dangers of making a lot of conclusions about a society from an object out of context? Could it be faked or not really that old?

If you want to use an ancient artifact in a museum as an example, you could use an artifact in the collections of the Art Institute in Chicago: https://www.artic.edu/collection?style_ids=ancient





Basically, you will watch the PowerPoint lecture and imagine that you have found an artifact (perhaps you have found something that looks like a prehistoric spear point at the river, or an old piece of jewelry in your backyard) and answer the questions on the instructions sheet. It only needs to be one page, double-spaced.