Journal of Archaeological Science

The Journal of Archaeological Science is a peer-reviewed academic journal that covers "the development and application of scientific techniques and methodologies to all areas of archaeology".[1] The journal was established in 1974 by Academic Press and is currently published by Elsevier.

Journal of Archaeological Science
Edited byR. Torrence, Th. Rehren
Publication details
Publication history
Standard abbreviations
J. Archaeol. Sci.
ISSN0305-4403 (print)
1095-9238 (web)
OCLC no.1795941

Abstracting and indexing

The journal is abstracted or indexed in:[2]


  1. ^ "Journal of Archaeological Science". Elsevier. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  2. ^ "Journal of Archaeological Science". Ulrichsweb. ProQuest. Retrieved 16 December 2011.

External links

Official website

2005 in archaeology

The year 2005 in archaeology involved some significant events.

Blombos Cave

Blombos Cave is an archaeological site located in Blomboschfontein Nature Reserve, about 300 km east of Cape Town on the Southern Cape coastline, South Africa. The cave contains Middle Stone Age (MSA) deposits currently dated at between c. 100,000 and 70,000 years Before Present (BP), and a Late Stone Age sequence dated at between 2000 and 300 years BP. The cave site was first excavated in 1991 and field work has been conducted there on a regular basis since 1997, and is ongoing.The excavations at Blombos Cave have yielded important new information on the behavioural evolution of anatomically modern humans. The archaeological record from this cave site has been central in the ongoing debate on the cognitive and cultural origin of early humans and to the current understanding of when and where key behavioural innovations emerged among Homo sapiens in southern Africa during the Late Pleistocene. Archaeological material and faunal remains recovered from the Middle Stone Age phase in Blombos Cave – dated to ca. 100,000–70,000 years BP – are considered to represent greater ecological niche adaptation, a more diverse set of subsistence and procurements strategies, adoption of multi-step technology and manufacture of composite tools, stylistic elaboration, increased economic and social organisation and occurrence of symbolically mediated behaviour.

The most informative archaeological material from Blombos Cave includes engraved ochre, engraved bone ochre processing kits, marine shell beads, refined bone and stone tools and a broad range of terrestrial and marine faunal remains, including shellfish, birds, tortoise and ostrich egg shell and mammals of various sizes. These findings, together with subsequent re-analysis and excavation of other Middle Stone Age sites in southern Africa, have resulted in a paradigm shift with regard to the understanding of the timing and location of the development of modern human behaviour.

On 29 May 2015 Heritage Western Cape formally protected the site as a provincial heritage site.Cross-hatching done in ochre on a stone fragment found at Blombos Cave is believed to be the earliest known drawing done by a human in the world.


A crucible is a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures. While crucibles historically were usually made from clay, they can be made from any material that withstands temperatures high enough to melt or otherwise alter its contents.


Debitage is all the material produced during the process of lithic reduction and the production of chipped stone tools. This assemblage includes, but is not limited to, different kinds of lithic flakes and lithic blades, shatter and production debris, and production rejects.

Denticulate tool

In archeology, a denticulate tool is a stone tool containing one or more edges that are worked into multiple notched shapes (or teeth), much like the toothed edge of a saw. Indeed, such tools have been used as saws, more likely for meat processing than for wood. It is possible, however, that some or all of these notches were used for smoothing wooden shafts or for similar purposes.

These tools are included in the Mousterian tool industry by Neanderthal culture, proceeded by small hand axes and side scrapers.

El Castillo, Chichen Itza

El Castillo (Spanish pronunciation: [el kas'tiʎo], Spanish for "the castle"), also known as the Temple of Kukulcan (or sometimes Kukulkan), is a Mesoamerican step-pyramid that dominates the center of the Chichen Itza archaeological site in the Mexican state of Yucatán. The building is more formally designated by archaeologists as Chichen Itza Structure 5B18.

Built by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries CE, El Castillo served as a temple to the god Kukulkan, the Yucatec Maya Feathered Serpent deity closely related to the god Quetzalcoatl known to the Aztecs and other central Mexican cultures of the Postclassic period.

The pyramid consists of a series of square terraces with stairways up each of the four sides to the temple on top. Sculptures of plumed serpents run down the sides of the northern balustrade. Around the spring and autumn equinoxes, the late afternoon sun strikes off the northwest corner of the pyramid and casts a series of triangular shadows against the northwest balustrade, creating the illusion of a feathered serpent "crawling" down the pyramid. The event has been very popular and is witnessed by thousands of visitors at the spring equinox, but it is questionable whether it is a result of a purposeful design, because the light-and-shadow effect can be observed, without major changes, during several weeks around the equinoxes. Each of the pyramid's four sides has 91 steps which, when added together and including the temple platform on top as the final "step", produces a total of 365 steps (which is equal to the number of days of the Haab' year).The structure is 24 m (79 ft) high, plus an additional 6 m (20 ft) for the temple. The square base measures 55.3 m (181 ft) across.

El Mirón

El Mirón is a municipality located in the province of Ávila, Castile and León, Spain. According to the 2006 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 198 inhabitants. The number increased to 207 in 2012.The name came into attention upon the discovery an Upper Paleolithic (Magdalenian) skeleton in 2015 from the El Mirón Cave. The skeleton was that of a woman and is coated with ochre (a red pigment), hence she is nicknamed The Red Lady of El Mirón. The woman is about 35 to 40 years of age, and was buried around 18,700 years ago.

Experimental archaeology

Experimental archaeology (also called experiment archaeology and experiential archaeology) is a field of study which attempts to generate and test archaeological hypotheses, usually by replicating or approximating the feasibility of ancient cultures performing various tasks or feats. It employs a number of methods, techniques, analyses, and approaches, based upon archaeological source material such as ancient structures or artifacts.It is distinct from uses of primitive technology without any concern for archaeological or historical study. Living history and historical reenactment, which are generally undertaken as a hobby, are the non archaeological person's version of this academic discipline.

One of the main forms of experimental archaeology is the creation of copies of historical structures using only historically accurate technologies. This is sometimes known as reconstruction archaeology or reconstructional archaeology; however, reconstruction implies an exact replica of the past, when it is in fact just a construction of one person's idea of the past; the more archaeologically correct term is a working construction of the past. In recent years, experimental archaeology has been featured in several television productions, such as BBC's "Building the Impossible" and the PBS's Secrets of Lost Empires. Most notable were the attempts to create several of Leonardo da Vinci's designs from his sketchbooks, such as his 15th century armed fighting vehicle.

Glynis Jones (archaeologist)

Glynis Eleanor Jones FBA is a British archaeobotanist, who is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield.

Howiesons Poort

Howiesons Poort (also called HP) is a lithic technology cultural period in the Middle Stone Age in Africa named after the Howieson’s Poort Shelter archeological site near Grahamstown in South Africa. Research published in 2008 showed it lasted around 5,000 years between roughly 65,800 BP and 59,500 BP.Humans of this period as in the earlier Stillbay cultural period showed signs of having used symbolism and having engaged in the cultural exchange of gifts.Howiesons Poort culture is characterized by tools that seemingly anticipate many of the characteristics, 'Running ahead of time', of those found in the Upper Palaeolithic period that started 25,000 years later around 40,000 BP. Howiesons Poort culture has been described as “both ‘modern’ and ‘non-modern’”.

Levallois technique

The Levallois technique (IPA: [lə.va.lwa]) is a name given by archaeologists to a distinctive type of stone knapping developed by precursors to modern humans during the Palaeolithic period.

It is named after nineteenth-century finds of flint tools in the Levallois-Perret suburb of Paris, France. The technique was more sophisticated than earlier methods of lithic reduction, involving the striking of lithic flakes from a prepared lithic core. A striking platform is formed at one end and then the core's edges are trimmed by flaking off pieces around the outline of the intended lithic flake. This creates a domed shape on the side of the core, known as a tortoise core, as the various scars and rounded form are reminiscent of a tortoise's shell. When the striking platform is finally hit, a lithic flake separates from the lithic core with a distinctive plano-convex profile and with all of its edges sharpened by the earlier trimming work.

This method provides much greater control over the size and shape of the final flake which would then be employed as a scraper or knife although the technique could also be adapted to produce projectile points known as Levallois points. Scientists consider the Levallois complex to be a Mode 3 technology, as a result of its diachronic variability. This is one level superior to the Acheulean complex of the Lower Paleolithic.

Lithic analysis

In archaeology, lithic analysis is the analysis of stone tools and other chipped stone artifacts using basic scientific techniques. At its most basic level, lithic analyses involve an analysis of the artifact’s morphology, the measurement of various physical attributes, and examining other visible features (such as noting the presence or absence of cortex, for example).

The term 'lithic analysis' can technically refer to the study of any anthropogenic (human-created) stone, but in its usual sense it is applied to archaeological material that was produced through lithic reduction (knapping) or ground stone. A thorough understanding of the lithic reduction and ground stone processes, in combination with the use of statistics, can allow the analyst to draw conclusions concerning the type of lithic manufacturing techniques used at a prehistoric archaeological site. For example, they can make certain equation between each the factors of flake to predict original shape. These data can then be used to draw an understanding of socioeconomic and cultural organization.

The term knapped is synonymous with "chipped" or "struck", but is preferred by some analysts because it signifies intentionality and process. Ground stone generally refers to any tool made by a combination of flaking, pecking, pounding, grinding, drilling, and incising, and includes things such as mortars/metates, pestles (or manos), grinding slabs, hammerstones, grooved and perforated stones, axes, etc., which appear in all human cultures in some form. Among the tool types analyzed are projectile points, bifaces, unifaces, ground stone artifacts, and lithic reduction by-products (debitage) such as flakes and cores.

Lithic reduction

In archaeology, in particular of the Stone Age, lithic reduction is the process of fashioning stones or rocks from their natural state into tools or weapons by removing some parts. It has been intensely studied and many archaeological industries are identified almost entirely by the lithic analysis of the precise style of their tools and the chaîne opératoire of the reduction techniques they used.

Normally the starting point is the selection of a piece of tool stone that has been detached by natural geological processes, and is an appropriate size and shape. In some cases solid rock or larger boulders may be quarried and broken into suitable smaller pieces, and in others the starting point may be a piece of the debitage, a flake removed from a previous operation to make a larger tool. The selected piece is called the lithic core (also known as the "objective piece"). A basic distinction is that between flaked or chipped stone, the main subject here, and ground stone objects made by grinding. Flaked stone reduction involves the use of a hard hammer percussor, such as a hammerstone, a soft hammer fabricator (made of wood, bone or antler), or a wood or antler punch to detach lithic flakes from the lithic core. As flakes are detached in sequence, the original mass of stone is reduced; hence the term for this process. Lithic reduction may be performed in order to obtain sharp flakes, of which a variety of tools can be made, or to rough out a blank for later refinement into a projectile point, knife, or other object. Flakes of regular size that are at least twice as long as they are broad are called blades. Lithic tools produced this way may be bifacial (exhibiting flaking on both sides) or unifacial (exhibiting flaking on one side only).

Cryptocrystalline or amorphous stone such as chert, flint, obsidian, and chalcedony, as well as other fine-grained stone material, such as rhyolite, felsite, and quartzite, were used as a source material for producing stone tools. As these materials lack natural planes of separation, conchoidal fractures occur when they are struck with sufficient force; for these stones this process is called knapping. The propagation of force through the material takes the form of a Hertzian cone that originates from the point of impact and results in the separation of material from the objective piece, usually in the form of a partial cone, commonly known as a lithic flake. This process is predictable, and allows the flintknapper to control and direct the application of force so as to shape the material being worked. Controlled experiments may be performed using glass cores and consistent applied force in order to determine how varying factors affect core reduction.It has been shown that stages in the lithic reduction sequence may be misleading and that a better way to assess the data is by looking at it as a continuum. The assumptions that archaeologists sometimes make regarding the reduction sequence based on the placement of a flake into a stage can be unfounded. For example, a significant amount of cortex can be present on a flake taken off near the very end of the reduction sequence. Removed flakes exhibit features characteristic of conchoidal fracturing, including striking platforms, bulbs of force, and occasionally eraillures (small secondary flakes detached from the flake's bulb of force). Flakes are often quite sharp, with distal edges only a few molecules thick when they have a feather termination. These flakes can be used directly as tools or modified into other utilitarian implements, such as spokeshaves and scrapers.

Luminescence dating

Luminescence dating refers to a group of methods of determining how long ago mineral grains were last exposed to sunlight or sufficient heating. It is useful to geologists and archaeologists who want to know when such an event occurred. It uses various methods to stimulate and measure luminescence.

It includes techniques such as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL), and thermoluminescence dating (TL). "Optical dating" typically refers to OSL and IRSL, but not TL.

Meteoric iron

Meteoric iron, sometimes meteoritic iron, is a native metal found in meteorites and made from the elements iron and nickel mainly in the form of the mineral phases kamacite and taenite. Meteoric iron makes up the bulk of iron meteorites but is also found in other meteorites. Apart from minor amounts of telluric iron, meteoric iron is the only naturally occurring native metal of the element iron on the Earth's surface.

Obsidian hydration dating

Obsidian hydration dating (OHD) is a geochemical method of determining age in either absolute or relative terms of an artifact made of obsidian.

Obsidian is a volcanic glass that was used by prehistoric people as a raw material in the manufacture of stone tools such as projectile points, knives, or other cutting tools through knapping, or breaking off pieces in a controlled manner, such as pressure flaking.

Obsidian obeys the property of mineral hydration, and absorbs water, when exposed to air, at well defined rate. When an unworked nodule of obsidian is initially fractured, there is typically less than 1% water present. Over time, water slowly diffuses into the artifact forming a narrow "band," "rim," or "rind" that can be seen and measured with many different techniques such as a high-power microscope with 40-80 power magnification, depth profiling with SIMS (secondary ion mass spectrometry), and IR-PAS (infra red photoacoustic spectroscopy). In order to use obsidian hydration for absolute dating, the conditions that the sample has been exposed to and its origin must be understood or compared to samples of a known age (e.g. as a result of radiocarbon dating of associated materials).


A pyre (Ancient Greek: πυρά; pyrá, from πῦρ, pyr, "fire"), also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite or execution. As a form of cremation, a body is placed upon or under the pyre, which is then set on fire.

In discussing ancient Greek religion, "pyre" (the normal Greek word for fire anglicized) is also used for the sacred fires at altars, on which parts of the animal sacrifice were burnt as an offering to the deity.

Research data archiving

Research data archiving is the long-term storage of scholarly research data, including the natural sciences, social sciences, and life sciences. The various academic journals have differing policies regarding how much of their data and methods researchers are required to store in a public archive, and what is actually archived varies widely between different disciplines. Similarly, the major grant-giving institutions have varying attitudes towards public archival of data. In general, the tradition of science has been for publications to contain sufficient information to allow fellow researchers to replicate and therefore test the research. In recent years this approach has become increasingly strained as research in some areas depends on large datasets which cannot easily be replicated independently.

Data archiving is more important in some fields than others. In a few fields, all of the data necessary to replicate the work is already available in the journal article. In drug development, a great deal of data is generated and must be archived so researchers can verify that the reports the drug companies publish accurately reflect the data.

The requirement of data archiving is a recent development in the history of science. It was made possible by advances in information technology allowing large amounts of data to be stored and accessed from central locations. For example, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) adopted their first policy on data archiving in 1993, about three years after the beginning of the WWW. This policy mandates that datasets cited in AGU papers must be archived by a recognised data center; it permits the creation of "data papers"; and it establishes AGU's role in maintaining data archives. But it makes no requirements on paper authors to archive their data.

Prior to organized data archiving, researchers wanting to evaluate or replicate a paper would have to request data and methods information from the author. The academic community expects authors to share supplemental data. This process was recognized as wasteful of time and energy and obtained mixed results. Information could become lost or corrupted over the years. In some cases, authors simply refuse to provide the information.

The need for data archiving and due diligence is greatly increased when the research deals with health issues or public policy formation.

Soot tattoo

Soot tattoos are a cutaneous condition that may be a sign of drug abuse, a condition produced by injections of residual carbon on the needle after flaming of the tip.

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