Glossary of Archaeological/Anthropological Terms


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GAFF __ l. a barbed fishing spear. 2. a shaft with a hook attached intended to aid the landing of large fish.

GALENA __ A lead ore, crystals and fragments of which were widely traded and used for ornamental purposes in Native North America.

GAMING PIECE __ An artifact often of stone, bone, or pottery which served as a token or counter in a game of chance or skill.

GANG (Chinese) __ Urn-shaped vessel

GARDENER __ A horticulturalist; one who relies only upon manpower for the nurture and harvesting of crops.

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. 

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. 

GENETIC DETERMINISM __ The idea that all behavior, including very specific behavior, is biologically based, in contrast to cultural determinism. 

GENETICS __ The study of the mechanisms of heredity and biological variation. 

GENUS __ A group of closely related species.

GEOCHEMICAL ANALYSIS __ The investigative technique which involves taking soil samples at regular intervals from the surface of a site, and measuring their phosphate content and other chemical properties.

GEOCHRONOLOGY (1) __ The study of the physical changes in the earth and the ordering of these events into proper sequence. 

GEOCHRONOLOGY (2) __ The use of such a chronology to date archaeological materials. 

GEOGRAPHIC COORDINATES __ The world-wide system of latitude and longitude used to define the location of any point on the earth's surface. 

GEOGRAPHICAL ISOLATION __ A form of reproductive isolation in which members of a population become separated from another population by geographical barriers that prevent the interchange of genes between the separated populations. 

GEOGRAPHICAL RACE __ A major division of humankind into large geographical areas wherein people resemble one another more closely than they resemble people in different geographical areas.

GEOLOGIST __ A person who studies the history of the earth and its life, especially as recorded in rocks.

GEOMAGNETIC REVERSALS __An aspect of archaeomagnetism relevant to the dating of the Lower Paleolithic, involving complete reversals in the earth's magnetic field. 
GEOMETRIC PERIOD __ Period of cultural development in Greece after the end of the Mycenean kingdom. Named after the geometric decoration typical of the time.

GEOMORPHOLOGY __ A subdiscipline of geography, concerned with the study of the form and development of the landscape, it includes such specializations as sedimentology. 

GEORADAR __ A technique used in ground reconnaissance, similar to soil-sounding radar, but with a much larger antenna and more extensive coverage. 

GESSO __ Mixture of glue and chalk or plaster applied to walls and objects producing a smooth finish.

GESTATION __ The period of time from conception to birth

GILL NET __ A kind of net suspended vertically in the water which snares fish by the gills as they attempt to swim through it.

GILL POUCHES __ Structures that form in the early human embryo and that are thought to be homologous to the gill slits of other chordates. 

GLACIAL LAKE __ A lake formed of ponded glacial meltwater, or by the damming of a drainage system by glacial activity. A "pro-glacial" lake has at least one margin formed by glacial ice. 

GLACIAL MAXIMUM __ The position and period of greatest advance of a glacier. 

GLACIATION __ The expansion of the polar ice caps and the covering of portions of the earth with large masses of ice and snow. At least four major periods of glaciation are recognized within the Pleistocene epoch: the Nebraskan, the Kansan, the Illinoian and most recently, the Wisconsinan.

GLAZE __ Glossy finish or covering on a surface. Glaze can be applied to pottery or can form as a coating on glass like materials during the heating process.

GLEYSOL __ A soil type which develops under boggy conditions. It is characterized by a grayish coloration, mottled appearance and a reduced concentration of iron and other elements.
GLOBULAR __ Shaped like a globe or sphere. When used in reference to pottery, it implies a generally rounded vessel shape.

GLOGER'S RULE __A rule which states that within the same species of endotherms, more heavily pigmented forms tend to be found near the equator and lighter forms away from the equator.

GLOTTOCHRONOLOGY __ A technique in linguistics used to date the amount of time elapsed since speakers of a once-common languge separated from one another. If a group of people becomes divided into two due to a migration or by some other means, their modes of speech will change differentially and after one or two thousand years they will be incapable of understanding each other. Since the rate of change in basic vocabulary is known and fairly constant (about l8% every thousand years) a comparison of the vocabularies of related languages can allow the calculation of the time of divergence.

GLYPH __ A character, symbol or picture carved in stone, metal or some other substance.

GORGE __ A small tool, often of bone, pointed at either end and equipped with a hole near its center for attachment to a line. It is baited and imbeds itself crosswise in the throat of fish or small game when the line is pulled.

GORGET __ An ornament usually worn over the chest which may be either suspended on a cord or attached directly to clothing.

GOUGE __ A chisel- with a broad groove ground into one face thus giving the bit a U-shape. These are often interpreted as woodworking tools.

GRAMMAR __ The formal structure of a language, comprising phonology, morphology, and syntax.

GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURE __ The rules for organizing elements of a language into meaningful utterances.

GRANITE __ Coarse-grained, light-colored igneous rock composed of quartz, feldspar and biotite or hornblende.

GRANULATION __ The soldering of grains of metal to a background, usually of the same metal, and much used by the Etruscans. 

GRAPHIC ARTS __ Those forms of art such as painting and drawing.

GRASSLAND __ An environment, such as prairie, upon which grasses dominate, either naturally or due to human intervention.

GRAVE __ A place where the dead are buried.

GRAVE ESCORT __ An individual who is killed and placed in the grave with a person of higher status so that he may accompany the latter to the afterlife and serve him.

GRAVE GOODS __ Objects (tools, weapons, ornaments, etc.) placed in the grave with the deceased so that he may use them in the afterlife or simply as an expression of affection for the individual.

GRAVEL __ A mixture of sand, pebbles, and small cobbles which range in diameter from 2 to 200 mm.
GRAVER __ A small, sharp-pointed tool used for engraving or incising bone, antler, ivory, wood, etc.

GREAT APES __ The orangutan from Asia and the common chimpanzee, bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee), and gorilla from Africa. 

GREAT ENGLISH VOWEL SHIFT __ A linguistic change during the Middle English period, when speakers of English began to alter the sounds of vowels, eventually changing all vowel sounds in the language.

GREAT PYRAMID __ The only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing today. Located on the Giza plateau in Egypt, it was built by 30,000 workers during the reign of King Khufu (who was also known as Cheops; c. 2551-2528 B.C.). The pyramid was once 481 feet high, but today it is 451 feet high.

GREAVES __ Bronze shin guards worn by Greek soldiers.

GRID __ A network of uniformly spaced squares that divides a site into units; used to measure and record an object's position in space.

GRIFFIN __ Mythological beast with the head, forelegs and wings of an eagle and the body and hind legs of a lion.

GRINDING __ The shaping of an object or the dulling of an edge by means of abrasion with another object or substance. basal grinding. the smoothing of the proximal end of a tool (especially a projectile point) so that it will not cut through its bindings after hafting. lateral grinding. intentional smoothing of the blade edges of a tool (especially a projectile point) so that it will not cut through its bindings after being hafted.

GRINDING STONE __ Abrader; shaft smoother; whetstone; any coarse-grained stone used to sharpen, dull, shape or polish other tools by abrasion.

GRIT AND GROG TEMPERED POTTERY __ Sand (grit) and crushed pottery sherds (grog) mixed in the unfired clay to make ceramic vessels stronger. These inclusions prevented the rapid expansion of the paste as the clay's water content was boiled away when the pottery was fired.

GROOMING __ In primates, the activity of going through the fur with hand or teeth to remove insects, dirt, twigs, dead skin, etc.; also acts as display of affection.

GROOMING CLUSTER __ A small group of closely related females that engage in a high degree of grooming.

GROUND RECONNAISSANCE __ A collective name for a wide variety of methods for identifying individual archaeological sites, including consultation of documentary sources, place-name evidence, local folklore, and legend, but primarily actual fieldwork. 

GROUND RUNNING AND WALKING __ A form of quadrupedalism in which the animal walks on the ground using the hands and the feet; the palms of the hand are flat on the ground. 

GROUND STONE __ Stone artifacts shaped by sawing, grinding, and/or polishing with abrasive materials (e.g. "ground slate knives", "polished soapstone pendants" etc.).
GROUND WATER __ Fresh water found under the surface of the Earth (usually in aquifers) that often supplies wells and springs. Also referred to as underground water and subsurface water.

GROUP __ A number of individuals who interact on a regular basis and have a sense of collective identity.

GU (Chinese) __ Narrow-waisted wine-drinking vessel.

GUI (Chinese) __ Vessel for food offering

GULF OF CALIFORNIA __ Also known as the Sea of Cortez, it is the body of water separating Baja, California from the rest of Mexico. The Colorado River empties into the gulf.

GUN FLINT __ A square blade-segment of flint used to ignite the powder charge of a flint-lock gun. Often mistaken for an aboriginal artifact.


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