2.2 Overview of Archaeological Traditions

Overview of Archaeological Traditions (Level I)

by Christiane Cunnar, Human Relations Area Files

This exercise is designed for students to gain a better general understanding of archaeological traditions in terms of their locations, settlement systems, subsistence, relative time periods and other cultural markers.

Instructions for the “Traditions Summary” Exercise

Step 1. Select three (or more) archaeological traditions from the list found in eHRAF Archaeology (http://ehrafarchaeology.yale.edu) under Browse Traditions.

Step 2. In eHRAF Archaeology (http://ehrafarchaeology.yale.edu) click on Browse Cultures then on “Regions” where you will find the list of traditions (see above) classified into major geographic regions and countries. Please note that you will find an archaeological tradition name listed repeatedly under various country names. This demonstrates that often a tradition is not limited to one country but often crosses country and regional boundaries.

Step 3. Click on the “tradition summary” associated with a prehistoric tradition name. The tradition summary contains general information about the archaeological tradition as outlined in the headings and sub-headings below:

List of headings and subheadings in Tradition Summaries in eHRAF Archaeology

Orientation Economy
Absolute Time Period Subsistence
Relative Time Period Wild Foods
Location Domestic Foods
Diagnostic Material Attributes Industrial Arts
Regional Subtraditions Utensils
Important Sites Ornaments
Environment Division of Labor
Climate Differential Access or Control of Resources
Biota Religion and Expressive Culture
Settlements Religious Beliefs
Settlement Systems Religious Practitioners
Community Organization Ceremonies
Housing Arts
Population, Health, and Disease Medicine
Death and Afterlife
Sociopolitical Organization
Social Organization
Political Organization
Social Control

Step 4. Select five or more of the headings listed above and use these to compare and contrast the three (or more) archaeological traditions selected.





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