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Fundamentals of Archaeological Anthropology

BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment July 2021 & Jan 2022


Q 1. What is Archaeological Anthropology? Describe the history of development of prehistoric archaeology in India.

Ans: Archaeological Anthropology: Anthropology is the study of Humans. Etymologically the term ‘Anthropology’ is derived from two different Greek words, ‘Anthropos’ meaning man and ‘logos’ refers to study.

Hence Anthropology can be defined as the holistic study of human beings.

Accordingly, Anthropology could be described as the science of Human cultural and biological variation and evolution. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Anthropology could be broadly divided into four branches: Social-cultural anthropology, Physical/Biological anthropology, Archaeological anthropology and Linguistic anthropology. Definitions for the four branches are as follows:

1. Social-cultural Anthropology: This branch deals primarily with variations in the cultures of populations in the present or recent past. Its subjects include social, political, economic and ideological aspects of human cultures.

2. Physical/Biological Anthropology: It is the study of the mechanism of biological variation, genetic inheritance, human adaptability and variation, primatology, primate morphology and the fossil research of human evolution.

3. Archeological Anthropology: Archaeological Anthropology is the study of sociocultural behaviour in the protohistoric and pre-historic past.

The archaeologist deals with such remains from the past societies such as tools, shelters, remains of plants and animals eaten as food, and other objects that have survived.

4. Linguistic Anthropology: Linguistic Anthropology is the study of languages. Spoken language is a behaviour that appears to be uniquely human.

This subfield of Anthropology deals with the analysis of languages usually in non-literate societies and with general trend in evolution.

History of the development of prehistoric archaeology in India:

Many scholars have contributed to the development of Prehistory in India through the discovery of prehistoric sites. Some of the studies are discussed below:

Colonel Meadows Taylor of the early nineteenth century was one of the earliest to show interest in the archaeology of India. His interest, however, remained more concentrated on the south Indian Megaliths. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Alexander Cunningham in 1861 and Robert Bruce Foote in 1863 began their explorations and recording of prehistoric antiquities in the subsequent period.

Alexander Cunningham concentrated on the historic period, but Robert Bruce Foote was more inclusive in his interest which was extended to even the earliest Stone Age period.

A brief account of the Stone Age cultures in India is given below. The Stone Age cultures have been divided into three periods:

1. Palaeolithic Culture: The term “Palaeolithic” refers to the entire range of prehistoric cultures that occur within the Pleistocene epoch. A conservative estimation of this period in terms of absolute dating will be anywhere between 2.8 million to 160,000 years.

Again on the same method Lower Palaeolithic in India is taken to have existed as early as 1.5 million.

2. Mesolithic Culture: Mesolithic is the culture, which flourished in the early part of the geological epoch Holocene. People of Mesolithic culture were hunter-gatherers. There economy preceded agriculture.

In India, this period flourished between 8000 BCE to 6000 BCE.

3. Neolithic Culture: The Neolithic period was the period following the Mesolithic when profound changes took place in human history.

Agriculture and domestication of animals, manufacture of pottery, and grinding and polishing techniques were newly introduced in this period.

Domestication of plants developed in more than one center in the world: the Near East, South-East Asia and Meso-America. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment
BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Q 2. What is Dating Method? Briefly discuss any two Relative dating methods.

Ans: Dating Method:

Studies in Palaeoanthropology or archaeological anthropology have little meaning unless the chronological sequence of events is reconstructed effectively.

Whenever a new fossil or a new archaeological artifact is discovered it is very important to find out how old it is. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

In modern day palaeoanthropology or archaeology, the scientific interest rests not so much in the fossil or the artifact itself but the information it can provide to the questions that the scientist may be asking.

One of the principal questions an archaeologist will certainly ask is “how old the artifact and the site are”?

In fact, without a chronological framework, a fossil or an archaeological artifact loses its true scientific significance. It is important to understand where a fossil or an artifact fits into the scheme of human morphological or cultural evolution.

These methods can be divided into two broad categories:

(a) relative dating methods and
(b) absolute dating methods.

Relative Dating Methods:

Relative dating is a technique of determining the relative sequence of past events or past objects without actually knowing their absolute age. It is the stratigraphical or archaeological age of a specimen or formation.

In an assemblage of fossils or artifacts, these methods can be used to find out their relative age without knowing their actual age in absolute terms.

Employing these methods a paleontologist may be able to ascertain, which fossil is older than the other in an assemblage without knowing their actual age in years.

Though relative dating technique can only provide information about the sequential order of occurrence of events and not the actual time of occurrence of the events, it still remains useful for materials that lack properties for absolute dating.

Even now these can be useful for relating palaeontological or archaeological finds from the same or nearby sites with similar geological histories. Stratigraphy and fluorine dating are among the common relative dating methods. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

1. Stratigraphy: It is one of the oldest and the simplest relative dating methods. Stratigraphy is a branch of geology that is concerned with stratified soils and rocks, i.e. soils and rocks that are deposited as layers.

Stratigraphy is basically the study of the sequence, composition and relationship of stratified soils and rocks. If we go to the countryside where there are some hills, we can see different layers of rocks which may be horizontal or inclined.

Each layer can be differentiated from the other layer on account of the difference in colour, chemical composition or texture.

Each layer represents a time period when the process of deposition of sediments continued uninterrupted in one manner.

The next layer represents a change in the process of deposition. There are two fundamental principles of stratigraphy: uniformitarianism and superposition.

  1. Fluorine Dating:

It is a relative (chemical) dating method that compares the accumulation of fluorine content in bones. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Fluorine dating method probably developed due to the collaborative efforts of Emile Rivière and Adolphe Carnot in the 1890s.

But it was not until the 1940s and early 1950s that this method was improved and widely implemented by Kenneth P. Oakley to resolve several problems in palaeoanthropology.

                                Assignment II

Q 3. Cenozoic Era and its importance in human evolution.

Ans: Cenozoic Era and its importance in human evolution:

The Cenozoic Era is one of the most exciting periods in Earth’s history, geologically, climatically, and biologically. It is also the most recent period of history.

The Cenozoic Era is divided into two periods, the Paleogene and Neogene which are divided into epochs. The Cenozoic has seen the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs and the rise of mankind.

It is marked by the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period and the end of the Mesozoic Era. This era is the era of new life.

Mammals may not have risen from the oceans at this time, but they did evolve into a diverse collection of terrestrial, marine, and avian forms.

The major geological happenings of the Cenozoic Era are that the continents moved into their current positions. After splitting with Gondwana during the early Cretaceous, Australis-New Guinea drifted north and collided with Southeast Asia.

Antarctica moved into its current position over the South Pole and the Atlantic Ocean widened. Eventually, South America became attached to North America.

India collided with Asia between 55 and 45 million years ago; Arabia collided with Eurasia, closing the Tethy’s Ocean around 35 million years ago. Climatically, the Cenozoic Era has been a long period of cooling. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

The creation of the Drake Passage caused South America to fully detach from Antarctica during the Oligocene, the climate cooled significantly because of the of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which brought cool, deep Antarctic water to the surface.

The cooling trend continued in the Miocene, with relatively short warmer periods.

When South America became attached to North America(the Isthmus of Panama), the Arctic region cooled due to the strengthening of the Humboldt and Gulf Stream currents. This eventually led to the Pleistocene ice age.

Q4. Briefly describe different Lower Palaeolithic stone tools with suitable diagrams

Ans: Different Lower Palaeolithic stone tools:

The Stone Age existed at a time in human prehistory when the Pleistocene and early Holocene geological epochs took place.

Thus this is a cultural period that encompasses a time span over millions of years and which witnessed changes in tool technology Some of the important lower Palaeolithic tools include the following:

1) Pebble Tools: The term literally refers to all tools made on a pebble. In usual practice, it applies to a variety of choppers, scrapers and handaxes, where the working edge is made by the block-on-block technique. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

These tools are big and massive and characteristic of lower Palaeolithic culture of South East Asia (such as Burma), northwest India (such as Sohan) and East Africa.

Two types of pebble tools are normally seen: Chopper and Chopping:

i) Choppers are unifacially flaked large massive tools.

ii) Choppings are similar to the choppers except that they are bifacially flaked. The term Chopper-Chopping was suggested by H. L. Movius in 1944 when he analysed Palaeolithic tools from India. These tools are used for chopping, scraping and clearing purposes.

Tools of Paleolithic Era

BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment
BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

2) Biface/Handaxe: These are bifacially flaked core tools, with thick and heavy butt end and thin tapering pointed working end. They are also called bifaces and coup-de-pong.

Boucher de Perthes, a French prehistorian was the first to find handaxes, following which they were discovered in Europe, Africa, Asia and most particularly in India.

In terms of its use, the pointed end was probably used for digging, while the sides were used for cutting or splitting. Because of their multifarious functions, they are also called multi-purpose tools. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

On the basis of methods of manufacture, handaxes are placed under three traditions: Chellian, Abbevillian and Acheulian based on the evidence found in France.

Q 5. Briefly comment on stone tool making techniques of Middle Palaeolithic culture.

Ans: Stone tool-making techniques of Middle Palaeolithic culture:

There were two stone technologies found associated with Middle Paleolithic deposits.

The most important point for you to remember about the Middle Paleolithic stone technologies is that the emphasis shifted from core tools, like the Acheulean Handaxe, to flake tools like the Levallois point.

Certainly, even at Olduvai, hominids had been taking advantage of sharp-edged flakes and even modifying them for specific tasks.

The important difference in the Middle Paleolithic is that cores were being carefully shaped to produce flakes of a predetermined size and shape.

The flakes were then further modified into both simple and complex tools. The stone tool technologies covered of middle palaeolithic culture include:

  1. The Levallois Technique:The Levallois technique of core preparation and flake removal is the earliest of the core preparation technologies. The technology works in four distinct stages. First the edges of a cobble are trimmed into a rough shape.

Second, the upper surface of the core is trimmed to remove cortex and to produce a ridge running the length of the core, BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Third, a platform preparation flake is removed from one end of the core to produce an even, flat striking platform for the blow that will detach the flake.

Finally, the end of the core is struck at the prepared platform site, driving a longitudinal flake off of the core following the longitudinal ridge.

  1. The Disk Core Technique: The Disk Core Technique is not significantly different from the Levallois Technique. The technology still depends on careful core shaping and preparation in order to remove ready to-use flakes for tools.

The principal difference in the Disk Core Technique is that even more refinement and skill went into the core preparation so that more flakes could be removed from one core.

Thus, the Disk Core technique is really a refinement of trends started by the Levallois technique.

The exhausted cores left behind by this process often look like small disks with multiple flake scars, hence the name. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment
BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Q 6.Neolithic culture

Ans: Neolithic culture: The term ‘Neolithic’ was first used by Sir John Lubbock in his book titled Prehistoric Times, published in 1865.

He was the first Baron of Avebury in England. By adding the concept of Neolithic Age to the cultural-historical sequence, he sought to refine the Three Age system (Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age), which had been proposed by C. J. Thomsen in the 1830s.

The term ‘neo’ means new, and lithic’ means stone. Unlike the Palaeolithic period, people in this period began to use polished stone tools and axes, often called celts.

They needed more diverse variety of tools since they were involved in different types of activities. Generally, Palaeolithic tools have rough or finely flaked surfaces.

Sometimes, the natural context was retained while flaking. Not much evidence is available for the polishing of tools in the Palaeolithic period.

In the Neolithic period they polished some of the stone tools. However, they continued to use flaked and unpolished tools as well. The concept of Neolithic has undergone a lot of change over the years. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Q 7 Attirampakkam

Ans: Attirampakkam:

Attirampakkam is an open-air Palaeolithic site situated near a meandering tributary stream of the river Kortallaiyar, northwest of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, along the southeast coast of India.

Discovered in September 1863, by Robert Bruce Foote and his colleague William King, it was investigated in the early to mid 20th century by several scholars-T.T. Paterson, V.D.Krishnaswami and K.D.Banerjee.

S.Pappu’s doctoral dissertation on the prehistory of the Kortallaiyar river basin, highlighted the importance of the context of artefacts at this site, in addition to other observations on the nature of the prehistoric record of this region.

Excavations at Attirampakkam were initiated in 1999 to establish the stratigraphy
and culture sequence, to obtain a secure chronology and to study the assemblages with a view towards investigating changing patterns in hominin behavior over the Pleistocene.

Ongoing research at this site has resulted in new perspectives on the Acheulian and Middle Palaeolithic in South Asia. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Q 8 Excavation


Excavation is the process of moving things like earth, rock, or other materials with tools, equipment, or explosives.

It includes earthwork, trenching, wall shafts, tunneling, and underground. Several different processes are used in excavation, including trenching, digging, dredging, and site development.

Types of Excavation

1 Earth excavation is removal of the layer of soil immediately under the topsoil and on top of rock.

2 Muck excavation is removal of material that contains an excessive amount of water and undesirable soil.

3 Unclassified excavation is removal of any combination of topsoil, earth, rock, and muck.

Example: When a home builder digs a big hole to create the basement of a house, this is an example of when he excavated. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

When scientists carefully dig up dirt because they believe important artifacts are buried underneath, this is an example of when they excavate.

Q 9 Pluvials and Interpluvials

Ans: Pluvials and Interpluvials: When the arctic temperate and sub-temperate regions were experiencing glacial and interglacial phases, the tropical and subtropical regions were passing through pluvial or wet and inter-pluvial or dry periods.

These have left their evidences in the form of river terraces and lake deposits.

1) River Terrace: A river terrace also provides evidence of pluvial phase followed by an inter-pluvial phase. It is also formed in the same principle as mentioned above.

The deposits are marked by alternating deposit of gravel and silt.

With higher amount of rainfall volume and velocity of water in the river increases. The rocks and other materials carried by river are turned into gravels.

2) Lake Deposits: In the interior of various continents there are several lakes which provide evidence of pluvial and inter-pluvial periods.

During pluvial phase (wet phase) these lakes have been expanding and during an inter-pluvial (dry phase) the lakes have shrunk.

These lakes have been expanding and shrinking thus submerging and exposing the surrounding areas and life forms. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Q 10 Pleistocene Epoch

Ans: Pleistocene Epoch:

Pleistocene Epoch, earlier and major of the two epochs that constitute the Quaternary Period of Earth’s history, an epoch during which a succession of glacial and interglacial climatic cycles occurred.

The Pleistocene experienced the most important single environmental event since the human species has been on Earth: The oscillation between glaciation and interglacial during the Pleistocene Epoch.

Coastal environments during the Pleistocene were controlled in large part by the fluctuating level of the sea. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

The Pleistocene Epoch is best known as a time during which extensive ice sheets and other glaciers formed repeatedly on the landmasses and has been informally referred to as the “Great Ice Age.”

India is basically under tropical monsoonal climatic regime. Palaeoclimate varies in the subcontinent.

There are three major geomorphological zones in India. They are the Himalayan region, the Indo-gangetic plain and the Deccan land mass.

Q 11 Three Age system

Ans: Three Age system: The Three-Age system is a method of classification of material remains of the human past into chronological order and is based upon the idea of progress in technology. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

It is rooted in the writings of the Enlightenment period. In fact this notion of progress in human history can be traced in the writings of still earlier periods.

An ancient scholar from China belonging to Eastern Zhou Period had talked about such a scheme in his poem.

He talked about four different stages of technological progression, namely, the age of stone, jade, bronze and iron.

Similar ideas were put forward by the Roman poet Lucretius of the 1st century BC in his poem called De Rerum Natura.

Such concepts were presented by many scholars of seventeenth-century Europe, who were puzzled by the stone tools, then known as elf-shots or thunderbolts.

The Three-Age system was established on strong grounds by Christian Jurgensen Thomsen of Denmark. BANC 134 Free Solved Assignment

Thomsen was the son of a wealthy merchant of Copenhagen and was born in 1788.


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