Go to Table of Contents.


by Kristin A. Kuckelman

absolute dating. Determination of age of archaeological materials that results in dates tied to the modern calendar.

abut. To end one wall where it meets the face of another wall.

aggrading. Filling with sediment.

aggregated. People and their homes clustered closely together.

alcove room. A room built into a recessed area of a butte face.

Anasazi. Ancestral Pueblo Indians.

anthropomorphic. Described or thought of as having human form or human attributes.

archaeomagnetism/archaeomagnetic dating. A dating technique that is based on the principle that the direction and intensity of the earth's magnetic field vary through time. When clayey sediment containing magnetic particles (such as in the walls and floor of a hearth) is heated to a sufficient temperature, the magnetic particles in the clay assume and retain the direction of the current magnetic field. The archaeomagnetic dating method measures the magnetic field as preserved in fired clay and compares it to a known record of the changes in the magnetic field through time.

architectural block. A cluster of contiguous structures.

articulated. Bones that are in their correct anatomical positions.

artifact(s). Any object made or used by a human.

awl. A pointed tool for making small holes. On prehistoric Pueblo sites, awls are usually made of animal bone.

bench. A wide ledge midway up a kiva wall that usually extends around at least three-fourths of the structure. In addition to providing the surface on which the roof-support columns (pilasters) rested, benches were probably also used for storage.

Bull Creek point. A long, narrow projectile point with a slightly concave base and no stem or notches. This type of point is found most commonly in the Bull Creek area of eastern Utah, which is, more specifically, the northern flank of the Henry Mountains. This area is thought to have been a transition zone between the Fremont and Pueblo peoples.

chert-siltstone. Stone somewhere on the continuum between chert and siltstone. Chert contains a large amount of fibrous chalcedony with smaller amounts of cryptocrystalline quartz and amorphous silica; siltstone is composed mostly of indurated (hardened) silt.

chipped-stone tool. A stone tool shaped by repeatedly striking or applying pressure to the stone.

compound wall. A wall that includes both single-stone-wide and double-stone-wide masonry.

compound-with-core wall. A compound wall in which the stones that make up the double-stone-wide courses are separated by an inner core of rubble.

context. Objects, materials, or space around an object that can help archaeologists interpret the object's meaning or use.

corrugated jar. A jar in which the construction coils were left exposed on the outside of the vessel and were textured by pinching or tooling.

coursed masonry. A wall built of stacked, horizontal rows of stones.

courtyard. Outdoor space between a kiva and its associated surface rooms; probably used for many daily activities.

cutting date. In tree-ring dating, the year a tree died. This type of date provides the most accurate estimate of when a structure was built.

debitage. Stone debris or waste material created by the production or sharpening of chipped-stone tools.

de facto refuse. Still-usable items that were left behind, presumably as refuse, when a structure was abandoned.

deflector. An upright slab, a short segment of masonry wall, or a wattle-and-daub wall between the hearth and the ventilator system. The deflector is thought to have shielded fire in the hearth from direct air flow from the ventilator tunnel.

Desert Side-Notched point. A small, side-notched, Great Basin-style of projectile point. The Desert Side-Notched point found at Castle Rock Pueblo also has a notch in its base.

disarticulated. Bones that are not in their correct anatomical positions.

double-stone-wide wall. A masonry wall that is two stones wide with no stone overlap inside the wall.

double-stone-with-core wall. A masonry wall that is two stones wide with no stone overlap inside the wall; the interior ("core") of the wall contains rubble.

feature. Generally, things on an archaeological site that are not portable and so must be recorded, photographed, and documented in the field. Examples of features are hearths, niches, doorways, kiva benches, postholes, ventilator systems, and tunnels.

flintknapping. Manufacturing chipped-stone tools.

formal burial. A human burial in which the body was intentionally and carefully placed and was protected from predators. Grave goods may be present, but are not necessary for a burial to be interpreted as formal.

Fremont area. The area inhabited by the people of the prehistoric Fremont culture; the area encompasses most of present-day Utah except the southeast corner.

funerary. Objects, materials, or rituals associated with a human burial.

hamlet. A farmstead or small group of farmsteads.

hearth. A carefully constructed pit that was used to contain fire.

hematite. An iron ore that occurs in crystals; probably had specific, special uses among the ancestral Pueblo people.

jasper. An opaque, cryptocrystalline quartz.

kiva. Used here in reference to a specific type of structure rather than to imply any particular use or function. In the Mesa Verde region, a kiva was a roofed structure that was usually circular, was usually underground or partly underground, contained a bench upon which the roof-support columns (pilasters) were built, contained a hearth and a ventilator system (tunnel and shaft), and usually contained a deflector and often a sipapu. The southern segment of the bench was usually wider than the rest of the bench and is called a southern recess. Kiva entry was almost exclusively through a hatchway in the roof.

kiva jar. A globular jar, usually medium-sized, that was painted, polished, and/or slipped. It has a narrow mouth and a short, vertical neck, with a narrow lip inside the mouth to support a lid. Kiva jars often have matching holes on opposite sides of the neck to hold twine for suspending the vessel. They are called kiva jars because they are often found in kivas.

midden. A concentration of refuse.

modified flake. A stone flake that was deliberately modified—usually by flaking (chipping)—before being used as a tool.

neutron activation analysis. Analysis that determines the chemical composition of pottery by using a nuclear reactor to identify the trace elements present.

niche. A small, usually rectangular recess in a wall; thought to have been used for ceremonial purposes.

noncutting date. A tree-ring date that does not reflect the year a tree died, possibly because the outside rings of the sample were damaged or destroyed through use or by fire, or were damaged during collection of the sample. Thus, noncutting dates are earlier than the year the tree died.

nuclear family. A family consisting of a father, a mother, and their children.

olla. A large jar for hauling and storing water.

parapet. A low wall that protects the edge of a roof or platform.

pecked. The dimpling of the surface of a stone as the result of the stone being struck repeatedly with a harder object.

petroglyph. An image pecked, incised (scratched), or abraded into a stone surface.

pilaster. A roof-support column that rests on a bench of a kiva. Pilasters are nearly always roughly rectangular and are usually constructed of coursed masonry.

plaza. A large, open space, often enclosed on two or more sides by buildings; used for many types of gatherings and activities.

primary refuse. Artifacts or other cultural materials discarded at their location(s) of use.

relative dating. Determination of the relative age of archaeological materials but not of specific calendric dates.

residence group. Any combination of people who inhabit one or more shared buildings.

rock art. Images on rock surfaces. There are two types of rock art: pictographs, which are drawn or painted onto the surface, and petroglyphs, which are pecked, incised, or abraded into the surface.

roomblock. Two or more contiguous rooms.

Sand Canyon Pueblo. A large village near the head of Sand Canyon in southwestern Colorado that was built and occupied between A.D. 1245 and 1290. The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center excavated selected areas of the site between 1984 and 1993.

secondary refuse. Artifacts or other cultural materials discarded anywhere other than their location(s) of use.

sediment. Dirt deposited by wind, water, gravity, and/or glaciers.

sherd. A fragment of pottery.

sipapu. A small pit north of the hearth in a kiva; thought by some Pueblo Indians to represent the hole from which humans emerged from the underworld.

stratigraphy. The study and interpretation of layered deposits. Stratigraphic information can be used to establish the relative ages of different deposits and to determine when and how features and structures filled with sediment after they were abandoned.

subsistence. The means of obtaining the necessities of life (food, water, shelter, clothing).

surface room. A building constructed so as to be primarily above ground. Some surface rooms are thought to have been used mostly for storage, others, for daily living activities.

talus slope. A slope formed especially by an accumulation of rock debris at the base of a cliff.

tree-ring dating/dates. A dating method whereby a specific series of annual growth layers from a particular sample of wood from a site is matched to an established, dated series. The year of the outermost layer is usually the date of interest to archaeologists, because it is the year the tree died or is nearest to the year the tree died (see cutting date and noncutting date).

ventilator system. A specialized construction that allows fresh air to enter an underground structure, usually consisting of an outside vertical shaft that is connected to the interior of the structure by a horizontal tunnel. Heated air leaving the structure through a hatchway in the roof draws fresh air into the structure through the ventilator shaft and tunnel.

village. A settlement larger than a hamlet.

Copyright © 2000 by Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. All rights reserved.