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Late Prehistoric
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Anthropology Anthropology is the study of origins of human beings and their cultures worldwide. In addition to documenting a particular culture, anthropologists are interested in how and why human culture changes.

The science of anthropology is divided into several subfields including physical anthropology, the study of the origins and development of human beings; cultural anthropology, the study of human culture or the means by which human beings sustain life; linguistics, the study of human language; and archaeology, the study of human life based primarily on the recovery of artifacts, objects made and/or used by human beings.

Archaeobotany Botany is the study of plants. Archaeobotany is a specialized type of botany in which scientists study plant remains from sites excavated by archaeologists.

Plant remains such as bark, wood, seeds, and nut shells are often found where people once lived, but rarely in an unaltered state. Most preserved plant remains have been carbonized, burned into charcoal through contact with fire.

Plant remains are found by sieving dirt through fine-mesh screen wire. Often, archaeobotanists use a process called flotation to recover plant remains. Dirt is placed into a container of water and gently shaken. Ideally, once released from the dirt, plant charcal floats to the surface where it can be collected.

Archaeobotanists identify plant charcoal by comparing the shape and appearance of each specimen with modern examples.

Using the identfications of the different plant remains, archaeobotanists learn about past environments, human diet, and other uses of plants, such as the making of fabric, and farming practices. For example, changes in the size of seeds of certain native plants suggest that they were improved by cultivation.

Information from the archaeobotanist is combined with that of other scientists to develop a more complete picture of the past.

Archaeology The scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples and their cultures by analysis of their artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, and other such remains.

Archaeozoology Zoology is the study of animals. Archaeozoology is a specialized type of zoology in which scientists study animal bones from sites excavated by archaeologists.

Animal bones are often found where people once lived. Archaeologists recover bones and bone fragments by sieving dirt through fine-mesh screen wire.

Archaeologists identify bones by comparing the size and shape of each with modern specimens in a comparative collection. Using these identifications, archaeozoologists learn about past environment, human diet, and other uses of animals such as the making of bone tools. In turn, they learn more about ancient life, such as hunting strategies and butchering practices. For example, if archaeologists find only certain white-tailed deer bones at a site, they may conclude that the animal was butchered elsewhere. By leaving behind unwanted parts, such as leg bones, feet, and head, transporting the meat back to the village was made easier.

Information from the archaeozoologist is combined with that of other scientists to develop a more complete picture of the past.

Archaic A period of Native American culture beginning 10,000 years ago and ending 3,000 years ago in Illinois. During the Archaic period, Native American's developed ground stone tool technology, plant cultivation, substantial villages, long distance trade, and the beginnings of mound building.

Artifact An object made or used by a human being.

Artifact analysis Archaeologists search for artifacts. Stone tools and pieces of pottery are common examples of prehistoric Native American artifacts, which also include food remains and evidence of cooking fires and buildings. Relatively few artifacts survive over long periods of time. Usually, only durable artifacts, those made of stone, bone, pottery, or metals, survive. Artifacts made of wood, leather, or other fragile materials rarely remain. As a result, archaeologists have an incomplete view of the past.

Some archaeologists specialize in the study of how Native Americans made and used stone tools. Native Americans knew that certain stone such as chert could be shaped by carefully chipping away flakes of unwanted material. They also knew that some other types of stone such as granite could be shaped by pecking-striking one piece of stone with another to remove small bits of stone. Once shaped by pecking, the rough surface was ground smooth with an abrasive rock like sandstone.

Because they are durable, stone tools are often the most common artifact remaining where Native Americans once lived. Archaeologists find complete and borken stone tools and waste from tool making. They study the type of stone, where it came from, how the object was shaped, and what it was used for to learn more about everyday life. For instance, we know that the shape of a stone tol is often related to its function.

Beringia Archaeologists name for land that connected Asia with North America. Beringia is now submerged beneath the Bering Sea.

Caribou (Rangifer sp.) The caribou, also known as reindeer in the Old World, is cirumpolar in their distribution. They are more heavily built than deer, with broad, heavy muzzles, rather short, thick legs having very large, deeply cleft hoofs.

Chert A type of fine-grained, silica-rich rock often found in limestone. Native Americans shaped chert by carefully striking it with stone or bone hammers.

Chipped stone Tools shaped by removing thin pieces of stone, chips or flakes, with a hammer. Chert and other forms of fine-grained silica-rich rock, such as chalcedony, were most often used to make chipped stone tools.

Climate The weather of a region.

Culture A culture is a particular way of life. It includes every part of life such as food preferences, tool making, clothing, language, marriage practices, and religion.

Deciduous Trees and shrubs that shed their leaves once each year.

Domestication A process by which human beings tame wild animals and change the nature of plants. Native Americans tamed wolves and in doing so created the dog. They also cultivated some plants, eventually changing the plant's natural distribution, seed size, and its ability to reproduce.

Economy The use and/or management of resources. The study of prehistoric Native American economy most often concerns how they acquired and used resources for basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, but also involves the study trade and exchange.

Ground sloth (Glossotherium harlani) A slow-moving , plant eating mammal. Ice Age ground sloths were the size of a hippopotamus or an elephant, and had very large claws on both their front and hind feet. They probably used their powerful forelimbs and claws for defense against sabertooth cats, Pleistocene lions, and packs of dire wolves.

Ground stone Stone tools slowly shaped by repeated pounding with a hammer. Once roughly shaped, the object is ground smooth with an abrasive rock such as sandstone.

Human osteology Osteology is the study of bones. Human osteology is a specialized type of osteology in which scientists study the skeletal remains of human beings excavated by archaeologists.

Prehistoric human skeletal remains are found in villages and cemeteries, some of which are mounds of earth. Archaeologists carefully expose the remains with hand tools t o preserve the position of the body and the relationship of any objects placed in the grave.

Osteologists identify bones by comparing their size and shape with modern specimens.

After identifiying each bone, osteologists examine various elements of the skeleton to determine the age and sex of the individual. They also look for eveidence of disease or trauma to learn about diet, injury, and overall health.

Information from the osteologist is combined with that of ther scientists to develop a more complete picture of the past.

Igneous A type of rock produced by volcanic action.

Mammoth (Mammuthus jeffersonii) The mammoth is a relatively close relative to the modern elephant. It stood between 10 and 12 feet tall, ate mainly grass, and lived throughout North America and Eurasia. Like many other Ice Age mammals, the mammoth became extinct in Illinois more than 11,000 years ago.

Marine shell The shell from any of a variety of shellfish found in salt water.

Mastodon (Mammut americanum) The mastodon is a distant relative to the modern elephant. It stood 7 to 10 feet tall and wighed four to six tons. Mastodon ate mainly trees, shrubs, and herbs in forests and woodlands. Remains of the extinct Amerian mastodon are found throughout North America.

Metamorphic A type of rock that has been transformed by temperature or pressure.

Mica A mineral that forms layers of thin sheets and is colorless to black. Often found in igneous and metamorphic rocks. Native Americans used tone tools to cut sheets of mica into a variety of forms such as a human hand and the silhouette of a bird claw.

Mississippian A period of Native American culture beginning 1,100 years ago and lasting in Illinois until 550 years ago. During the Mississippian period, Native Americans developed an economy based on cultivating corn.

Obsidian A black or dark-colored volcanic glass. Native Americans in Illinois made a variety of obsidian stone tools during the Middle Woodland period.

Paleo-Indian A period of Native American sulture beginning at least 12,000 years ago and ending 10,000 years ago. During the Paleo-Indian period Native Americans arrive in North America for the first time.

Palynology Palynology is the scientific study of spores and pollen. Plants produce microscopic grains of pollen that are dispersed by insects, birds, and the wind. Pollen often accumulates in lakes, ponds, and peat bogs. Palynologists collect samples of sediment from the bottom of water bodies and bogs in a sampling tube, and they take the sample to the laboratory where they wash away the dirt in search of pollen. Using a microscope, palynologists inspect remains.

Pollen grains come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Palynologists compare prehistoric pollen with modern examples to determine what plants, especially trees, were once present in a region. Changes in the type and abundance of pollen in an area over time provide evidence of changes in a climate or the efforts of humans to change a landscape. For example, a decrease in tree pollen and an increase in the pollen of corn, weeds, and other light-loving species may mark the beginning of forest clearing and cultivation.

Peccary (Platygonus compressus) Peccaries are pig-like animals. They are primarily plant eaters, but they also eat just about anything. This particular species of peccary probably lived in small to medium-sized packs. Peccary fossils are found throughout North America.

Period A unit of time used by archaeologists to identify the duration of a particular culture.

Pipestone Any of a variety of heat-hardened, compacted clays that can be carved and polished.

Pleistocene A period of earth history beginning about 1.6 million years ago and lasting until about 12,000 years ago. During the Pleistocene or Ice Age, the earth's climate was colder and continental glaciers covered vast areas of the world.

Protohistoric A period of Native American culture immediately preceding the arrival of Europeans. Also known as Late Prehistoric, this period began 700 years ago and ended about 300 years ago in A.D. 1673 when Pere Marquette and Louis Jolliet traveled up the Illinois River.

Sedimentary A type of rock formed from sediment deposited by wind or water.

Shaman A priest or healer who believes that the workings of good and evil spirits can be influenced only by shaman.

Stag moose (Cervalces scotti) A deer-like creature with very long legs and ocmplex, moose-like antlers. At home in bogs and other wetland settings, stag-moose remains are found mostly in the midwestern part of North America. Like other Ice Age mammals, the stag moose became extinct about 11,000 years ago.

Woodland A period of Native American history beginning 3,000 years ago and ending 1,250 years ago. During the Woodland Period, Native Americans developed widespread use of pottery, mound building, gardening, and long-distance trade.

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