Response: Dr. Christina Rieth
When an archaeologist finds an artifact, they will often determine what year it is from by looking at the context and association. Context is whether something is below or above another level. Artifacts that are below a layer are older than those in the layer. Those artifacts that are above the layer are later than the artifact.
Association refers to whether something is in same contact as something else. If something is lower in the ground surface, it is not associated with the occupation. Artifacts the found in the same association of another artifact are often of the same time period. For instance, cars and trucks are of the same association. Cars and buggies are not of the same time period since they are of several hundred years apart.
Artifacts are often identified based on its context and association. If we were to excavate a site from the Late Woodland Period, then we would there would be some things that identify the sites and would be used as to determine what period the site is from. Longhouse, corded ceramics, corn, and other materials were used during this period.
Often, we can’t identify what it is and how it was used. When we use deductive reasoning to determine how it may have been used and how it was used. For instance, a small piece of stone might be used as a hammerstone, to decorate interior of pottery, or as a piece of fire-cracked rock. In addition, there are also materials that may have been akin to these materials. By looking at these materials, we can determine what life was like in the past.
Response: Dr. Daria Merwin
Our first step to identifying an artifact, once we’re pretty sure that a person made it, is to figure out the raw material or materials (such as rock, pottery, or metal) from which it’s made. In many places, that will give us a clue as to age and perhaps where the artifact was made. The next step is to find someone who can give us more clues- preferably someone close by, like a museum colleague, but the internet works well, too! After just a few years of doing archaeology, I think most of us readily admit we can’t possibly know everything, and that asking questions is the best way to learn.