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Glossary E - L
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Glossary E - L
Glossary M - P
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E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L



Ecofacts: Natural biological objects recovered from archaeological sites usually modified or used by human behavior such as the remains of plant and animal foods.


Ethnoarchaeology: The study of living or ethnohistorically known peoples for the purposes of generating archaeologically useful data.




Excavation: Systematic uncovering and recording of archaeological sites.


Experimental archaeology


Experimental Archaeology: Scientific studies designed to discover processes that produced and/or modified artifacts and structures that are found in archaeological sites.  Examples include making pottery, projectile points, structures, and gardens.




Fauna: In archaeology, the remains of animals that are found at a site and used to study diet, seasonal activities, and climate.




Feature: A combination of artifacts and/or ecofacts that create a single definable entity, such as a fireplace, burial, or garbage pit.  Unlike artifacts, features are part of the landscape and cannot be removed from the site without losing the overall value of the whole.


Fire cracked rock


Fire Cracked Rock (FCR): Rock placed around a hearth that shows evidence of being heated.  In Wisconsin, the raw material was usually limestone or sandstone.




Flakes: The pieces of stone struck off a rock in the reduction sequence (flintknapping), each usually having a striking platform, bulb of percussion, and similar identifying features.  There are three main types of flakes:


Primary flake

Primary: A flake that has substantial amounts of cortex on it and that was one of the first flakes removed from the core when the stone was initially broken open.


Secondary flake

Secondary: A flake that may have some cortex on its surface and that was removed during the rough shaping of a stone tool.


Tertiary flake


Tertiary: A flake that has no cortex on it and that was removed during the final shaping of a stone tool.


Flint: Sometimes used as a synonym for chert.




Flint Knapping: The process of chipping stone into shapes usable as tools or for expressive purposes.


 Charred corncob Flora: In archaeology, the remains of plants that are found at a site and used to study diet, seasonal activities, and climate.

The image on the left is of a small charred corncob and the image below is a close-up of a charred corn kernel .

Charred corn kernel




Flotation: The process of soaking and screening matrix samples in water in order to collect very small artifacts and the organic material that floats to the top, such as seeds and charcoal.


Ground stone tools


Ground Stone Tools: Tools that are produced by pecking and grinding stones into desired shapes.


Habitation Site: A site at which prehistoric people lived or camped.




Hammerstone: The stone used to strike a core in order to detach flakes.


Heat treated


Heat Treated: Refers to the process of placing a rock or other raw material into the fire in order to produce a more stable/sturdy/attractive product.

The heat treated artifact is on the right.




Historic: In North American archaeology this term refers to the time period after European influence and the beginning of written records.  Native Americans did not have a written history.  In Wisconsin, this would be around 1650 and later.  Historic artifacts may consist of old bottles, buttons, coins, etc.


Holocene: The period of time since the last glaciation, about 10,000 years ago.  We are still in the Holocene today.


Hunter-gatherers: A term applied to people whose diet is based on hunting, fishing, and gathering, as opposed to domesticating animals or plants.


Hypothesis: A proposed explanation accounting for a set of facts that can be tested by further investigation.


In situ


In Situ: In place; an undisturbed artifact is in situ.


Inference: A determination arrived at by reasoning; using facts to arrive at a broader conclusion.


Kill Site: A site at which prehistoric people killed or butchered an animal.


Levels: Specific layers of soil removed during excavation and processed for cultural materials.




Limestone: A sedimentary rock, comprised of the mineral precipitate calcium carbonate.  In Wisconsin, it was sometimes used to make tools, but was most often used to surround hearths.
Limestone pipe




Lithics: The full range of stone material related to or resulting from human activity, for example, projectile points, drills, cores, hammerstones, etc.




Lotting: the process of assigning a number to artifacts in the field in order to keep track of all finds.  See also acquisitioning artifacts.


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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
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*MVAC Educational Programs are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
*This project was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation.