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Wilson Butte Cave



archaeologist: scientists who study the people that lived long ago

archaeology: the study of human life by studying materials left behind

archaeological site: the places where past humans have lived or used

archaeological feature: natural or human built objects or places within an archaeological site that cannot be moved. Examples: caves, firepits, walls, floors.

artifact: any object made or used by humans

archives: a place where public records or historic documents are preserved and kept

chronology: an arrangement of events in the order in which they occurred

classification: systematic arrangement in groups or categories according to established criteria

context: the relationship artifacts have to each other and the situation in which they are found

cross-dating: the principle that a diagnostic artifact dated at one archaeological site will be of the same approximate age when found elsewhere

culture: the set of learned beliefs, values and behaviors generally shared by members of a society

data: information, especially information organized for analysis

diagnostic artifact: an item that is indicative of a particular time and/or cultural group; a computer would be a diagnostic artifact of the modern age

evidence: data which are used to prove a point, or which clearly indicate a situation

excavate:  careful, methodical digging of an archaeological site to uncover artifacts or features

history: period of time in the past that events were recorded in written records

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

inference: a conclusion derived from observations

Law of Superposition: a concept related to approximating the age of material or artifacts. These materials are in strata form a record of past events.  The materials deposited first are the oldest and are always found on the bottom.  The most recently deposited materials are the youngest and are always on top.  This concept always applies unless some type of disturbance has occurred within the strata.

midden: an area used for trash disposal

observation: recognizing or noting a fact or occurrence

Paleo-Indians: (paleo meaning ancient) name for the first peoples in North America

prehistory:  the period of time before written records

radiocarbon dating: a scientific method to age artifacts or materials.  All living things take in the element carbon.  Therefore, the material must have once been living in order for radiocarbon dating to be used.

rock art:  images pecking, carving, or painting of designs onto rock surfaces

spatial: concerned with space

strata: many layers of earth

stratigraphy: the study of different layers of soils, rock or dirt at a site

survey: to study the land in detail looking for artifacts or features
temporal: concerned with time.


Return to Wilson Butte Cave Homepage


The Mystery of WBC

Recent History of WBC

Who were the First Americans?

What is Archaeology?
    Teacher Activities
     Archaeology FUNdamentals
    • How do Archaeologists Find 

    • Excavation and Documentation
    • At the Laboratory
    • How Old Is It?

What was found at WBC?

Daily Life at WBC  

When Ice was on the Land


Native American Perspective 


Last updated: 06-10-2013