1. Observe an activity that creates material remains and document those remains (e.g.
describe, photograph, measure, draw, etc.)
2. Document the relationship between the material remains and the activity being observed
by answering the following questions:
A) What are the most important aspects of this activity?
B) Could these aspects be inferred from the material remains alone?
C) Would inferring the activity from the remains require i) culturally specific knowledge; ii)
Any analysis besides visual observation? (HINT: Think CSI)
D) Are there any patterns of association or distribution that might help you infer the activity
by means of the remains?
E) Are there other activities that could have produced the same remains?
F) If you can make partial inferences from the material remains what important aspects of
the activity would you be missing?
G) How are the material remains deposited? Are all the material remains deposited
together? Are they deposited at the site of the activity? Are there material components of
this activity that are not deposited as a result of the activity (i.e. things that get taken away).
H) Are the deposits you are documenting Primary? Secondary? Tertiary?
I) What happens to the material remains after they are deposited? What would you find if
you looked at these remains in 10 years? 100 years? 1000 years? 10,000 years?
J) What issues do these observations raise for the interpretation of the archaeological
3. What is ethnoarchaeology? How can it help archaeologists? What are its limitations?