Breaking down the “ology”

By Alison Haller, M.S., Director of Marketing and Communications at Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc.

Ever wondered what all those “ology” terms mean? Or what’s the difference between archaeology and anthropology? Or maybe you want to know more about what archaeologists do and find…

We broke down four fields: archaeology, anthropology, osteology/biological anthropology, and zooarchaeology.

Wondering what other information we can find out from these four sectors? Look no further, we’ve got those too!

Archaeology can help us:

  • Find patterns and changes, generally how human groups varied their use of the physical world at different times and different places
  • Discover and document artifacts and historical findings
  • Uncover artifacts that show how soldiers lived from day to day, along with their camp followers.
  • Find and identify sites containing sunken ships or study cities, towns, and settlements that have been flooded by the Earth’s ever-changing waters

Anthropology includes:

  • Socio-cultural anthropology focuses on how groups of people in different places make sense of their world via the norms, values, traditions, communication styles, dress, music, food, etc.
  • Linguistic anthropologists focus on how groups use language.
  • Applied anthropologists use the methods and approaches of socio-cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology to address contemporary problems

Through biological anthropology and skeletal analysis, we can identify:

  • Age at death
  • Determination of sex
  • Identification of traumatic and pathological lesions
  • Identification of taphonomic indicators

Zooarchaeology helps to identify:

  • Vertebrate and invertebrate taxa
  • The distribution of faunal remains to determine how different spaces within a site were used
  • Zooarchaeologists complete analyses to determine the age at death, sex, and can identify
  • Pathological lesions
  • Taphonomic indicators
  • Subsistence: biomass and butchery patterns
  • Spatial analysis of sites to infer activity zones and site function

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