What is a Site Catchment Analysis?
A site catchment analysis is the study of an area where there are known sites and it looks at, and interprets, the surrounding landscape, environment and the association of the sites within their setting.
The methods and strategy were developed in the 1960’s by Eric Higgs and Claudio Vita-Finzi, and has since become a major aspect of archaeological research and analysis.
A site catchment analysis looks at the size, shape and location of sites, their spacing, layouts and settlement patterns. Places were not just haphazardly set up in a location, they were chosen specifically in relation to the environment and resources, and it has been found that many had seasonal functions.
By studying this we can also better understand site function, its economics, settlement patterns, technology and resources. This is undertaken through the material remains including artefacts, floral (plant) and fauna (animal) remains.
Evaluation and investigation makes use of surveys, graphs, maps, histograms, and excavation techniques. It gives an overall snapshot of a specific area at a specific point in time. Although originally used to study hunter-gatherer communities, site catchment analysis is now also used for other types of sites.
Archaeology Wow!! – Mochico Pottery, Peru
Mochico pottery is associated with the Moche Culture which was located in Peru, along its coastal regions. The pottery dates back to between c.150 BC – A 800, and is understood to be a pictorial representation of the culture.
The pottery was made with the use of molds (mold technology) and one production site has been located at Cerro Mayal where kilns, tools and clay mixing areas have been uncovered. So much of the pottery has been uncovered that it allows archaeologists to understand the culture. This is because the designs and painting on some of the pottery is beleived to be that of the everyday life of the the Moche Culture.The term given to the type of painted decoration on some of the pottery is Slipware. Where slip is placed on the clay just before firing.
One of the main features of the Machica pottery is the stirrup design, as in the above image. How unique!
The themes of the artwork include war, sacrifice, hunting, dancing, metalwork, weaving, animals – both domesticated and wild – and more! It is also beleived that some of the scenes depicted represent stories and actual events that had happened. The one thing it does not tell us, though, is the social organization of the culture, and this is still being researched. One point is clear though, and that is the residential pottery was more finely painted than other types.
Later in the development of the styles, facial features and portraits were added to the designs, but mostly in the southern regions. It is not known whether these represented actual people or were a generalization of the culture. The pottery is dated mainly through relative chronology.
With so much of the pottery being uncovered, it is found worldwide in museums as well as in private collections.
I love this type of pottery and it is amazing how they made such fine designs!!
Archaeological Site Guide –The Tomb of Agamemnon, Greece
Also known as the Treasury of Atreus, this is an amazing site and one that demonstrates the unique and amazing way the Bronze Age people used awesome building techniques that still leave us scratching our heads today as to how they managed it!!
The tomb was constructed around 1250 BC and was for an elite person from the Mycenaean Bronze Age period. The entrance way measures 5.4 m high and there are large stone lentils on either side. On the inside of these lentils are holes which once supported decorative bronze ornaments. There is a semi-subterranean chamber which measures 1.5 m high and 14.5 m in diameter, made of dressed stone blocks and was once richly decorated with green limestone columns and half columns, zigzag motifs, rosettes, and decorations which included the addition of red porphyry and green alabaster. There is a small room off to one side but its use is still unknown.
Finds from the site include potsherds, stone bowl fragments, terracotta figures, small objects and gold leaf. Due to the richness of the finds it as once beleived to have been an old treasury building.
The following information is eye-opening in respect to what happened to the contents of the tomb when it was first opened
It is such a shame that the bones of the person buried in the tomb were discarded as mere rubbish, and the amazing finds sold off for profit. Lost to history now are the rich and amazing finds that were once in this wonderful example of a Mycenaean Bronze Age tomb.
Not only were the goods robbed abut also the invaluable information and facts we could have learnt about this past culture by assessing, analyzing and interpreting the grave goods, richly decorated garments that were once on the body, which covered the bones in gold when the fabric broke down over time, and the association of all the objects together and in relation to the bones. Very sad indeed.
Robing sites not only takes away the cultural material that is present, it also robs us of history, knowledge and information regarding how people lived in the past 🙁
Activity – word-search-22 May-2015-docx