achene: seed surrounded by hard, dry fruit coat, or shell

adaptive radiation: in which a set of related species radiate and branch out to occupy and adapt to a range of diverse environmental niches

adobe: dried mud, often mixed with straw to form mud-bricks

aeolian dust: wind-borne deposits

agency theory: approach to the study of past societies in reference to the individuals operating within them as agents of change

agora: ancient Greek marketplace and city center

agropastoralism: the combined activity of farming and animal herding

ahu: stone platforms on which moai were erected (Easter Island)

alleles: alternative forms of a particular gene occupying the same locus on the DNA molecule

altiplano: high altitude grasslands in the central Andes

amphitheater: oval or roughly circular arena surrounded by seating, in which wild animal or gladiatorial contests were held during the Roman Republic and Empire

amphora (pl. amphorae): large Classical vase-form, used for carrying water or wine and other commodities

AMS radiocarbon dating: accelerator mass spectrometer dating, a highly accurate form of radiocarbon dating

anthropogenic: resulting from human activity, or made by humans

anthropology: the study of humanity, commonly subdivided into cultural, biological, and linguistic anthropology, and archaeology

arboreal: tree-dwelling

archaeology: a subdiscipline of anthropology involving the study of the human past through its material remains

archaeomagnetic dating: see paleomagnetic dating

arroyo: rocky ravine or dry watercourse

artifact: any portable object made, used, or modified by humans

assemblage: a group of artifacts recurring together at a particular time and place, representing the sum of human activities in that respect

atlatl: spearthrower

aurochs: Paleolithic species of wild bovine

autochthonous: indigenous, a species that originates in the region in which it is found

backing: the deliberate blunting of a stone tool by means of steeply angled removals, presumably to facilitate insertion into a haft

Bamboo Annals: a history of China up to 298 BC

band: small group of 25–60 individuals related through marriage or family ties; typically mobile hunter-gatherer groups

basilica: large rectangular columned hall used as a law court during the Roman empire

bed: stratigraphic unit

biface: see hand axe

bipedal: walking on two legs

bipolar technique: the production of flakes by resting the core on an anvil and splitting it with a hammerstone

Bodhisattva: follower of the Buddha who chooses not to attain nirvana, but to stay on earth and help others

bola stones: two or more stones strung together and thrown so as to entangle an animal; used in Archaic Central and South America

braincase: the part of the skull that encases the brain

breccia: type of rock formed of sediments and small rocks cemented together

burin: stone flake or blade with chisel-like edges

calvarium: skull cap

causewayed camp: a Neolithic enclosure characteristic of southern Britain, with one or more circuits of ditches interrupted by undug areas, or causeways

celt, stone: axe-like tool

cenote: a sacred or ritual well, especially natural sinkholes in limestone landscapes, as at Chichén Itzá, Mexico

chiefdom: a society of several thousand individuals organized on institutionalized lines of hierarchical lineages ruled over by a chief

chinampa: gardens or fields constructed from reclaimed land in a shallow lakebed, exemplified by the Aztec fields of Tenochtitlán

chryselephantine: made of gold and ivory

Chunqiu: "Spring and Autumn Annals," history of the state of Lu during the Warring States period in China, by Confucius

ciudadela: Spanish term meaning "citadel," applied for example to the unfortified royal complexes of the Chimu empire, Peru

clade: group with a common ancestor, i.e., a single evolutionary branch

coalescence: the appearance of specific genotypes in mitochondrial DNA

codex (pl. codices): accordion-fold books used by Mesoamerican peoples, made of bark paper or animal parchment pages sized with washes of lime plaster and enclosed in wooden covers

cognitive archaeology: the study of past ways of thought and symbolic structures from material remains

colluvial slope: one in which the soil has been washed down to its base

cong: ceremonial jade tube with square or circular cross-section, often elaborately carved

corbeled vaulting: roofing technique wherein each higher level of stones slightly overhangs the previous one, eventually meeting at the top under a capstone

cordillera: system of mountain ranges, often consisting of more or less parallel chains; used often to refer to the Andean range

core: parent piece of rock from which flakes are detached

CT scan: computerized tomography; a method of producing cross-sectional "slices" through an object, often a human body, as it is passed through the scanner to produce detailed 3-D views

cultural ecology: an approach to the study of human society which argues that change results in large part from the response of human societies to the challenges and opportunities of their environments

cuneiform: a form of script used in Southwest Asia during the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age; literally, "wedge-shaped"

cupellation: method of obtaining silver ore involving the blowing of air across a crucible of molten silver-bearing lead, first developed in the 3rd millennium BC in the Cycladic islands of Greece

cupule: cup-shaped vegetal wrapping that holds the kernels of an ear of maize

cyclopean masonry: style of building characteristic of Mycenaean sites, using massive, roughly cut stones, uncoursed, the interstices randomly filled with smaller stones

debitage: flakes and fragments detached from a rock core

democracy: system of government based on the enfranchisement of all citizens; literally, "rule of the people"

demography: the study of human populations, in particular their size, composition, and distribution

demotic: script used in the Late and Greco-Roman periods of ancient Egypt for everyday writing

denticulate: stone flake or blade retouched to produce a saw-tooth edge

diffusion: the spread of materials, ideas, and innovations from one society to another

diurnal: daytime (as opposed to nocturnal, night-time)

DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid, a molecule that carries genetic instructions from parents to offspring

doab: tongue of land between two rivers (India)

dolmen: a megalithic tomb type, usually consisting of upright stone slabs, on which rests a large capstone or capstones; see also megalith

domestication: the human propagation of selected species

Doric order: Archaic and Classical Greek architectural style, with unadorned columns topped by a simple capital, and with a triglyph (a tripartite grooved element) and metope pattern decorating its external upper entablature, between the column capitals and the pediment or roof

dry farming: farming without the use of irrigation, in areas in which normal rainfall is sufficient for cultivation

ecotone: an area forming the boundary between contrasting environmental regions

electron spin resonance dating (ESR): dating method that measures trapped electrons in bone and shell, the number of such electrons indicating the age of the specimen

encephalization: enlargement of the brain

endogamy (endogamous adj.): marriage or selection of a mate from within a defined kin-group, lineage, or community etc.

eustatic rise: rise in sea level as a result of glacial melting

exogenous: arising from an external cause or factors

experimental archaeology: in which tasks or objects from the past are replicated and compared with the archaeological remains