anthropology of techniques:  See technology.

archaeologist:  a person who studies human cultures through the recovery and analysis of their material remains.

archaeological inventories : Archaeological inventories consists mainly in locating the various sites in a given region. The work involves researching new archaeological sites and sometimes re-evaluating the potential of known sites. Usually this results in the registration of new archaeological sites, with either the Canadian or Quebec government assigning them Borden codes. Sometimes, we focus the inventory process on a chronological period or a particular question. But more often, inventories are undertaken in areas that are under threat from construction projects. Archaeologists inspect such locations to make sure that archaeological sites will not be affected, or to put into place protective measures or a salvage operation.

archaeology :  The study of human evolution through the study of material culture.

archaeological site :  A location where there is evidence of past human activity.

artifact :  A man-made object which gives information about the culture of its creator and users.

blank (tool blank):  An object produced intentionally or recuperated as a secondary product or waste product from other production. Sometimes a natural fragment of rock or a pebble is used as a blank. Usually, a blank is selected because it has a specific shape permitting its transformation into a tool. For example, a microblade can serve as the blank and be transformed into a tool by a particular slight retouch to become a tang microblade.

chaîne opératoire:  A chaîne opératoire consists of a series of linked actions with, usually, a specific expected ending. In the case of artefacts, the chaîne opératoire includes all the steps involved — from the collecting of a raw material, to the completed tool, including its utilization and re-utilisation, until the object is finally discarded. This includes the production of blanks and their transformation into tools. Archaeologists use the chaîne opératoire as a conceptual analytical tool for understanding all the steps of production.

conventional [research] excavations : When the integrity of an archaeological site is not under threat, and the excavation can be planned and undertaken purely for research purposes, it is considered a conventional excavation. This type of excavation should be carried out to the highest possible standards, because there is no justification for neglecting or destroying evidence. Usually, the first step is to draw up a precise plan of all elements visible on the surface, and to set up a grid that will allow for identification of everything found in each square metre. This kind of excavation is carried out slowly, so that the three-dimensional location of each item uncovered can be recorded. Such excavations are often carried out in collaboration with other archaeologists and specialists in an effort to understand all aspects of human occupation and their activities at the location. The results of such research is usually disseminated through presentations at colloquia and written up for various publications and exhibitions.

core:  A core is a block of raw material that has been prepared to make it possible to flake off one or multiple tool blank(s).

crystalline quartz:  This is a very hard mineral, composed mainly of silica, and which is most often found with a hexagonal form. It is usually a translucent colour, sometimes with a uniform tint (brown, black, pink or orange).

flake:  A flake is a fragment of raw material that has broken off as a result of natural force (shock, thermal cracking) or artificial force (transformation by humans). Although most flakes produced by humans are residue from knapping and flaking, flakes are also often produced intentionally to serve as tool blanks.

ligature:  This is usually a cord or string wrapped around the working end and the handle of a tool in order to hold them together. For example, a ligature can be used to attach the blade to the handle of a knife.

lithic assemblage:  A collection of stone artifacts that were collected in a specific location (archaeological site, archaeological strata, etc.).

material culture:  Material culture is the sum of objects produced and/or transformed by humans and attributed to one or more cultures.

microblade:  A microblade is a small stone artefact, at least twice as long as it is wide, with two parallel cutting edges, and produced by flaking from a microblade core.

pressure tool:  A tool, generally elongated, used for applying direct, nonpercussive pressure to a stone object in order to flake off pieces. It could be used to produce blanks (blades and microblades) or to retouch a blank (pressure flaking)

quartz crystal:  See crystalline quartz.

raw materials quarry:  A raw materials quarry is a source of raw material that bears the traces of human activity linked in some way with either extracting or collecting the raw material.

retouch:  A retouch is usually a series of final edge chipping actions to remove material from an object in order to transform it. For example, a blank will be transformed into a tool through a series of chipping.

salvage (or rescue) excavations : When a proposed construction project or natural erosion (wave action, land slides, etc.) puts an archaeological site at risk, archaeologists are called in to perform a salvage excavation. The goal is to recover as much as possible the information from the site before it is destroyed. Sometimes, significant discoveries lead us to ask that a project be delayed. This type of excavation often involves a compromise between preserving the heritage of Nunavik, and pursuing its economic development. Advance planning of construction and improvement work is generally the best safeguard against the destruction of archaeological heritage.

scraper:  A scraper is characterized by its function: a tool for scraping. The distal end is usually a fairly steep uniface edge that can be used so as to scrape the worked object [usually a skin] without cutting through it.

striking platform:  A surface that has been prepared to permit the application of adequate force from a knapping tool to detach a piece of the material being worked.

tang microblade:  This is a microblade that has been retouched at one end. This shaping blunts the edges and makes it possible to attach it to a handle. The tang is the shaped portion that fits inside the handle.

technological approach:  see technology.

technology:  The term technology has been used, especially since the 1980s, by some archaeologists and ethnologists to talk about a particular discipline. The objective of this discipline is to understand human behaviours and their evolution over time by studying the techniques people applied to produce their material culture, and also how they used the human body, (eg: a way of sitting). The technology is directed largely towards the development of analytical methods that make it possible to understand the sequence of events, series of gestures, technical constraints and socio-economic conditions that accompanied human activities. The chaîne opératoire is applied as an analytical tool in this process. In archaeology, this approach is original in that it explores the dynamic relationships existing between all kinds of artefacts linked to the production and utilization of an object, including the waste materials.

test pits : Test pits generally involve excavating 50 x 50 cm or 1 x 1 m trenches in order to detect traces of occupation and understand the stratification of the site. During a salvage excavation, test pits can serve to verify the presence of archaeological vestiges in a specific location; in the course of an inventory, they help determine a site’s potential; and during a conventional excavation, they serve to determine the spatial coverage of an occupation or to locate the areas where specific activities took place.

tool:  In archaeology, a tool is an object with one or several functions. Often, archaeologists use the term tool to describe an object that is in fact the working part of a tool. For example, the blade of a knife is described as a tool, even without the presence of the handle.

types:  A type is a model, which can include a certain degree of variation, that makes it possible to group together a series of objects considered similar to the model. There are numerous trends in the choice of criteria depending on whether the emphasis is on the function of a tool (eg. a hammer, a knife), its shape (eg. a ring), or a series of particular attributes that are often designated with a neutral term (eg. type 1).

typology:  Usually, this is a list of types arising from an analysis aimed at grouping the most commonly related objects around a theme. For example, one might discuss the typology of stone tools. In archaeology, typologies have also been developed that allow objects to be analyzed or classified for museum use, either for displays or storage. Traditionally, typologies mainly focus on tools themselves, and not so much on production or utilization residues.

use-wear analysis:  This is the ensemble of analytical methods that consists essentially of observing (under a microscope) and characterizing the use-wear patterns left on parts of tools in order to determine various aspects of their functioning. To some degree, it is possible to identify the materials that produced these traces as well as the type of movement that created the wear marks.