A GLOSSARY OF ANTHOPOLOGICAL
AND GEOLOGICAL TERMS



ANTELIAN - The name of an Upper Paleolithic culture located in the Levant during the Late Pleistocene, identified by distinct fossil remains associated with the Cro-Magnon variation of Modern Man. (Dated: approx. 35,000-14,000 B.C.).

ATERIAN - The name of an Upper Paleolithic culture of North Africa during the Late Pleistocene, identified by distinct fossil remains associated with the Type de Mechta variation of Modern Man. (Dated: approx. 35,000-22,000 B.C.)

ATLATL - A spear thrower, a hooked, hand-held "extension" of the human arm to enhance spear throwing. It made its appearance in North Africa somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000 years ago.

ATLITIAN - The name of an Upper Paleolithic culture located in the Levant during the Late Pleistocene, identified by distinct fossil remains associated with the Cro-Magnon variation of Modern Man. Dates: 14,000-10,000 B.C.

ARCHAEOLOGY - The scientific study of life and culture of ancient peoples as by excavation of ancient cities, relics, artifacts, etc., and the inspection and analysis of anciently inhabited caves, grottos, etc. Sometimes spelled "archeology".

ARCHEOLOGY - The so-called "American spelling," commandeered in the early 1960s by processual archaeologists to distinguish them as espousing the views of the "New Archeology" as opposed to the earlier traditional methodology.

AURIGNACIAN - The name of an Upper Paleolithic culture located in Western Europe during the Late Pleistocene and associated with the Cro-Magnon variation of Modern Man. Dates: 35,000-22,000 B.C.

AZILIAN - The name of a Cro-Magnon Mesolithic culture located in Western Europe and the British Isles, existing during the Mesolithic Age (10,000-7,000 B.C.) but whose tools were more characteristic of Upper Paleolithic cultures.

BEFORE PRESENT - Because the "present" is always changing, authorities decided to make 1950 A.D. the official date to represent the "present"—therefore all B.P. ("before present") dates are routinely calculated from that date.

BRACHYCEPHALY - Literally "round-headed". An anthropological term distinguishing from dolichocephaly ("long-headed").

BRECCIA - A mass of material (e.g., earth, rocks, fossils, sand) which has been solidified by some kind of cementing matrix, such as lime salts from water.

CAPSIAN - The name of an early culture of North Africa, existing during the Mesolithic Age but using Upper Paleolithic-type tools (includes the robust Type de Mechta and the more gracile eastern "Type-A"). Dates: 10,000-7,000 B.C.

CARBON 14 - A radio isotope of carbon, used in estimating dates from carbon preserved during the last 70,000 years. Dating range is limited only because the isotope gradually disappears by decaying into the more stable Carbon-12.

CENOZOIC - Literally "Recent Life," the Age of Mammals beginning roughly 70 million years ago.

CHROMOSOMES - The carriers of inheritance, thread-like structures in the nuclei of cells on which genes are located. Exists in pairs, one member of each pair being supplied by each parent.

COMBE-CAPELLE - An "eastern" variation of Upper Paleolithic European Modern Man. Other named "eastern" types are Brunn Man, Predmost Man, Grimaldi Man—all more gracile than the Cro-Magnoid types. Dates: 38,000-10,000 B.C.

CRO-MAGNOID - A tall, robust, large-brained Modern Man much resembling Cro-Magnon whose remains have been found in portions of the Americas. Diagnostic trait: short-face, long-skull combination known as "disharmonism".

CRO-MAGNON - A tall, robust, large-brained variation of Modern Man dating from 35,000 B.C. to the present occupying Western Europe and several Atlantic islands. Some remains (exhibiting the diagnostic trait known as "disharmonism") have been found in the Levant. Equivalent type in North Africa is known as Type de Mechta.

DENDROCHRONOLOGY - An "absolute dating" method achieved by comparing the ring pattern of anciently felled trees to a master chart.

DISHARMONISM - The seemingly incongruent elements composed of a short, almost "squashed," face, combined with a wide and very long (dolichocephalic) cranium: present only in Cro-Magnon and Cro-Magnoid types of Modern Man.

DOLICHOCEPHALY - Literally "long headed". An anthropological term distinguishing from Brachycephaly ("round headed").

EVOLUTION - The gradual change in species of animals or plants in succeeding generations due to mutations triggered by natural radiation (cosmic rays, nuclear radiation, x-rays, gamma rays) and certain toxic chemical processes.

FISSION-TRACK - A radiometric dating technique based on analyses of the damage tracks left by fission fragments in certain uranium bearing minerals and glasses. It has helped our understanding of the thermal history of continental crust, the timing of volcanic events, and to determine the age of archeological artifacts.

FLORINE-DATING - The process whereby natural florine (present in ground water) which has accumulated in fossilized bones is used to determine the age of recovered fossilized material.

FOSSIL - Any evidence of a human, animal, or plant preserved over a long period of time; but most often on this web site refering to mineralized or otherwise preserved bone material.

GENES - The units of inheritance, located on the chromosomes in the nuclei of cells. Genes and chromosomes are paired (received from each parent), and the joint action of these determines the characteristics of individual offspring.

GLACIATION - The forming of ice sheets on land, either by extension of mountain glaciers in glaciated valleys, or by the formation of continental glaciers during a glacial phase.

HOMINID - Pertaining to the family Hominidae, of man, and thus relating to characteristics or members of this family, usually as distinguished from pongid (pertaining to members of the Pongidae, or apes). Distinct in meaning from "hominoid," which refers to both families.

HOMINIDAE - The family of "man," including modern man and fossil man (in the subfamily of Homininae) and the man-apes (Australopithecenae) and likely including the Pliocene form Ramapithecus. Characterized by upright bipedalism and certain traits of dentition.

HOMININAE - A subfamily of the family Hominidae, containing the fossil men of the Pleistocene and living man (Homo erectus to Homo sapiens), but excluding the Australopithecinae.

IBERO-MAURUSIAN - An Upper Paleolithic culture (now known as "Oranian") existing in North Africa during the Late Pleistocene and associated with the human Type de Mechta. (Dated: approx. 22,000-14,000 B.C.)

MAGDALENIAN - An Upper Paleolithic culture of Western Europe existing during the Late Pleistocene and associated with the Cro-Magnon variation of Modern Man. Dates: 14,000-10,000 B.C.

MESOLITHIC - Middle Stone Age generally, but more specifically refering to a group of transitional cultures between the end of Paleolithic culture and the appearance of Neolithic activities (the latter including extensive farming, extensive use of clay pottery, prolific domestication of animals, etc.). Dated traditionally 10,000-7,000 B.C.

MESOZOIC - Middle Life, the Age of Reptiles, the geological period dominated by dinosaurs, but including the earliest development of mammals.

MIOCENE - The fourth division of the Cenozoic or Tertiary era, lasting from about 25-10 million years ago, during which the earliest apes made their appearance.

MOUILLIAN - The name of an Upper Paleolithic culture of North Africa existing in the Late Pleistocene, identified by distinct fossil remains associated with the Type de Mechta variation of Modern Man. (Dated: approx. 14,000-10,000 B.C.)

MOUSTRIAN - a Late Pleistocene complex of stone industries of the Lower Paleolithic, exclusively associated with Neanderthal Man (technically known as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis). Dates: 250,000-35,000 B.C.

MUTATION - A permanant change in any gene in an individual which in turn produces a change which will be passed on to any occuring offspring.

NATUFIAN - The name of a Cro-Magnon Mesolithic culture located in the Levant during the Mesolithic Age (10,000-7,000 B.C.). Diagnostic traits: incipient agriculture, crude pottery, and possibly dog domestication.

NEANDERTHAL - A stocky, powerful, large-brained type of man known technically as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis who lived during the Lower Paleolithic and made rather crude stone tools. They were the first to bury their dead.

NEOLITHIC - New Stone Age, the age before the knowledge of metallurgy, but in which pottery and farming flourished, and certain animals (goats, sheep, etc.) were domesticated. Small villages existed. Dated traditionally from 7,000-3500 B.C.

ORANIAN - The name of an Upper Paleolithic culture (formerly called "Ibero-Maurusian") existing during the Late Pleistocene, located in North Africa and associated with Type de Mechta variation of Modern Man. (Dated approx. 22,000-14,000 B.C.)

PALEOLITHIC - Old Stone Age, Divided into Lower Paleolithic (pre-Modern Man) and Upper Paleolithic (Modern Man), the latter beginning about 38,000 B.C. and distinguished from the former by utensils made using a flake-blade technique.

PERIGORDIAN - An Upper Paleolithic wide-spread European culture, usually divided into Lower and Upper, which existed from beginning to end of the Upper Paleolithic Age (38,000-10,000 B.C.). The physical type associated with the Perigordian is known as the "eastern," more gracile variation of Modern Man (sometimes generalized as "Combe Capelle").

PLEISTOCENE - The earliest of the two divisions of the Quaternary era, and last division of geological time before the Recent (Holocene): the Ice Age, lasting from perhaps 3,000,000-12,000 years ago. All fossil humans belong to this period.

PLIOCENE - The fifth division of the Cenezoic or Tertiary era, lasting from about 12 million to 3 million years ago. The ancestors to modern apes belong to this period.

PRIMATES - An order of mammals to which man, apes, monkeys, and prosimians (lemurs, lorises, etc.) belong.

SOLUTREAN - An Upper Paleolithic culture of Western Europe existing during the Late Pleistocene, identified by distinct fossil remains associated with the Cro-Magnon variation of Modern Man. Dates: 22,000-14,000 B.C.

THERMOLUMINESCENCE - (TL) dating by means of measuring the accumulated radiation dose of the time elapsed since a clay artifact was originally fired. As the material is heated during testing, a weak light signal proportional to the radiation dose is produced. The amount of light emitted determinates the firing date.

TYPE-DE-MECHTA - A tall, robust, large-brained variation of Modern Man occupying North Africa from 35,000 B.C. to the present. Diagnostic trait: short-face, long-skull combination known as "disharmonism". The equivalent of Cro-Magnon in Europe.

URANIUM-THORIUM - A radiometric dating technique commonly used to determine the age of certain carbonate materials. Age is determined from the degree to which equilibrium has been restored between the radioactive isotope thorium-230 and its radioactive parent uranium-234 within a sample.




Atlantek Software Inc., Version 1.0
Compiled by R. Cedric Leonard
Last update: 15 May 2009.