Teaching eHRAF 2.3 (www.yale.edu/teaching.htm)
eHRAF Workbook for Introductory Archaeology Courses
Christiane Cunnar, Human Relations Area Files
following exercises are designed for in-class use or as homework
assignment in an introductory archaeology course.
They are linked to data in eHRAF World Cultures and Archaeology. The purpose of the workbook is to
give the students a feel for archaeological regional
differences, and to give the students an understanding of the
structure and functionality of the eHRAF databases.
exercises start out easy as students can directly link to
readings in sections 1.1-5 and 1.7. In
sections 1.6. and 1.8-10 they become increasingly difficult.
Students are asked to perform searches using a unique subject
indexing system, called Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM).
Detailed instructions are provided to guide the students through
following exercises use both eHRAF databases, eHRAF
Archaeology and World Cultures. If your institution currently
doesn't have access to the databases the hyperlinks will not
work and you will see a blank white screen (when hyperlinking).
Contact HRAF for a password and then log onto the database before performing the exercises. Please also note that once you
hyperlink to the text in the database you leave this web site.
To return to this web site, use the browers back button, mark
this web site as bookmark, or open this web site as separate
screen. Answer keys are available for instructors.
you need a password, an answer key, or have questions,
please contact Christiane Cunnar, HRAF, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call her at 1-800-520-HRAF, or directly at 203-764-9404 ext
Section 1. Burial Practices in
Prehistory and in the Ethnographic Record
and contrast the following readings on prehistoric burial
practices found in Asia, Oceania, and North America. Think about
the reasons why burial customs may vary around the world? In
what ways do they differ, in what ways are they similar? How may
burials reflect the level of socio-political and economic
complexity of a society? What
role does the environment play in determining burial practices?
What role does preservation play in the interpretation of burial
remains? What roles do
animals play in burials? Read the following sections and answer
the questions for each section. To return to this web site,
hit your browser's back button, or open a separate window with
this web site..
1.1. The Scythian Tradition in West-Central Asia
about the Scythian tradition by reading its tradition
summary. Then read and answer the following questions
pertaining to Renate Rolle's chapter titled " 2
world of the Scythians."
What is the date and place coverage for the Scythian
What are the burial mounds called in eastern Europe and
in the Ukraine?
What precious metal can be found in the graves?
What does Rolle call
the Scythian cave-like burials that are characterized by their
What method of preservation was used for the royalty in
According to traditional folk belief, what is the length
of time between death and burial?
What two preservation materials were used on the corpses?
does the height of the burial mound usually indicate?
What is assumed to have stood on top of the burial mounds
when first erected?
1.2. The Late Southern California Tradition in North America
about the Late Southern California Tradition by reading its tradition
summary. Then read and answer the following
questions pertaining to Jeanne E. Arnold's short section
titled "Burials" in "Craft
specialization in the prehistoric Channel Islands, California."
What are the names of the sites?
What is the place and date coverage for the Late Southern
What special items were found at these sites?
What do archaeologists link these special items with?
1.3 The Classic Maya
Tradition in Eastern Mesoamerica
about the Classic Maya tradition by reading its tradition
Then read and answer the following questions pertaining
to Ledyard Smith's chapter on the "General
Discussion of Burials" in
his book "Uaxactun, Guatemala: excavations of 1931-1937."
How does Smith distinguish between a simple grave, cist,
crypt and chamber?
is the site name and its location, date coverage for the period,
and field date for the excavation?
In what two major positions were the skeletons found at
What two major types of body alterations were performed
on the Classic Maya?
What type of preservation of the body was common to the
Early and Late Classic Periods?
What types of ornaments were found as grave goods?
What is the unusual burial practice found in the Late
Classic Period, but not in the Early Classic Period that
involves a precious stone?
1.4 The Hawaiian Tradition in the Major Islands of Hawaii
about the Hawaiian tradition by reading its tradition
Then read and answer the questions pertaining to the
section on " Disposal
of the Dead" in Vinton Kirch's book titled "Feathered gods and fishhooks: an introduction to Hawaian archaeology and prehistory."
What different types of burials does Kirch discuss?
According to Kirch, what is the most common form of
What is the place and date coverage for the Hawaiian
Ornaments, found in the burial of an old female, may
indicate what status of the deceased?
Where can the bodies of the deceased be found in house
Who was usually buried in temple burials?
1.5. Burial Practices in the Ganges Neolithic Tradition in India
Harendra Prasad Sinhas subchapter titled"Burials"
in "Archaeological and cultural history of north Bihar: with special reference to Neolithic-Chirand"and answer the following questions:
What is the name of the site and what are the time
periods associated with the site?
is this site so different?
were no human remains found at the site?
1.6. Cremation: A Specific Type of Mortuary Practice
readings in section 1.4 (Hawaiian tradition) and section 1.5
(Ganges Neolithic tradition) refer specifically to crematory
practices. Use eHRAF Archaeology to explore
other archaeological traditions that make reference to crematory
practices. Select any five archaeological traditions from five
different regions. In
your findings include the following aspects: 1) Name the
archaeological tradition and region; 2) What might be associated
with a cremation (e.g., are pottery vessels, stone tools,
ornaments)? 3) Are there any indication of ritualistic
http://ehrafarchaeology.yale.edu (Archaeology) click on 'Search' on the upper
- Select "Basic Search" and in the box type in the word cremat*. (Truncating word with an
asterisk retrieves word variations such as cremation,
cremated, etc.). This searches for the word "cremat"
at paragraph-level in all the documents of the tradition
files in eHRAF.
on the 'Word Search' button to execute search.
on the various tradition names and click on the
"matches" to read the information in the paragraphs, or
click on "Show full paragraph" or "Go to Paragraph in Page"to read
the information in the context of the page.
5 archaeological traditions from 5 different regions and
answer the questions as outline in the paragraph above.
Practices of the Khasi: An Ethnography by a Missionary in India
some cultures mortuary practices can be a very involved as the
grieving family, relatives and friends prepare the body for a
life in the afterworld. The different aspects of disposing of
the dead include preservation (e.g., embalming, desiccation);
location of disposal of corpse (e.g., cemetery, ossuary);
receptacles (e.g., coffin, canoe, urn, tomb); method of disposal
(e.g., cremation, sea burial, cave burial, tree or scaffold
burial); preparation of grave, pyre, or scaffold; disposition of
corpse (e.g., posture, orientation); funerary mounds, monuments,
and memorials; burial rites; mortuary sacrifices; and
disposition of grave goods.
burials are usually associated with the presence of human
remains, this is not always the case. Cremations are suggested
to account for the absence of human remains even though grave
goods are present (see Kirch in Section 1.4. and Sinha in
Section 1.5). Ethnohistorical
data and ethnographies are sometimes used by archaeologists to
support certain assumptions.
out more about the crematory processes of the Khasi culture in
the Meghalaya State of India, as discussed by P. F. Stegmiller,
an apostolic missionary. Stegmiller
describes how a deceased is prepared for the journey into the
and answer the following questions pertaining to the section
Cremation (ka jingthang)" in Stegmiller's book
Religious Life of the Khasi."
the crematory process what distinguishes the various
items are placed by the body of a man, what items are placed by
the body of a woman on the funerary pyre, but then they are not
the crematory ceremony a goat is sacrificed.
Stegmiller compares a sacrificed he-goat to a
scapegoat in which aspect?
other animals might be used at cremation ceremonies?
Once the corpse is burned what is done with the remains
and where are they stored.
Section 1.8. Animal Remains in
Prehistoric Human Burials
Human burials often contain
remains of different types of animals such as wolves, dogs,
bison, sheep, pigs, antelopes, goats, horses, etc.
Human activity and natural processes are often cited as
the reason that animals appear in human burials.
For example, maybe a person had a favorite pet, perhaps a
canine such as a dog or wolf which was sacrificed to accompany
the deceased master on his/her journey into the afterlife.
Maybe the favorite dog, after it died, was added to the
burial at a later date. Animals, such as the horses found in the
Scythian burials (see Section 1.1.), may also indicate the
wealth and status of an individual. Animals may be sacrificed in
an elaborate ritual to provide food for the deceased in the
afterlife, and/or for purification purposes. Or maybe natural
post-depositional processes such as the shifting of soil may
have resulted in a coincidental relationship between the animal
and the tomb.
the section on the Ganges Neolithic tradition in India (see
section 1.5), Harendra
Prasad Sinhas chapter
in "Archaeological and cultural history of north Bihar: with special reference to Neolithic-Chirand" supports the idea that when a master died, a dog was sacrificed
and added to the burial.
you find other archaeological sites/traditions in eHRAF
Archaeology that contain remains of dogs in
any five archaeological traditions from five different regions.
In your findings include the following: 1) Name of the
archaeological tradition and region; 2) Briefly describe the
context (e.g., are the dogs associated with pottery vessels,
stone tools, human skeletons? 3) Are there any ritualistic
to link to eHRAF Archaeology. Use Lookup Search to search for the OCMs 764 (Burial Practices and Funerals) and 766
(Special Burial Practices and Funerals).
1.9. Dogs used in Funerary Practices: Using the eHRAF Collection
ethnographic record may offer some insight into the use of dogs
in prehistoric funerary customs.
Using the eHRAF Collection of Ethnography, search for
dogs associated with burial practices for the following ethnic
groups: Tlingit; Ojibwa; Southern Toraja, Eastern Toraja. Briefly
describe how these four ethnic groups use dogs differently in
their funerary customs.
to link to eHRAF World Cultures .
advanced Boolean search employs OCM subject codes and a word.
Use Lookup Search to search for the OCMs 764 (Burial Practices and Funerals) and 766
(Special Burial Practices and Funerals) at the paragraph level of the documents.
Section 1.10. Grave Goods-- Indicators
of Status and Prestige?
mode of disposal usually indicates the status of a person.
For example, a person of high status is buried in fancy
attire and grave goods usually include ornaments such as
necklaces, ceramic vessels that contain food for the journey
into the afterlife, and other objects. For example, Renate
Rolle's chapter titled " 2
Death and burial" in "The
world of the Scythians"(see Section 1.1. for more detail) discusses elaborate burials as being a signs of wealth and
Underhill suggests that pigs found in Dawenkou burials in China
may signify high status of person(s). Read Underhill's chapter on " Display
of Status" in "An
Analysis of Mortuary Ritual at the Dawenkou Site, Shandong,
China" to learn
about ancient Asian mortuary rituals.
Use Lookup Search in eHRAF
Archaeology to search for burials associated with
individuals who had special status and prestige.
Select five traditions from five regions and briefly
describe the references made to the status of the deceased.
If given, include details such as the kind of grave goods (e.g.,
knives, beads, pottery), occupation of the individual (e.g.
warrior, craftsman, ruler), age of the deceased, presence of
human sacrifice, etc.
to link to the eHRAF Archaeology. This
advanced Boolean search employs OCM subject codes and a word.
Use Advanced Search to search for "Status, Role, and Prestige" and "Burial
Practices and Funerals" or "Special Burial Practices and