The Function of Artifacts.
During the 1940s American archaeology moved from a concern with chronological ordering of artifacts to an interest in the function of an object and the context in which it was used. Archaeologists began to look at artifacts as the material relics of social and cultural behavior. The function of a specific object was determined by paying careful attention to where it was found. For example, in a 1943 study of copper and shell artifacts uncovered in the southeastern United States, archaeologist John W. Bennett concluded on the basis of their appearence and context that they were ritual paraphernalia. After almost identical pieces were found in distant sites such as Georgia and Oklahoma, Bennett concluded that he was dealing with the material remains of a widespread religious cult. Bennett's interpretation was a major step in archaeological methodology because it employed both the immediate "micro-context" in...
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