One approach to analyzing and interpreting prehistoric variability across space and through time has been typological: to designate perceived patterns among archaeological sites, assemblages, artifacts, or peoples with proper names. Such an approach has both its advocates and its critics. This glossary attempts to identify briefly such terms occurring in the literature of California prehistory. The aim here is purely descriptive, not prescriptive: to communicate information on how these terms have been used, not to assess their validity or to propose a preferred set of categories for future use.
Additional details on these terms can be found in general references and specialized publications. To help direct the glossary users to these sources, some of them are cited in the individual entries and listed in the “References Cited” section. Such citations have been limited to publicly available documents, including published books and articles, disserations, and theses. However, much of the basic information on these terms exists in the less accessible grey literature of unpublished cultural resource management (CRM) reports, academic and museum reports, and oral conference presentations.
A glossary such as this one is necessarily provisional, incomplete, and imperfect — a work-in-progress. Corrections, updates, and suggestions for additions will be welcomed. They may be sent to the SCA Webmaster.