Acoustics
The characteristics of a space that determine the quality of sound in it

Adobe
A mixture of sun-dried clay and straw used as a building material

Anthropology
The study of humanity, of its origins and future, and of individual and group behavior

Archaic human
Species of the genus Homo leading up to, but not including, Homo sapiens

Archaeology
The study of humanity’s past through the examination of physical remains

Archipelago
A cohesive group of islands

Carbon dating
A method of determining the age or date of organic matter from the relative proportions of the carbon isotopes carbon-12 and carbon-14 that it contains

Causeway
A raised road or path, often above wet or low ground

Complex society
A stage in the formation of a society characterized by a dense population, centralized government and bureaucracy, job specialization, organized religion, class hierarchy, and other such factors

Corbel vault
A construction method for bridging open space by insetting successive parallel layers of brick or stone until they meet in the center

Cosmology
The study of the origins and evolution of the universe

Dolerite
A medium-grained subvolcanic rock composed of crystals set in a fine matrix

Earthwork
An artificial mound, bank, or other formation made of soil

Façade
The exterior surfaces of a building, not including the roof

Fertile Crescent
A large region of the ancient world encompassing the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, southern Anatolia, and the Levant

Forecourt
A formal open area in front of the entrance to a building or complex of buildings

Genus
A category in the classification of biological organisms that ranks above “species” and below “family”

Gravettian
A late Stone Age culture that flourished in Europe from 33,000 BC to 17,000 BC

Henge
A prehistoric monument consisting of a circular area enclosed by a berm and ditch, often incorporating one or more rings of standing stones or wood poles, and possibly used for ritual purposes or as an astronomical observatory

Homo habilis
An archaic human species of the genus Homo that existed from roughly 2.4 to 1.4 million years ago

Homo sapiens
The only existing species of the genus Homo, which emerged in Africa around 300,000 BC

Lintel
A flat structural element of stone, wood, metal, or other material that spans an opening such as a door or window

Megalith
A very large stone or stones erected as a freestanding monument during human prehistory

Mound
In archaeological terms, an artificial hill of earth, stone, brick, or other materials

Mudbrick
A brick dried in the open air, made with various mixtures of earth, water, and materials such as sand, straw, and grain husks

Neolithic
The final phase of the Stone Age, starting with the emergence of agriculture in the Middle East around 8,000 BC, and concluding with the introduction of metallurgy at various periods around the globe

Nomadism
A way of life characterized by a lack of fixed residence and the seasonal movement of people within a defined territory

Paleoanthropology
The study of human evolution and culture in prehistory

Paleoarchaeology
The study of human prehistory through the examination of physical remains

Paleolithic
The early phase of the Stone Age, spanning the period from roughly 2.5 million years ago until the advent of agriculture in the Middle East around 8,000 BC

Palisade
A wooden or metal fence forming a defensive enclosure

Passage tomb
Also called a passage grave, characterized by a narrow passage of stone leading to an inner chamber or chambers, the whole covered in a mound of earth or stone

Pigment
Coloring agents derived from plant, animal, and mineral sources

Pilgrimage
A journey to a spiritually or ritually significant destination

Pleistocene
A geological epoch spanning from roughly 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago, often referred to as the Ice Age

Prehistory
The study of human events prior to the advent of written records

Sarsen
A kind of sandstone boulder used in the construction of Prehistoric monuments, particularly in the United Kingdom

Solstice
The longest (summer) and shortest (winter) days of the year, based on the position of the sun

Species
The lowest, most basic category in the classification of biological organisms, ranking below “genus”

Stone Age
A period of human prehistory characterized by the widespread use of stone tools, spanning from roughly 2.5 million years ago until the advent of metallurgy starting in the third millennium BC

Tell
A raised mound marking the location of a historic monument or building, particularly in the Middle East, formed by the accumulation of building material and debris over time

Woolly Mammoth
An extinct elephant species with a shaggy coat of fur and large curving tusks

Ziggurat
A monumental, stepped tower, often topped with a temple, particular to ancient Mesopotamia