Definition of Features
One of the reasons for re-organizing the AZSITE database was to make possible
database searches of general classes of features. To do this, it is necessary
to minimize the number of synonymous terms under which features may be listed.
The following list of features has been compiled in an effort to be comprehensive
while, at the same time, retaining some control over the number of synonymous
terms used to name features. Consequently, while the AZSITE database does not
require use of these terms, consistent use, where possible, will improve the usefulness
of the database as a research tool.
Various systems of classifying features strictly by form or strictly by function
were tried and discarded as too inconsistent with the way archaeologists really
work in the field. Hence, the following list includes names that combine both
form and function. For example, the term Compound Wall implies the form of a wall
with the function of delineating a habitation area. If this name is not appropriate,
there are less specific feature names to consider. The term Wall may be used,
which does not imply that the wall functioned as part of a habitation. Or the
term Undefined Rock Alignment may be used, which implies that the feature's form
is unclear. In both cases, the Feature Use field should help provide further specificity
as to the feature's function.
For sites where the only evidence of human activity is a scatter (Artifact Scatter,
Lithic Scatter, Sherd Scatter or Trash Scatter), the scatter must be listed as
a feature, otherwise the AZSITE database will not contain any component information.
For sites where a scatter is just one of two or more features and component information
will accompany other features, it is not necessary to list the scatter as a feature.
In both cases, the artifacts should be described in the Artifacts section of Side
C, as detailed on page 17. It is not necessary to repeat assemblage information
in the Feature Remarks section of the Feature Record.
Feature names should be as specific as possible without overstating the evidence.
For example, a depression known to be a pithouse should be named Pithouse. A depression
only thought to be a pithouse should be named Undefined Depression and then further
suggestions as to the nature of the depression should be included in Feature Remarks.
A rock alignment that is not clearly a Wall or a Linear Border should be named
Undefined Rock Alignment.
Certain feature names are broadly inclusive. For example, Mine includes all
forms of excavated areas associated with mining and further description of the
feature as adit, prospect or vent shaft should be included in Feature Remarks.
Water Control Device should be used for all features (e.g., check dams or headgates)
used to trap and direct water flow to a specific area.
Each Feature Name is followed by a brief explanation and related terms. These
related terms are listed to direct attention to other feature names that might
be more appropriate. For example, if Barn is too specific a term, then Shed or
Fired Brick Structure or Milled Lumber Structure may do.
Preferred Feature Terms