|Dr. Erlinda M. Burton in Huluga
Burton, however, is amused by this distinction because, she says, habitation and settlement are synonymous.
Is Burton correct? Between 1965 to 1968, Burton learned of the definitions because she studied master of arts in anthropology (specializing in archaeology) at Brigham Young University, Utah. During this period, she had the chance to work with Louis S. B. Leakey in the Calico Archaeological Site in California. Her thesis was A Study of the Prehistoric Settlement Patterns of the Provo Area in Central Utah. But 40 years have passed since then. Have the definitions changed?
I checked an online dictionary of scientific terms (webref.org) and found this entry: "habitation: a location where a human group has lived and conducted normal daily activities for a significant period."
That looked to me synonymous to settlement. But not satisfied, I consulted the huge database of archaeologywordsmith.com, which is "run by Dr. Barbara Ann Kipfer, a lexicographer with almost 30 years' experience in writing and editing dictionaries, thesauri, and other word books ... Dr. Kipfer is the author of more than 37 books and holds an MPhil and PhD in linguistics. She is also a Registered Professional Archaeologist and has a PhD in archaeology."
Archaeologywordsmith.com defines "habitation site" as "A general term for any area that has evidence of a domestic activity, such as food preparation. Any site where people lived in the past."
The dictionary does not have an entry for "settlement", so I emailed questions to Dr. Kipfer: "What is the difference among the terms 1) settlement site, 2) habitation site, and 3) campsite?"
Dr. Kipfer: "A settlement or settlement site is a site or location that is or was habitation. A habitation site is a general term for any area that has evidence of a domestic activity, such as food preparation; it is also any site where people lived in the past -- making it the same as a settlement site. A campsite is simply a placed used for camping."
|"A habitation site is ... the same as a settlement site."
Elizaga: "I got curious about these terms because a group of archaeologists in the University of the Philippines recently wrote that an archaeological site in my place is 'a habitation' or 'camp-like' but it is not a 'settlement'."
Dr. Kipfer: "Their terminology would certainly be different mainly because of language differences."
Elizaga: "Another archaeologist [Burton] says 'habitation' and 'settlement' are synonymous."
Dr. Kipfer: "That would be correct."
Elizaga: "Why is there no definition for "settlement site" in reference-wordsmith.com (now archaeologywordsmith.com)?"
Dr. Kipfer: "I am adding it, but really it is the type of thing not defined in a dictionary as its definition is understood by the definitions of its parts, i.e. "it is a site where there was or is a settlement."
The next day, I checked archaeologywordsmith.com again, and was pleased to find a new entry as she had promised, defined with such minimal clarity as to prevent any possibility of misunderstanding:
DEFINITION: Site or location that is or was habitation.
Now, using this reference -- authored by an expert who is not only a linguist and lexicographer but also a Registered Professional Archaeologist -- I reckon that it is ultimately safe to revise the conclusion of the Archaeological Studies Program to "Huluga was a Habitation, But Unlikely a Habitation."
In January 2009, I received a partial copy of an article by archaeologist Vito Hernandez of the Archaeological Studies Program. In this document, the idea that Huluga is a habitation but not a settlement is still propagated. I guess the profound mystery of this concept will continue to baffle the international settlement of archaeologists. But not to worry. In the archaeological camp of the University of the Philippines, this koan-like riddle should continue to make perfect sense.