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9 Questions

What is the purpose of non-intrusive remote sensing techniques in archaeology?

What is stratigraphic excavation?

What is the Harris matrix used for in archaeology?

What is single context recording?

What is the Law of Superposition?

What is the main technique used to retrieve small items such as bones, seeds, and pottery shards?

What is spot dating in archaeology?

What is the purpose of flotation in archaeology?

What is the downside of using sieving in archaeology?


Exposure, Processing and Recording of Archaeological Remains:

  • Excavation is the exposure, processing and recording of archaeological remains in a dig site, which can range from a few weeks to several years.

  • The types of data recovered from a site include artifacts, features, ecofacts, and archaeological context.

  • Non-intrusive remote sensing techniques, such as ground-penetrating radar, can suggest the presence or absence of archaeological remains before excavation.

  • Stratigraphic excavation, where deposits are removed layer by layer in reverse order of creation, is commonly used to keep the timeline of material remains consistent.

  • The Harris matrix is used to create a chronological record or "sequence" of the site and to understand the chronology of events.

  • Mechanical excavation is often used in salvage or rescue archaeology, but can result in less discrimination in recording the archaeological sequence.

  • Digital tools such as GPS, tablet computers, and 3D laser scanners are used for recording and sharing high-quality data from the excavation process.

  • Single context recording, developed in the 1970s, has become the de facto recording system in many parts of the world and is suited to the complexities of deep urban archaeology and the process of stratification.

  • The Law of Superposition indicates that layers of sediment further down will contain older artifacts than layers above.

  • The archaeological evidence left at a site may not be entirely indicative of the historical events that actually took place there.

  • Excavation initially involves the removal of any topsoil and a strategy for sampling the contexts and features is formulated which may involve total excavation of each feature or only portions.

  • The context (physical location) of a discovery is important for determining how long ago the artifact or feature was in use as well as what its function may have been.Techniques for Retrieving Finds during Archaeological Excavations

  • The retrieval of finds during archaeological excavations is mainly done by hand and observation.

  • Flotation is a retrieval process that separates finds that float on the surface of water from the spoil that sinks.

  • Sieving is a technique that is used to recover small items such as bones, seeds, and pottery shards.

  • Sieving is more common in research-based excavations where more time is available.

  • Cement mixers and bulk sieving have been used to allow quick removal of context while maintaining high retrieval rates.

  • Specialists provide spot dating information during excavation to confirm the validity of the working hypothesis on the phasing of the site.

  • Spot dating can provide advance warning of potential discoveries to come.

  • Dating methodology relies on accurate excavation, making the two activities interdependent.

  • Anomalous information could show up errors in excavation such as "undercutting."

  • Spoil from excavation can be retrieved post-excavation for flotation.

  • Flotation is especially suited for the recovery of environmental data stored in organic material like small bones and seeds.

  • The speed of sieving is offset by the damage it does to more fragile artifacts.


Test your knowledge on the exposure, processing, and recording of archaeological remains with this quiz! From excavation techniques to the retrieval of finds, this quiz covers all the important aspects of archaeological fieldwork. Put your skills to the test and learn about non-intrusive remote sensing techniques, the Harris matrix, digital tools, and more. Don't miss out on this opportunity to expand your knowledge on the fascinating world of archaeology!

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