32402f09 - Introduction to Archaeology: Class 9 Finding...

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Introduction to Archaeology: Class 9 Finding sites and reading culture from maps Copyright Bruce Owen 2002 Finding sites: survey methods archaeologists usually find or confirm sites by recognizing artifacts on the surface sometimes walls, foundations, or mounds of accumulated debris are visible more often, bits of broken pottery or stone tools are scattered on the surface more details on this later… many sites are obvious or were never lost hard to miss the pyramids, Roman coliseum, etc. asking the local people they often know where they have found artifacts while plowing fields, digging wells, etc. they may have oral traditions of where events occurred in the distant past old maps and documents placenames air and satellite photos may show subtle patterns in relief soil color plant growth, etc. accidental discovery such as when a bulldozer working on a construction project plows up some artifacts very common; many important sites have been found this way The most thorough method is systematic site survey walking in an orderly pattern back and forth across the landscape and recording all artifacts that are laying on the ground If there is ground cover or sites are likely to be buried, it may be necessary to dig small trenches in likely areas, bore holes with augers, etc. Systematic survey is slow and expensive but unlike the other methods, it can give you a more complete, relatively unbiased picture of the distribution of sites in the whole region not just the places that happen to have standing architecture, be remembered, have been discovered accidentally, etc. Thomas emphasizes looking for particular sites - a cave that will answer his questions, or a specific historical mission But often we just want to know what is there in general, rather than find a specific site Or we want to look at the settlement pattern : the pattern of distribution of sites of different types across the landscape, and their relationships to natural resources and each other The settlement pattern of a given region and time can tell us a lot about the culture that produced it - often things that would be difficult or impossible to learn from excavating a single site simply finding surface evidence of sites, recording what is there and where, can provide a huge amount of information for much less effort and cost than excavation
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Introduction to Archaeology F 2002 / Owen: Finding sites and reading culture from maps p. 2 100% coverage (or "full coverage" ) survey methods line of archaeologists walking across the countryside, looking at the ground spacing within the line and between passes determines the largest possible site that could be missed collect standardized information about each place where any evidence is found field forms location, site number or name, how to find it if necessary description of sherds, lithics, walls, etc. found size of surface scatter of artifacts; map of the area covered or any architecture description of the place: location, topography, ecology, access to water, travel routes,
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32402f09 - Introduction to Archaeology: Class 9 Finding...

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