32402f11 - Introduction to Archaeology Class 11 Digging...

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Introduction to Archaeology: Class 11 Digging square holes Copyright Bruce Owen 2002 OK, we have mapped the site, made and analyzed systematic surface collections, and maybe done some remote sensing. We still have questions about what went on there, so we decide to dig. Small point: I have been using “systematic” in two senses, both of which are in common use “systematic survey” or “systematic surface collections” refers to those that use some system that controls the areas tested, as opposed to more casual approaches like “reconnaissance survey”, which often means just visiting likely places, talking with people, etc. or surface collections where material happens to be available, as from looters’ pits or road cuts these approaches do not attempt to be complete, and they could have all sorts of weird biases but a “systematic sampling strategy” refers to placing survey, collection, or excavation units across space in a grid or other rigid, regular pattern as opposed to a random sampling strategy, or other schemes “systematic survey” or “systematic surface collections” might or might not use a “systematic sampling strategy”. Two general approaches to excavation: vertical and horizontal not sharp categories; they grade from one extreme to the other vertical excavations typically focus on looking at a deep stack of strata seek to get an idea of change over time by looking at how the collections of artifacts differ from the bottom to the top of a deep pit this is a diachronic approach tend to be fairly small areas, since with finite time and budget, you can’t do a deep excavation over a large area unfortunately, this gives you a very limited view of what was happening at any given time for example, if one layer has a greater concentration of stone flakes, does that mean that stone flaking was more prevalent at that time, or just that the small pit happened to hit a stoneworking area at this level, but missed them in others? That means that one has to be cautious about how deep excavations are interpreted Often the best approach is to do several deep excavations at the same or comparable sites Then look for characteristics that are found in most or all of the pits at corresponding levels, or trends that are seen in most or all of them These should be reflections of general patterns But by definition they have to be very general, because you don’t know much about their context For example, say you find that the stone projectile points changed from oval to triangular over time
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Introduction to Archaeology F 2002 / Owen: Digging square holes p. 2 You probably can’t tell whether these points were made by the same people, or whether the new points were made by different people who immigrated there, because you can’t see the other kinds of evidence that might indicate such a change Different shapes of houses, different styles of burials, etc. People doing vertical excavations often look for deep garbage dumps, rather than
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32402f11 - Introduction to Archaeology Class 11 Digging...

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