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Excavation Techniques and Analysis
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Excavation Techniques and Analysis



Covers the basics of archaeological techniques and Analysis

Covers the basics of archaeological techniques and Analysis



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  • I found good archaeology excavation informative slide presentation. Great presentation, nice information i like this 'Archaeological Excavation Report' presentation slide.

    our archaeology related blogspot is http://archaeologyexcavations.blogspot.com/
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    Excavation Techniques and Analysis Excavation Techniques and Analysis Presentation Transcript

    • Excavation Techniques and Analysis Recovering Fossil Forms
    • Fundamentals of Archaeology
      • Site discovery and selection
      • Excavation of artifacts, ecofacts, and features
      • Analysis for dates, attributes, and environment
    • How are Sites Formed?
      • Taphonomy: Study of how lifeforms or artifacts wound up at a particular location
      • Fossils:
        • Remains of life form from the past
        • Petrification: replacement of bone with mineral or stone
    • How are Items Preserved?
      • Some materials resist deterioration:
        • Bone: Skulls and teeth
        • Stone or Metal (tools, ornaments)
        • Seeds, with protective covers
      • Others may be preserved by
        • Arid climates (Peruvian coast)
        • Water: Planks in Lakes in France
        • Peat moss: the “Bog People”
    • More Examples of Preservation
      • Waterlogged Sites: Bog People, Denmark
      • Arid Sites: Puruchucho-Huaqerones Mummies, Peru
      • Cold Sites: The Iceman, Italian Alps
      • Volcanic Ash, Cerén, El Salvador
    • Site Discovery
      • Lucky finds
      • Consulting available sources: studies, records, even older informants
      • Maps and aerial photographs
      • Geographical Information Systems/Remote Sensing
    • Site Selection
      • Learning everything possible about each site
      • Selecting as large and representative a site as possible
      • Preliminary work: surface finds, features, perhaps test pits or trenches
      • Problem-Oriented Research and Deliberate Surveys: Hadar, Ethiopia
    • Survey: Mapping, Part 1: General
      • First principle: Digging is destructive--record everything!
      • Mapping
        • Latitude, longitude, and elevation
        • Benchmarks or features
      • Measurements
        • Horizontal
        • Vertical
    • Survey: Mapping Part 2: Horizontal Measurement
      • Select and draw west-east (X-axis) and north-south (Y-axis) baselines from primary site datum
      • Mark off intervals at meters and centimeters from baselines
      • Label the intervals along axes of the grid by letters, numbers, or both
      • Adapt procedure according to topographical or archaeological features
    • Survey: Mapping Part 3: Vertical Measurements
      • Surveying using transit or alidade and measuring rod
      • Vertical base: benchmark or permanent feature of known elevation
      • Convert measures to meters above sea level.
    • Survey: Test pits and trenches
      • Test pits provide sample of site stratigraphy
      • Stratigraphy: profile of two or more layers of
        • Natural sediment
        • Human remains and artifacts
      • Test pits provide sample of overall site
      • Test Trenches reveal stratigraphy
    • Tools for Excavation
      • Dental picks or paint brushes
      • Ice picks
      • Tweezers (fragile objects)
      • Trowels (pointed and square)
      • Shovels (pointed and square-nosed)
      • Heavy equipment (backhoes)
      • Buckets and Screens
    • Vertical Excavation: Some “Laws”
      • Law of Association:
          • Artifacts found at the same stratum (layer) are in association with one another
          • Artifacts found at different strata are not in association with one another
      • Law of Superposition: Geological layers are stratified one upon another
          • Lower strata are older than higher ones
      • Uniformitarianism: Geological processes similar throughout time
    • Vertical Excavation: Stratigraphy
      • Layer deposited in chronological order: lowest layer is oldest and so on.
      • Disturbances can change stratigraphy
        • Erosion from hillside: oldest is top layer
        • Structure foundation disturbs layers
        • Burrowing animals may move objects
        • Then there are golddiggers and pothunters
    • Vertical Excavation: Procedure:
      • Each artifact is recorded and removed
        • Photographed, sketched, or described
        • Vertical and horizontal position
      • Soils analyzed for chemistry, pollen, etc
      • Associations between artifacts are recorded
        • Assumption: artifacts found at same layer occurred at same time period
    • Vertical Excavation: Proveniencing
      • Definition: recording artifacts in three-dimensional space
      • Transit and stadia rod: record is set from a secondary datum point
      • Theodolite: records the position of an artifact using a laser bouncing off a prism of known height
    • Horizontal Excavation: Procedure
      • As each layer or stratum is excavated, it is removed
      • Same procedure of excavation is repeated for next layer
      • One or two layers: prefer horizontal excavation to get lay of the site
      • Different samples are taken for different layers: soil, pollen, charcoal, bone
      • Some layers may be left for control
    • Analysis: Aims and Objectives
      • Dating
      • Artifact: classification
      • Bone analysis
      • Paleobotany
      • Palynology (pollen analysis)
      • Paleozoology
      • Structures
      • Other features
    • Overview of Dating
      • Unifomitarianism
      • Relative Dating
        • Stratigraphy
        • Association
      • Absolute Dating
        • Calendrical
        • Natural Features
        • Isotopic
    • Dating: Uniformitarianism
      • Uniformitarianism vs. Catastrophism
      • Uniformitarianism: All geological processes--erosion, weathering--observable today have always been present and at the same rate
      • Uniformitarianism is the basis of dating.
      • Catastrophism: Changes have been sudden and have occurred at different rates in the past from those of the present.
    • Relative Dating
      • Stratigraphy: Establishment of sequences by soil strata
        • Exceptions: soil disturbance, erosion.
      • Law of Association: Dating of finds within a stratum
    • Chronometric Associations: Relative and Absolute Dating Combined?
      • Basic principle: Materials associated with other materials of known age are the same age range
        • Bottle styles and clay pipes .
        • Gravestones in Stoneham, MA (Deetz)
    • Absolute Dating: Calendrical
      • Entails use of traditional calendars
        • Mayan
          • Long Count: Beginning date fixed at 3113 BC
          • Calendar Rounds: 260- and 365-day calendars
        • Egyptians:
          • 332 BC Conquest by Alexander the Great
          • Traced back through recorded dynasties
          • Astronomical events checked by present data
        • Others: Chinese, Romans, Greeks
    • Absolute Dating: Natural Features
      • Dendrochronology: Tree ring dating
        • Tree rings vary from year to year
        • Local stumps or timber compared with master sequence (e.g., Univ. of Arizona)
      • Varve analysis: Clay deposits in lakes from melting ice.
        • Patterns also differ yearly
        • Likewise compared with master chart.
    • Absolute Dating: Isotopic Techniques
      • Common Principles
        • Isotopes: Radioactive variants of elements (e.g. carbon, potassium)
        • Isotopes decay from radioactive to nonradioactive element
        • They do so at a constant rate
      • Half Life: The period in which radioactivity rate reaches half the original rate.
    • Isotopic Techniques: Radiocarbon Dating
      • Carbon is found in all lifeforms
      • Carbon 12 is the stable element
      • All living things accumulate Carbon 14
      • At death, carbon 14 decays at a constant rate to Carbon 12
      • It reaches half the rate of original radioactivity in 5730 years
      • At 11460 years, radioactivity is half the second rate--and so on
    • Isotopic Techniques: Accelerator Mass Spectrometry
      • In dating, a sample is cleaned then burned to produce gas
      • Proportion of C14 to C12 is then counted using Geiger counter
      • Several grams are required for the count
      • Accelerated Mass Spectrometer: counts individual molecules
      • Advantage: High accuracy, less material
    • Isotopic Techniques: Radiopotassium Dating
      • Half life: 1.3 billion years
      • Potassium is found in granite, basalt, clay
      • Potassium 40 decays to a gas, Argon 40
      • Argon 40 accumulate when a rock is formed
      • Disadvantage: materials less than 500,000 years old cannot be dated
    • Other Absolute Dating Techniques
      • Electronic Spin Resonance:
        • Accumulation of unpaired electrons in crystals in tooth enamel and other items with calcium (inaccurate in bone)
      • Geomagnetism:
        • Alignment of particles on magnetic rock; this is approximate and there are few labs
      • Obsidian Hydration:
        • Reaction with water; measured by thickness of accretion.
    • Conclusion: Dating
      • All techniques are problematic
        • Appropriate labs may be rare
        • Analyzable material must be present: no volcanic rock, no radiopotassium dates
        • Inherent problems: radiocarbon dating may be off by centuries
      • Best strategy: use several techniques
        • e.g. dendrochronology with radiocarbon.