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CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: An accounting used in the lab after artifacts and ecofacts are initially processed and providing the numbers with which artifacts and ecofacts are marked for storage.Its records describe and record what was found during an archaeological investigation and it is the primary record for all materials after excavation.After an initial plan has been made of all visible features before excavation, digging proceeds according to the dictates of the site: sections may be taken across areas of feature intersection, or across individual features.A permanent record of the whole process should be kept: plans, drawings, notes, photographs. For years, excavation was regarded as merely a method of collecting artifacts.This technique allows the recognition of much slighter traces of ancient structures than other methods.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: area excavation; open-area excavation, extensive excavation CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The opening up of large horizontal areas for excavation, used especially where single period deposits lie close to the surface.The nature and scale of the undertaking is the next decision.If time and/or money is short, sampling of the site may be all that is possible.Excavation should therefore never be undertaken lightly or without an understanding of the obligations of the excavator to the evidence he destroys.
The first decision is whether to excavate a site at all, a question of particular interest when sites are being rapidly destroyed by farming methods and road and town building.Pitt Rivers in Britain and Petrie in the Near East first placed emphasis on evidence rather than artifacts, not what is found but where it was found relative to the layers of deposit (stratigraphy) and to other objects (association) -- the context.