the process of studying and classifying artifacts, usually conducted in a laboratory after excavation has been completed.
the scientific study of past human cultures by analyzing the material remains (sites and artefacts) that people left behind.
Archaeological site
a place where human activity occurred and material remains were deposited.
any object made, modified, or used by people.
artifacts that are found together and that presumably were used at the same time or for similar or related tasks.
a characteristic or property of an object, such as weight, size, or colour.
years before present; as a convention, 1950 is the year from which B.P. dates are calculated.
pottery, fired clay.
an arrangement of events in the order in which they occurred.
a systematic arrangement in groups or categories according to criteria.
the relationship of artifacts and other cultural remains to each other and the situation in which they are found.
a set of learned beliefs, values and behaviors (the way of life) shared by the members of a society.
Desk-based Assessment (DBA)
a programme of study of the historic environment within a specified area or site on land, the inter-tidal zone or underwater that addresses agreed research and/or conservation objectives. It consists of an analysis of existing written, graphic, photographic and electronic information in order to identify the likely heritage assets, their interests and significance and the character of the study area, including appropriate consideration of the settings of heritage assets and, in England, the nature, extent and quality of the known or potential archaeological, historic, architectural and artistic interest. Significance is to be judged in a local, regional, national or international context as appropriate.
Diagnostic artefact
an item that is indicative of a particular time period and/or cultural group.
the systematic digging and recording of an archaeological site.
Experimental archaeology
scientific studies designed to discover processes that produced and/or modified artifacts and sites.
a type of material remain that cannot be removed from a site such as roasting pits, fire hearths, house floors or post molds.
a network of uniformly spaced squares that divides a site into units; used to measure and record an object’s position in space.
In situ
in the original place.
an excavation layer, which may correspond to natural strata. Levels are numbered from the top to bottom of the excavation unit, with the uppermost level being Level 1.
stone, or made of stone.
Material remains
artifacts, features and other items such as plant and animal remains that indicate human activity.
an area used for waste disposal.
Post mold / post hole
a type of feature; a circular stain left in the ground after a wooden post has decayed; usually indicates the former existence of a house or fence.
Pot sherd
a piece of broken pottery.
the period of time before written records; the absolute date for the prehistoric period varies from place to place.
a place where human activity occurred and material remains were deposited.
many layers of earth or levels in an archaeological site (singular stratum).
the layering of deposits in archaeological sites. Cultural remains and natural sediments become buried over time, forming strata.
the systematic examination of the ground surface in search of archaeological sites.
Test pit
a small excavation unit dug to learn what the depth and character of the stratum might be, and to determine more precisely which strata contain artifacts and other material remains.
Watching Brief
a formal programme of observation and investigation conducted during any operation carried out for non-archaeological reasons. This will be within a specified area or site on land, inter-tidal zone or underwater, where there is a possibility that archaeological deposits may be disturbed or destroyed. The programme will result in the preparation of a report and ordered archive.
Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI)
a written brief for the works to be undertaken in a particular manner and to certain standards at a site.