CAC 202 Archaeology Field Methods

Kyule MD. CAC 202 Archaeology Field Methods. Nairobi: lecture module for the Center for Open and Distance Learning (CODL), University of Nairobi.; 2008.


CAC 202 Archaeology Field Methods
Center for Open and Distance Learning (CODL), University of Nairobi.
M.D. Kyule

Table of Contents

Course introduction

Lesson 1 Overview of archaeology field methods
1.1 Lesson objectives
1.2 What is Archaeology?
1.3 The scope of archaeology
1.4 Goals of archaeology
1.5 A brief history of archaeology
1.6 Review Questions
1.7 Further Reading

Lesson 2 The archaeological record
2.1 Lesson objectives
2.2 Forms of Archaeological Data
2.2.1 Archaeological site Site formation
2.2.2 Artifact
2.2.3 Feature
2.3 Archaeological culture
2.3.1 Material culture
2.3.2 Cultural material
2.4 Archaeological context
2.4.1 Archaeological association: Finds and objects
2.4.2 Archaeological association: Contexts and features
2.4.3 Alignment
2.4.4 Archaeological section
2.4.5 Cut
2.4.6 Fill
2.4.7 Slumping
2.5 Relationship
2.5.1 Stratigraphic relationships
2.6 Areas of Archaeological Potential
2.7 Review Questions
2.8 Further Reading

Lesson 3 Archaeological research design
3.1 Lesson objectives
3.2 Seven Steps of an Archaeological Research Design
3.3. Developing Research Questions
3.4 Review Questions
3.5 Further Reading

Lesson 4 Archaeological field survey
4.1 Lesson objectives

4.2 Rationale
4.2.1 Previous work on the site
4.3 Survey techniques
4.3.1 Surface survey
4.3.2 Aerial survey
4.3.3 Geophysical survey
4.3.4 Rescue survey
4.3.5 Intrusive vs. non-intrusive surveys
4.3.6 Extensive vs. intensive survey
4.4 Archaeological surveys and GIS
4.5 Steps in archaeological surveying
4.6 Survey analysis
4.7 Archaeology and the Total Station
4.8 Sampling Design
4.9 Pack for Survey
4.10 Review Questions
4.1 Further Reading

Lesson 5 Excavations
5.1 Lesson objectives
5.2 Overview
5.3 Historical development
5.4 Organization of workforce
5.5 Basic types of excavation
5.6 Excavation Plan
5.7 Excavation process
5.7.1 Excavation methods
5.7.2 Excavation Levels
5.7.3 General Excavation Guidelines
5.7.4 Note-Taking
5.7.5 The Excavation Register
5.7.6 General Note-Taking Guidelines
5.7.7 Plan view and profile
5.8 Concepts in excavation
5.8.1 Stratification
5.8.2 Stratigraphic control
5.8.3 Phase and phasing
5.9 Finds and artifacts retrieval
5.9.1 Sieving
5.9.2 Flotation
5.10 Common errors in excavation
5.11 The Harris matrix
5.11.1 Harris' Laws of Archaeological Stratigraphy
5.11.2 The use Harris matrix
5.12 Review Questions
5.13 Further Reading

Lesson 6 Post excavation processes
6.1 Lesson objectives
6.2 Post excavation stratigraphic analysis
6.3 Post excavation finds Analysis
6.4 Dating methodology
6.4.1 Absolute dating
6.4.2 Relative dating
6.4.3 Age Equivalent Stratigraphic Markers
6.4.4 Stratigraphic relationships Residual and intrusive Finds
6.5 Publication
6.6 Review Questions
6.7 Further Reading

Lesson 7 Interpretative fieldwork
7.1 Lesson objectives
7.2 Ethnoarchaeology
7.3 Experimental archaeology
7.4 Review Questions
7.5 Further Reading

Lesson 8 Archaeological ethics
8.1 Lesson objectives
8.2 Code of Conduct
8.3 SAA Principals of archaeological rthics
8.3.1 Responsibility to Colleagues, Employees, and Students
8.3.2 Responsibility to Employers and Clients
8.4 Standards of Research Performance
8.5 Review Questions
8.6 Further Reading

Appendix 1 Photo log

Appendix 2 Level form

Appendix 3 Site record

Appendix 4 Drawing a stratigraphic profile

Course Introduction
Anatomically and behaviorally modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) have existed for at least 200,000 years while other earlier species of Homo have existed for millions of years. The larger percentage of human history is not described by any written records because writing did not exist anywhere in the world until about 5000 years ago. And even then, the spread was limited to a relatively small number of technologically advanced civilizations. Archaeology provides an avenue of enquiry to the human story that has not been captured in written records.
In the practice of archaeology, there is a tremendous emphasis on field techniques and methodologies because archaeology field work is what provides the primary data for the reconstruction and explanation of past lifeways. These include the tasks of surveying areas in order to find new sites, digging sites in order to unearth the cultural remains therein, and classification and preservation techniques in order to analyse and keep these remains. Every phase of this process can be a source of information.
The goal of this course is to make the learner think like an archaeologist, critically evaluating and interpreting material evidence. Emphasis will be on archaeological method and how archaeologists study past human cultures, rather than on what happened at particular places (sites) or times. At the end of this course, students should be able to demonstrate a theoretical understanding on how to conduct the following archaeological tasks:

(1) Survey and mapping; know the basic principles of archaeological survey; record excavation heights and points with a total station, map archaeological sites and topography, use a GPS; use a compass and maps;

(2) Excavation; set up a site for excavation; set squares by triangulation; recognise stratigraphic changes; properly excavate stratigraphic changes; correctly excavate artefacts; correctly excavate features;

(3) Description and recording; draw horizontal plans; draw vertical sections; collect and process bulk soil samples; collect and process dating samples; collect and process flotation samples; prepare the square/feature/artefact for photography;

(4) Archaeological processing; use sieves; conduct primary on-site sorting of archaeological material; use flotation techniques to collect micro remains;

(5) Use of forms; use level forms; use feature recording forms; use artefact sorting forms (cataloguing); use stratigraphic record forms;

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