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 Elements of Archaeological Method and Theory Minimize

As both a process and a source of knowledge about the past, archaeology has a wide range of information to convey more than can be included in one mini-course for youths or a single training manual. Despite these limitations, an essential level of conceptual, methodological, and technical details about field archaeology ought be included in teaching resources. The list below outlines these basic elements.

Suggested Elements

  1. Explanation of the basic goals and objectives of archaeology and its relationship to anthropology, with mention of various subfields of research such as prehistoric, historical, classical, and underwater archaeology
  2. Definitions of basic terminology
  3. Steps in archaeological research
    • statement of hypothesis
    • review of options for testing a hypothesis: existing collections, oral history, library research, ethnoarchaeology, testing, excavation
    • site identification: location, literature search, background research
    • formulation of a research design
    • data gathering: site survey, recording, testing, excavation
    • artifact processing and analysis
    • interpretation
    • reporting
    • curation of the collection
  4. Discussion of basic tools: trowel, brushes, bucket, wheelbarrow, shovel, screen, transit, graph paper, notebook, bags, measuring tape, line level, string, stakes, camera (note: a different set of tools is required for underwater sites)
  5. Explanation of basic spatial and temporal concepts: context, association, stratigraphy, provenience (i.e., grid coordinates and elevation)
  6. Explanation of specialized studies used in the interpretive process: zooarchaeological, botanical, geomorphological
  7. Importance of reporting research findings
  8. Explanation of the importance of site preservation and ethics
  9. Importance of public education
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