HOW ARCHEOLOGISTS WORK

Methods of archaeologists very far away from the tunnels the days of Herculaneum; and obvious progress compared with the beginning of the twentieth century, when bona fide, but poorly equipped diggers attacked the mounds with shovels, wheelbarrows and hundreds of hired workers, in the calculations which was a system of “baksheesh” — everyone who found any valuable thing paid for it at the market price.

The scientific approach of Modern excavations is highly scientific, carefully controlled and is an expensive affair. Due to high costs and ever-increasing demands for scientific accuracy, the excavation can now be described as the mobile scientific laboratory, where highly qualified specialists in various fields combine their efforts, working in the field. Prior to modern archeological expedition are five main tasks: area survey, excavation, finds recording, interpretation and publication of reports. In the first place, every new excavation site should be surveyed for miles around; you need to learn as much as possible about the topography and history of the surrounding area.

Method grate After a survey of the terrain, the site is divided into squares with sides 5 meters. Each square is numbered, and then start digging not the entire plot, and a certain number of squares. This will enable subsequent expeditions to check the results, designatedtelecommunications and, if necessary, correct their mistakes, because archaeological methods continue to improve.

Many sites, including Gezer, Jericho, Hazor and Lachish, were “dug” in this way. The squares excavated layer after layer, simultaneously exposing the same historical layer. This method is known as “method Kenyon Wheeler” (the names of British archaeologists Kathleen Kenyon and Mortimer Wheeler). It allows full control over excavations. Everyone digs the square has a local observer, who closely monitors everything that happens on his site. Any object that is necessary to identify and register separately, is called the locus; it may just be discoloration of the soil, and can be stone flooring or the wall. Each locus is assigned a number and all data pertaining thereto, are recorded under this number.

Logging of excavations At the end of each working day, draw plans of the surface of each square as it looks from the height of bird’s flight, and make a list of all loci that are visible at the moment. An important stage of the excavations capture on film, these images are later used in publications.

When the pit is dug,its walls are carefully sketched, then these sketches become the key to analyzing the history of the square. Bringing together images of all of the walls, the archaeologist gets a base for a General analysis of excavated sites. As the number of layers in the cake can be determined by cutting out a piece, and the history of the inhabited places is reflected in its stratigraphy. Wall excavations — the most important evidence of the history of the area, so they protect from destruction; in the place of location of any locus to the wall be sure to attach a special tag with a number for this locus. Nothing is more important than careful logging of excavations. Archaeology by its nature is systematic destruction, and after the excavation all excavated will look like not like before. Therefore Photographs, drawings, observation of supervisors and the impressions recorded in the journal— the essential elements of modern excavations.

Workers reveal a new square during recent excavations in Capernaum, Israel

Understanding found Thorough logging of excavations needed for the next step — interpreting the findings. This, of course, the ultimate goal of any research, and the hardest part of the whole process. At this stage, usually their opinions can also make supervisors, diggers, volunteers and administrative staff of the expedition.

“New archaeology” In the last decade in the field archeologicalsites new advanced technologies: ground-based and aerial Photogrammetry, magnetometers, resistivity meters, laser theodolites and tacheometry to measure the height and conducting topographic surveys, infrared Photography, analysis of the ceramics irradiation with fast neutron flux, petrographic analysis of ceramics, thermoluminescence, analysis of samples of pollen and ground subsidence. It’s all part of the “new archaeology” that changes drastically the technique of excavation.

Now it became possible to date the opening with much more precision than even a few years ago. Now, we not simply note which layer was detected object or structure (if the layers were not mixed,each of the lower layer is older in relation to lying over it), but also can determine the age of the layer, using the method of comparative ceramic chronology.

Methods of Dating On the coins have embossed names and sometimes dates, so the discovery of coins is considerably facilitates the Dating of the layer in which they are found. To determine the age of organic substances used radiocarbon method: the combustion of organic substances excreted radioactive carbon 14, the amount of which can be measured by a device like a Geiger counter. Under ideal conditions with the help of this method, the age of the finds is determined up to 200 years. The age of inorganic materials, more ancient than organic, can be determined using potassium-argon method.

For eras that occurred later than the Hellenistic period, developed a chronological typology of glassware,such as the one that exists for ceramic cookware.

Data interpretation To interpret the archaeological data usually use the method of parallelism.This mandatory procedure requires a detailed knowledge of what was first excavated in settlements related to the same time frame. If a particular finding has Parallels in other areas of the excavations,where, according to scientists, managed to achieve an exact date, archaeologists can more confidently interpret this finding. At the same time, special caution, for one wrong guess can cause a whole range of perverse conclusions. The use of computer technology for cataloging finds, helps faster and more efficient to trace the Parallels between them.

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