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One of the principal means by which archaeological data is captured and recorded, excavation involves the systematic exposure of deposits that are then taken apart. There are a number of different techniques of excavation, such as open area excavation, the planum method, the quadrant method, and the Wheeler method, each having its own strengths and weaknesses. Selecting a method that suits the kind of site under investigation and the questions being asked is an important preliminary to any excavation project. A widely held principle, however, is that excavation should proceed by removing the layers and deposits within the site in the reverse order to which they were laid down in the first place. The different methods also carry with them implications for the way things are recorded, although plans, sections, photographs, notebooks, finds indexes, context records, and sample logs will be found in almost all of them. Not all studies can be done on site (desirable though that is), and samples of material and finds have to be cross‐referenced to the deposits from which they came so that they can be examined later in the laboratory. Excavation is destructive, and it is costly in time and resources. New technology, such as digital recording systems, is playing an increasing role on fieldwork projects, and frees the archaeologists to spend more time interpreting what they are finding as they go along.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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