Working in the Field
This chapter focuses on archaeological fieldwork. It includes sections on archaeological research design, site discovery, excavation, ethnoarchaeology, and the hazards of field archaeology.
After studying this chapter, students should be able to
- outline the nine basic stages of archaeological field projects.
- outline the differences in research design and practice between academic and CRM archaeology.
- outline the major ways of finding archaeological sites.
- outline the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of judgmental and probabilistic sampling.
- outline the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of excavating by arbitrary and natural levels.
- identify the basic toolkits used by archaeologists doing survey and excavation.
- describe the nature of ethnoarchaeology and experimental archaeology.
- outline the hazards of field archaeology.
- define all the glossary terms found in the chapter.
diagnostic artifacts – An artifact that is characteristic of a particular time, group, or culture. (p.112)
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – Computer software that allows layering of various types of data to produce complex maps; useful for predicting site location and for representing the analysis of collected data within sites and across regions. (p.104)
ideal data – Data that archaeologists desire to test a hypothesis. (p.101)
ideal methods – The preferred methods to obtain data, both in the field and the laboratory. (p.102)
judgmental sampling – A sampling strategy based on an archaeologist’s judgment or opinion of where to look for sites or excavate; also known as non-probabilistic sampling. (p.109)
level bags – Bags used by excavators to collect material remains (usually excluding artifacts, which are collected separately) while excavating a particular level in an archaeological site. (p.114)
microdebitage – Very small, often microscopic pieces of waste created during the manufacture of artifacts, usually stone. (p.114)
non-probabilistic sampling – A sampling strategy based on an archaeologist’s judgment or opinion of where to look for or excavate sites. Also known as judgmental sampling. (p.109)
participant observation – A technique of ethnographic research in which researchers immerse themselves in a culture as both participants and observers. (p.115)
pH – A measure of acidity. Archaeologists measure the pH of sediments. (p.106)
probabilistic sampling – Sampling not biased by any person’s judgment or opinion. Also known as statistical sampling and includes simple random sampling, stratified random sampling, and systematic sampling. (p.110)
total station – An electronic device that can measure distances, angles, and elevations from a fixed point. It runs on software that allows the data to be downloaded and used to create maps. (p.113)
Burke, Heather, and Claire Smith. 2004. The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
Maschner, Herbert D.G., and Christopher Chippendale, eds. 2005. Handbook of Archaeological Methods. New York: Altamira Press.
Culture of Archaeological Fieldwork
Edgeworth, Matt, ed. 2006. Ethnographies of Archaeological Practice: Cultural Encounters, Material Transformations. New York: Altamira.
Use of Advanced Satellite Technology to Locate Sites
Parcak, Sarah. 2019. Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past. New York. Henry Holt.
The Enabled Archaeology Foundation aims to empower, equip, and enable all people with or without dis/Abilities to take part in every area of archaeology they choose.
The Seymour Valley Archaeology Project is a long-term archaeology project that has been directed by Robert (Bob) Muckle since 2000. The focus has been on locating, recording, and excavating archaeological sites in the now-heavily forested Seymour River Valley on the west coast of Canada. Most fieldwork has been undertaken by college and university students.
One student created a 12-minute video on the 2013 Capilano University Archaeology Field School.
Troy is the only site mentioned in the chapter that is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.