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[edit] Field Analysis

Investigation of soils and sediments in the field is always far more instructive about the origins of a deposit than subsequent laboratory analysis alone. The landscape context, stratigraphic position and internal fabric structure of a deposit provide invaluable information that is missing from datasets of chemical, biological and physical properties.

Where geoarchaeology can help with archaeological questions it is always advisable to invite a specialist out to visit the site themselves. However, it is also important that the archaeologist is also confident in recording, sampling and coming to preliminary interpretation over the origin and significance of the soils and sediments as this will help them identify relevant questions, and record and sample soils effectively when the specialist is not on site.

A fundamental difference between the needs of field archaeologists and geoarchaeologists is the requirement for standing sections. Archaeological interpretation relies on peeling back stratigraphic layers in sequence in order to reconstruct site formation. However, geoarchaeologists are interested not only in sedimentary processes but also in the effects of soil forming processes, which develop in the surface of existing sediments. Sections are vital to identify this overprinting.

Find out more about each stage of field investigation using the links below or follow the Forwards button at the base of the page to be guided through the tutorial on Field Investigation.

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To follow the tutorial: Forward to Pre-excavation investigation
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