Principles of Archaeological Excavation

This course provides basic background information on the history, development and application of archaeological excavation techniques.  The importance of proper supervision, planning, documentation and reporting in all excavation projects is emphasized.  Actual field training is not included in the course work, but this class would be valuable for anyone interested in taking part in a field school or volunteering on a dig.

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Archaeologists excavating a block of units at a site.

Archaeological excavation.

Class Outline

  1. What is excavation?
  2. History of excavation in archaeology
    1. Speculative period
    2. Classificatory-Descriptive period
    3. Classificatory-Historical period
    4. Explanatory period
  3. Excavation background and planning
    1. Research designs
    2. Supervision and permits
  4. Excavation procedures
    1. Surface mapping
    2. Test excavations and sampling
    3. Large-scale excavations
    4. Equipment
    5. Ancillary sample collection
    6. Field conservation
    7. Documentation
  5. Field laboratories
  6. Curation of artifacts and notes
  7. Report writing responsibilities