Techniques of Archaeological Excavation by Philip Barker

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By Philip Barker

First released in 1993. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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Hundreds of sites have been dug because their potential was discovered from aerial photographs, and in many other cases, aerial photography has helped to decide where, on a large site, digging would be most productive. Aerial photographs often indicate the potential of a site, but almost always sites prove to be far more complex and difficult than they look from the air, so that aerial photography only shows the minimal potential of a site; its real potential is almost always much greater The major collections of archaeological aerial photographs are held by the National Monuments Record and the Committee for Aerial Photography at Cambridge, though large collections are also held by some of the major museums and universities, by the archaeological trusts and by a number of private flyers.

Hearths and kilns (or burnt down buildings), in particular, have a strong local magnetic effect, though pits, ditches and roads etc can also be detected. The magnetic anomalies can be plotted in a number of ways to reveal their pattern. Examples will be found in Figs 18 and 19. While magnetometer surveys can produce detailed plots of silted-up ditches, pits and post-holes, as well as hearths, kilns and the sites of burnt buildings, magnetic susceptibility uses a broader brush, detecting evidence of occupation and defining its limits in the topsoil itself, so that shallow sites which may only have survived in the topsoil can be detected, sometimes in quite fine detail.

A similar game can be played with any of the other area excavations here reproduced, for example both endpapers. objective, but we must be constantly aware that all interpretation is, in a sense, a personal opinion, or a consensus of opinions, and be careful, as far as possible, to keep the interpretation separate from the evidence on which it is based. Naturally, the more detail there is in the publication, the more confidence the reader will have that the losses of evidence are minimal; although this in its turn brings further difficulties.

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