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The Archaeologist's Field Handbook: The essential guide for beginners and professionals in Australia

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Abstract

The complete manual to archaeological field work in Australia, fully revised to incorporate digital techniques and new methods. With step-by-step guidelines, it is an essential companion for consultants, amateur heritage researchers and students. In one volume here is everything you need to conduct fieldwork in archaeology. The Archaeologist's Field Handbook is designed for every kind of archaeological practice, from simple site recordings to professional consultancies and anyone who wants to record heritage sites responsibly. This hands-on manual provides step-by-step instructions on how to undertake and successfully complete fieldwork in all fields of archaeology, from Indigenous to historical to landscape work. Charts, checklists, graphs, maps and diagrams clearly illustrate how to design, fund, research, map, record, interpret, photograph and write up your fieldwork. This second edition is updated throughout and incorporates strategies for digital data capture, improved methods, recent legislation and more affordable technologies for surveying and photography. The Archaeologist's Field Handbook remains the ultimate resource for consultants, teachers, students, community groups and anyone involved in heritage fieldwork. 'An essential aid for beginners and professionals.' - Emeritus Professor John Mulvaney 'This volume has become the standard for archaeological field training ... A must for students, professionals and community groups.' - Martin Gibbs, Professor of Archaeology, University of New England 'It is absolutely the "go to" field manual for archaeologists whatever their level within the profession.' - Jane Balme, Associate Professor of Archaeology, University of Western Australia
THE
ARCHAEOLOGIST’S
FIELD HANDBOOK
HEATHER BURKE, MICHAEL MORRISON
and CLAIRE SMITH
The essential guide for
beginners and professionals
in Australia
Second Edition
THE
ARCHAEOLOGIST’S
FIELD HANDBOOK
HEATHER BURKE, MICHAEL MORRISON
and CLAIRE SMITH
Second Edition
The essential guide for
beginners and professionals
in Australia
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CONTENTS
FIGURES AND TABLES xvi
ABOUT THE AUTHORS xxii
PREFACE xxiii
Acknowledgements xxvii
CHAPTER ONE: THE CONTEXT OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELDWORK 1
What you will learn from this chapter 1
Archaeologists and ethics 1
Archaeologists and stakeholders 3
Working with Indigenous communities 4
Working with non- Indigenous communities 7
Working with the legislation 8
Planning and achieving effective community engagement and
consultation 9
Don’t interfere with heritage sites 10
State legislation 11
Local government 12
Other statutory and non- statutory heritage bodies 12
National legislation 12
World heritage 14
Archaeologists and their profession 15
Archaeological data and intellectual property 17
Work health and safety 17
Neale Draper’s advice on intellectual property 18
Insurance and liability 20
Useful resources 21
CHAPTER TWO: DESIGNING YOUR PROJECT 22
What you will learn from this chapter 22
What are projects? 23
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vi CONTENTS
Research designs 24
What’s your problem? (and we mean that in a nice way) 24
Defining your aims 25
The literature review 26
Methods 28
Final comments 28
‘Desktop’ research 29
Using historical documents 29
Finding historical sources online 31
Ethnohistorical research 32
Existing archaeological datasets 33
Predictive models: Reviewing the landscape context 35
Project management 36
Data in archaeology 37
Creating field data: Making observations in the field 38
Field journals and notebooks 39
Important things to note in your field journal 40
Data collection 42
Backing up field data 44
Data curation 46
Using FilemakerTM Pro and FilemakerTM Go 47
Data management plans 49
Write it down and put your name on it—Aedeen Cremin’s tips
for creating field records and archives 51
Tips for making your physical archive last 53
Useful resources 53
CHAPTER THREE: MAPS AND NAVIGATION 55
What you will learn from this chapter 55
The basics 55
Coordinates and datums 56
Coordinates 56
Geodetic datums 56
Latitude and longitude 57
Projected coordinate systems 58
Maps 59
Map scale 60
North 62
Reading contour lines 63
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CONTENTS vii
Obtaining coordinates 64
Obtaining a grid coordinate from a topographic map 69
Compasses 70
Compass tips 72
Converting between different norths 75
Satellite navigation 76
Obtaining GNSS coordinates 77
Positional errors with GNSS handsets 77
Site cards, older coordinates and the problems with relocating sites 79
Differential and Real Time Kinematic GPS 80
Mud maps 80
Useful resources 84
CHAPTER FOUR: RECORDING LANDSCAPES 85
What you will learn from this chapter 85
Landscapes in archaeology 85
Finding sites 87
Survey design 88
Survey intensity 89
Sampling 90
Selecting a suitable sampling strategy 91
Judgement or non- probabilistic survey strategies 92
Random samples 93
Systematic samples 93
Site identification and numbering systems 94
Determining effective survey coverage: What reveals, what conceals 94
Potential archaeological deposits (PADs) 96
Identifying a potential archaeological deposit (PAD) 97
Describing landscapes 98
Geology 99
Geomorphology 100
Vegetation 103
Slope 104
Water sources 105
Recording taphonomic processes 106
Geomatics in landscape archaeology 109
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) 109
Types of GIS data 110
Creating your own GIS data 112
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viii CONTENTS
Georectifying imagery 113
Choosing a GIS platform 114
Aerial imagery 115
Do it yourself aerial imagery 116
Photogrammetry 117
Satellite imagery 119
Light and Radar (LiDAR) 120
Digital elevation models (DEMs) 121
Geophysics 121
Ian Moffat’s tips for getting the most fizz out of ‘geofizz’ 122
Useful resources 123
CHAPTER FIVE: RECORDING SITES 124
What you will learn from this chapter 124
What is a site? 124
Defining a site boundary 126
What to record 128
What not to do 129
Recording Indigenous sites 129
Stone artefact deposits 131
Recording stone artefact deposits 132
Isolated stone artefacts 133
Quarries 133
Checklist for recording quarries 133
Culturally modified trees (CMTS) 134
Recording CMTs 135
Shell middens 138
Recording shell midden sites 139
Checklist for recording shell middens 140
Stone arrangements 140
Recording stone arrangements 141
Checklist for recording stone arrangements 141
Rockshelters 141
Recording rockshelters 142
Checklist for recording rockshelters 142
Rock art 143
Photographing rock art 143
Checklist for recording rock art 145
Drawing rock art 145
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CONTENTS ix
June Ross’s tips for recording the colour of rock art motifs 146
Inés Domingo-Sanz’s tips for digitally drawing rock art 147
Burials 149
What to do if human remains are encountered 149
Identifying Indigenous burials 151
Hearths 151
Checklist for recording hearths 152
Indigenous historical sites 153
Recording Indigenous historical sites 154
Indigenous ethnographic sites 156
Recording historical sites 158
What are historical sites? 158
Recording industrial sites 160
How safe is your soil? Wayne Johnson’s occupational health and
safety tips for working on historical archaeological sites 161
Recording standing structures 163
Denis Gojak’s tips for recording standing structures 166
Describing structural components 166
Dating structures from their components 166
Carlotta Kellaway’s tips for researching the history of a building 169
Photographing standing structures 172
Useful resources 174
CHAPTER SIX: ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEYING 175
What you will learn from this chapter 175
The basics 175
Surveying fundamentals 176
Mapping scale 177
Spatial precision 178
Creating a survey framework 179
Minimising errors when surveying 182
Surveying in 2D 183
Tape and compass surveys 183
The baseline/offset technique 185
Pacing it out 186
Methods for measuring right-angled offsets 188
Surveying in 3D 191
Surveying in geodetic coordinates 192
The automatic dumpy 193
How to set up an automatic or ‘dumpy’ level 194
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x CONTENTS
Recording levels 196
Traversing 198
Checking for errors 198
How to fill in a level booking sheet 199
Tips for successful levelling 199
The total station 202
Parts of a total station 202
Surveying with a total station 204
Setting up a total station 205
Setting up a total station over an existing survey point 206
Traversing with a total station 211
Resections 213
Recording the detail 213
Minimising errors with a total station 214
Drawing horizontal surfaces (plans) by hand 215
Rob Koch’s tips for total station surveys 216
Useful resources 219
CHAPTER SEVEN: PRINCIPLES OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL PHOTOGRAPHY 220
What you will learn from this chapter 220
How a camera works 221
How a digital camera works 222
Taking good shots 223
The importance of depth of field 224
Tips for taking good archaeological photographs 225
Holding the camera 227
When to use a tripod 228
Camera pole photography 229
File formats 230
Image distortion 231
Scales and information boards 232
CHAPTER EIGHT: SURFACE COLLECTION AND EXCAVATION 234
What you will learn from this chapter 234
The basics 234
Working at the surface 235
In situ recording 235
Surface collections 236
Considerations for surface recording and sampling 237
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CONTENTS xi
Sampling surface deposits 237
Managing spatial context 239
Working below the surface 241
The principles of excavation 241
The single context system of excavation 243
Approaches to excavation 246
Where? 247
Subsurface sampling 247
Soil cores 248
Augers 248
Test pits 248
Hand excavated test pits 249
Shovel test pits 249
Mechanical test pits 249
How much? 250
Laying out a site grid 250
Labelling trenches 253
Recording an excavation in 3D 255
Recording the excavation process 255
Describing deposits 256
Describing cultural features 259
Jane Balme’s tips for excavating bone 259
Recording the excavation process 260
Recording sections 260
Drawing vertical surfaces (sections) by hand 261
Tips for drawing a trench profile (section) 263
Interpreting stratigraphy—the Harris Matrix 263
Using a trowel and brush 266
Excavation etiquette 270
Val Attenbrow’s tips for excavating shell middens 271
Martha Joukowsky’s tips for excellent excavating 272
Sieving and sorting 273
Sorting 275
Mike Morwood’s tips for protecting rock art when excavating 276
Labelling and bagging finds and samples 276
Photographing excavations 278
Photogrammetry and excavations 279
Tips for photographing excavations 280
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xii CONTENTS
Collecting samples in the field 280
Collecting to avoid contamination 281
Sediment and other samples 281
Luminescence dating 282
Radiocarbon dating 283
Alice Gorman’s tips for collecting samples for radiocarbon dating 286
Recovering artefacts with residues and use- wear 289
Managing excavated materials 290
Richard Robins’ tips on the proper care and management of
excavated collections 290
Useful resources 292
CHAPTER NINE: RECORDING ARTEFACTS 293
What you will learn from this chapter 293
The basics 293
Diagnostic features and minimum numbers 294
Stone artefacts 295
Recording flaked stone artefacts 296
How to identify stone artefacts 297
Recording other classes of stone artefact 302
Denis Byrne’s tips for recording stone artefact raw materials 304
Calculating minimum numbers: Minimum number of flakes 304
Molluscs 304
Glass 309
Bottles and bottle glass 309
Recording shape 310
Recording mould marks 311
Recording closures 312
Recording trademarks, decoration and colour 312
Calculating minimum numbers: Minimum number of vessels 313
Cut and pressed glass 314
Calculating minimum numbers: Minimum number of vessels 314
Window glass 315
Calculating minimum number 315
Ceramics 315
Recording technological ware type 317
Recording decorative technique 320
Calculating minimum numbers: Minimum number of vessels 321
Calculating a minimum number of vessels (MNV) from rim diameters 322
Calculating a sherd count 323
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CONTENTS xiii
Nails 323
Buttons 324
Photographing artefacts 326
Nicolas Grguric’s tips for recording firearms-related artefacts 327
Tips for artefact photography 328
Drawing artefacts 329
Drawing the outline 330
Drawing the details 331
Drawing a side view and cross- section 332
Reduction 332
Golden rules for drawing artefacts by hand 334
For artefacts 334
For stippling 334
For cross- hatching 335
Drawing stone artefacts 335
Drawing ceramics 336
Useful resources 337
CHAPTER TEN: CULTURAL HERITAGE VALUES AND SIGNIFICANCE 339
What you will learn from this chapter 339
The basics 339
Development versus non- development CHM 341
Cultural heritage significance and people 342
Tangible and intangible cultural heritage 344
Landscapes and intangible values 344
Defining cultural landscapes 345
Cultural mapping 346
The Burra Charter and cultural significance assessment 347
Assessing the nature of significance: The Burra Charter’s categories of
cultural significance 348
Aesthetic significance 348
Historical significance 350
Scientific (archaeological) or research significance 352
Social significance 353
Spiritual significance 356
Community values and oral histories 357
Recording oral histories 358
Recording Indigenous oral histories 359
Assessing the degree of significance 360
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xiv CONTENTS
Assessing the scale or level of significance 362
Setting boundaries for significance 363
Writing a statement of significance 365
A summary of the significance assessment process 366
Developing conservation policies 368
Managing the impacts of development 368
Assessing impact/harm 369
Assessing visual impact 369
Developing management strategies 371
Strategies for managing work at cultural heritagesites 373
Buffer zones 375
Drafting management strategies 378
Useful resources 379
References 380
Appendix 1: The relationship between scale, measurement and the
size of a feature on a drawn plan 393
Appendix 2: Archaeological toolkits 397
Preparing for your first (or next) field trip 397
The basic fieldwork toolkit 397
The basic surveying toolkit 398
Optional 399
The basic excavation toolkit 399
Optional 400
The basic photography toolkit 400
The basic illustration toolkit 400
Optional 401
Appendix 3: Sample recording forms 402
Appendix 4: Rim diameter chart for historic ceramics 425
Appendix 5: Guides to dating common historical artefacts 428
Dating common historical artefacts 428
Dating bottle glass 428
Dating ceramics 451
Dating tins and tin cans 455
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CONTENTS xv
Dating nails 459
Dating clay tobacco pipes 463
Dating metal match boxes 464
Dating buttons 467
References 469
Appendix 6: Nic Grguric’s guide to dating firearms- related artefacts 473
Identifying British rifling impressions on projectiles 479
British percussion cap crown markings 479
References 481
Appendix 7: Guidelines for producing technical reports 482
Checklist for consultancy reports 484
Title page 484
Summary 484
Introduction 484
Background information 485
Previous research 485
Methods 485
Results 486
Discussion 486
Assessment of significance 486
Statement of impacts 486
Recommendations 486
Appendices 486
Reference 487
Appendix 8: Guidelines for producing interpretive materials 488
Tips for making your text work 490
Tips for making your layout work 492
Posters 492
Tips for preparing a poster 492
Lyn Leader-Elliot’s tips for presenting the perfect poster 493
References 494
Index 495
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PREFACE
Since the first edition of this handbook was published in 2004 many aspects of Austra-
lian archaeological practice have changed. In many respects, this edition presents a new
snapshot of the field, reflecting improved methods, changing legislation, new capacities
in digital data capture, management and archiving, and more readily affordable tech-
nologies for surveying and photography. The archaeological employment landscape has
also shifted radically over the past decade: as of 2013 more than half (52per cent) of all
archaeologists in Australia were working in the private sector as consultants, a quarter
(25.3per cent) were employed in universities, approximately 16per cent occupied posi-
tions in government departments, and only 4per cent worked in museums (Ulm et al.
2013: 37). More importantly, 59per cent of professional archaeologists who responded
to Ulm et al.’s survey reported that they spent at least half their time engaged in cultural
heritage management activities—the ‘business’ of archaeology that is covered by this
book.
Accordingly, we have almost completely rewritten this edition. One major change
has been to restructure the chapters to focus on the different scales of recording and
data management that are necessary across the life of a project, from the ethical and
legal framework in which contemporary archaeological practice is set and the initial
design and planning stages of a project, to the collection of landscape-, site- and
artefact- level data. Thus, there is a greater focus on the management of a project from
its inception, particularly in terms of data that are created digitally with no previous
paper incarnation (‘born-digital’ data). Ten years ago born-digital data collection and
management was only on the horizon of our concerns, but concepts of digital data and
workflows and the importance of planning them from inception are becoming increas-
ingly central to the operation of an effective project. The restructure of this book also
has meant a greater focus on data with a spatial dimension, including both locational
data (i.e. where things are) and spatial relationships between things (i.e. where some-
thing is in relation to something else). For example, an artefact has a spatial location
that can be allocated a set of coordinates, but it also has a spatial relationship with
other artefacts at that site; depending on that relationship it may be isolated from other
artefacts or part of a cluster. At a broader level, that site’s location has relationships
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xxiv PREFACE
with other sites, as well as other features in the physical environment. A considerable
proportion of this book explains how to identify, record and analyse these kinds of
spatial relationships.
A second major change in this volume has been to remove any explicit maritime archae-
ology content. We did this for several reasons: first, the highly technical and specialist
aspects of underwater archaeology cannot be represented adequately in a wide ranging
handbook such as this, and—like rock art dating, geochronology or geophysics—should
only be undertaken by specialists with the appropriate training. Second, the theory and
techniques used to map, plan or sample maritime archaeological sites—both those on
land and those underwater—are the same as those used for terrestrial sites. Third, while
the specific repositories for information may differ, the research process for investigating
maritime archaeological sites is the same as that used for any other type of site, so we
have chosen to emphasise the commonalities rather than the differences. In other words,
we have envisaged this to be an archaeological field handbook, and have therefore focused
on the main methods and techniques that are common to all archaeological projects,
regardless of sub-discipline. Our focus on terrestrial sites and techniques is simply a
convenient way to capture the majority of archaeological work that is undertaken every
day in Australia.
As with the previous edition, one of the main aims of this handbook is to argue for
a minimum set of standards for archaeological field projects that can help to achieve
comparability between researchers, projects and data. We think this is particularly
important for the future of Australian archaeology, since the work of Ross et al. (2013)
has demonstrated how problematic the comparability of archaeological data is generally.
This means that there is still very little scope for new syntheses of data to shift the param-
eters of archaeological research in new directions.
The essential caveats still hold true. First, there is no hard and fast ‘recipe’ for being
a responsible archaeologist. Every site is different, and to some extent the field methods
employed in each situation will be different. The key is to be flexible: while there are basic
principles and methods, each field project will present its own challenges and inspire its
own solutions. The methods and guidelines in this book outline thresholds for profes-
sional practice rather than the only methods that can be used in a given situation.
Second, while this book is intended primarily for archaeologists, you don’t need to be
an archaeologist to use it. This handbook has been designed for undergraduate and post-
graduate students, as well as members of the general public (particularly those working
as volunteers within heritage organisations), with the aim of providing the basic tools
needed to plan and undertake fieldwork in a wide range of field situations. The structure
of this book follows the pattern of a typical archaeological field project: first a site has to
be located, then recorded and interpreted, and the results properly documented. Each
chapter deals with different segments of this process and covers the various methods
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PREFACE xxv
which can be employed to achieve this (see Figure P.1 for an overview). While each chapter
can stand alone, there are also many overlaps, so information has been cross-referenced
to help you locate related ideas. Specialist terms are flagged throughout the text in bold
and explained in the text rather than in a separate glossary. Our intention has always
been to make people aware of the legal and ethical obligations inherent in documenting
and recording cultural heritage sites responsibly and well. To this end, some methods
have been omitted from this manual because they should not be undertaken by non-
specialists. In particular, sampling rock art motifs for dating, or any restoration or
conservation work, should only be done by trained professionals.
Third, we have kept key elements of the first edition, including boxed texts to high-
light specific issues and lists of further readings and useful resources to cater for more
detailed knowledge. We have also kept and expanded the range of sample recording
forms—again, not because these are intended to cater for every archaeological situation,
but merely to provide a minimum suite of variables that can be recorded routinely.
Finally, archaeologists seek to learn about people through the objects that they made
or used and left behind them. It is not just the objects (artefacts) themselves that are
important, but also where they are found (the sites), and what other objects or traces of
objects they are found with (their context). An artefact by itself can only tell us so much,
and it is often the context which is most important for understanding the behaviour
or activities which put the artefact there in the first place. The most important thing
to learn about archaeological fieldwork is to pay as much attention to the context as
to the artefact. In writing this book we have tried not to privilege the artefact over the
context, or large or visually impressive sites over the ordinary. When conducting archae-
ological fieldwork, it is important to remember that all traces of past human behaviour
are important, not just the most obvious or impressive ones.
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xxvi PREFACE
PREPARATION
AND PLANNING
Chapter 2
ANALYSIS
SITE
CARDS/
DATABASE
Chapter 2
DIGITAL & HARD
COPY ARCHIVE
Chapter 2
OWNERS/
CUSTODIANS
Chapter 1
DRAFT &
FINAL
REPORTS
Chapter 10
Assessment of cultural
heritage significance
Comparative research
Assessment of integrity &
management Issues
Artefact collection
repatriated to:
Information
synthesised
into:
Primary
documentation
retained in:
Site/artefact/landscape
information
entered on to:
Copies of
report
distributed
to:
RECORDING
ARTEFACTS
Chapter 9
Intellectual property
Ethics
Legislation and liaison
Insurance and liability
Stakeholders
Project management
Data management
Defining the problem
Desktop research
Systems of field observation
Chapters 3–9
Available datasets
UNDERSTANDING &
RECORDING
LANDSCAPE CONTEXT
Chapter 4
DESCRIBING
& SURVEYING
SITES
Chapters 5 & 6
SURFACE
COLLECTION
& EXCAVATION
Chapter 8
data collection
INTERPRETIVE
MATERIALS
STATE
AGENCY
Chapter 1
the context of contemporary archaeology
Chapter 1
Figure P.1: The structure and content of this book
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... En la actualidad, la prospección de superficie ha adquirido un momento de madurez gracias a la publicación de los primeros grandes proyectos, la introducción de innovaciones tecnológicas como el GPS, la utilización de herramientas de gestión como el SIG y la aplicación de nuevos enfoques teórico-metodológicos derivados del desarrollo de la nueva Arqueología del Paisaje, todo ello queda reflejado en la aparición de numerosas publicaciones, los primeros manuales (Banning 2002, Collins y Molyneaux 2003, White y King 2007, guías de prospección -muy numerosas en EE.UU. Australia y Reino Unido- (Burke et al. 2017, Connolly 2015, Ifa 2008) y multitud de congresos especializados (Ruiz Zapatero 2004). ...
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Since permanent colonial incursion in 1788, Aboriginal groups around Australia incorporated introduced materials for a variety of tasks. However, relatively little is known about Aboriginal uses of bottle glass and ceramic flakes because there have only been two published use-wear analyses concerning bottle glass and none for ceramic. Excavations at the historical site of the former Schofields Aerodrome in New South Wales yielded flakes of both materials as well as introduced flint. We draw on actualistic experiments to inform interpretations of use-wear among the 279 archaeological specimens. Results demonstrate that glass, ceramic and flint were indeed used at the former Schofields Aerodrome site, for tools to work other materials. This is the first evidence for such use of ceramic flakes, which had previously only been known to have been used as end-products, such as spear tips. Use-wear also indicates that, contrary to common assumptions, thicker parts of glass bottles were not always preferred for tools and that across each raw material, tools were predominantly shards rather than intentionally knapped flakes. We infer that while ascribing motives to past behaviours is complex, the use of the introduced materials represents agency in Aboriginal people’s engagement with the incoming colonial culture.
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Archaeological deposits build up inside standing buildings both under and between floors and these have the potential to provide considerable information about human behavior in the past. Under and between floor spaces provide a unique depositional environment that allow the survival of rare and fragile organic materials that typically do not survive in other archaeological contexts, including paper, cardboard, fabric and other fibres, seeds, leather, and human hair and skin cells. However, they require a clear understanding of depositional processes to allow their interpretation. Experimental archaeology was conducted to understand the process of artifact deposition and the interpretation of underfloor deposits in twelve standing buildings in Western Australia. Floors were built and a range of artifacts swept across them to determine how artifacts travelled across floorboards or fell through gaps between boards. Size, shape, and angularity of artifacts were key determinants of the likelihood of deposition. Sweeping activity makes it more likely that material will be deposited around the margins of rooms, and particularly, to either side of doorways. Underfloor deposits excavated from two specific Western Australian buildings, Ellensbrook Homestead, and the York Residency Museum, are interpreted based on the results of these experiments.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.