What is post-excavation?
Most people think of an archaeological
excavation as a 'dig', emphasising the process of discovery
on site. In reality, an excavation involves much more than
this. Extensive written, drawn and photographic records are
made. A wide range of finds are recovered. These include tools,
everyday household objects and personal possessions left behind
by earlier occupants of the site, and sometimes the remains
of their buildings such as bricks, building stone, door locks
and hinges, and roof and floor tiles.
Excavation of Roman columns at Claydon Pike
Some finds, such as pottery
and coins, are particularly useful for archaeologists because they
provide the main evidence for dating what we have found.
We also collect animal, bird and fish bone, which can tell us about
diet and farming/hunting practices in the past. On many sites we
will also take soil samples from which we can extract plant remains
such as pollen and seeds, and the remains of snails and insects.
This provides information about the past environment and the plants
and crops that were growing in earlier times.
Quite often we also find human
burials, and these are carefully excavated and recorded.
Much of this data is dealt with
away from site, and this phase of work is usually called post-excavation
by archaeologists. Many post-excavation projects will start with
a formal review phase, known as post-excavation assessment. At this
point, decisions are made about which finds and samples to analyse
in detail, and how the results of the project will be published.
Click on the eagle to see the post-excavation assessment and project
design for Cotswold Water Park:
Listed below are some of the main
tasks undertaken for a big post-excavation project like Cotswold