General Methodology

Assemblages are generally analysed according to standard approaches and following standard descriptive systems. A typical report usually includes the following sections:

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The assemblage
    • 2.1. Raw materials
    • 2.2. Debitage
    • 2.3. Cores
    • 2.4. Tools
  • 3. Technology
    • 3.1. Primary technology
    • 3.2. Secondary technology
  • 4. Spatial distribution
    • 4.1. Vertical distribution (stratigraphy)
    • 4.2. Horizontal distribution (activity patterns)
  • 5. Dating
  • 6. Discussion/conclusion/summary
  • 7. Bibliography

As a first step, all lithic and stone artefacts are classified and characterized (typology, technology, raw material, dimensions). Classification/characterization and cataloguing are carried out as one coherent process, with the description of the individual finds being stored in a computer database (Microsoft Access) via standardized database forms.

As part of this procedure, preparation flakes (crested pieces and core tablets), cores and tools are separated out and bagged individually, whereas debitage (chips, flakes, blades and indeterminate pieces/chunks) remain in their original bags. Though bagged differently, all pieces of debitage, cores and tools are usually characterized individually unless restraints on time⁄funding makes this impractical.

After classification/characterization and cataloguing of the finds, a distribution analysis is frequently undertaken. This analysis may take the form of contour or point mapping, or it may be carried out in statistical or tabular form. The purpose of this examination of spatial structures is mainly to allow the horizontal dissection of the potential palimpsest locations into discrete chronological units (if possible), which may then be analysed separately, and to obtain information on activities having taken place at the prehistoric site. If the attempt at horizontal separation is successful, technological analysis of the differently dated sub-assemblages takes place in an effort to produce chronologically diagnostic operational schemas (technological profiles) of the involved industry(-ies), or at least supply data relevant to the possible later production of such profiles.

Following distribution and attribute analyses, a report is produced in which the finds are analysed as a whole. This report presents the finds and discusses the chronological, typological and technological composition of the assemblage, as well as the general distribution of finds (activities) and the dates suggested by diagnostic types, technological attributes, and raw material preferences. The dating of the lithic and stone artefacts should be supported by other finds categories, such as diagnostic pottery (to the extent that specialist reports have been completed), and available radiocarbon dates.

Usually, the project's finds catalogue is presented to the client as an Access database; very small catalogues may be included in the printed report if so desired.

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Approach: Software structure

Approach: Software Structure