Breaking Free from Field Layers: The Interest of Post-excavation Stratigraphies (PES) for Producing Reliable Archaeological Interpretations and Increasing Chronological Resolution - HAL-SHS - Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology Year : 2023

Breaking Free from Field Layers: The Interest of Post-excavation Stratigraphies (PES) for Producing Reliable Archaeological Interpretations and Increasing Chronological Resolution

Aurélien Royer
François Bachellerie
Cédric Beauval
William Rendu

Abstract

In order to track diachronic changes in archaeological sequences, researchers typically partition time into stratigraphic layers defined during fieldwork, which serve as the framework for ensuing analyses. These analytical units have a significant impact on archaeological inference, defining its resolution, and influencing both the study of cultural assemblages and the reconstruction of past environments. However, field layers are seldom re-evaluated after excavation despite the fact that archaeological deposits are now commonly recognised as often containing material 'mixed' together by site formation processes, excavation techniques, or analytical practices. Although the analysis of intra-site spatial data clearly offers a means to overcome these issues, our literature review of 192 journal articles revealed the potential of this data (notably vertical projections of piece-plotted artefacts) to be under-exploited in prehistoric archaeology. Here, we advocate for the development of a more spatially informed framework for interpretation that we refer to as post-excavation stratigraphy or PES. After proposing a definition for PES, we attempt to develop a framework for theoretical considerations underlying their implication, importance, and potential. Three main benefits of PES are highlighted: ensuring assemblage reliability, increased chronological and spatial resolution, and more reliable interpretations based on a multi-stratigraphic approach. We contend that the stratigraphy defined during fieldwork is insufficient and potentially misleading. By providing a different "stratigraphic view" of the same sequence, each specialist can contribute data that, when combined, produces a better understanding of interactions between changes in, for example, technological or cultural traditions, subsistence strategies, or paleoenvironments.
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Origin : Publication funded by an institution
Licence : CC BY NC - Attribution - NonCommercial

Dates and versions

halshs-04234326 , version 1 (10-10-2023)

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Attribution - NonCommercial

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Emmanuel Discamps, Marc Thomas, Christelle Dancette, Brad Gravina, Sébastien Plutniak, et al.. Breaking Free from Field Layers: The Interest of Post-excavation Stratigraphies (PES) for Producing Reliable Archaeological Interpretations and Increasing Chronological Resolution. Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology, 2023, 6 (1), pp.29. ⟨10.1007/s41982-023-00155-x⟩. ⟨halshs-04234326⟩
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