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AR101 Lecture Notes - Coroner, Harris Matrix

Archaeology and Heritage Studies
Course Code
Bonnie Glencross

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Archaeological strata refer to the accumulation of natural and cultural debris in
successive layers.
Laws of Stratigraphy:
Superposition: the deeper the layer = the older the layer
Original horizontality: disturbances in the layers. Layers are still
consecutive, but take a different shape due to possible geological
Lateral continuity: a dip in the top layers.
Cross-cutting: a hole that has been dug into the bottom layers from
the top layers, meaning that newer materials can be found lower
than older ones. Could be caused by natural processes such as
erosion, or man-made such as a hole being dug deep into the
ground by people.
Unconformities represent periods of time where erosion or no deposition
To confirm stones or bones from a particular strata are contemporaneous, effects
are made to reassemble/refit or to see if the individual pieces can be conjoined.
The Harris Matrix relationships:
No direct stratigraphic connection
Original continuity
Approaches to Excavation
Archaeological resources are non-renewable
Permits and permission:
Ontario Heritage Act: It is illegal for anyone but a licensed archaeologist
to knowingly disturb an archaeological site.
Cemeteries Act: Prohibits disturbance of burial sites. Those who have
knowledge of a burial site must contact either a coroner or police
EXAMPLE: Mellaart conducted horizontal and vertical investigations at
Catalhoyuk in the early 1960’s. Over 200 houses were exposed but he was never
able to reach the bottom of the mound.
Wheeler Box Grid:
Allows for a profile of the site as well as digging deeper.
Baulks provide a record of stratigraphy at the site.
A box grid was used to excavate the abandoned village of Marsleben.
Not the best approach because the walls could get in the way of the
Open Area Excavation:
This approach better recognizes spatial patterning over large areas.
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