Methodology

3
1: G. Buccellati, November 2002

Methodology

     This is a technical section that addresses questions of procedure. How do we go about doing archaeology? How do we read what is hidden under the ground?

     Michelangelo was speaking as an archaeo­logist when he claimed that in sculpting he only removed the excess marble to expose the form. This is literally true in our case. How do we free an ancient building from the grip of the earth that fully envelops it? Reflecting is as important as excavating. How will we proceed to unveil what still remains unex­cavated?

     Once brought back to light and re-embedded in our awareness, how do we keep and present our finds? What are the methods of analysis? There are some fundamental issues of theory, that govern the basic approaches to a variety of different types of data. For each, it is indispensable to maintain a clear determination as to the properties of the pertinent approach. We must not confuse the various levels of analysis. The central points which we follow in each of these areas are identified in this section, and discussed in some detail.


The section on principles broaches general questions
about the theoretical underpinnings of field work and, at the same time,
about the fundamental distinction between techniques and methods
bringing to light that peculiar dimension of archaeology that combines
highly practical and highly theoretical aspects.

The section on techniques provides descriptive and operational details
about some of the more distinctive techniques we use in the field.

What follows is a discussion of the methods, divided in two parts, excavations and analysis.
The section on excavations describes what is most properly, and most commonly,
associated with the discipline of archaeology –
the dig.
We review here the most salient aspects of the entire process,
from the uncertainties, expectations and surprises of the moment of retrieval
to stratigraphic analysis, a highly theoretical construct within which we encase
the physical reality of the mound and what it contains.

Analysis provides the theoretical scaffolding for the substantive conclusions
that are applied to our data and presented in the section on typology.