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A permanent record of the whole process should be kept: plans, drawings, notes, photographs. For years, excavation was regarded as merely a method of collecting artifacts.Pitt Rivers in Britain and Petrie in the Near East first placed emphasis on evidence rather than artifacts, not what is found but where it was found relative to the layers of deposit (stratigraphy) and to other objects (association) -- the context.Removal of the topsoil will either be carried out by hand or machine.After an initial plan has been made of all visible features before excavation, digging proceeds according to the dictates of the site: sections may be taken across areas of feature intersection, or across individual features.

CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The systematic and scientific recovery of cultural, material remains of people as a means of obtaining data about past human activity.Excavation is digging or related types of salvage work, scientifically controlled so as to yield the maximum amount of data. The excavation of a site, however, involves the destruction of the primary evidence, which can never be recovered.Excavation should therefore never be undertaken lightly or without an understanding of the obligations of the excavator to the evidence he destroys.The excavator can only justify his destruction if it is done with meticulous care so that every artifact, be it an or a posthole, is discovered and if possible preserved; if it is recorded accurately enough for all information to remain available after the site has disappeared; and if this record is quickly made available by publication.In short, excavation is the digging of archaeological sites, removal of the matrix, and observance of the provenience and context of the finds therein, and the recording of them in a three-dimensional way.

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