exposure, processing and recording of archaeological remains
In archaeology, excavation is the exposure, processing and recording of archaeological remains. An excavation site or "dig" is a site being studied. Such a site excavation concerns itself with a specific archaeological site or a connected series of sites, and may be conducted over as little as several weeks to over a number of years.
Numerous specialized techniques with particular features are used. Resources and other practical issues do not allow archaeologists to carry out excavations whenever and wherever they choose. These constraints mean many known sites have been deliberately left unexcavated. This is with the intention of preserving them for future generations as well as recognising the role they serve in the communities that live near them.
Excavation involves the recovery of several types of data from a site. These data include artifacts (objects made or modified by humans), features (modifications to the site itself such as post molds, burials, and hearths), ecofacts (evidence for the local environment and resources being used such as snail shells, seeds, and butchered bones) and, most importantly, archaeological context (relationships among the other types of data). Ideally, data from the excavation should suffice to reconstruct the site completely in three-dimensional space.
The presence or absence of archaeological remains can often be suggested by remote sensing, such as ground-penetrating radar. Basic information about the development of the site may be drawn from this work but the understanding of finer features usually requires excavation though appropriate use of augering.
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