Basics - Archaeological Stratigraphy

Any archaeological site shows a unique stratification which is formed by single 3D volumes, the deposits and specific 3D surfaces of human origin as pits, ditches or wall surfaces known as the units of stratification . The stratigraphic excavation method as defined by E.C. Harris is based upon the excavation and documentation of the distinct units of stratification in the reverse order to that in which they were deposited or created.

The stratigraphic excavation process aims in the unearthing of the deposits and such special surfaces (feature interfaces) to deduce their sequential order of creation and deposition. Therefore the archaeologist has to observe and document their stratigraphic relations . These relations are based upon topological observation of the distinct units of stratification during the excavation process and the stratigraphic recording. Stratigraphic recording ends in the creation of a stratigraphic sequence based on the spatial relationship of the units of stratification. The stratigraphic sequence or Harris Matrix provides the ability to visualize time on archaeological sites.