You need to understand
the range of specialisms involved in post excavation work and what they can contribute to site archives
the types of analysis carried out on the most commonly analysed materials
the basic principles of the main analytical techniques
how to integrate a grasp of analytical techniques with specific examples
Analytical techniques are often the parts of archaeology courses which most students find difficult. The bulleted points above are sufficient for AS/A Level and some first year undergraduate courses and do not require detailed scientific knowledge. Most degree-level courses will at some point require a greater depth of understanding of scientific techniques and most will involve practical work. Although this will be taught, and there are many excellent texts and ILT packages available, some scientific knowledge is needed. The first half of this chapter explains general approaches and some widely used specific methods. The second half of the chapter considers issues related to particular types of material with examples selected to illustrate what analysis can achieve. Further examples can be found in Part II of this book.
Analysis of finds and environmental data is part of the process of compiling an excavation or fieldwork archive. It takes place indoors, often in laboratories, and can involve a huge range of specialists including zoologists, palynologists (pollen) and geologists. It is the longest part of the excavation process, involving the most people, and is often the most expensive. Consequently it will usually have been planned long in advance. At the end of the process the physical remains that have been studied are put into storage and the archaeological record becomes a collection of written, graphical and electronic data and