Baikal Archaeology Project

Archaeology Field Work

General Excavation Protocol

webphoto15b.jpg (14947 bytes)First the excavation area is marked out and mapped. Photographic and descriptive documentation is also completed.

webphoto16b.jpg (20885 bytes)Excavation begins by removing the sod with the use of trowels and dustpans. Slowly the area is taken down and more detailed documentation regarding the vegetation, sediment, and sources of disturbance are recorded using archaeological data collection forms, drawings, photographs, and both written and oral description. Sediment samples may also be taken at this point.

webphoto17b.jpg (20085 bytes)When the first archaeological materials are uncovered, the entire excavation area is taken down to the same level. All archaeological material encountered is left in situ until it is mapped and recorded. Examples of archaeological materials that may be found at Bugul’deika include artifacts (e.g., lithic tools, bone tools, or pottery), features (e.g. storage pits, hearths, or dwellings), faunal remains (i.e. animal bones), and botanical remains (e.g., pollen, seeds). Once the first habitation layer is fully recorded and sampled, the excavation area is taken down to the next layer. This excavation process is repeated until there are no more human occupation layers left.

webphoto18b.jpg (17622 bytes)The excavation of ancient remains requires much care and patience. Archaeological materials are not removed until they are fully exposed and in situ documentation is complete. A full suite of documentation techniques is applied, which include close-up photography, sediment sampling, and mapping. When the remains are removed, each is packed individually, with details regarding preservation, condition, position, orientation, and association recorded.

Habitation sites in the Lake Baikal region are remarkable for their variability. Since the region has been occupied since the Mesolithic, or perhaps earlier, artifacts from many different time periods may be present at one site. In addition each habitation layer may be different depending on what time of the year it has inhabited and what purpose the site had. The Lake Baikal region often has excellent bone preservation, therefore the recovery and primary analysis of animal bones may also be part of the excavation. Furthermore, the region surrounding the site is also assessed for landmark features, resource potential and other “off-site” features. This range in variability ensures that students experience a wide scope of experience in the excavation and analysis of human habitation sites.
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