Guest Writer: Richard Rosenhaft
Field Archaeology means the search for evidence. Fieldwork can be defined as the search for and recording of antiquities, and collecting data from which their contemporary environment can be reconstructed. In simpler words, it consists of work related to the tracing of prehistoric things, planning of ancient field-systems and their settlements, recording of plans and maps of earthworks of any kind and search for monuments recorded by earlier writers. The chief requirement of the field-worker is a thorough knowledge of maps and their uses.
It is the duty of the archaeologist to make clear and accurate plans of the sites, which he is investigating on. This requires a sound knowledge of a few elementary principles and plenty of common sense. The main two things, which should be kept in mind, are to avoid making any kind of errors. Errors are of two types i.e. personal and instrumental. Personal errors are like reading and writing a wrong figure whereas instrumental errors are those, which arise due to the instruments used. These types of errors cannot be avoided and most of the time they even cannot be detected in case the instrument is not a perfect one. Therefore, it is advisable to compare the instruments they use with known standards so that the errors, which would occur, are kept within reasonable limits.
The main duty of the field archeologist is to record facts. His duty is to publish the measurements of the structure found, nature of the strata covering and filling them and the descriptions of its field. If he is unable to do this, then he has no right to excavate and foist upon public interpretations without any evidence and incapable of being checked independently.
Then, another most important thing is the publication of facts. These facts include measured plans in photographs and drawings of the objects found. Other than this rest all is hypothesis. However, in scientific method of archaeology, the archeologists needs to collect and arrange particular facts and then form general hypothesis. These hypotheses are then further experimented and are held to be true only if they can explain the observed facts. Hence, every excavator must follow two simple rules. Firstly, the evidence must be interpreted and presented as a whole and secondly, no evidence can be interpreted otherwise than by working hypothesis.
It is necessary to publish proper reports of archeological research especially of excavations. This is simply because the site of excavation involves its destruction. So once it is excavated, the evidence cannot be reconstituted except from the records made by the executor. If the executor is unable to publish his records, then it is treated as a crime against science. Hence, publication of records is an integral part of excavation and all records should be published fully and without any kind of delay.
Article by: Richard Rosenhaft
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