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More precisely, an archaeological context is an event in time which has been preserved in the archaeological record.The cutting of a pit or ditch in the past is a context, whilst the material filling it will be another.In archaeology, excavation is the exposure, processing and recording of archaeological remains.An excavation site or "dig" is a site being studied.Excavation techniques have developed over the years from a treasure hunting process to one which seeks to fully understand the sequence of human activity on a given site and that site's relationship with other sites and with the landscape in which it is set.The history of excavation began with a crude search for treasure and for artifacts which fell into the category of 'curio'.The purpose of trial excavations is to determine the extent and characteristics of archaeological potential in a given area before extensive excavation work is undertaken.

Using an ethnoarchaeological comparison, he looked at how hunters amongst the Nunamiut Iñupiat of north central Alaska spent a great deal of time in a certain area simply waiting for prey to arrive there, and that during this period, they undertook other tasks to pass the time, such as the carving of various objects, including a wooden mould for a mask, a horn spoon and an ivory needle, as well as repairing a skin pouch and a pair of caribou skin socks.Later still, the original wall blew over and so on.Each event, which may have taken a short or long time to accomplish, leaves a context.No tools left on the site were used, and there were no immediate material "byproducts" of the "primary" activity.All of the other activities conducted at the site were essentially boredom reducers." There are two main types of trial excavation in professional archaeology both commonly associated with development-led excavation: the test pit or trench and the watching brief.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 main difference between Trial trenching and watching briefs is that trial trenches are actively dug for the purpose of revealing archaeological potential whereas watching briefs are cursory examination of trenches where the primary function of the trench is something other than archaeology, for example a trench cut for a gas pipe in a road.In the USA, a method of evaluation called a Shovel test pit is used which is a specified half meter square line of trial trenches dug by hand.In archaeology, especially in excavating, stratigraphy is a fundamental concept. When archaeological finds are below the surface of the ground (as is most commonly the case), the identification of the context of each find is vital to enable the archaeologist to draw conclusions about the site and the nature and date of its occupation.It is the archaeologist's role to attempt to discover what contexts exist and how they came to be created.

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