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‘Late antique field archaeology’: a legitimate aim?

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Publication details

JournalLate Antique Archaeology
DatePublished - 2012
Issue number1
Number of pages34
Pages (from-to)17-50
Original languageEnglish


This paper discusses some issues raised by Lavan et al. (2007) in relation to the study of everyday life: that is, do we need a distinctive set of fieldwork practices to investigate late antique sites. This paper argues that such an objective is both unnecessary and unhelpful. Instead, we should invest in reconnaissance and evaluation by using non-invasive techniques in advance of destructive excavation, then develop a more focused strategy by enhanced deposit modelling, involving a consideration of preservation levels, degrees of disturbance and deposit status. This has already been done successfully on several late antique sites, which I consider here. The above argument has important implications for the role of ‘interpretation at the point of the trowel’ in fieldwork practice. Counter to most recent commentators, I contend that, if we are to fully understand complex late antique archaeology, it is essential to retain a distinction between data gathered during excavation and interpretations reached as a result of their subsequent analysis

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© 2012 Koninklijke Brill NV. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Late Antique Archaeology. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

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