Archeology excavation dating techniques
It is often slow and tedious work which involves digging down a centimeter at a time, but can also be backbreaking, difficult toil, shoveling through meters of densely packed soil.But the purpose is the same in either case, to reveal the types of human activities that took place at a site over time.The Parthenon in Athens and the Egyptian pyramids are the exceptions and not the norm (Figure 8.1).More commonly, archaeological sites are buried beneath the surface and may be partially or totally invisible to the eye.Computers are now used to detect these subtle differences.Archaeologists can examine the pixel shapes and forms of known structures (e.g., temples) on digitized photographs and try to relate these to similar spectral emissions on the photograph of the survey area.Researchers can use the incomplete material record to reconstruct the cultural history of the place at particular points in time.The visible remains of the ancient past do not normally lie exposed on hilltops or in the open desert.
Excavation is tedious, time consuming, and expensive, and it is rarely feasible or possible to expose an entire site (Figure 8.4).
If an excavation phase follows, this will certainly help guide the placement of test trenches and excavation grid.
These advances, along with continual chance discoveries through modern construction, ensure that there is never a shortage of researchable sites and little need to "go looking" for cities, treasures, and pretty things.
How then do archaeologists even locate sites given such a situation?
In the olden days of classical archaeology, explorers used ancient literary references to place names as guides in locating lost cities.
Remote sensing, which includes aerial photography and satellite imagery of an area, may accentuate subtle differences in landscape that are outside the spectrum of visible light, thereby suggesting subsurface buildings and features (Figure 8.2).