Stratigraphic Analysis and The Matrix: connecting and re-using digital records and archives of archaeological investigations

Keith May, James Taylor, Ceri Binding

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Abstract

Stratigraphic data and relationships form the backbone of all the related archaeological records from each excavated site and, along with the phasing and interpretive information derived through stratigraphic analysis, are essential for chronological modelling, broader synthesis of inter-site phases and periods. We argue, in this paper and elsewhere, stratigraphic data should be a required component in the digital archives of the growing body of archaeological information and reports generated through the commercial archaeological sector - in the UK and internationally.

Not every site has complex stratigraphy, but understanding the nature of the stratigraphy, be that deep or shallow, complex or otherwise, enables researchers to piece together the underlying details of how the excavator(s) arrived at the interpretations they have made about the site. The stratigraphic record, including associated relationships and data, which in the case of complex stratigraphy are usually visualised in the form of a stratigraphic matrix diagram, acts as a primary, if not the primary evidence for how, and in what order, the site was excavated. As such the stratigraphic data can be the key mechanism that enables anyone less familiar with the site, to re-visit and re-use the excavation records; understand what data is most relevant for addressing certain research questions; or grasp the nature of the chronological sequence encountered; and piece together the underlying details of how the excavator(s) arrived at their interpretations. However such records are often only held on paper or as scanned image copies (as PDFs) of matrix diagrams that cannot easily be re-used with all the associated data. This article presents outcomes from The Matrix project (AHRC AH/T002093/1) that address the current problems caused by the lack of standardised approaches to digital archiving of archaeological data using the case study of stratigraphic and phasing data.
Original languageEnglish
Article number61/2
Number of pages64
JournalInternet Archaeology
Issue number61
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2023

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