Bedford YAC members learnt loads at their recent 'How old is my site?' workshop!
They spent time looking at how archaeologists piece together all the different clues, and then how these are used to date different features on a site.
Archaeologists use the finds from the site to help them to work out how old it is. But finds are not the only clues. The remains of buildings, pits, walls, ditches and other archaeological features can also help archaeologists to build up their picture of what a site was like, and when it dates from. Importantly, it is the relationship between these features on an archaeological site that really help archaeologists to work out what happened when.
A general rule of archaeology is stratigraphy. It is the word used to describe the order of layers or deposits found on an archaeological site. It enables archaeologists to work out how different features and finds discovered on a site relate to each other. Layers that are closest to the present-day ground surface will be younger than those buried beneath, with the oldest layers at the bottom. However, sometimes the stratigraphy of a site is disrupted, for example, by someone digging a pit or ditch through the layers of archaeology.
Other archaeological clues can be discovered in samples of the soil, including tiny pieces of environmental evidence like burnt seeds and grains.
After our discussion about dating sites, the Bedford YAC members had a chance to create their own archaeological sites. They used plasticine and worked together to create a 3D site map.
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