Accepted Paper:

Liberation by string or the ties that bind: site formation and pathways of interpretation  


Reuben Thorpe (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that getting at the processes behind formation requires interpretive frameworks that are responsive/contingent to/on sequence/space. I will refer to Beirut using Integrated interpretive Stratigraphic Analysis show how nuanced interpretations of past life can be derived.

Paper long abstract:

If site formation processes and deposit status elude us at the immediate point of excavation, we are able to identify and distinguish primary and secondary relationships of units of stratigraphy. This, however, relies on understanding that a context is not defined just (or even) by what it contains but also by what it does and how it articulates with other contexts in a sequence. This point is important, as it is a long way from much common contemporary practice of recording where interpretation often takes the form of a single word such as "cut, fill, dump". We are able, on site, and in post-excavation to think in more sophisticated ways about site formation by conceiving of stratigraphy in terms of dynamic processes. This paper will seek to examine the use of interpretive chains, or strings, as an aid both in excavation and post-excavation to teasing out the social aspect to and the dynamic of site formation.

Panel S05
The evanescent milkman cometh: archaeologies of obscure complexities, actions, formation and transformation