Framework of the Core Data Standard for Archaeological Sites
4. Schematic representation of the theoretical framework
Theoretical Framework Elements
The core data standard has been devised within a theoretical
framework consisting of four elements:
The relationships between the different elements are governed
by certain rules as follows:
An archaeological item is a fundamental piece of archaeology
with which the database is concerned. Items could be artefacts
like pot sherds or stone tools; ecofacts like seeds or bones;
constructional elements like walls or post-holes; or monuments
like temples or dwellings. The scale of the archaeological
item and the attributes recorded for it will be determined
by the purpose of the database.
- Archaeological Group
An archaeological group is a collection of archaeological
items which form higher level constructs. These groupings
of items have greater interpretative or descriptive power
than the individual items. Examples would include the set
of flint flakes, tools, and the core that form a flint nodule
after refitting, or the sherds that form a ceramic vessel.
Dissimilar objects may also be grouped, such as the set of
constructional (mound, stone chamber, and ditch), artefactual
(jewellery, stone tools, and ceramics) and ecofactual (skeletal
remains, pollen, and buried soil) archaeological items.
- Physical Space
A physical space is a division of the real world within which
archaeological items are found. They can be of any size or
shape and can be defined in any manner appropriate to the
archaeology and task. For example, the physical spaces used
in an excavation record would be the contexts excavated and
in a site inventory they might be land parcels or areas of
land with statutory protection. Physical spaces may not overlap.
Implementational considerations, especially when concerned
with data that are imprecise or inaccurate, may seem to require
that this rule is relaxed. It is recommended, however, that
this is done only in extreme cases.
- Physical Group
A physical group is a collection of physical spaces which
form larger spaces within which archaeological items and groups
may occur. Examples would include the areas of land that constitute
a statutorily protected monument, or the group of excavation
levels or contexts which make up a ditch and its fill. They
need not be contiguous, as for instance where parts of a linear
feature are divided by modern intrusions which totally destroy
- An archaeological item will
exist in one or more physical space.
- An archaeological item
may exist on its own or as part of an archaeological group
- Physical spaces should not overlap with other
physical spaces, although on rare occasions they may appear
to, where data are imprecise or inaccurate.
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