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Contents Foreword Introduction Standards Appendix Bibliography
Documenting the Cultural Heritage
Theoretical Framework
Theoretical Framework of the Core Data Standard for Archaeological Sites and Monuments

Figure 4:	Schematic representation of the theoretical framework

Figure 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:
  • Archaeological Item
    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 the archaeology.
The relationships between the different elements are governed by certain rules as follows:
  • 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 or groups.

  • 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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