DRAGANA MLADENOVIC: So it is a very, very long sequence that we are currently trying to understand. In order to do that, we have chosen this particular area of the site to excavate. It lies at the intersection of two of the large harbours, it contains all of the phases. It is most probably a service wing of the Palazzo, so we definitely did not choose it based on the attractiveness of the finds. So what we have done here first, is we have done some geophysics. These are the ground sensing methods that are not destructive, and they give us a rough outline of structures that lie beneath. And then we proceed with an excavation.
The way we are excavating is through the stratigraphic method. So we are exposing layers in a vertical sequence, and removing them one by one. That way, the youngest deposits, those are the most recent, are excavated first, and we are going further down towards older contexts. Now this is ultimately a destructive process. As we expose evidence and we excavate it, we effectively destroy it. This is why we are so meticulous in the way that we record and document everything that we do. And we do this in quite a number of different ways. We keep a written record of everything that is done for example, through context sheets that we do.
We keep a drawn record through drawings of plans and sections and features. We also do a photographic record, where we photograph entire contexts, or features within those that comprise a number of contexts, or entire rooms. And we also keep a digital record, both of everything that we do– as you can see here –and of for example, laser scanning of various features that we uncover. We also fully process all of the finds. We take soil samples in order to get environmental data. And all of this data is then held both in physical and in digital form. So should anybody ever want to work with our material, or to check our interpretations, everything that we have done is well preserved and documented.
Records are still kept on paper in the field despite trials of many digital solutions. Currently, we still find the paper record is still easier to use in what is a dusty and dirty environment, although projects such as the University of Cincinnati’s Porta Stabia project at Pompeii have had impressive results using touch-screen tablets and other devices. What you see below are some in the field records – a context sheet, sketch plan, section and a register of soil samples. These are then digitised to form digital maps and entries in our on-line database.
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