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Urban Archaeology

Urban Archaeology

Urban archaeology is a sub discipline of the field of archaeology, one that specializes in the analysis of material artifacts from cities and towns. Urban archaeology largely studies the refuse produced by hundreds or thousand of years of human habitation in a single place. Until modern times, human beings had a tendency to leave their rubbish and waste, such as kitchen waste, near their homes. Many cities that have long histories are built on the waste of previous generations.

Urban Archaeology and Ancient Discoveries

Many large, modern cities with long pasts sit on top of layers, much like rock sediment. Two examples are:

  • The city of Rome has a vast underground network of streets that date to the period of the Roman Empire.
  • London, England, has beneath it a layer that can be dated to its burning in 60 CE.

However, the narrow confines of an urban environment require localized digs that concentrate on one layer at a time. Frequently, a long, deep trench, known as a sondage, is dug first. This technique was used to discover the remains of King Richard III beneath a parking lot.

Urban archaeology relies heavily on the technique known as single context recording. Each excavated layer, or context, is given a unique context number, and recorded on paper. Any artifact finds from this layer are assigned to the context number. The various layers can then be reproduced and dated, demonstrating how the site developed over the course of time.

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Urban Archaeology research papers examine the sub discipline of the field of archaeology that specializes in the analysis of material artifacts from cities and towns.

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