Vol. IV, No. 1
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May, 1991

Layer Names For Excavation

The CSA layering convention, about which much has been written here, is effective for segmenting material from a site after analysis is complete, but excavators will often lack the information necessary to use the convention until they have studied the finds and structural remains at the end of the season or the conclusion of excavation. For example, the convention includes characters for absolute dates (whether approximate or exact), but excavators may not be sure of dates until the excvavation is complete. From the outset, the dates were to be replaced by designations of trench and stratum until study has been completed.

When working with Dr. Susan Lukesh, who is preparing to apply AutoCAD® to excavations in Ustica (directed by Professor Ross Holloway of Brown University), it became apparent that other parts of the convention were equally difficult to apply during excavation. Furthermore, information not included in the convention may be desired -- specifically, the date of excavation and the excavator of a given trench.

After further discussion, the following scheme was settled on for Ustica (although the post-excavation CADD model will use the CSA convention). The first three characters are the same as for the convention. The first indicates whether the layer is for modeled material (M), plans only (P), or artefacts (A). Ms. Lukesh added excavation unit (E) as a possibility for character one. The second character indicates whether the material was in situ, random, etc. The third indicates the kind of area - agricultural, military, etc. The scheme then departs from the CSA convention. The fourth character indicates wall (W), doorway (D), pavement (P), etc. for structural material; ceramics (C), stone (S), bone (B), etc. for artefacts; Z (not applicable) for excavation units. Character five indicates the season. (Ms. Lukesh has chosen to use a number in this position; Mr. Eiteljorg preferred a letter.) The sixth character indicates the trench supervisor, and the sixth (last) character indicates the stratum.

Comments on this set of suggestions are requested. We would like to know your thoughts.

For other Newsletter articles concerning the applications of CAD in archaeology and architectural history or the "CSA CAD Layer Naming Convention," consult the Subject index.

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