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Sourcebook for Garden Archaeology

Methods, Techniques, Interpretations and Field Examples


Edited By Amina-Aïcha Malek

The Sourcebook for Garden Archaeology addresses the increasing need among archaeologists, who discover a garden during their own excavation project, for advice and update on current issues in garden archaeology. It also aims at stimulating broader interest in garden archaeology. Archaeologists with no specific training in garden archaeology will read about specific problems of soil archaeology with a handful of well-developed techniques, critical discussions and a number of extremely different uses. Methods are described in sufficient detail for any archaeologist to engage into field work, adapt them to their own context and develop their own methodology. While the Sourcebook aims at bringing together different disciplines related to garden archaeology and providing an overview of present knowledge, it also hopes to encourage development of new directions for the future.


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Part III Excavating the Garden: Bringing the Garden to Light 195


Part III Excavating the Garden: Bringing the Garden to Light The third part of the volume is the core of the handbook, as it provides methodological considerations and techniques for carrying out the dig. It follows the rationale of Part II, that is, to engage excavators to adapt the information provided by the authors to their own context and invent their own methodology. Kathryn Gleason was asked to use her expertise at garden excavations in the Old World to discuss the constraints and the issues that archaeologists might face during a dig. As Gleason states, “Garden archaeology is just good dirt archaeology,” yet specific modifications need to be discussed. The author describes in four chapters the different stages of the excavation by stressing how digging exterior spaces – gardens – differs from conventional practice. The first chapter explains the main concerns that an archaeologist should be aware of before starting a garden excavation. Materiality (dirt is artifact and context), Scale (gardens can cover very large areas), and Levels (gardens’ surfaces are never perfectly level) are the three main aspects that differentiate gardens from architectural remains, orient the excavation, and therefore, demand a specific strategy. The second chapter details the dig itself, following the key steps of an excavation starting from the different types of baulks and trenches, to the delicate phase of locating and identifying the garden layer and the surface features, to discussing situations where the garden surface is not preserved. It concludes with advice on the field recording system that...

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