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Edward Harris, the Harris Matrix was first published in the journal, World Archaeology , in and was followed by the first edition of the seminal work, Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy , in The Harris Matrix system has been accepted as the industry standard in many countries around the world, and Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy has been translated into ten other languages to date.

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Its methods are of universal application, for the two components of stratification are always the same: surfaces and deposits. As the publisher of the second edition of Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy would not reprint the book, Dr.


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  • What Is the Harris Matrix?.

Edward Harris bought out the remaining stock and the copyright, thus allowing the book to be made available for free on this website. Covers a basic principle of all archaeological excavations Provides a data description and analysis tool for all such digs, which is now widely accepted and used Gives extra information. Chapter 2 The concept of stratigraphy in archaeology.

Harris matrix

Chapter 3 Techniques of archaeological excavation. Chapter 4 Early recording methods on excavations. Chapter 5 The laws of archaeological stratigraphy. Chapter 6 Deposits as units of stratification. Chapter 7 Interfaces as units of stratification. Chapter 8 Archaeological sections. Stratigraphic dating does not require the existence of artifacts, but their presence may facilitate dating the site in absolute time.

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Without such clues, it can be very difficult to date the layers; a deep layer of sand, for example, might have been deposited very quickly in the course of a sand storm, while another layer of the same thickness could have taken hundreds of years or longer to form. Modern archeologists also use geophysical techniques to help establish the stratigraphy of site. Methods such as ground penetrating radar, electrical resistivity, and electromagnetic surveys can help to establish the stratigraphic framework of a site before excavation begins. It is not always the case that the oldest layer lays at the bottom of an excavated site.

In one excavation, an archaeologist found the surface of a site littered with old coins dating to the seventeenth century. Subsequent investigations, however, revealed that a bulldozer had earlier overturned the soil at the site to a depth of several feet as part of a preparation for building homes on the site. The problems of relying entirely on stratigraphic analyses to evaluate the antiquity of a find were made even clearer in an incident known as the great Piltdown hoax. Between and , an amateur British paleontologist made claims of having discovered the fossils of a prehistoric human being in a gravel pit in Piltdown, Sussex England.

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But in , tests revealed that the Piltdown man actually had the jaw of a nineteenth-century ape, and the skull of a modern human. The planting of faked remains at a site of known stratigraphic antiquity had in this case succeeded in deceiving even the head geologist at the British Museum , who had been among many who authenticated the find.

See also Archaeology ; Archaeological sites. Banning, E.

Berlin : Springer, Boggs, S. Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy.


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Hicks, D. Beaudry editors.

What Is the Harris Matrix?

The Cambridge Companion to Historical Archeology. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. September 25, Retrieved September 25, from Encyclopedia.