The Archaeological Process

Apr 16, 2019
folder_opencategory: History

Introduction

Nowadays, considerable attention is paid to the archeological researches that study the settlements of the ancient people. These researches help to create a vision of the past culture and behavior. The current work will provide the description of the archeological research that took place near Chalkhill Barn in 1997 and 1998 and contained the investigations and excavations of the Roman villa. Literature Review

The information for the current research paper was taken from the work of Neil Holbrook (2004). The author provided a thorough description of the archeological research and related maps and images. The overall process and the emotions of the archeologists who worked in Chalkhill Barn in 1997 can be found in the video under the name Time Team S05-E04 Turkdean, Gloucestershire (2013). The work of the archeologists in 1998 was shown on the Time Team S06E09 Turkdean Revisited, Gloucestershire (2013). Both videos are focused on showing the process of archeological research from its beginning until the end. Unlike the work of Neil Holbrook, they do not provide concrete maps, data or figures of the object of the research.

Methodology

The search for the information for this paper was performed via the Internet and in libraries. Much attention was paid to the relevance of the sources and the extent of coverage of the process of the archeological investigation of the Roman villa. The information obtained from the work of Neil Holbrook and from the stated videos was thoroughly analyzed and presented in a coherent manner.

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The Investigations of the Roman Villa

The assumptions concerning the existence of the Roman villa on the territory near Chalkhill Barn (Turkdeam) arose in 1976 (Holbrook 2004, p.39). The landowner of this territory, Mr. Wilf Mustoe made a measured sketch plan of “a clearly visible ground level in the grass pasture,” which he observed on his land every summer (Holbrook 2004, p.39). The next stage of the investigations was performed by Roger Box when he flew on the helicopter over this territory in 1996 (Holbrook 2004, p.39). He “recognized parchmarks” and made several photographs (Holbrook 2004, p.39). Roger Box discussed these investigations with the landowner and made the proposition to conduct further archeological investigations and offered to make a film concerning this matter to the Time Team (Holbrook 2004, p.39). However, the investigations could be started only after the receiving of the evidence from geophysical specialists regarding that the possible presence of the Roman presence near Chalkhill Barn. This confirmation was received only in March 1997 (Holbrook 2004, p.39). The archeological investigations and geophysical survey were performed in August 1997 and shown live on the national television (Holbrook 2004, p.39). They were rather successful because researchers found the evidence of the presence of the Romans and their villa on the territory near Chalkhill Barn. This success has led to the creation of the second program in October 1998 with the following archeological research (Holbrook 2004, p.39). The researchers found out the remains of the foundation of several buildings, a water flow, parts of pottery and jewels. Their investigations supported the idea of the existence of the villa on this territory and described the sequence of its formation. The additional emphasis was made on the way of living and culture of people who lived there. All the findings were considered in the wider historical context for the better understanding of the life of ancient people and their households.

Analysis and Discussion of the Investigations of the Roman Villa

The archeological investigation of the Roman Villa was performed by the application the great variety of techniques: field survey, excavation, analysis of found objects, and use of computer technologies for modeling of the final view of the villa. It is notable that all of these techniques were used consistently at the beginning of the research and simultaneously during the archeological investigations. Their short description will be provided below.

It should be noted that photos of the Chalkhill Barn made by Roger Box may be considered as the part of field survey (particularly as an aerial survey). These photos enabled mapping of the relatively large area and detecting plant signs not visible from the ground (Time Team S05-E04 Turkdean, Gloucestershire 2013). Grass growing above the walls of the Roman buildings had the other color than the grass growing in the adjacent territory of the field. Hence, the primary decision to start the archeological survey in Chalkhill Barn was made on the basis of these photos and plan prepared by the landowner.

The next part of the archeological survey was also performed by using one of the types of field survey – geophysical. Special equipment was used for the detecting of deviations caused by stones that formed the walls of Roman villa (Time Team S05-E04 Turkdean, Gloucestershire 2013). The obtained information was recorded and presented in the form of images. These images were compared with the photos and maps, which was a necessary measure for the determination of the places where the excavations (trenches) should be made. Additionally, it should be noted that geophysics continued their work even after the commencement of excavations and performance of the analysis of the found objects. It helped to determine other walls of the Roman Villa and expand the field of the research. It means that the archeologists made their decision to start the excavation stage only after obtaining the scientific evidence that there are some stones placed in the particular geometrical order peculiar to buildings of the ancient Romans.

The additional emphasis should be made on the fact that, during the whole period of the archeological investigations, the researchers used metal detectors to find objects identifying the presence of the ancient Romans on the studied location. These objects were represented by jewelry (brooch) and ancient coins. This method of field survey is rather significant because the found objects helped to identify the exact period of the construction and existence of the Roman Villa, as well as the social status of its inhabitants. The conclusion of the researchers concerning the time and culture was grounded on the analysis of the particular objects found in Chalkhill Barn.

As it was mentioned above, after obtaining the pictures of the geophysical survey, the researchers started excavations by making several trenches. It is notable that, during the first archeological investigation in 1997, the researchers performed the excavation only by means of hand equipment (like trowels) (Time Team S05-E04 Turkdean, Gloucestershire 2013). However, during the second investigation in 1998, they additionally used diggers, which made their work simpler and faster (Time Team S06E09 Turkdean Revisited, Gloucestershire 2013). This archeological technique helped to determine the walls of the Roman Villa and particular rooms inside it (like a bathroom) and found notable objects (like coins and pieces of pottery). In several cases, the archeologists made wrong assumptions concerning the construction of buildings or the destination of rooms. However, they recognized their mistakes after additional excavations and finding new objects. These objects were thoroughly analyzed by specialists. They paid attention to the materials and the form of the objects. It was necessary for the correct determination of the time of their creation. This analysis enabled the determination of the exact time of the existence of the villa and put this villa into a broader historical context, i.e. the context of the history of the Roman Empire and the presence of Romans on the territory of Turkdean. Much attention was paid to the culture and occupation of the inhabitants of the villa, which was also determined by the analysis of the found objects. It is notable that, during the first research in 1997, the researchers found objects, which proved the idea that the villa existed from the 3d century AD (Time Team S05-E04 Turkdean, Gloucestershire 2013). However, during the second investigation, they found two brooches that showed that Romans lived on this territory from the 1st AD or even earlier (Time Team S06E09 Turkdean Revisited, Gloucestershire 2013). It shows that the conclusions of the archeologists concerning the time period of the settlement changed under the influence of the analysis of the newly found objects. Also, this evidence supports the necessity of constant performance of further archeological researches for the identification of more concrete characteristics of the villa and supporting or refutation of the researchers’ ideas.

It is notable that, during the first research, the archeologists excavated the domestic buildings, the bath, the yard, and the houses of slaves. During the second research, they paid additional attention to the water flow (disclosed by geophysics) and performed its escalation (Time Team S06E09 Turkdean Revisited, Gloucestershire 2013). They found out one more building that was older than the constructions analyzed during the first research. This building was considered to be the first house of inhabitants that also served for religious purposes (Time Team S06E09 Turkdean Revisited, Gloucestershire 2013). These people decided to expand their place of living and build new constructions. The old house became the building for servants. The second research provided a more clear vision on the villa as well as the understanding why people chose this location for living. Their choice was based on several reasons such as sheltered position and access to water.

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Both archeological types of research (of 1997 and 1998) were ended by the creation of the computational model of the Roman Villa. It was made on the basis of the obtained information: geophysical images and outcomes of excavation. Additionally, it should be noted that, after the second research, scientists even formed a vision of the passage of the ancient Romans from one building to another and widening the borders of the villa. The use of computer graphics enables the creation of the view of the village and location of rooms and yards for a better understanding of the life of people who lived there.

The above-mentioned description of the archeological research show that the scientists used several backgrounds for making decisions concerning the following matters: the commencement of their work, proceeding with it, changing the direction of the research and making conclusions (regarding the age of the object, culture of inhabitants and reasons why people lived in particular locations). These backgrounds include photos of the location, geophysical maps, escalations, analysis of objects, putting the objects and the parts of the buildings into the historical context to develop assumptions concerning the destination of the constructions and the culture of the inhabitants, as well as performing further investigations.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be mentioned that the current research paper provides the description of the archeological research of the Roman villa located near Chalkhill Barn. These researchers were performed in 1997 and 1998 by the team of archeologists and shown live on the national television. The archeologists used a number of techniques in their investigation such as various types of field survey, excavation, analysis of found objects and use of computer technologies. The sequence of the research was presented in a coherent and understandable manner for the creation of the general understanding of the archeological process. Much attention was paid to the way of making the decisions concerning the performance of investigations and drawing conclusions.

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