Anthro: Field/Lab Work
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Surveying Sites

Searching for Sites
During a survey, archaeologists attempt to locate sites that have evidence of ancient or historic human activity. Sometimes they are asked to determine if there are any such sites in a specific area. Many times the area is scheduled to be developed, perhaps for a highway, lake, or other construction project. 

Studying the Landscape
To find the locations of potential archaeological sites, scientists observe and study the landscape. First, they study maps. An understanding of the local environment, terrain, and topographical features helps them in the careful planning of their work. They also review historical records and results of previous archaeological projects. Sometimes geologists assist in survey and excavation projects. 

survey crew
Inspecting the Ground
The methods used for survey depend on the type of land and what sort of vegetation or construction covers it. In farm fields, for example, archaeologists systematically walk in search of artifacts or features (remains of past structures such as trash pits, houses, and hearths) that can be seen in the overturned soil. In wooded areas, they may need shovels to reach the ground surface. 

Recording New Information
The surveyors designate as an archaeological site any area that turns up signs of past human activity.  They record its location on a map. They assign each site a unique identification number. Next, they enter the locations and types of materials recovered on special forms. 

Later, they enter this information into an electronic database that contains similar records for archaeological sites around Illinois. They take the remains they collected back to the laboratory for study. Finally, the archaeologists summarize their findings in a scientific report.


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