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Archaeological Post-Excavation Practice in Contracting Archaeology in England and Wales

Davies, SWD (2015) Archaeological Post-Excavation Practice in Contracting Archaeology in England and Wales. MPhil thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This historical review and detailed analysis of the evolution of post-excavation policy and practice within British professional archaeology employs Grounded Theory methodology for the collection and analysis of qualitative data from interviews with individual archaeologists who had completed post-excavation projects and written archaeological reports and archaeological publications over the last fifty years in an attempt to gain a new perspective upon the interpretation of data from archaeological excavations. The researcher's analysis demonstrates significant changes in both the process of archaeological interpretation and the quality of the archaeological reports and the archaeological publications produced over the last fifty years, particularly since the emergence of commercial archaeology in the late 1980's and significantly since 1990. The thesis proposes that published and unpublished reports must be subject to a more critical approach, a form of 'source criticism', to re-evaluate the quality of data and interpretation and ensure that conclusions drawn from their findings are based on valid assumptions. It argues that there has been a shift from a 'bottom up' approach, grounded in evidence based interpretation of site records, to a 'top down' approach which imposes an archaeological interpretation upon site records, what the author describes as 'preservation by interpretation'. In a larger view the researcher proposes that the quality and reliability of archaeological interpretation and reporting is a product, at a macro-level, of heritage policy and market economics and, at a micro-level, of distinctive local institutional and personal variation in methodology and preference. A future framework is proposed for integrating archaeological archiving and area base interpretation of excavation data, designed principally to respond to the complexity of urban archaeology.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Mr SWD Davies
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2017 12:58
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2017 12:58
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16451

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