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Stratigraphy, Typology, and Seriation Exercise

You have excavated a test pit with the following profile. Your test pit excavations followed
natural stratigraphic layers, and thus the artifacts you recovered are now tagged with their
context information. In context D, E, F, and G you have recovered ceramic figurines
demonstrating a large amount of iconographic and aesthetic variability (see photos). You want to
understand the stylistic change in these figurines over time, so you will use seriation, a relative
dating technique. You also want to be able to have absolute dates for these deposits and for the
figurines, so you submitted two carbonized wood samples (from contexts C and G) for
radiocarbon dating. The Context C sample produced a date of 800 B.C.E. +/- 50 years, and the
Context G sample produced a date of 500 BCE +/- 60 years.


First, interpret the stratigraphic sequence in this test pit. What was the sequence of depositional
events that created this profile? To visually depict your interpretation, create a Harris Matrix. If
you can do this using Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, or another computer program, great;
otherwise, do it on paper and then take a photo or scan it.

Second, combine your relative and absolute dating information to infer information about the age
of these contexts. Given your stratigraphic sequence, as indicated by your Harris Matrix, and
given your radiocarbon dates, what can we say about the age of certain deposits? What can we
say about Layer A? How old is it likely to be? What about Layer E? What age can we infer for
that deposit?

Third, create a typology of the figurines at the site (looking at all the figurines from all four
photos together, as one site assemblage) and then seriate your types. Use your intuition to group
them. We as humans are very good at differentiating between things that are visually different.
You can create as many or as few types as you want, though I would recommend somewhere
between 3 and 5. Give your types names and write a description of the stylistic criteria by which
a figurine can be identified as that type. Then, seriate your typesput them in order, from
earliest to latest. Think about how they may have developed; often, styles will develop additional
complexity over time.

Fourth, look at your seriated types and where they are found stratigraphically (contexts, D, E, F,
and G). Is your earliest figurine type most common in the earlier stratigraphic layers? Is your
latest type most common in the latest stratigraphic layers? Etc. Be reflexive here about your
typology. Did it work? If so, can you figure out when (in absolute dates) those figurine types
were most popular?

Create a discussion post that includes your Harris Matrix and your answers to these four
questions. You will likely need to write at least 500 words in order to fully address these
questions. Then rate and comment on three other discussion posts.