Modelling the archaeological record: A look from the levant. Past and future approaches

Sveta Matskevich*, Ilan Sharon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The history of Levantine archaeology is a story of establishing methodological traditions from borrowed as well as locally developed techniques of excavation and recording. Today Near Eastern archaeologists use several relatively standardized recording systems that reflect different and, on first glance, incompatible approaches. Yet, analysis of these systems on a conceptual level shows that they use two basic entities, a spatial unit and a find, and two different narrative styles, a diary model and a form system. In this paper we present a radically new model of recording systems, based on two principles. First, a recording system reflects our interpretations of what is found, and not the site or the objects. This implies that the bottom-level entity of our model is the interpretation event. Second, we claim that since relations lie in the foundation of archaeological reasoning, they should be treated equally to entities. We also introduce several types of high-level entities-sets of spatial units (e.g. a stratum, an excavation-area); finds (e.g. an assemblage, a type), and relations there-between. We claim that using this model of the archaeological workflow allows the mapping of seemingly incompatible recording systems to one reference model. Moreover, the same reference model can be used for on-site recording and post-excavation analysis, up-to and including the final site report. Such inclusive models are critical for the development of meta-databases, such as national archaeological archives, and for evolution towards interactive electronic site-reports.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationCAA2015. Keep The Revolution Going
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781784913380
ISBN (Print)9781784913373
StatePublished - 31 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Archaeopress and the individual authors 2016. All rights reserved.


  • Conceptual modelling
  • Levant
  • Recording systems


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