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This technique allows the recognition of much slighter traces of ancient structures than other methods.

On multi-period sites, however, it calls for much more meticulous recording since the stratigraphy is revealed one layer at a time.

The nature and scale of the undertaking is the next decision.

Prior to the 10th century, monasteries were the principal artistic, economic, and educational centers of the Christian world.After an initial plan has been made of all visible features before excavation, digging proceeds according to the dictates of the site: sections may be taken across areas of feature intersection, or across individual features.A permanent record of the whole process should be kept: plans, drawings, notes, photographs. For years, excavation was regarded as merely a method of collecting artifacts.Pitt Rivers in Britain and Petrie in the Near East first placed emphasis on evidence rather than artifacts, not what is found but where it was found relative to the layers of deposit (stratigraphy) and to other objects (association) -- the context.The excavator can only justify his destruction if it is done with meticulous care so that every artifact, be it an or a posthole, is discovered and if possible preserved; if it is recorded accurately enough for all information to remain available after the site has disappeared; and if this record is quickly made available by publication.

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