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Munsell Charts
I remember the banning of orange and orangey too... this was totally ridiculous and the powers that were could not have given a hoot how poorly the site was recorded.......... they made most of it up in PX to fit their preconeived interpretation...........outrageous stuff !!!
I once worked my way through part of one of Mortimer Wheeler's site archives - his favourite colour description for topsoil was '---------- brown'. Maybe things weren't always better in the old days.

Ooops - didn't realise that I had been auto-censored. Missing word begins with n and rhymes with tigger. No offence intended - blame it all on Wheeler (we always did on site).

I have also seen the use of colours such as orange,red,black etc as banned from being used on sites, the main problem with having 'approved lists of colours' only to be used is that the soils themselves do not conform to such rigidity.
On one fenland site I was given a lecture for describing a layer as 'pale greyish blue'-but the objection was dropped when the soils chap visited and called it.....'pale greyish blue'.
I've often wondered what the salient difference between "pale greyish blue" and "pale blueish grey" is. A matter of opinion... whatever.

I once worked on a site many, many years ago (and excuse me for uttering a dirty work here... industrial archaeology) which produced a context (a fill) that had both dark purple and light, creamy yellow striations. The site director didn't believe me when he looked at my context sheet... particularly the purple bit. So I showed him my hole (ooo errr). On close inspection, and with different light to when I first recorded it, he sorta agreed... yet, he called the purple bit "dark burgundy". I think he was still under the influence of a good claret he'd had the night before.

Just goes to show there can never be true objectivity in archaeology, even for colour definitions.

Maybe it's time we invented a on-site, techno-wizzard colour recorder (based on a digital camera)
... and yes, for the unit concerned... the future (or that past for that matter) was most definetly not orange!
Quote:quote:Originally posted by gorilla

Maybe it's time we invented a on-site, techno-wizzard colour recorder (based on a digital camera)

Actually there is a technology which is even older....Less than 10 years ago, I worked on a site in the southern United States for a well known American museum. After a while I was a little concerned that we were leaving sections all over the place but no-one was drawing them. The site director assured me that all was well. Last week of the excavation a guy turned up with an easel and a set of watercolours and recorded the sections in much the same way that John Constable might have.

The best bit was his colour accuracy. He would take a sample of soil lay it on his palette and mix the required colour as an exact match to the soil. Of course US research archaeology, loads of dosh, so the sections not only looked like works of art....they were works of art.
#38 stuff indeed!................
Excellent stuff Kevin. I hear the Germans like a nice watercoloured section as well. However, why not just cut out the middle man and smear a load of the mud on your context sheet? I suppose it might mean a less aesthetically pleasing archive. Munsell sheets might not be perfect, but they are cheaper than spectroscopy and might cut down on the kind of pointless quibbling that gorilla describes.
I had a friend who considered writing his MA dissertation on using 255 colour pixel values in digital photography to objectively measure soil colour. Not sure why he didn't, but think it had something to do with the way that digital images create tone through the use of light and dark pixels. That and the way that deposits are rarely uniform colours.

I also seem to remember colour pencil drawings being done at Sutton Hoo and subsequent jobs by the same people. Sounded great, and looked good too, but took ages and never quite made it into print (or even into any analytical use that anyone has ever told me about). I was never quite sure why a colour photo and a drawn section wouldn't have done the same job just as well and much faster.

One place I worked did at one point use coloured pencils in place of hatches for differnet inclusions (red for brick/tile, yellow for mortar, blue for imported stone and green for chalk). That looked pretty psychedelic on stone for stone plans of robber trenches (but was really useful- the only way you could tell what was a robber trench and waht wasn't was the mortar content), and was really effective for showing differential tip/slippage into the temple ditch. Again, not sure if that ever really caught on. I think it was used for that job because the previous excavtor had trenched the site and never found the robber trenches and they wanted to be sure that they had a good pre-ex record (summer research dig).

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