Poll: What recording system do you prefer?
This poll is closed.
Single context recording?
31 55.36%
Multi context recording?
5 8.93%
Recording whats that then?
1 1.79%
A bit of both?
19 33.93%
Total 56 vote(s) 100%
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What recording system do you prefer?
Dear all

With the many references to Framework Archaeology on this thread, I though I would make some comments which unfortunately make for a long posting.

The FA recording system originated from a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the Wessex and Oxford Systems, as well as my own experience of working with the MoL system. Thus there is nothing intrinsically revolutionary about the FA system. What is different is that the recording system and the ethos of Framework is based on a particular philosophy of archaeology; one that explores historical processes and human agency. The impetus for this came from John Barrett and Gill Andrews as consultants to BAA. What I think it does try to do is get people to think about archaeological features in terms of how people constructed them, how they were used and how they went into disuse. It also tries to make people think of their particular intervention in terms of the feature as whole, and how the feature relates to other features in the landscape.

In order to attempt to achieve these aims we devised a system that provided data feedback to supervisors and excavators so that an excavation could be shaped as it progressed. Yes, we did have preconceived ideas and assumptions, but those were the very things that were tested and altered by the results of the excavation. I don't see this as a bad thing: surely that is what archaeologists should be doing, or is anyone really suggesting that we should make absolutely no assumptions or interpretations about anything we dig until it is dug? If you read the Introduction Section of T5 vol.1 you will see a clearly structured approach for undertaking an initial sample of a landscape, evaluating the results and formulating new research questions to be tested by further excavation.

One aspect of this process has been to group contexts from interventions into features containing deposits, and to combine features into landscape entities (e.g. BA trackways, settlements etc). This of course is what most archaeologists do anyway, usually in PX, but we have emphasised that this fundamental process should be undertaken by supervisors and archaeologists in the field, using finds data assessed and made available in the field. This has proved crucial in the process of testing assumptions and developing interpretations to drive the excavation.

Of course, there are some projects, such as evaluations, where this feedback process is simply not possible. However, even evaluations are undertaken with specific research questions in mind, and provide a first sample of invisible landscapes. The most important thing is for people to think and interpret as archaeologists exploring historical processes and human agency. I can hear people yawning as they read this, so why don’t you take a look at the T5 Perry Oaks Volume and judge for yourselves (thanks to Monitor Lizard for posting a link and a nice comment) or look at the T5 website

We have distributed free copies to all RAOs, all English planning curators, leading academics and university libraries, so there should be plenty of copies about. If you do get the chance, try installing the Famework Freeviewer GIS package from the CD ROM in the back of the volume. If you click on a feature, a box will pop up containing the description and interpretation of all the deposits in that feature, finds data as well as selected field sections, plans and photos. The important thing about this is that the interpretational text was largely written by excavators during the excavation. Of course some of the views have been modified by refined dating and further research, but if you want a snapshot of field interpretation by British archaeologists at the turn of the millennium, then have a look. Chris Jones: thanks for your posting: if you can remember your personal number you can search the GIS for some of the features you dug and read some of your records.

John Lewis
Framework Manager
Framework Archaeology
Knew it would come back to haunt me!

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