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Distinctive Field Methods for Late Antiquity: Some Suggestions

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Chapter Summary

Our understanding of late antique archaeology has now reached a point where it is possible to suggest specific field methods better adapted to the material evidence and historical problems of the period, at least for urban archaeology. We need to be more sensitive to patterns of evidential survival that are particular to this era, and especially to engage with the evidential traces provided by patterns of reuse, and by the slight relaxation of civic rules seen in the period. If we focus on stone surface archaeology, study spolia contexts, behavioural epigraphy, small-scale repairs and decorative traces, then we can obtain a great deal of information from poorly excavated sites which were previously considered archaeologically barren. This may, perhaps, mitigate the worst effects of clearance archaeology, which is still being practised on some eastern sites.



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