Re: [ANE-2] Re: definition of "stratum"
- A layer or stratum is just that, it may or may define occupation, or non-occupation such as a layer of "sterile" (I.e., devoid of artifacts) sand, for instance. It is usually considered to be a stratum if it is a contiguous deposit of related materials covering a significant portion of something and which has some internal coherence but that could mean anything. For instance, at Gezer there is a stratum of Macalister dump, which includes all the mixture of his backfill. In short, in the world of archaeology, a stratum, layer, or whatever, is as defined by the person who perceives it and relays that perception to others.
Eliot Braun, Ph D
Sr. Fellow WF Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem
Associate Researcher Centre de Recherche Français de Jérusalem
PO Box 21, Har Adar 90836 Israel
Tel 972-2-5345687, Cell 972-50-2231096
--- On Thu, 8/6/09, BjÃ¶rn Lindborg <bjorn07se@...> wrote:
From: BjÃ¶rn Lindborg <bjorn07se@...>
Subject: [ANE-2] Re: definition of "stratum"
Date: Thursday, August 6, 2009, 6:30 PM
--- In ANE-2@yahoogroups. com, "Jack Kilmon" <jkilmon@... > wrote:
> Whether geological or archaeological, a stratum is a layer that
> defines occupation, whether by certain species of trilobites or
> Edomites. It can be either upper Ordovician or Iron Ia.
> A destruction layer is not critical for dating and hearth carbon
> is more accurate than ashes from architecture that may be several
> hundred years older than the occupation. Ceramics, epigraphy and
> the artifacts of every day life are the "fossils" of archaeological
In spite of the number of posts on the 'stratum' issue, I'm confident
we may agree on some basic facts.
[Aren Maeir:] This can be a destruction level, but it can also be a
level that was formed thru the ongoing, peaceful activity at a site.
The definition of a stratum does not have to be debris on a floor,
it can also relate to other stratigraphically noticable features.
[BL:] A stratum is a layer, yes, but it is often more easy to
define in time if it ends with a destruction, which may be a
<< destruction layer from conquest or an accidental fire jumping
from house to house in one part of the city. >> (David Hall)
In such a destruction layer,
<< ceramics, epigraphy and the artifacts of every day life >>
are then mostly rather close in time to the destruction date.
Correct so far?
In contrast, if 'good times' prevail, without disastrous events, then
buildings etc. are repaired or replaced when needed, so the different
strata will be more fluid and maybe ill-defined in time. This is one
reason why the archaeology may be difficult in e.g. Neo-Assyria, the
kingdom of Manasse, or large parts of the Persian Empire.
If we try to identify e.g. the stratum/strata in London associated
with the British colonial Empire, we would of course find no such
defined thing, because many buildings from even before that period
are still standing today. We could possibly hope to find stratified
remains in some small parts of the city, like NPL's examples from
The second half of my post (in the "Persia, Egypt, Babylon" thread)
just emphasised the obvious fact that we should not turn to reduced
chronologies whenever such ill-defined strata occur. We certainly
agree on that.
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