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by Archaeology Newsroom

Methodology

The research objective of the Palaeolithic is the representation of the way of man’s life in his natural environment, the natural and human sediments as well as the archaeological material which comes to light in the caves, rock-shelters and open air sites -which have functioned as habitation and activity locations- function as sources. The research methodology includes two phases: the fieldwork and the treatment of the material in the laboratory. The interdisciplinary cooperation of many specialists, such as archaeologists-prehistorians, geologists, sedimentists, palaeobotanologists, palaeoontologists-archaeozoologists, is the necessary prerequisite for a successful research. The fieldwork starts with a survey which seeks to locate as many sites as possible, to determine their nature and to evaluate their significance. It is followed by an excavation trench which aims at: the establishment of a first stratigraphic sequence; the estimation of the number and arrangement of the human sediment strata; their chronology and the abundance or not of the archaeological material. The fiedwork leads to the proper excavation of the site, which is performed either according to the method of the vertical stratigraphic trench or according to that of the horizontal uncovering of strata. The laboratory treatment of the material completes the data of the first phase and contributes to the solution of three main problems; that of dating, of the representation of the natural environment and of the human habitation and activity. It employs methods of relative and absolute dating, such as Carbon 14, the K40-A40 method and thermoluminescence. It analyses the sediment samples in order to elucidate the natural and mainly the climatologic factors, effective during the period of the site inhabitation. It examines the vegetable fossilized remnants (pollen, seeds) and the bone residues of animals in order to determine the flora and fauna of the period. Both flora and fauna reflect the climatologic circumstances of the period. Finally, it studies the archaeological material coming to light, which, in the case of a Palaeolithic site, includes dwelling components (hearths, walls, trenches, etc.), groups of implements made of stone or bone raw materials, burials, ornaments and works of art.