The work of Urban Archaeology
is largely historical
. This is to say, that archaeologists working in urban settings usually have historical documents
to work with in their research of a particular site
. Also, many times the end goal of an urban archaeological project is to perform historical restoration of a site - such as a prominent building
or other historic feature
. At the very least, an urban archaeologist hopes to record their field data accurately, preserve any artifacts and hopefully answer some questions about the development and history of the city they are studying.
A Brief Introduction
The archaeological study of urban environments is as old as archaeology, beginning with the early 18th century "excavations" of Pompeii and the classical archaeological excavations of Greece and Rome done by Heinrich Schliemann and his contemporaries. A city is defined archaeologically as containing more than 5000 residents, and has centralized government, a complex economy, craft specialization and social stratification. One of the major categories of material culture available to urban archaeologists is that of refuse, or trash. The trash of urban populations yield lots of cultural and sociological information.
One of the main problems that confront urban archaeology is that of the continued reuse of resources, and this is especially noticeable in long-occupied sites. This is resolved through the use of highly-specialized technicians, equipment and sampling methods. Urban archaeologists must be well versed in historical information on the architecture, design, construction techniques, social behavior and city layout of the period they are studying. If such data is not available it is up to them to come up with it. Thats where interpretive and experimental archaeology comes into the picture.
Some Urban Archaeology sites
- The City of York, England.
- Lonsdale Street, Victoria, Australia
- Waterford, Ireland