A great deal is being written about the methods of analysing data after it has been collected on an archaeological site; very little, however, has been said about the methods by which the data is retrieved. It may be that the two are not really separate.
Since the appearance of Archaeology from the Earth in 1954, further development of the excavation methods there propounded by Sir Mortimer Wheeler has been neglected. Too often, it seems, excavation techniques are assumed to be ‘scientific’ because of a resemblance, chance or not, to something advocated in that basic and fundamental work. It is the intention here to suggest that there are retrieval techniques which might, with advantage, be used alongside the very high standard, advanced by Wheeler, of excavation by soil-stratification. The experiment described below is one of several which are, at present, being developed to meet the problems of archaeological recovery techniques.