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Excavating in Egypt: recording

All finds needs to be recorded. Archaeology is one of the sciences where exact documentation is most important because most of the locational and architectural evidence is destroyed during the work of removing one level to reach the older, lower levels. The easiest way of recording might be to make photographs at all stages of the excavation; today this has been greatly facilitated by the development of affordable digital cameras. However, levels, pottery, small finds and 'snapshots' of items in location relative to one another all need to be drawn, both because the publication costs of reproducing photographs remain high, and because important details are often not visible on photographic pictures. Whenever possible, all recording should be made directly at the place of excavation.

A major problem for recording is the preservation condition. It seems only sensible to make a full documentation after restoration or consolidation of a find. It is very often possible to reconstruct vessels from pot sherds or stone objects from fragments found at different seasons. Finds were therefore often recorded in a special 'study season' after the excavations, or in spare time during the excavation. Although study seasons are useful for their focus on recording, it is very much recommended that all recording be complete at the end of one season: there are countless examples of excavations left unrecorded for any number of reasons (war, political grounds, loss of funding, death of excavator).

Although it seems reasonable to wait for the full recording, it seems that this has often been used as a pretext for not publishing.



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