Post-excavation work begins as soon as investigations in the field are completed. This involves the cataloguing, analysis and reporting of finds and environmental samples in the required format, which depends on the type of investigations taking place. All work at this stage is handled by our post-excavation managers, who are able to respond quickly and efficiently to client needs, providing prompt turnaround and complete control over costs, timetable and programming needs.
In addition to our specialist staff who boast expertise in a wide range of artefact and ecofacts, we have an extremely talented in-house illustration team who not only provide the figures and that accompany all our reports, but well-researched reconstructions that allow one to visualise how landscapes would have been used in the past and the people who inhabited them.
As well as our own projects, we provide specialist services to a number of external clients including AOC Archaeology, Museum of London Archaeology, Northamptonshire Archaeology, Pre-construct Archaeology, SLR Consulting, Surrey County Archaeological Unit, and Quest, providing high standard reports, illustrations and photographs for client and publication purposes.
Please use the drop-down menu below to find out more about each specialist service we can provide.
- Artefact Analysis and Reporting
- The study of the 'finds' or artefacts recovered from archaeological projects is a highly specialised area requiring qualified, experienced staff to ensure material is correctly identified, appropriately handled and understood within the site context. Artefacts studied in this manner can make a huge contribution to the understanding of site or landscape in terms of chronological and socio-economic interpretations, including themes such as trade, industry, technology, status, and function. To fulfil this potential a holistic approach by highly experienced specialists is needed.
The specialist team at ASE can provide artefact analysis and reporting on a wide range of material and artefacts types, from across all periods. Our specialists are highly experienced at recording and reporting on many finds catagories, including but not limited to: pottery, flint (lithics), metal objects, building materials, worked and unworked animal bone and other organics, stone, fired clay, glass, metallurgical remains and clay pipes from assemblages. This expertise is particularly drawn from assembalges recovered across southern and eastern England (including large assemblages from London) but also further afield.
If you would like to discuss our services or your requirements for a particular project please get in touch. We are happy to undertake single category finds reports or a comprehensive post-excavation service on entire assemblages across all types. We can also manage the involvement of archaeological conservation, external specialists and scientific dating programmes if particular projects require their input.
- Palaeoenvironmental Analysis and Reporting
- Environmental Archaeology encompasses the study of organic remains of plants, animals and sediments to examine past environments and the human influences and interactions with this environment. At ASE we have a range of in-house specialists trained in archaeobotany, archaeozoology and geoarchaeology, and work with established external specialists to provide a comprehensive range of explorative and analytical services. These may include sample recovery, hand auger surveys, boreholes, test pit surveys, and sediment analysis.
A wide range of approaches are employed including analysis of plant remains, bone and marine shell as well as microscopic remains such as pollen, ostracods, foraminifera, diatoms, snails and insects. Our analyses are used to contribute to the interpretation of a site's former environment, the surrounding landscape and the diet and economy of past peoples. We aim to place these outputs within the context of current research agendas, adding to regional and national debates.
Archaeobotanical, or ancient plant remains may be found on sites due to human or natural means. They are recovered from soil samples taken on archaeological sites where they have been preserved through a variety of processes such as charring, mineralisation, or in waterlogged or anoxic conditions.Both the Sussex and Essex offices are equipped with custom designed processing facilities for flotation and wet-sieving of bulk samples. These techniques are used to separate surviving plant and animal remains as well as artefacts from the sediment matrix.
Our in-house specialists have expertise in identifying and analysing macroplants, charcoal and wood arising from samples using microscope and reference collection facilities held at the Sussex office and at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. These remains can be used to inform us about human activity and environmental conditions at a site and in the surrounding area, providing information about agricultural economies, industry, landscape and woodland management, and procurement of resources such as fuel.
ArchaeozoologyArchaeozoology is the analysis and interpretation of animal bones recovered from archaeological sites. These remains can provide valuable information regarding economic activity, the environment and beliefs, and frequently contribute to the overall site interpretation. Archaeology South-East provides mammal, bird and fish bone identification and analysis to publication and assessment level using in-house reference collections as well as the extensive collection held at the University College London.
Geoarchaeology investigates the processes which form the archaeological record and how humans interacted with their environment in the past. In many cases some of the most important archaeological evidence comes not from objects and structures in the ground but from the sediments which cover and surround archaeological sites. Where sediments with this kind of potential are thought to exist, it is necessary to have input from a geoarchaeological specialist. A geoarchaeologist can make a correct assessment of potential and importance, and then design and implement an appropriate sampling strategy, also coordinating the specialist team to interpret the record.
Structural wood and wooden artefacts
Structural wood and wooden artefacts are often recovered from waterlogged or anoxic deposits on archaeological sites. The form of these artefacts and timbers can reveal information about construction and woodworking techniques in the past. The type of woods used also provides data about material selection, woodland management and environmental change. To identify the type of wood small subsamples are taken from the artefact or timber and examined under a microscope.
Our specialists are able to advise upon scientific dating strategies and can facilitate a program of dating from selecting and identifying suitable material, through to the submission of samples for dating at various world recognised laboratories with whom we have built strong relationships.
Archaeology South-East have a team of dedicated osteoarchaeologists providing both on and off site advice and expertise. We provide best practice solutions for the successful retrieval of human remains, through to the cleaning and processing of the skeletal material. This ensures that the remains are treated with respect and that they retain all possible information, facilitating any subsequent analysis. The involvement of osteoarchaeologists from the start of a project guarantees that the methodologies used during the archaeological work follow all necessary guidelines and maintain professional standards.
Of course, unexpected human remains are sometimes encountered during archaeological work. In these instances osteoarchaeologist quickly assess whether the excavation team have uncovered human or animal remains. Quick identification means that the archaeological work should not be unduly delayed or hindered and any necessary procedures can be implemented quickly.
Once the human remains have been recovered from site the osteoarchaeologist will carry out post-excavation assessment and analysis, the scale of which may be tailored to fit a particular project. A basic assessment will obtain information with regards to age and sex of each individual as well as the presence or absence of disease. The value of the data and its ability to provide more detailed information about the buried population will also be assessed and this will depend, amongst other things, upon the population size and state of preservation.
Any subsequent analysis will use the data to produce a demographic profile of the population as well as a study of population health. More detailed analyses, which can include a more detailed examination of pathological conditions, cranial and post-cranial measurements and a study of post-metric traits, are carried out when necessary. The end result will be the production of post-excavation assessment or publication reports.
The osteoarchaeologist is also able to advise on the necessity and practicality of further scientific analysis such as radiocarbon dating, DNA or isotope analysis and facilitate this work if necessary. Past projects have included large scale medieval to post-medieval cemetery excavations both in Chichester, West Sussex and in Queens Chapel of the Savoy, Westminster, London. The latter excavation saw the recovery of 607 well preserved skeletons, dating from the 16th to the 19th century.
- Forensic Archaeology
Forensic archaeology is a fast developing discipline within archaeology, designed to provide police forces with access to a range of specialist skills. These skills vary from simple bone identification and advice to the location of clandestine graves and their careful excavation and recording. The appropriate use of a forensic archaeologist during police investigations ensures that all necessary guidelines are followed and that professional standards are maintained.
Crime Scene Work
Crime scene work may involve the locating, recording and recovery of human remains from a surface location or the careful excavation, recording and recovery of human remains from a clandestine grave. The involvement of the forensic archaeologist can help to ensure that the maximum amount of evidence and information can be gleaned from the scene and that the integrity of that evidence is maintained. Good teamwork at a crime scene is essential and we are experienced in working alongside other forensic specialists and specialist police teams.
Archaeology South-East offers a rapid identification service to police forces needing to know quickly whether or not any bone fragments are human or animal in origin. This can often be done from a simple photograph, or the bone can be bought to any one of the Archaeology South-East offices, where it will be directed to the correct specialist. In most instances identification can be done by a quick visual assessment, but we can also produce a scientific report or statement if necessary. It is also possible for us to facilitate C14 dating of the bone if required.
Search and Location
Our forensic team can assist with strategy design, setting up and implementation of searches for clandestine graves or other buried materials in locations ranging from small gardens to wider areas of the countryside, offering advice as to the appropriateness of various scientific search techniques and carrying out geophysical surveys if necessary. They are also experienced at working successfully alongside specialist groups such as police search teams, underwater search teams and police dog teams.
Once the search and or recovery are complete the forensic archaeologist must be able to prepare a professional report on their work methodology and findings, suitable for use as an expert witness statement in court. Our team are experienced in both the preparation of these reports and in giving evidence.
The ASE Forensic Team have been involved with an increasing variety of cases ranging from simple bone identifications to high profile murder investigations and providing expert testimony in court. Our Senior Forensic Archaeologist is Lucy Sibun (BSc PgDip MIFA), who has been working alongside police investigation teams around the UK for over 20 years. She is also an active member of the CIfA Expert Panel for Forensic Archaeology. Support is provided by a team of qualified and experienced forensic archaeologists, osteologists, field archaeologists, surveyors, geophysicists and illustrators. The dedicated surveying team are able to provide spatial control and an accurate record of the scene; our illustrators then ensure that any field drawings are accurately and professionally reproduced.
All work conducted complies with the CIfA Standards for Forensic Archaeology.
Contact: Lucy Silbun
- Archaeological Illustration
The Illustration Department at Archaeology South-East provides a comprehensive range of graphic services. These include site plans integrated with Ordnance Survey data, artefact illustration, historic map regression, GIS management, 3D representation and reconstruction drawings, as well as design and layout services.
Our team regularly produce graphics for a wide range of reporting needs including (but certainly not limited to!) Desk-Based Assessments (DBAs), Written Schemes of Investigation (WSIs), and Post-Excavation Assessments (PXAs) in addition to all client and planning related reporting. Publication articles are submitted to a number of county and period based journals and magazines, producing graphics to their individual house styles and format.We also co-manage the publication imprint, SpoilHeap Publications, producing monograph and occasional paper volumes, which we design and layout in-house to a print-ready format.
Post-excavation services contact: Louise Rayner