Topic ID #6381 - posted 11/29/2009 6:41 PM

Writing Archaeological Report


I am writing my first report for my archaeology class and find myself a bit lost. The professor has given us a packet with extensive details on 2 excavation sites near each other in Santa Maria Valley in Mexico, San Juan Asqueroso and Tahuile are the sites.

The trouble is, I am so used to writing papers for english, psychology, etc. classes that I am finding it very difficult to understand the approach to an archaeological report. Directions say I am supposed to describe and contrast the levels of social, economic, political complexity found in the sites. It also says that there is way more than enough information, but to recover as much of the important data as possible to fit in the 5 page requirement. Now does this mean I should copy a lot of details to the report, then add my interpretations?

Any help would be greatly helpful and appreciated! Thanks

Post ID#16326 - replied 11/29/2009 10:05 PM


One way to describe a lot of data without a lot of verbiage and thick description is to take the data, sort into quantifiable units, and list them in tables. This allows for very quick compare and contrast visually, and then allows you to make essentially summary statements about those similarities and differences between sites.

Post ID#16340 - replied 11/30/2009 10:09 PM


Another handy tip that I learned and find works very well especially for this type of work is to quote and cite sources for your info...proffesors love seeing this as long as it is accurate.

For example. In report A he describes the building materials of the excavation being made of solid quote it how he describes it in report. in Report B the author says "The buildings were mostly made of mud and clay to provide strong walls" in comparison you can see how gold signafies a society with a larger disposable income.

things like that work well for comparing and contrasting.

Post ID#16350 - replied 12/1/2009 10:54 AM


Advice from someone that teaches these classes and grades papers -

You should "copy" as little as possible - however, for every piece of data you use you need to cite the source. You may be able to do this simply by stating early that - "2 sites will be examined, all data from site 1 comes from Source X, while all data on Site 2 comes form Source Y.

The SAA (Society for American Archaeology) style of citing material is actually very simple. In your text you simply parathentically list the source - - "blah blah blah" (Author year:page). This style tries to keep footnotes/endnotes to a minimum, and never use Ibid.

Your bibliography should be arranged alphabetically, then by year of pub. Although you should not need them for this assignment -full details on the citation style can be found at:

As for how to present the material - first look it over and summarize it for yourself. FireArchs suggestions about a table format is a good one - especially for helping you to understand the data yourself. But once you have a handle on it, be able to describe it in your own words. That keeps the need for citation (and potential for plagiarsm - even unintentional) down. If your tables work out well, definitely inlcude them, but you need to be able to describe what they are saying. If you simply plop in tables wth no description, don't expect a good grade.

Good Luck.

Post ID#16353 - replied 12/2/2009 3:40 AM


If you can, ask your Prof. to see a sample site report just to get a feel for how they are set up. It is what I did when I had to write one for a class and my Prof. was more than happy to let me see one. Also you could check the library or your local archaeological society to see if they have any you can look at. I would advise not looking for ones that are about the sites that you are writing about though.


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