CONTEXT ANALYSIS & CONTEXT FORMATION


ALLISON, Penelope M.

Allison, P. 1992. Artefact assemblages: not the 'Pompeii premise'. In: E. Herring, R. Whitehouse and J. Wilkins (eds) Papers of the Fourth Conference of Italian Archaeology: New Developments in Italian Archaeology I. London: Accordia Research Center. 49-56.

One of the first papers of Allison, stressing the fact that the contexts of Pompeii were not as undisturbed as mainly thought, but in contain many traces of the AD 62 earthquake.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


BECK, Margaret E. and HILL, Matthew E. jr.

Beck, M.E. and M.E. Hill jr. 2004. Rubbish, relatives and residence: the family use of middens. In: Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 11. 297-333.

Secondary refuse deposits such as middens may be used for intra-site comparisons of consumption, status, ethnicity or activities. The analysis presented in this paper considers household discard patterns in the modern village of Dalupa, the Philippines. The results suggest that midden assdemblages may be used to compare the refuse of extended families. The paper starts with argueing that although most studies of household assemblages focus on the artefacts found on housefloors, items on structure floors provide a skewed sample (p. 297). Secondary refuse deposits on the other hand might be associated with specific households or social groups and in fact provide a better sample of the material culture of such groups (p.297-298). Refuse accumultaions can be compared to evaluate differences in consumption, status, ethnicity and/or activities between different areas of a community (p.298). As households tend to use the same midden for most of the time, such middens are good contexts to examine the behaviour of households (p.298). At Dilupa, household waste is usually collected in a can or container that is periodically carried to the midden and emptied (p. 306). Materials discarded into middens are primarily household items and waste from routine daily activities such as food preparation and daily hygiene as specialised activities generally are conducted away from the village (p. 306). Households tend to use the midden closed to them (p. 308) (for the least-cost principle see p.328).
The article is of special intrest for the use of secondary refuse deposits for studying household behaviour.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


BINFORD, Lewis R.

Binford, L.R. 1981. Behaviorial archaeology and the Pompeii premise. In: Journal of Anthropological Research 37. 195-208.

Criticism on the work of Schiffer concerning "The formation processes of the archaeological record". His main argument is that Schiffer's views on formarion processes is predicated on the assumption, labeled the "Pompeii Premise", that inferences are possible only when one's site has yielded Pompeii-like assemblages. According Binford, Schiffer uses those formation processes in order to identify de facto refuse ("Schiffer wants to find Pompeii" p.201) which can be used to interpret behavioral patterns (an "ethnographic present" p.201), while Binford wants tries to understand the organizational frameworks in which actions were carried out using any available information. Floor cleanings, secundary refuse depostion ect. are themselfes the result of the dinamic functioning of human behavior and thus primary sources of infromation.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


BON, Sara E.

Bon, S.E. 1997. A city frozen in time or a site in perpetual motion ? Formation processes at Pompeii. In: S.E. Bon and R. Jones (eds) Sequence and Space in Pompeii. Oxbow Monograph 77. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 8-12.

Article in which S.E. Bon looks critically at the contexts of Pompeii and their formation and interpretation.
Pompeii contexts are seen as ideal systematic inventories (p. 9): the cessation of all habitation within one catastrophic event, created an unusual preservation of artifact assemblages, reflecting the inventories of dayly human activity. There are two problems with this vision, however (p.10):
1. Even in the 79 AD contexts there was much interference with structures and assemblages after the inhabitants left and before modern archaeological documentation started.
2. The assumption of Pompeii as a site of ideal assemblages is based solely on the single context of AD 79. This neglects earlier contexts (e.g. the AD 62 earthquake to which Allison 1992 refers) and later disturbance (looting, bombing during WW II, repositioning of artifacts by the excavators see as well Allison 1992)

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


CIOLEK-TORELLO, Richard

Ciolek-Torrello, R. 1985. A Typology of Room Function at Grasshopper Pueblo, Arizona. Journal of Field Archaeology 12. 41-63.

According to Ciolek-Torrello, previous studies of pueblo room function have been limited in their analytic capability by dependence on a specific ethnographic model that emphasizes the architectural characteristics of rooms in interpreting room function. In this paper, he discusses the limitations of this method and presents an alternative approach that shifts the emphasis to the activities taking place in rooms and the implements and materials used in those activities as the definers of room function. As a test case, room function is examined at Grasshopper, a large 14-century pueblo. The typology developed with this approach is then used for a preliminary examination of various aspects of domestic organization. The whole article is very useful for its methodological approach and its awareness for site formation processes for studying artefact distribution patterns.


Ciolek-Torrello, R. 1984. An Alternative Model of Room Function at Grasshopper Pueblo, Arizona. In: H.J. Hietala (ed) Intrasite Spatial Analysis in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 127-153.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


DAVIAU, P.M.Michèle

Diviau, P.M.M. 1993. Houses and their Furnishings in Bronze Age Palestine: Domestic Activity Areas and Artefact Distribution in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. Sheffield Academic Press. Sheffield.

Work in which the "contextual analysis" as pointed out by Allison is used i.e. interpretation of room function based on the content of the rooms in stead of on the architecture. The reference is taken from: Allison (1995) Journal of European Archaeology 3.1:145-176.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


HALSTEAD, Paul

Halstead, P. 1999. Neighbours from Hell? The household in Neolithic Greece. In: P. Halstead (ed) Neolithic Society in Greece. Sheffield. 77-95.

Rather unuseful text giving some new interpretations on the household in the neolithic period by placing the into "context". Halstead bases his vision on the fact that households in the first period of agriculture, would become the main productive and consumer unit. Though because of the uncertainity of harvest, a household still is dependent from help of others in times of crisis. Halstead argues that because all households of the same region would be hit by a bad harvest at the same time, there was competition between households of the same region, while those of other regions would be bound by rules of hospitality. The competition between local families would be the reason why houses were built separate and always on the same places, constructing tells.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


HARRIS, Edward C.

Harris, Edward C. (ed) 1993. Practices of archaeological stratigraphy. Academic press London. London.

Collection of papers concerning stratigraphical problems and the implementation of the Harris Martix.


Harris, Edward C. 1992. Principles of archaeological stratigraphy. 2nd edition. Academic press London. London.

The main principles of archaeological stratigraphy and its registration.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


HILL, J.D.

Hill, J.D. 1995. Ritual and Rubbish in the Iron Age of Wessex: A study on the formation of a specific archaeological record. BAR British Series 242. Oxford: Oxbow.

The author's argument in this book is that pit deposits, usually interpreted as `rubbish', are in fact structured in a meaningful way. Especially intresting is chapter three in which Hill considers "How things entered the ... archaeological contexts". Hill concludes that only a tiny proportion of the material created on prehistoric sites enters the archaeological record and that material shoul not be assumed to reflect the sum of past behaviours. Archaeologists must account for how that material entered the record through a study of the natural and cultural transformation processes. However, the goal should not be to eliminate all "biases" caused by C-transforms, because exactly such transformations are at the core of what society is and how it is constituted.

Reviewed by Hegmon, M. 1996. Antiquity 61: 631.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


HITCHCOCK, Louise A.

Hitchcock, L.A. 2000. Minoan Architecture. A Contextual Analysis. Jonsered.

Hitchcock, L.A. 1994. The Minioan Hall System. Writing the present out of the past. In: M. Locock (ed) Meaningful Architecture. Social Interpretations of Buildings. Aldershot. 14-44.

Interpretations of rooms in Minoan palaces have always been based on the way our own culture is structured. Hitchcock wants to make an end to this "history-as-analogue" and on the contrary emphasise the "otherness" of the Minoan past. The analysis critically assesses documented archaeological evidence as well as the relationship of the Minoan Hall to its surrounding rooms and the circulation of social actors through these rooms.

Reviewed by John C. Mcenroe. AJA 106. 123-124.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


JAMIESON, Andrew S.

Jamieson, A.S. 2000. Identifying room use and vessel function. A case*-study of Iron Age pottery from building C2 at Tell Ahmar, North Syria. In: G. Bunnens (ed) Essays on Syria in the Iron Age. Ancient Near Eastern Studies Supplement 7. Leuven. 259-303.

Very interesting study on the way how room function can be connected to the use of ceramic vessels in a domestic context. The area investigated has the advantage that it was in use for a period of no more than 50 years, which gives us a very homogenous nature of the pottery. First pottery categories are recognised in which a range of types were distinguished. In the next chapter different ways in which vessel function can be determined are investigated. In the end what we know about vessel function is connected with the indications architecture can give us to define room use in the building.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


LAMOTTA, Vincent M. and SCHIFFER, Michael B.

LaMotta, V.M. and M.B. Schiffer. Formation Processes of House Floor Assemblages. In: P.M. Allison (ed) The Archaeology of Household Activities. London and New York. 19-29.

Overview of the mayor formation processes that create house floor assemblages. The processes are divided into two broad families: accretion processes (deposition of objects) and deplation processes (removal of objects). These processes occur at different moments in a structures history: habitation, abandonment, post-abandonment.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


LANG-AUINGER, Claudia

Lang-Auinger, C. (ed). 2003. Hanghaus 1 in Ephesos: Funde und Ausstattung. Forschungen in Ephesos VIII/4. Austria: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

This volume and its preceding volume, dealing with the building’s construction, complete the documentation and interpretation of Hanghaus 1. The finds were investigated within the context of the building’s history. Thus important results were obtained for the history of private housing in Ephesos, confirming that the earliest housing construction in this area of the city took place about 200 B.C. All categories of finds were taken into consideration according to the room in which they were discovered and catalogued. This gives us an immediate impression of how the house and its rooms were furnished. A comparison of the building plan, the floors and walls of each room, and the movable items found within it yields a clear picture. It was possible to differentiate well between living space and storage rooms, yet ot is impossible to interpret them more closely. In areas where little of the building is extant, there were also relatively few artefacts to be found, and interpretation is not possible. There is no proof of commercial use of this building in the centre of the city before late antiquity.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


LAST, Jonathan

Last J. 2005. Potted histories: towards an understanding of potsherds and their contexts. In: D. Papaconstantinou (ed.) Deconstructing context. A Critical Approach to Archaeological Practice. Oxford: Oxbow. 120-137.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


MEADOWS, Karen

Meadows, K. 1999. The Appetites of Households in Early Roman Britain. In: P.M. Allison (ed) The Archaeology of Household Activities. London and New York. 101-120.

Meadows criticises the fact that academic intrest was too much focussed on stone built villas, while the constructions of perishable materials such as cob and timber were neglected. Because in such cases there are (almost) no structures, it is necessary to rely on the material culture. With a case study, in which the material of three early roman farms is considered, she tries to show that "romanisation" was a slow proces. Herefore she compares the ceramics, animal remains and plant remains of the sites with the material from earlier and later phases. The article is especially intresting for the use of quantified data of pottery and bones to come to conclusions and multiple references and explanations concerning the meaning of contextual analysis.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


MICHEL, Vincent

Michel, V. 2007. Furniture, fixtures, and fittings in churches. Archaeological evidence from Palestine (4th-8th c.) and the role of the Diakonikon. In: L. Lavan, E. Swift and T. Putzeys (eds) Objects in Context, Objects in Use. Material Spatiality in Late Antiquity. Late Antique Archaeology 5. Leiden: Brill. 581-606.

Studies of church architecture have often been unable to assign convincing functions to annexe rooms. This article attempts to address this problem by investigating the literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence for such spaces, focusing particularly on western Palestine. This mainly concerns the role of a room identifi ed from epigraphy as the diakonikon. Examples of such rooms with archaeological traces of furniture are explored, including installations for relics. Artefactual and textual evidence is also considered, revealing the changing function of these rooms, in terms of the preparation of the Eucharist, the storage of relics, the keeping of treasures and other items associated with the daily functioning of the church.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


MURRAY, Priscilla

Murray, P. 1980. Discard Location. The Ethnographical Data. In: Amercan Antiquity 45. 490-502.

Article comparing discard processes in different pre-industrial societies. The overall conclusion is that in sedimentary societies refuse is always dumped on an other location than the activity area, while in some hunter-gatherer groups this is not the case.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


PAPACONSTANTINOU, Demetra

Papaconstantinou D. 2005. Archaeological context as a unifying process: an introduction. In: D. Papaconstantinou (ed.) Deconstructing context. A Critical Approach to Archaeological Practice. Oxford: Oxbow. 1-21.

Article prividing an overview of the meaning of the archaeological context and theoretical discussions shaping the archaeological practice and interpretation. The paper also provides an overview of the other papers presented in the volume.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


RUSSELL, James

Russell, J. 1993. Shops for small industry and retail trade in a late-antique city. Review of: J.S. Crawford. 1990. The Byzantine shops at Sardis. Archaeological Exploration of Sardis. Monograph 9. Cambridge. In: JRA 6. 455-460.

Very good summary of the book by Crawford with a summation of the accomplishments of the work and its small flaws. Very usefull when studying the contexts of the shops on upper and lower agora's.


Russell, J. 1982. Byzantine Instrumenta domestica from Anemurium: the significance of context. In: R.L. Hohlfelder (ed) City, Town and Countryside in the Early Byzantine Era. New York. 133-163.

Study of domestic artefacts especially belt-buckles of Anemurium and an attempt to come to conclusions about origin and trade.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


SCHICK, Robert


Schick, R. 1995. Christianity at Humayma, Jordan. In: Liber Annuus 45. 319-342.

Excavation reports of the churches of Humayma in Jordan.Covers both structural and stratigraphicalm evidence. Especially interesting is the evidence of post abandonment use and depletion in church lower church C101 (p324-327)

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


SCHIFFER, Michael B.

Schiffer, M.B. 1996. Formation Processes of the Archaeological Record. Salt Lake City.
(Originally published. 1987. Albuquerque.)

Standard work on the formation processes playing a role in the establishment of the archaeological record. Very important for the reliability of a context and the relation between assemblage and context.

Schiffer, M.B. 1985. Is there a Pompeii premise ? In: Journal of Anthropological Research 41. 18-41.

This article is a reply to Binford's criticism on Schiffer's work. Schiffer states that a careful study of the formation processes of specific sites and deposits is needed, in order to identify the research questions that can be most appropriately answered with the archaeological material. In contrast to what Binford concluded, Schiffer meant that it would be nice if there were more sites like Pompeii, but sites formed in other ways also yield important behavioral information if the formation processes at play are identified correctly. Schiffer starts with the assumptions on which conclusions about the archaeological record were previously made and shows that they were too optimistic. Next, he presents an overview of the formation processes of house-floor assemblages (verry useful ! p24-31). Finally, he shows with the example of Foote Canyon Pueblo how a reconstruction of the formation of the archaeological record can contribute to more general statements about the abandonment of a site.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


STUCCHI, Sandro


Stucchi, S. 1965. L'agora di Cirene I, I lati nord ed est della Platea Inferiore. Rome. 325-326.

Description of a supposed thermopolium on the agora of Cyrene. Type of evidence: structural, artefactual (metal vessels: samovars and oinochoai). Especially important is the presence of three authepsae (samovars): interesting parallel for the Lower Agora.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


THUERY, Günter E.

Thüry, G.E. 2001. Müll und Marmorsäulen: Siedlungshygiene in der römischen Antike. Meinz am Rhein.

Work on rubbish deposits in the Roman sites in Germany.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


TSIPOPOULOU, Metaxia

Tsipopoulou M. 2005. Counting sherds at Neopalatial Pertas, Siteia, East Crete: integrating ceramic analysis with architectural data. In: D. Papaconstantinou (ed.) Deconstructing context. A Critical Approach to Archaeological Practice. Oxford: Oxbow. 138-158.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst


WEBB, Jennifer M.

Webb, J. 2005. Material culture and the value of context: a case study from Marki, Cyprus. In: D. Papaconstantinou (ed.) Deconstructing context. A Critical Approach to Archaeological Practice. Oxford: Oxbow. 98-119.

Terug naar bibliografische lijst



Opgesteld door Toon Putzeys december 2002
Laatst vernieuwd in december 2008