New Books by AIA Members
Describing and Interpreting the Past - European and American Approaches to the Written Record of the Excavation

by Catalin Pavel

University of Bucharest Press (December, 2010)

Sixty case studies of archaeological recording are presented with commentary from methodological and epistemological perspectives. Procedures and pro forma used by teams from around the world, working at sites in the US, Europe and the Near East are compared with an aim to further the development of recording theory and inspire new standards for field practices. For the first time in one volume, one hundred context (locus), feature and burial sheets are illustrated and explained against the background of archaeology’s development as a humanistic discipline.

Gary Lock, University of Oxford, Institute of Archaeology: “Recording is central to the process of archaeological excavation and for anyone interested in the history, theory, practice and ethics of recording this book is an essential read”.


Sveta Matskevich, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011.08.19 (online here
"[T]he book… makes an extremely valuable contribution to the topic of archaeological method and theory. It describes the state of art in the sphere of recording systems, and discusses important topics in their history and development… The book has a strong theoretical background and good raw data for future research. A reader can further link the two parts of the book, test the presented theory using the case-studies, or analyze the data in her own way. It invites scholars to continue Pavel’s research and to explore the topic further. It is of interest for a very wide audience: from students of archaeological method to theoreticians and historians of archaeology. The catalog of context sheets, along with brief descriptions of very diverse recording systems will serve as an invaluable source of inspiration for any field archaeologist inventing or improving an excavation recording system. The list of bibliographical references grouped by topics is useful for everybody studying subjects related to archaeological theory, recording methodology and history of archaeology."

Madeleine Hummler, Antiquity 85 (328), 2011, 690-2 (“New Books Chronicle”; also online here
"The figures and commentary are the most useful part of the book… bringing to the attention of excavators the variety of systems used by institutions and companies, thus dispelling the idea that there is only one way (or adaptations of one system) to record deposits ‘properly’… He has done us a great service by reproducing all these forms in 100 pages of figures… the basis for an in-depth look at the written records produced on archaeological sites."


Mabel Fernández, Cuadernos del Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano 23/2011

“Este trabajo tiene como objetivos comparar la variedad de sistemas de registro de excavación utilizados en Arqueología, especialmente los desarrollados en Europa y en América, conocer su devenir histórico (historiografía), señalar las modificaciones que han sufrido para adaptarse a diferentes sitios y, finalmente, discutir la relación de los sistemas de documentación con los métodos, la teoría y la ética arqueológicas, con el fin de “promover el desarrollo de la teoría del registro e inspirar nuevos estándares para las prácticas de campo”. ... Sin duda, este libro constituye no sólo una colaboración muy importante para el conocimiento de los sistemas de registro arqueológico de campo, sino también una interesante reflexión sobre las bases conceptuales y epistemológicas que los sostienen.”