- The first, and simplest, principle of stratigraphy is referred to as the “law of superposition”. Quite simply, this law states that soil laters will accumulate on top of each other, therefore soil layers lowere in the stratigraphy are older than those that are higher. This method is sufficient to date the layers relative to each other. For example, it is very likely that layer U is the oldest, followed by layer T, S, R, Q, and P respectively. U through R also seem rather undisturbed by activity, so they probably have the best detail.
The presence of the wall, however, complicates matters from there. From layer K’ to H’, and from layer O to H, it is difficult to determine a definitive timeline. Certainly within these strata, the first principle holds true with H being newer than O and H’ being newer than K’, but how do they compare to each other? This is where the second principle of stratigraphy, the “law of strata identified by their contents” comes to the rescue.
The second principle states that different depositional layers at a site can be distinguished from each other by the items they contain, or by the frequency that those items occur. Similar compositions of artifacts would imply occurrence at a similar time. For instance, layers K’ likely shares some degree of contemporaneity with layers P and Q, as the punctate decorations are present on pottery. Layer J’ similarly shares the beveled bottle rims with layers N and H, and layer H’ bears striking similarity to later H, with the exception of the flat bottomed bottles which are not found in any other layer. Layer I’ I will address in one of the other questions.
Once we pass the wall, we are once again able to use the law of superposition. Layers G, F, E, D, C, B, and A are sequential.
- Evidence does exist for many of the complications, which I will address in order. Mixing almost certainly occurred when the burial sites were dug, as evidenced by the fragments of conical bottle spouts with flanged rims in layer Q. Mixing is also very evident in stratum I’, which appears to have been a pit, which likely wound up being used for refuse. Additionally, if I’ is a pit, the digging of the pit likely resulted in additional mixing. As for filling, it seems possible that stratum H’ was added to level out the ground to an extent around stratum I’. I hypothesize that the pit had filled and had become more of a pile, so soil was added to make it a pit again. Collection is possible at the site, as appliqué decoration on pottery is absent from all layers above Q until it suddenly reappears on a bowl associated with a burial in stratum B. Lastly, there is a temporal break in the strata I, K, M, and O.
- I hypothesize that the wall was approximately half subterranean when constructed. The depth of burial was likely about to where the word “wall” appears in the diagram. The law of strata identified by their components tells us that some correlation may exist between strata N and H’, indicating they were formed at approximately the same time. Additionally, building on my theory of strata I’ being a pit, it appears to widen at layer J’, suggesting that it may have been dug down from stratum J’. This would mean that the wall was constructed during or after the formation of stratum J’, and the construction of the wall could be (directly or indirectly) the cause of stratum I’.
- The sequence of burial types is quite simple to derive using the law of superposition. Clearly the pit with flexed burial (P) was used first, followed much later by the pit with extended burial (B), and finally capped off by the shaft tomb (which begins at stratum B)