In archaeology, excavation is basically the documentation, preparation and analysis of archeological remains. An excavation site is basically the area being investigated. These sites range from a single site to many sites in a day and may be conducted over a period of days to a year. When excavations take place, artifacts are often found. Many sites contain a mixture of materials such as soil, bone, shell and other materials. These materials have undergone erosion and decay over time. This type of archeological sites are called postholes.
There are different types of excavation sites that vary according to the nature and type of artifacts. Excavations may include the digging of tunnels to access an underground area, trenching, drilling, excavating soil, and filling in cavities and depressions. Excavations may be performed on a regular or irregular basis. A regular excavation takes place at an excavation site for a number of reasons such as building construction or for housing purposes. Some of the sites where excavations occur regularly include prehistoric dwellings and archeological sites. One reason for excavations to be performed regularly is to find a buried archaeological site or to locate and interpret ancient remains. Excavation can also be performed for scientific research purposes and is used extensively by archeologists.
Excavation sites also contain valuable archeological artifacts. The type of artifacts in these excavations are generally categorized according to the context in which they were found. This is called the contextual classification. Contextual artifacts are divided into two groups: the ones that were excavated to find artifacts and the ones that were excavated for other reasons. Excavations can be classified according to the types of artifacts they contain; they may include ceramics, stone, jewelry, weapons, bones, shells, antler, and other archeological objects. Excavation is a science and involves a lot of skill, time, money and effort. It requires expertise, creativity and knowledge to design an excavation site carefully, carry out research, organize and manage the excavation and collect and preserve the artifacts in the right manner.