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Context level recording

In the York System, context level recording may be used to supplement a specimen by specimen record. In this case only a selection of fields is likely to be employed. Alternatively, it can serve as an integral part of a rapid recording method in which many variables – such as texture, fragmentation, carnivore gnawing and weight – are recorded by context (leaving fields in the specimen by specimen record blank). This latter method may be of most value during preliminary assessment of an assemblage.

Whatever level of detail is used for recording, information about context type and phase should ideally be entered to facilitate quantification and analysis of the assemblage. This can be done as the bones are being identified, or the relevant information can be typed or copied directly into the context table immediately prior to querying the data set.

Texture, angularity and colour can be assessed at the context level by indicating which of several pre-defined (or customised) descriptions applies to >90% of the specimens in a context. If less than 90% of the bones fall into a single category the relevant characteristic is recorded as variable. The general state of fragmentation can be recorded by estimating the percentage of all specimens from a context in each of three size categories (based on their maximum linear dimension): less than 5cm, 5 to 20cm, and greater than 20cm. In order to assess the frequency of carnivore gnawing, burning, butchery and fresh breakage at the context level, separate semi-quantitative estimates can be recorded, using a scale of 'none', 'less than 10%', '11–20%', '21–50%' and 'greater than 50%'. Weight can also be recorded by taxon at the context level as an alternative to weighing each specimen.

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Last updated: Thu Mar 13 2003