This page shows a complete excavation sequence, starting with the pot as it arrived from the site in the laboratory. This particular pot had been cracked extensively during burial in the ground, due to the weight of earth on top of it. All we had to do was gently take away the pieces of pottery and store them safely. They can be reconstructed later by 22nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities conservators. Once the pottery pieces have been taken away and stored, the ball of soil is exposed. It is heavily cemented together with carbonate and is as hard as cement. In this picture, we are looking at the underside of the soil ball, as it would have been in the ground. It is possible to see some of the bones exposed already - before we've done any cleaning. There is a little group of ribs and a curved bone from the vault of the skull.
Most of the soil has now been removed and the outline of the skeleton can be seen. The child was buried on its back (we are looking at the underside of the burial), because the vertebral column is in place and the ribcage can be seen either side. The skull is at the top and the arms either side. The legs are still in the soil and would have been folded up over the rest of the body when buried. We draw a plan of each micro-excavation, with most of the main bones labelled so that we know exactly where they came from in the ground. Once we have recorded them like this, the bones are lifted and cleaned.
Bioanthropology project on the island of Astypalaia, Dodecanese, Greece > Bioanthropology laboratory >