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sieving
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A technique of particle size analysis used to determine the size grades of pebble gravel, sand, and coarse silt in sediment and soils of archaeological deposits. The archaeologist processes all the earth from the site through a fine mesh, then does dry screening in a shaker frame or wet sieving with flowing water. It improves the recovery rate of artifacts. For lighter soils, dry sieving may be effective. Wet sieving is used for more claylike material and for recovering bones, shells, seeds, and other biological remains. The sieved residues are then dried and sorted by hand. The sample is placed on the top sieve of a series of nested sieves. Sieve mesh sizes are standardized. Wet sieving as part of a flotation technique is used to recover small remains from sites.
wet sieving
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: A method used to separate organic material (seeds, snails, insects, etc.) from soil before drying, identification, and analysis. It is a more time-consuming method of extraction than flotation by machine, but has the advantage of being more accurate in its results since there is more control over extraction from the sample. The sample is poured into a sieve in a bowl of water, the lumps of soil are carefully broken up, and the organic material is trapped in the mesh while the soil particles are removed.

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