Archaeologists must question their sources in order to gain appropriate knowledge from them. Some questions archaeologist may ask include; What is it? What is it made from? What size is it? Where did it come from? When was it made and by whom? What was its function? Does this source contain evidence about the topic? What is its significance? How has this source been interpreted by others? What else was found with it? What does this source tell us about its society? Once these questions have been answered, and all data collected an archaeologist can begin to formulate a conclusion about his or her find. To do this, archaeologists follow 3 basic stages of investigation.
Evidence is gathered in a variety of ways. The archaeologist asks questions of material remains at each stage to determine reliability and relevance of the evidence. These stages include:
Where was it found? What is its possible age? Who made it? What might its function be? Who located it?
2. Classification and Recording
Is it authentic? What can be learned from it? How does it relate to other evidence from this site? Is it contradictory or complementary?
What conclusions, inferences or assumptions can be drawn? Once the evidence has been found and he site sufficiently excavated archaeologists begins to form answers to the questions who? when? where? and how? posed by the remains found. The archaeologist will begin to form a hypothesis. It is much easier to do this if the artefacts are found together at the site. If the location of the find is now known then it is much more difficult to date and authenticate the artefact.