Small finds
Small finds is an archaeological term for artifacts discovered on excavations which are somewhat special compared with the common finds for that type site
Type site
In archaeology a type site is a site that is considered the model of a particular archaeological culture...

 or type phase on multi phasic
Archaeological phase
Archaeological phase and phasing refers to the logical reduction of contexts recorded during excavation to near contemporary archaeological horizons that represent a distinct "phase" of previous land use. These often but not always will be a representation of a former land surface or occupation...

 sites. The special nature of the find is dictated by research agendas and the information the artifact can provide. Examples of the increased importance of small finds over other finds would be coins being often thought of as small finds whereas pottery sherd as just finds. The reason is coins
Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. While numismatists are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the...

 can be much more specific when it comes to dating evidence. Small finds are usually treated differently in the recording system; often they are recorded on plan
Archaeological plan
An archaeological plan in an archaeological excavation, is a drawn record of features in the horizontal plane.- Overview :Archaeological plan can either take the form of...

 rather than being attributed to a single context
Archaeological context
In archaeology, not only the context of a discovery is a significant fact, but the formation of the context is as well. An archaeological context is an event in time which has been preserved in the archaeological record. The cutting of a pit or ditch in the past is a context, whilst the material...

 like other generic finds.


Small find discrimination has in recent years fallen out of favor. Critics state the special treatment criteria are increasingly never met and finds often just get parceled off site with no greater distinction in location than generic finds. Moreover the assessment of what data can be gathered from such finds is often better made by specialists post excavation. Counter arguments center around the notion the demise of small find discrimination practice is the result of development-led practice.

See also

  • Dating methodology (archaeology)
    Dating methodology (archaeology)
    Dating material drawn from the archaeological record can be made by a direct study of an artifact or may be deduced by association with materials found in the context the item is drawn from or inferred by its point of discovery in the sequence relative to datable contexts...

  • Artifact (archaeology)
    Artifact (archaeology)
    An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

  • Excavation
  • Archaeological field survey
    Archaeological field survey
    Archaeological field survey is the method by which archaeologists search for archaeological sites and collect information about the location, distribution and organization of past human cultures across a large area...

  • Assemblage (archaeology)
  • Post excavation
    Post excavation
    In archaeology once the archaeological record of given site has been excavated, or collected from surface surveys, it is necessary to gain as much data as possible and organize it into a coherent body of information. This process is known as post-excavation analysis, and is normally the most...

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