Claudia Maria MELISCH | Peter RAUXLOH | Natasha POWERS
(Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany)

Keywords: cemetery, Harris Matrix, relative chronology of archaeological contexts

The beauty of the Harris-Matrix for the understanding of the relative/ real chronology in cemetery excavations was up to now not really exploited. Such a statement might sound arrogant and exaggerated in the ears of experienced archaeologists, but it’s nevertheless true. The reason for this is the lack of a common tool that enables the archaeologist to join partial matrices and to implant additional data into the matrix. The importance of the Harris-Matrix was first and foremost seen in the graphical display of the relative chronology – but the Harris-Matrix is much more powerful than that. In fact, the graphical display of the relative chronology of contexts is only the surface. If the amount of contexts from an excavation exceeds a certain number, the conventional graphical display of the Harris-Matrix becomes useless. But the math behind the Harris-Matrix doesn’t! By using an interactive graphic format for displaying the relative chronology of archaeological contexts, we created a surprisingly mighty tool that unveils the capacity of this kind of information for the first time and revealed a great potential for further analysis and dating, especially for graves. We have introduced certain aspects of the project “Medieval Space and Population” before in CHNT, but now we can harvest from the previous developments and our interactive Harris-Matrix is the key tool to for choosing radiocarbon-samples, for understanding and correcting the map of the cemetery and for applying a time-component onto the succeeding burials, based on scientific dating.

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New international research

The transformation of the Harris-Matrix into an interactiv graphic format revealed a mindblowing capacity.

Harris Matrix – new format=new potential
Dating graves, safely separating medieval and early modern period graves by sampling according to the Matrix