Why do archeologists have to *dig* for artifacts?


Why do archeologists have to dig into the soil/sediment to find artifacts and archeological sites? Why are older things always deeper in the ground? Why would they not be found on the same level? Can dirt and debris pile up that bad?

In: Geology

Things lay on the ground or crumble. Over time they sink or are buried by the natural build up of sediment.

Think of something you own or have dropped, especially something metal, sturdy, and heavy. A few years later you find it half buried. Or maybe you find it with a metal detector and say “I was wondering what happened to this lock!” Or “I knew i left this shovel out”

Consider that surface or shallow artifacts are easier to locate and thus have already been found.

Yes dust from decaying leaves, volcanic ash etc. builds up very quickly when you are talking hundreds of years and the deeper you go down the older it is (in general)

Another factor that people haven’t mentioned is that all the stuff that was hanging around aboveground and easily accessible was probably picked up and moved around by people.

Take a plate and put it on the ground. Over time bird droppings, dust and leaves will accumulate on it. The same is happening on the surrounding ground. Let’s say it builds up at 1 mm per year. After 1,000 years it will be a metre underground.