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Edward Harris on The Stratification of Time and the Harris Matrix

Instructor: Edward Harris

Where: Online

Duration: 120 Minutes

When: Tuesday, April 18th - 9:30AM PDT

Cost: $75

What you will learn: The year 1973 precipitated a revolution in archaeological theory and excavation practice with the invention of the Harris Matrix, which yet supplies the only way to see time on archaeological sites. The new thinking was encapsulated in the first textbook (1979) devoted to Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy, which you can download for free at and should peruse for this class. Those principles are fundamental to the gathering of primary stratigraphic data from archaeological sites, the bedrock, the foundation of all later theories and suppositions.

The Session: The course will discuss various aspects of archaeological stratigraphy—the fundamental science of our discipline—as well as the construction of stratigraphic sequences (Harris Matrices). There are no prerequisites, but a passion for matters stratigraphic might enhance your experience and learning curve during the course.

Topics will include:

  • History of stratigraphic theory
  • History of excavation practice (arbitrary versus stratigraphic methods)
  • History of recording practice on excavations
  • Advent and development of Harris Matrix
  • Fundamental value of surfaces (immaterial stratification)
  • Role of deposits (material stratification) and stratigraphic sequences
  • Creating a stratigraphic sequence (Harris Matrix)
  • Recreation of archaeological sites (surfaces)
  • Relationship of stratigraphic axioms to the digital world
  • Stratigraphic principles rule much of your life, not just as an archaeologist
  • Anything else the lecturer wishes to rant about or you wish to discuss


Instructor Bio: MBE, FSA, PHD, National Museum of Bermuda and creator of the Harris Matrix