Archaeologists explore sites and recover information through fieldwork, including survey and excavation. All excavation is destruction, so archaeologists must be careful to record as much information as possible while they are digging so the site can be "reconstructed" in the lab. This information about the site records the context of the materials recovered, where each item was found in relation to other materials, and what kinds of situations were represented-such as a storage pit, a fireplace, or a house floor. Such information will include many maps, descriptions of each feature and unit, the soil color and texture, photographs, and forms that systematically document the process of excavation.
Fieldwork, including excavating a site, is just one step in recovering information about the past. After coming in from the field, the lab work, analysis and interpretation are undertaken to learn about the materials recovered during the excavation. This research will help to answer the questions identified during the first phase of the project—the research design.