Archaeological horizon

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For other uses, see Horizon (disambiguation).

An archaeological horizon is a widely disseminated level of common art and artifacts at an archaeological site or, more usually, over a larger geographic area. It is a distinctive level in that site's or area's archaeological sequence.[1][2]

An example of an archaeological horizon is the Dark Earth horizon in England, which separates Roman artifacts from medieval artefacts and which may indicate the abandonment of urban areas in Roman Britain during the 2nd to 5th centuries. The term is especially used in the archaeology of Pre-Columbian America.

The term is used to denote a series of stratigraphic relationships that form an archaeological phase, or are part of the process of determining the archaeological phases of a site. An archaeological horizon can be understood as a break in contexts formed in the Harris matrix, which denotes a change in epoch on a given site by delineation in time of finds found within contexts.

The term 'Archaeological horizon' is sometimes, and somewhat incorrectly, used in place of the term layer or strata.


  1. ^ Pool, p. 181.
  2. ^ Anthony, p. 131.