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For example, the oldest burials are likely to be those nearest the settlement, the top of a hill, or some other favored position.

The later ones will be progressively further out as the cemetery expands.

In North Carolina, information from just four stratified sites--three in the Uwharrie Mountains and one near Roanoke Rapids—allowed archaeologist Joffre Coe to construct a chronology of different Native American cultures spanning the time from 10,000 years ago until Colonial times.

Usually these occupations occurred on exactly the same surface, which results in a mixing of artifacts from different periods.

Yet archaeologists also find stratified sites, in which each occupation is associated with a distinct stratum.

Because of their great information potential, and their rarity, archaeologists regard stratified sites as particularly important.

When an archaeological site is vandalized or artifacts are removed, knowledge about past cultures is lost forever. Now have the students imagine how thick the dust would be on a table if no one dusted it for 100 years.

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