Archaeologists investigate past human activities through the physical evidence they left behind primarily by excavating buried sites (under ground or under water). As archaeologists excavate an archaeological site, they–by the very nature of excavation–damage or destroy the physical relationships among the artifacts and the sediments in which they lie. Following excavation, therefore, the only way to reconstruct the site is from the careful notes, measurements, and photographs that were recorded.
When the analysis is complete and the artifacts are properly conserved and stored, it is time for the principal investigators to develop a detailed description of the site, including the relationships among the artifacts and other components, which can include structures, various soil layers, natural features, etc. They then present their analyses and interpretations of the site, and explain the significance of the finds to the larger body of knowledge about past people and lives. This information is all packaged in a final report to be reviewed by peers (other experts) and published.