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When reading about archaeological research of Troy, one can see that archeologist distinguish between different discrete numbered layers (Troy I => Troy IX).

Is that a standard approach in archeology for long-inhabited settlements, or is having discreet layers something unique to Troy research?

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Is it standard? Don't know. It it unique to Troy? No way - Uruk at least uses it too: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uruk#Historic_periods_of_Uruk –  Darth Satan Feb 24 '13 at 3:41

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