I have no practical or academic experience with archaeology.

Some well-known archaeological sites have colloquial names. For example Newgrange or its Kerbstone 52. They can be unambiguously referred to as such.

However suppose I am, for example, writing an academic paper about Neolithic Ireland and want to refer to a specific (for argument's sake let's say it's a lunula) which has no colloquial name. I want to refer to it's design in support of my argument, and ideally include pictures in the paper, and a reference to the object itself in the bibliography. Are archaeological artifacts assigned unambiguous serial numbers to allow this?

What would the form of such a serial number be? If there are more than one popular systems, which is most likely to be used in reference to Neolithic Ireland.

It would be very helpful if someone could say, for example, what Kerbstone 52 is called in the literature.

Thanks in advance.

2 Answers 2


Each institution has there own cataloguing system. In addition to that the archaeologist, if any, will have their own identification system which is usually dig-specific. So, for example, items dug up one season might have a different coding than those dug up the previous season. It all depends on the archaeologist.

Ideally you would give all the numbers you had. So, for example, if the artifact has an archaeological coding and a museum coding, you would give both.

  • Probably too much to hope there would be a universal system. Thanks for the tips!
    – Daron
    Jul 2, 2015 at 10:18

That kerbstone is simply called Newgrange K52, since it is the 52nd kerbstone at site Newgrange K, counting clockwise from the entrance.

An example of the use is in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal in an article covering many other sites.

I doubt there is a systematic classification which provides an answer for something which does not yet have a name.

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