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These artifacts are referred to as "residual" or "residual finds".It is crucial that dating a context is based on the latest dating evidence drawn from the context.The principle of original horizontality states that any archaeological layer deposited in an unconsolidated form will tend towards a horizontal deposition.Strata which are found with tilted surfaces were so originally deposited, or lie in conformity with the contours of a pre-existing basin of deposition.The principle of lateral continuity states that any archaeological deposit, as originally laid down, will be bounded by the edge of the basin of deposition, or will thin down to a feather edge.Therefore, if any edge of the deposit is exposed in a vertical plane view, a part of its original extent must have been removed by excavation or erosion: its continuity must be sought, or its absence explained.In this instance we can now use the date we have for finds in context 7 to date other sites and sequences.In practice a huge amount of cross referencing with other recorded sequences is required to produce dating series from stratigraphic relationships such as the work in seriation.

One example would be a ditch and the back-fill of said ditch.

The temporal relationship of "the fill" context to the ditch "cut" context is such that "the fill" occurred later in the sequence; you have to dig a ditch before you can back-fill it.

A relationship that is later in the sequence is sometimes referred to as "higher" in the sequence, and a relationship that is earlier, "lower", though this does not refer necessarily to the physical location of the context.

The concept derives from the geological use of the idea that sedimentation takes place according to uniform principles.

When archaeological finds are below the surface of the ground (as is most commonly the case), the identification of the context of each find is vital in enabling the archaeologist to draw conclusions about the site and about the nature and date of its occupation.

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