Simon Fraser University of Archaeology and Ethnology
After the artifacts recovered from the excavation have been cleaned and
conserved, they are ready for the archaeologist to use them to obtain
information about the past.  The first task is to put some order on the
finds by dividing them into groups, or types, that have some meaning - this
is what is called making a typology.
First, there are broad classifications that you could divide the artifacts
into: stone tools, weapons, jewelry, cooking stuff and so on.
After these divisions are made then the archaeologist can look at the contents
of each class in more detail.
Let us take stone tools as an example, the archaeologist could further divide
this class into wedges, hammers, adzes and knives. Next all of the wedges
could be divided into different categories depending on what material they
were made from or based on their size.
Basically, to form a typology you divide up all the artifacts into different
classes. These classes can then be further divided until you have
a typology (a set of classes) that makes sense !
For example, pretend that you have twenty buttons:
Some are blue.
Some are red.
Some are yellow.
Some are green.
Some are black.
Some have 2 holes :
Some have 4 holes ::
Try to make a typology out of these buttons.  Divide them up into classes
that you think make sense.
After you have done this, scroll down the page past the red dancing guys
and see how you did!!
Hopefully you figured out that there is NO right way to do this !!
Typologies can be formed many different ways.
For instance, you might have divided up all the beads by their color and not
cared how many holes they had - this makes sense.
Or, you might have divided up all the buttons into just two categories, two holed
buttons and four holed buttons - this also makes sense.
The only thing that matters is that the classification you make
on the artifacts has some meaning.
But trust me, it can be harder than it sounds.
Imagine having thousands of artifacts from your site and
having to form a typology on them - usually a computer helps.