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Superposition in archaeology and especially in stratification use during excavation is slightly different as the processes involved in laying down archaeological strata are somewhat different from geological processes.

Man made intrusions and activity in the archaeological record need not form chronologically from top to bottom or be deformed from the horizontal as natural strata are by equivalent processes.

Variation in rock units, most obviously displayed as visible layering, is due to physical contrasts in rock type (lithology).This variation can occur vertically as layering (bedding), or laterally, and reflects changes in environments of deposition (known as facies change).These variations provide a lithostratigraphy or lithologic stratigraphy of the rock unit.Stratigraphy has two related subfields: lithologic stratigraphy or lithostratigraphy, and biologic stratigraphy or biostratigraphy.Catholic priest Nicholas Steno established the theoretical basis for stratigraphy when he introduced the law of superposition, the principle of original horizontality and the principle of lateral continuity in a 1669 work on the fossilization of organic remains in layers of sediment.

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