From Activity Areas to Occupational Histories: New Methods to Document the Formation of Spatial Structure in Hunter-Gatherer Sites
AuthorClark, Amy E.
AffiliationSchool of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson USA
MetadataShow full item record
CitationFrom Activity Areas to Occupational Histories: New Methods to Document the Formation of Spatial Structure in Hunter-Gatherer Sites 2017, 24 (4):1300 Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Rights© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017
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AbstractOver the past five decades, archaeologists have proposed a wide range of methods for the study of spatial organization within hunter-gatherer sites. Many of these methods sought to identify the spatial location of activities based on patterns of behavior observed in ethnographic contexts. While this resulted in productive observations at certain sites, many of these methods were tailored to specific situations and thus could not be applied to a wide range of sites. For example, open-air sites rarely contain preserved bone or features, such as hearths, which were central components to identifying characteristics of site structure. In addition, many of these methods often did not take into consideration the temporal dynamics of the occupation, i.e., that many sites were formed through subsequent occupations of differing duration. This paper proposes the use of two related methods that assume many assemblages are the result of more than one occupation. The methods target the distribution of lithic artifacts, the most ubiquitously preserved of archaeological materials, and accounts for the potential that the final resting place of artifacts was the result of both intentional and unintentional movement by humans and a host of biological and geological processes. The main goal of this paper is to use an understanding of how these processes influenced the formation of site structure to estimate the relative number and duration of occupations for each site in the sample. These new methods will be presented and explained through the study of seven open-air Middle Paleolithic sites in France but are applicable to a wide range of hunter-gatherer sites.
Note12 month embargo; First Online: 16 January 2017
VersionFinal accepted manuscript
SponsorsChateaubriand Fellowship for the humanities and social sciences