THEORIES AND METHODS


ANDERSON, Michael

Anderson, M. 2004. Houses, GIS and the micro-topology of Pompeian domestic space. In: J. Bruhn, B. Croxford and D. Grigoropoulos (ed) TRAC 2004. Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conferece, University of Durham, 26-27 March 2004. Oxford: Oxbow. 144-156.

Application of Hillier and Hansons theories (access analysis and visibility analysis) on houses of Pompeii. Especially interesting for further references to "traditional" studies of the "Roman house" and criticism on this approach.

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ALDENDERFER, Mark

Aldenderfer, M. 1991. The analitical engine. Computer simulation and archaeological research. In: M.B. Schiffer (ed) Archaeological Method and Theory 3. Tucson.

Somewhat older article giving the pros and cons of the use of computer models to simulate changement and human behaviour.

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BANNING, E.B.

Banning, E.B. 2000. The Archaeologist's Laboratory. The Analysis of Archaeological Data. New York: Kluwer.

A clearly written guide to basic laboratory and analytical techniques for archaeological data aimed at 3rd or 4th year undergraduate level. The text discusses and explains the many ways in which artefacts, lithics, pottery, human and faunal remains, plant remains, soils, sediments and geomorphology, stratigraphy and radiocarbon dates are formed, recorded and classified for analysis. With helpful diagrams and a text that aims to familiarise the reader with basic theories, concepts and forms of analysis.

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BARKER, Philip

Barker, P. 1977. Techniques of archaeological excavation London: Batsford.

Older book on excavation methods and techniques. Frequently referenced to by Harris.

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BAXTER, Mike J.

Baxter, M.J. 2003. Statistics in Archaeology. London: Arnold.

This book attempts to review the application of statistical methods in archaeology, beyond what is typically included in introductory textbooks. Through in-depth case studies, the book illustrates how statistical methods can be employed in the field of archaeological analysis.

Baxter, M.J. 2001. Multivariate Analysis in Archaeolgy. In: Brothwell, D.R. and A.M. Pollard (ed) Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. Chichester. 684-694.

Introduction to following techniques of multivariate analysis: Principal Component Analysis, Cluster Analysis, Discriminant Analysis, Correspondance Analysis. Especially intresting for pro's and con's of the different techniques and references for further literature.

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BAXTER, Mike J. and BUCK, Caitlin E.

Baxter, M.J. and C.E. Buck 2000. Data Handling and Statistical Analysis. In: E. Ciliberto and G. Spoto ed. Modern Analytical Methods in Art and Archaeology. New York. 681-746.

Article explaining some especially difficult statistical techniques, which seem to be used mostly by chemical and other scientific analysis of materials. The text should be consulted when confronted with the results of such an analysis, but is too difficult and too compact to study the techniques themselves.

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BEDNARIK, R.G.

Bednarik, R.G. 1995. Metamorphology: in lieu of uniformitarianism. In: Oxford Journal of Archaeology 14: 117-122.

Since the advent of the discipline of archaeology, its underlying theory has been a particular brand of uniformitarianism: the idea that existing forces and patterns have applied uniformly in the past. The paper proposes the introduction of an alternative theory called metamorphology. This method is explained by reviewing principles of taphonomy (for all classes of material evidence we can only expect to find a very small part ... therefore "archaeological interpretation of any distributional or compositional evidence, of any quatitative indices is entirely worthless without compensating for these potential distortions: p.119) and non-taphonomic metamorphology (the subjectivity of archaeology itself: the methods of recovery, the interpretation, the statistical treatment, the researchers own biases, priorities and so on: p.119-120) to show the difference between what happened in prehistory and how it is percieved. Metamorphology is defined as a refutable, logic-based theoretical framework.

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BLANTON, Richard E.

Blanton, R.E. 1994. Houses and Households: A Comparative Study. London and New York: Plenum Press.

The focus of this study is the analysis of a range of ethnographic material. This material is used to explore some of the factors affecting the organization and decoration of household space and leading to variability in house form, in the hope that the conclusions may ulitmately assist in the interpretation of archaeological assemblages. The study is developed against the background of recent sociological and anthropological work which has emphasized the relationship between domestic spatial organization and patterns of social behaviour. Blanton's approach is especially shaped by the non-verbal communication theory (Rapoport) and the house as expression of the norms in society (Bourdieu). The points raised by Blanton's analysis are interesting and illustrate the usefulness of this kind of work. Some of his conclusions relating to factors which may potentially be involved in the construction and organization of domestic space must be kept in mind by those involved in the interpretation of archaeological assemblages.
Especially important for references to ethnographical studies next to Rappoport.

Review by L. Nevett in Antiquity ? see map 1


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BOLVIKEN, Erik et alii

Bolviken, E., E. Helskog, K. Helskog, I.M. Holm-Olsen, L. Solheim and R. Bertelsen. 1982. Correspondence Analysis: an alternative to Principal Components. In: World Archaeology 14. 41-60.

One of the first archaeological papers using Correspondence Analysis to look for relations between a.o. functional categories and house site units. CA is put forward as a statistical tool for the reduction of data. Especially interesting for mathematical introduction to the technique pp. 42-44.

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BRUSASCO, Paolo

Brusasco, P. 2004. Theory and practice in the study of Mesopotamian space. In: Antiquity 78. 142-158.

This study compares the result of space syntax analysis of houses in Babylonian Ur with similar analyses on modern households in Baghdad and among the Ashanti. The social organisations identified were then compared with the written evidence for Ur surviving on the cuneiform tablets.
An application of access analysis as developed by Hillier and Hanson on Mesopotamian domestic space.

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BUCK, Caitlin E.

Buck, C.E. 2001. Applications of the Bayesian Statistical Paradigm. In: Brothwell, D.R. and A.M. Pollard (ed) Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. Chichester. 695-702.

Introduction to some aspects of Bayesian statistics. Bayes' theorem provides a mechanism to learn from experience. New (posterior) information is based on the current data and prior information. Applications however are mostly used for radiocarbon calibration and only for few other studies.

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BUTZER, Karl W.

Butzer, K.W. 1990. Archaeology as human ecology: method and theory for a contextual approach. Cambridge: Cambridge university press.

TO CHECK

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CARR, Christopher

Carr, C. 1984. The nature of organization of intrasite archaeological records and spatial analytic approaches to their investigation. in: M. B. Schiffer (ed). Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 7. 103-222. New York: Academic Press.

Theoretical work on methods for detecting patterns in the distribution of archaeological artifacts, with a focus on prehistoric sites without clear structural features. It is especially interesting for the introduction which mentions the necessity of models and statistical techniques, but stresses the imporatance of site formation processes as well.

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CARVER, Martin

Carver, M. 2002. Marriage of true minds: Archaeology with Texts. In: B. Cunliffe, W. Davies and C. Renfrew (ed). Archaeology. The Widening debate. Oxford. 465-496.

Intresting text exploring the possibilities and problems of combining archaeological evidence with textual sources. The conclusion is (p 492-493) that in sum the integration between tests and material culture is desirable if both are in equal terms and if one has better data. Partnership is always fruitful as both sources will provide complimentary data. However as well the archaeological as the historical research should get enough space for own investigation.

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CROSS MAY, Sarah

Cross May, S. 2005. Statistical integration of contextual data. In: I. Hodder (ed) Changing materialities at Çatalhöyük: reports from the 1995-99 seasons. Çatalhöyük Research Project Volume 5. Cambridge. 23-44.

This paper tries to determin contextual similarities and differences within and between data sets through statistically integrating excavation data with finds data. Much of the effort is centered on relating finds information collected for internal analysis to excavation data collected as a framework for understanding. Although this is a very useful exercise, the article ends up in a very chaotic presentation of statistics applied to a wide range of data sets. In addition, very few conclusions and interpretation are made based on the results of the statistics. It would have been more useful, for example, if for each of the context-types distinguished a clear description was provided of the data derived from associated finds. Now, only the general conclusion is made that "the field interpretation of units and their separation into data classes is a powerful description of context. It illuminates variation in composition better than other classifications."

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CONOLLY, James

Conolly, J. 2000. Çatalhöyük and the Archaeological Object. In: I. Hodder (ed) Towards a reflexive Method in Archaeology. The example of Çatalhöyük. Cambridge. 51-56.

Within the framework of a contextual archaeology critical self-awareness of the ways in which data are created is important. Therefore the meanings and implications of concepts of scalarity, connectivity and fluidity on the method and practice of archaeological data creation and interpretattion are examined.
1. Scalarity (51-53): The scale of data collection (geographically, chronologically, ...) Scale ranges from microscopic to macroscopic: the objects of analysis are multiscalar in scope. It are the units of measurement which define how we take samples, how we record, and how we interpret change over time. In many cases, however, an object may contain a host of other objects. In this case all the components are necessary to understand the composite object. Understanding the relationship between the whole and the parts is dialectical and fundamental to the interpretative process (as exaple a stratigraphical deposit is given !)
2.Inter-connectivity (53-55): The search for patterning within and across contexts through spatial analysis, correlations between object distributions, ... However, in many cases the material is sorted out into categories and divided between the different specialists. As such the specialist reports are read independently, and although one gains a detailed understanding of the objects under discussion, one does not really come to understand the site as a whole (=de-contextualized recording and interpretation). We should abandon this overemphasis on the material object and move towards the study of the multiscalar context.
3. Fluidity (55): It is necessary to constantly redraw the boundaries of objects from material to phenomenal and to find the relationship between the static archaeological record and the dynamic human past.
Conclusion (55): We should emphasise interrelationships and contigencies at an early stage in the data collection process, thus destabilizing the primacy of the artefact.

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CAMERON, Avril

Cameron, A. 2003. Ideologies and agendas in late antique studies. In: Lavan, L. and W. Bowden (eds) Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology. Leiden: Brill. 3-21.

This paper discusses the trends and approaches observable in the study of late antiquity of the last few decades. It considers the models of continuity and change adopted in several recent publications and stresses the complementarity of historical and archaeological approaches.

Especially useful for its references and bibliography.

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COOL, H.E.M. and BAXTER, M.J.

Cool, H.E.M and M.J. Baxter. 2002. Exploring Romano-British Finds Assemblages. In: Oxford Journal of Archaeology 21. 365-380.

The paper presents a synthesis of current approaches to the comparison of archaeological assemblages. Different types of assemblages including those of small finds, broken vessels and animal bones are discussed, and relating problems of quantifications are considered. The different sorts of questions that may be asked of data of varying quality are examined, and it is shown that even "poor quality" data can provide useful insights into past societies. It is argued that to explore the full richness of the data available, multivariate statistics, like correspondence analysis, are an invaluable tool.

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DRENNAN, Robert D.

Drennan, R.D. 2001. Overview - Numbers, Models, Maps: Computers and Archaeology. In: Brothwell, D.R. and A.M. Pollard (ed) Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. Chichester. 663-670.

Introduction to a chapter about statistical techniques used in archaeology. In the first place Drennan stresses the need of statistical training for archaeology students. Next he gives attention to counting techniques of fragmented objects (bones, ottery, lithic artefacts), concluding that neither minimum, nor maximum numbers provide a single best approach, but that much depends on research aims and the taphonomical history of the compared sites. Finally he gives an overview of computing techniques and numerical models described in other articles of the chapter.


Drennan, R.D. 1996. Statistics for Archaeologists. A Common Sense Approach. New York and London.

Introduction to statistical techniques with examples and applications from the field of archaeology. This book starts from zero. Especially usefull for the chapters on the calculation and comparison of proportions within two samples. A ways to compare (the mean of) more than two samples is given as well (ANOVA: Analysis of Variance).

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FAIRCLOUGH, Graham

Fairclough, G. 1992. Meaningful constructions. Spatial analysis and functional analysis of medieval buildings. In: Antiquity 66. 348-366.

This paper is an application of the theories of Hillier and Hanson on the use of space on a historical building. Fairclough defends the sense of using independent analysising methods apart from documents. The meaning and significance of rooms in buildings from the historical period are, instead of prehistoric use of space, seen to be self-evident. But there probably were many hidden social mechanisms and contemporary documentation is often heavily overloaded and coloured. Important is also to note that Fairclough uses the ethnological theories of Rapoport and is of opinion that Roman villa's also appear to be wel-suited to this type of analysis

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FLETCHER, Mike and LOCK, Gary R.

Fletcher, M. and G.R. Lock. 1994. Digging Numbers: Elementary Statistics for Archaeologists. Oxford.

Book explaining the most elementary principles of statistics with examples taken from archaeological applications. Explained are descriptive statistics (tabular and pictoral display; measures of position; measures of variability) and inferential statistics (introduction to probability; sampling; testing hypotheses; testing correlation between variables).

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FOSTER, Sally M.

Foster, S.M. 1989. Analysis of spatial patterns in buildings (access analysis) as an insight into social structure. Examples from the Scottish Atlantic Iron Age. In: Antiquity 63. 40-50.

An archaeological application of the access analysis of Hillier and Hanson investigating the relationship between spacial order and society. First the possibilities method is defended against criticism, followed by a short description of the theory and thechnique. Finally the method is used to analyse nucleade Iron Age settlements in Orkney (brochs).

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GREENACRE, Michael J.

Greenacre, J.M. 1984. Theory and applications of correspondence analysis. London: Academic Press.

Clear overview of the theory concerning Correspondence Analysis and Multiple Correspondence Analysis with applications from the social sciences. Very useful as a background when using CA.

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HALL, Allan and KENWARD, Harry

Hall, A. and H. Kenward. 2003. Can we identify biological indicator groups for craft, industry and other activities? In: P. Murphy and P.E.J. Wiltshire. ed. The environmental Archaeology of Industry. Symposia of the Association for Environmental Archaeology No. 20. Oxford. 114-130.

It has been suggested that a range of biological remains diagnostic for stable manure in archaeological deposits can be recognised. This led to the concept of "indicator group", which is a collection of organisms which, when occuring together in ancient diposits, reliably carry the implication of the occurence of some event, activity or ecological condition in the past. The extent to which indicator groups can be identified for a range of other materials, activity areas, and craft and industrial processes, is considered here. Indicator groups for following activities are described: 1. textile working; 2. grain cleaning; 3. butchery and other meat and fish processing; 4.tanning, tawing, parchment making and hornworking; 5. extraction of raw materials, 6. medicine, 7. water as raw material. Especially interesting for the interpretation of the biological remains (seeds and bones) of industrial sites.

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HIDES, Shaun

Hides, S. 2000. Materiality and Discourse: Archaeological and Theoretical Objects. In: S. Pearce (ed) Researching Material Culture. Leicester Archaeology Monograph 2. Leicester. 7-20.

Paper discussing the relationship between the archaeological artifact, the archaeological process of recovery and interpretation, and the archaeological text. The paper argues that the interpretation of the 'past' is always a cultural practice of the present and constituted within (by) a specific set of contemporary cultural institutions, practices and discourses. Very theoretical paper. Can be mentioned when stessing that all research results are open to reinterpretation in the future.

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HILLIER, Bill and HANSON, Julienne

Hilier, B and J. Hanson. 1984. The social logic of Space. Cambridge.

Theoretical work about the use of space. Hillier and Hanson investigate the relationship between spacial order and society. Patterns of relations between inhabitants and inhabitants on the one hand and inhabitants an strangers on the other hand are reflected in interior space in terms of patterns created by boundaries and entrances.
For applications of this method see M. Anderson, M.Grahame, P. Brusasco , A.T. Smith, T.A. Markus, M.S. Foster and G. Fairclough.

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HODDER, Ian

Hodder, I. 2000. Developing a Reflexive Method in Archaeology. In: I. Hodder (ed) Towards a reflexive Method in Archaeology. The example of Çatalhöyük. Cambridge. 3-15.

Ian Hodder stresses from his experence at the site of Çatalhöyük that archaeological interpretations are formed from within a certain context and that different persons can make totally different hypotheses from the same archaeological material. It is the challenge to introduce multivocality and reflexivity by making communication between different groups involved in the archaeological project possible.
Especially interesting is his critique on the fact that artefacts from the field are devided into pottery, metal, bone, ... and send of to the specialists. This common archaeological procedure involves wretcing artefacts out of their context. Decontextualized they become difficult to interpret (6). There is need for interaction and integration between the different types of specialists.

Reviewed by Thomas F. Strasser. American Journal of Archaeology 106. 320-321.

Hodder, I. 1990. The Domestication of Europe. Oxford.

Definition of contextual Analysis on pages 20-21. Locock 1994 p.1 points towards this definition. He states that analysis of archaeological objects should primarily be concerned with their role in constructing society; as a mode of creating and transmitting social statements.


Hodder, I. (ed) 1987. The Archaeology of Contextual Meanings. Cambridge.

Work comprising articles about the analysis of symbols in their archaeological context. Only the introduction where the definitions are marked out is really intresting.

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HODGE, A. Trevor

Hodge, A.T. 1960. The Woodwork of Greek Roofs. Cambridge.

Important work describing the roofstructures on ancient Greek houses. Especially useful for reconstructions (e.g. the roofstrusture on shops).

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KENWARD, Harry and HALL, Allan

Kenward, H. and A. Hall. 1997. Enhancing bioarchaeological interpretation using indicator groups: stable manure as a paradigm. In: Journal of Archaeological Science 24. 663-73.

A major aspect of the analysis of biological remains from many archaeological sites is recognizing past activities and ecological conditions at the context or feature level in order to build up an overall picture of site usage and development. This demands investigation of very large numbers of samples, which, if carried out fully, may be prohibitively expensive. It is suggested that characteristic and easily recognized suites of organisms preserved in archaeological deposits form ‘indicator groups’ (definition on page 663-664) associated with particular activities or circumstances in the past, and that these, in turn, may be seen as part of ‘indicator packages’ (definition on page 665) encompassing biological, stratigraphical, artefactural, and structural evidence. Indicator groups may provide a means of obtaining archaeological information economically. This proposition is illustrated with particular reference to stable manure, a frequent component of Roman-modern occupation deposits.

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LAKE, M.W.

Lake, M.W. 2001. Numerical Modelling in Archaeology. In: Brothwell, D.R. and A.M. Pollard (ed) Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. Chichester. 723-732.

Perfect overview of when, how and why numerical modelling was used in archaeology. Lake states that numerical modelling is a highly specialized terrain and therefore successful modeling is only possible with a very good mathematical background. The article however is very useful as introduction: not to the development of numerical models, but to the history and applications of the models.

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LAURENZA, Sabatino and PUTZOLU, Cristiano

Laurenza, S. and C. Putzolu. 2002. From Stratigraphic Unit to the mouse. A GIS based system for the excavation of historical complex. The case study of Pompeii. In: G. Burenhult and J. Arvidsson (ed) CAA 2001. Archaeological Informatics: Pushing the Envelope. Oxford. 93-99.

Paper presenting a project with the aim to realize a GIS-based system for the recording and analysis of an archaeological excavation. Archaeologists are interested in the interrelationship between ojects, the soil from which they were unearthed, the position of sites in the landscape and their relationship with the environment. This means on a micro-scale the distribution of artefacts in sites to understand the organisation of daily life and on a macro-scale the position of sites in the landscape. For both aspects, GIS-systems offer the posibility to manage the data for analysis and graphical presentation.

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LAVAN, Luke

Lavan, L. 2003. Late Antique Archaeology: an introduction. In: Lavan, L. and W. Bowden (eds) Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology. Leiden: Brill. VII-XVI.

Introduction to the volume about theory and practice in Late Antique Archaeology, which is a collection of papers presented at the first two LAA conferences in 2001. In the first part of the article Luke Lavan indicates that there are strong reasons for distinguishing the Late Antique period from its predecessors (Roman period) and successors (Byzintine empire and middle ages). In this context a reference to the 7th century rupture in economic life, urban development and rural settlement (p. VII) is especially interesting. In the second part, Lavan distinguishes two traditions to approach to Late Antiquity:
1. CONTINENTAL TRADITION (p. X-XII): which strongly emphasises literary studies, art history and architecture. Archaeology plays only a minor role. The research is primarily focussed on the elite.
2. ATLANTIC TRADITION (p. XII-XIII): emphasises high quality fieldwork. This approach is generally more question based and its intrest lies in studying the total structure of society.
In many cases these two traditions do not interact, although their data are suplementary to each other. The book tries to bring the points of view of both groups together and provoce some discussion between them.

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LOCOCK, Martin

Locock, M. 1994. Meaningful Architecture. In: M. Locock (ed) Meaningful Architecture. Social Interpretations of Buildings. Aldershot. 1-13.

Locock sets out in this paper the archaeological basis for the study of meanings in buildings. In a first part he convincingly states that buildings always have a meaning. The location of builings, the architectural plan and the choice of the building materials, cannot be explained only with physical and other material restraints. There always were choices to be made, independent from these restraints. These individual choices were filled in within a cultural context. By examining context we can hope to identify regularities of association. The selection of symbolic codes was not arbirtrary: patterns are produced by meaning (also Hodder 1986 38-39). We should not forget however that the final form is the result of negotiations between numerous persons and that structures where continually changed through time, so that it conformed better to the ideal of the inhabitants.

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LUCAS, Gavin

Lucas, G. 2001. Critical Approaches to Fieldwork. Contemporary and Historical Archaeological Practice. London and New York: Routledge.

Recent work giving an overview of the history of archaeological practice and the "big debates" in archaeological theory. In "Critical Approaches to Fieldwork" Gavin Lucas provides a fundamental examination of the historical and conceptual framework within which archaeology is practised today. Drawing on the development of the discipline since the nineteenth century, the relation between theoretical paradigms and everyday archaeological practice is critically explored. This work takes as its starting point, the role of fieldwork and how this has changed over the past 150 years. The author argues against progressive accounts of fieldwork and instead places it in its broader intellectual context. From this, a number of key structural changes are identified in archaeological practice which correlate interestingly with the present-day emergence of sub-divisions within the discipline, such as finds specialisms, area/period research and theoretical/methodological specialities. It is argued that such structural divisions within archaeology have major theoretical consequences which need to be addressed. This work contributes greatly to this emerging discussion. Especially intresting are following passages:
p. 56-58: concerning the Harris Matrix and single context planning. This sytem is called "single locus" system: each bounded unit is linked to a bounded event so each unit represents a different action or event.
p. 65-106: "splitting objects" on the increasing speciamlism in archaeology. on page 68 he writes: "Some of the earliest archaeological reports - often in the form of naratives or lettres - discuss the finds in the contxt of their discovery... Yet by the end of the (20th) century the separation of finds from contextual or site description was in place and soon became the standard presentation of archaeological data and the classic form of the archaeological report as we know it today". On page 105 he counters "what specialists study is related to what other specialists are doing, as well as being integrated with the site in general".
p. 148-161: concerns the formation of the archaeological record. according to Gavin Lucas N-Transforms are the only formation processes one can legitimately talk about, while C-transforms always have a meaning which should be accounted for (p. 149). For example: ceramics ploughed up in the field are not in their usual context, they are not primary. BUT they can be in a primary context if they were used as middening. In this case, breakage, deposition and middening are all processes which are equally part of the cultural or systemic context as vessel use. All treatments of the ceramics are equally "normal" uses of pottery and separating these C-transforms from the broader systemic context is dubious according to Lucas Gavin (cfr. the discussion between Binford and Schiffer). On p. 151 he stresses that an archaeological site is preliminary a human creation, a product of human activity.
p. 162 e.v.: considers artifact patterning. If artifact/ecofact patterning can be used to differentiate deposits and activities, then why not call all activities identified within a deposit also a stratigraphical unit (p. 163)? Regardless the problems with the interpretation of spatial analysis due to methodological flaws, the spatial patterning of objects should be determined because meaningful actions and events do occur and can only be found this way (p. 167) !!!

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MARKUS, Thomas A.

Markus, T.A. 1993. Buildings and power: freedom and control in the origin of modern building types. London: Routledge.

Markus links buildings to power. He discusses the power that buildings have to classify and order social relations. Herefore he used the method of access analysis developed by Hillier and Hanson, which he revised (he devorced from Hillier and Hanson's extremely problematic generative theory of social space). Markus concerns himself with the considerable expansion in the range of building types that began in the 18th century. Unlike traditional architectural studies that focus on questions of style and technology, Markus sees the emergence of new building types as heralding the constitution a new society. This society, which was realised during the industrial revolution, required buildings that controlled people and knowledge with greater efficacy than before. New building types where therefore not just the consequence of the development of new materials or the refinement of building techniques. They arrose because they were necessary to the functioning of an industrial society.
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MILLER, N.F.

Miller, N.F. 1984. The use of dung as fuel: an ethnographic example and an archaeological application. Paléorient 10(2): 71-79.

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MÜLLER, Johannes

Müller, J. 1996. The use of correspondence analysis for different kinds of data categories: Domestic and ritual Globular Amphorae sites in Central Germany. In: H. Kamermans and K. Fennema (eds) Interfacing the Past. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology CAA 95. Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia 28. Vol I. Leiden. 217-222.

Paper explicating the use of correspondence analysis to detect continuous, normally distributed data within material remains of the past. In the case of normally distributed data the first and second eigenvectors form a parabolic curve (horseshoe), which is especially useful for seriation and detecting chronological changes. In the first part, some problems are mentionned which can cause mismachtes within this pattern. In the second part, data from Central Germanian Globular Amphorae sites is analysed with CA. The resulting plot reflects the socio-chronological developments of the society. In the end, the article is only useful as background, when investigating chronological evolutions.

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NELSON Margaret C.

Nelson, M.C. 2000. Abandonment: conceptualization, representation, and social change. In: M.B. Schiffer (ed) Social Theory in Archaeology.. Salt Lake City: University of Utah press. 52-61.

Theoretical paper on abandonment and migration in "middle range" societies. According to Nelson abandonment behavior has four major perspectives: (1) Abandonment is a process (2) Abandonment processes vary according to scale (3) Abandonment occurs in various ways. Previous research focused on the causes of abandonment, but abandonment is more than that. It is an active rather than a passive process involving the availability of alternatives, negotiations and decisions making. Studies of abandonment should not only consider conditions that contribute to leaving, but those that draw people out of one site into another.

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ORTON, Clive Robert

Orton, R.C. 1999. Plus ça Change? 25 Years of Statistics in Archaeology. In: L. Dingwall e.a. (ed) Archaeology in the Age of the Internet. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. BAR International Series 750. Oxford. 25-34.

This paper concentrates on how and why archaeologists have used statistics, rather than on the particular techniques they have used, although of course there is an interaction between the two. Orton shows us some shortcomings in the past and gives advise on how we should use statistics in the archaeology of the future. Especially, the use, posibilities and problems of hypothesis tests, exploratory data analysis (correspondence analysis) and sampling.


Orton, C. 1997. Testing Significance or Testing Credulity? In: Oxford Journal of Archaeology 16. 219-225.

Statistical analysis of a dataset in two steps: first the execution of a Chi-square test, next the visualisation of the databy useing correspondence analysis. The article in fact shows the necessary steps to follow if one tries to find statistical significant differences.


Orton, C. 1982. Mathematics in Archaeology. Cambridge.

Clearly structured book starting from the questions archaeologists ask, and giving for each question some mathematical methods which could be applied. The book contains following chapters:
(1) What is it ? Methods for classification
(2) How old is it ? Methods for relative (Harris Matrix and seriation) and absolute (radiocarbon and callibration) dating techniques.
(3) Where does it come from ? Using e.g. chemical analysis and distribution maps
(4) What is it for ? Interpreting function and distribution patterns on sites
(5) Bits and pieces. The problem of quantifying broken objects. On pages 157-174 He treats pottery. When quantifying pottery the first thing to do is classify the sherds by fabric, next classify as much as possible by form and finnally try to estimate how many vessels there originally were. In the case of completely excavated sites, the best meassure is to quantify the number of vessels represented. In the case of partially excavated sites the number of vessels represented probably gives a wrong idea, the best method then is sherd count, sherd weight or estimated pottery equivalents (EVE = (estimated rim equivalent + estimated base equivalent) /2). Remark p 161: We cannot compare proportions within a sample, because the reasons for differences might differ a lot. If for example there are few fine ware sherds this probably means that pots in fine ware had a longer life and that people were more carefull with it. If we compare assemblages of different sites with each other however, the differences should mirror a real difference. Remark for Sagalassos: the problem of amphorae or jars of which only handles were found. On page 174-178 Orton treats the quantification of animal bones.
(6) Distribution maps.
(7) Some problems, wrong interpretations and inadequate use of the methods

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ORTON, Clive and TYERS, Paul

Tyers, P. and C. Orton. 1991. Statistical analysis of ceramic assemblages. In: K. Lockyear, S. Rahtz and C. Orton (eds) Computer applications and quantitative methods in archaeology 1990. BAR International series 565. Oxford. 117-120.

The second report on the PIE-project. It is rather technical and theoretical.


Orton, C. and P. Tyers. 1991. A technique for reducing the size of sparse contigency tables. In: K. Lockyear, S. Rahtz and C. Orton (eds) Computer applications and quantitative methods in archaeology 1990. BAR International series 565. Oxford. 121-125.

This article offers a mathematical solution to reduce a table with lots of zero values for further analysis (e.g. Chi-square). An example is given for the "seriation" of ceramics. The method is less useful for contextual analysis because there is no archaeological meaning in the reduction.


Orton, C. and P. Tyers. 1989. Error structures of ceramic assemblages. In: C. Ruggles and S. Rahtz (eds) Computer and quantitative methods in archaeology 1987. BAR. International series 393. Oxford. 275-285.

A first report on the PIE-project.

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SCHLADER, Robert

Schlader, Robert. 2002. Archaeological databases. What are they and what do they mean? In: G. Burenhult and J. Arvidsson (ed) CAA 2001. Archaeological Informatics: Pushing the Envelope. Oxford. 517-520.

Archaeologists need to organize and store their data. The best way to do this is with an electronic database, which as well stores the data as gives access (for analysis) to them. According to the author, the lack of consideration about proper data design is the cause of diffictulies raising when groups want to share information. The paper gives a short introduction to what database are, how they are designed (META-DATA), and how databases can be used in a specific way depending on the driving theory. Only useful for a theoretical exposition about databases.

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SHOTT, M.J.

Shott, M.J. 2001. Quantification of Broken Objects. In: Brothwell, D.R. and A.M. Pollard (ed) Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. Chichester. 711-721.

This article reviews recent archaeological thought on the problem of the counting of broken objects. The problems are indicated and the methods used for quantification are evaluated. The article is intresting in the first place for the references, because it focusses on lithic artefacts although it also shortly treats pottery.

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SMITH, Adam T.

Smith, A.T. 1999. The making of an Urartian landscape in Southern Transcaucasia. A study of political architectonics. In: AJA 103. 45-71.

This article details the changing spatial organization of political power on the Ararat and Shirak plains from the emergence of the earliest states (Early Iron Age 12th century BC) till the fall of the Urartian empire (7th century BC). He states that the organization of space depends on the constitution of the political authority. To investigate the relation between subject and state he firstly studies the landscapes defined by the settlement location, size dynamics and topography, secondly he analysis the organization of space within the settlements with the aid of the theories defined by Hillier and Hanson. He concludes (on fairly little ground!) that the palaces seem to evoluate from one single unit with different sphares of interest (central government), towards a highly segmented structure (separation of power). According to him competing factions within the state were allowed to assert power at the expense of the coherence of the whole, finally resulting in the collapse of the state.

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SHENNAN, Stephen

Shennan, S. 1988. Quantifying Archaeology. Edinburgh.

"Course book" on statistics for archaeologists. It starts from zero, with the quantification of the description of objects. The book does not treat the t-test for testing hypothesis nor spatial analysis, but does spend some pages on numerical classification (cluster analysis) and multivariate analysis (principal components analysis, factor analysis, correspondance analysis pp. 283-286).

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THOMAS, David Hurst

Thomas, D.H. 1997. The awful truth about statistics in archaeology. In: American Antiquity 43. 231-244.

Some examples of correct use of statistical methods in archaeology (the GOOD), but also of incorrect use (the BAD) and of the abuse of statistics to "prove" one or another hypothesis (the UGLY). Thomas concludes with some general recommendations which should improve the quality of quantitative methods in archaeology.

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TOMBER, Roberta

Tomber, R. 1988. Multi-variate statistics and assemblage comparison. In: C. Ruggles and S. Rahtz (eds) Computer and quantitative methods in archaeology 1987. BAR. International series 393. Oxford. 29-38.

The paper attempts to test the degree of homogenity and define the main sources of variability within a given assemblage through PCA. A method of data presentation and comparison, using Discriminant Analysis, asseses similarity between deposits suggested. In fact this article is a first step towards the article published in JRA 6.

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TOWNSEND, C.C.

Townsend, C.C. 1974. Leguminales, Flora of Iraq. Baghdad: Ministry of Agriculture.

References for paleobotany.

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TUFTE, E.R.

Tufte, E.R. 1983. The Visual Display of Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. Cheshire (Conn).

General work on how statistical data should be displayed, without loosing information, decieving the reader or make the graphical display difficult to interpret. Many examples of bad data visualisation from daily life are given, showing the traps that have to be avoided. According to Orton (1999: 30) the comments of Tufte should be compulsory reading for all archaeologists.

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WASON, Paul K.

Wason, P.K. 1994. The Archaeology of Rank. Cambridge.

Social aproach to interpreting archaeological remains with as example Çatal Hüyük.

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WILCOCK, John D.

Wilcock, J.D. 1999. Getting the Best Fit? 25 Years of Statistical Techniques in Archaeology. In: L. Dingwall e.a. (ed) Archaeology in the Age of the Internet. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. BAR International Series 750. Oxford. 35-51.

This paper catalogues 25 years of contributions to statistical techniques including data analysis, Numerical Taxonomy, Similarity Studies, Factor Analysis, Principal Shape Coding, Cluster Analysis, Seriation, Multidimentional Scaling, Correlation of dating Meassurements, Simulation, Computer Modelling and archaeological theory, Expert Systems, Artificial Intelligence, Stratigraphical Analysis, Spatial Analysis and Geographical Information Systems. Very extended bibliography together with some comments on the different theories.

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WRIGHT, P.

Wright, P. 2003. Preservation or destruction of plant remains by carbonisation? In: Journal of Archaeological Science 30. 577-83.

Seeds and rinds of several plant taxa were thermally exposed. The results indicate that conditions such as the temperature, length of exposure, moisture content, and the portions of the plant involved influence the fact whether a remain will survive in a condition that is identifiable to the researcher. In addition, distortions may occur that may call into question the use of measurements as a means to distinguish between wild and domesticated forms of plants.

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ZOHARY, D. and HOPF, M.

Zohary, D., and M. Hopf. 1993. Domestication of Plants in the Old World.2nd edn. New York: Oxford University Press.

References for paleobotany.

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Opgesteld door Toon Putzeys december 2002
Laatst vernieuwd in augustus 2006