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Multi-scale and nested-intensity sampling techniques for archaeological survey

January 1, 2004

This paper discusses sampling techniques for archaeological survey that are directed toward evaluating the properties of surface artifact distributions. The sampling techniques we experimented with consist of a multi-scale sampling plot developed in plant ecology and the use of a nested-intensity survey design. We present results from the initial application of these methods. The sampling technique we borrowed from plant ecology is the Modified-Whittaker multiscale sampling plot, which gathers observations at the spatial scales of 1 sq m, 10 sq m, 100 sq m, and 1000 sq m. Nested-intensity surveys gather observations on the same sample units at multiple resolutions. We compare the results of a closely-spaced walking survey, a crawling survey, and a test excavation to a depth of 10 cm. These techniques were applied to ten 20 × 50 m survey plots distributed over an area of 418 ha near the Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed in NW Nebraska. These approaches can significantly improve the accuracy of survey data. Our results show that high-resolution coverage techniques overlook more material than archaeologists have suspected. The combined approaches of multi-scale and nested-intensity sampling provide new tools to improve our ability to investigate the properties of surface records.

Publication Year 2004
Title Multi-scale and nested-intensity sampling techniques for archaeological survey
DOI 10.1179/jfa.2004.29.3-4.409
Authors O. Burger, L.C. Todd, P. Burnett, T.J. Stohlgren, D. Stephens
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Field Archaeology
Index ID 1015160
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center