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THE RELIABILITY OF SURFACE ASSEMBLAGES IN ARCHAEOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION

by Gumbs, Vernice Pamela

Abstract (Summary)
Since the dawn of their discipline, archaeologists have used surface data to assess the information potential of archaeological sites. Excavation and surface assemblages are used as the foundation for the reconstruction of past histories. Given the importance of surface assemblages in archaeology, it is necessary to examine their reliability. One way of determining the reliability of inferences made by using surface assemblages is through repeated examinations of the same archaeological site over a period of time. The information gathered with each examination of MU 125, south of the Grand Canyon, Arizona, provides such an opportunity. Three years’ of surface ceramic data to was in order to determine if MU 125 was indeed a Kayenta Anasazi site. The final results of this analysis involve a comparison of four wares that were found within all three surface ceramic assemblages. Tusayan Grayware exhibited a higher number of sherds than all others. Of the 5,498 surface sherds located on MU 125, about 50 percent were assigned to Tusayan Grayware. In this case, the predominant of Tusayan Grayware at MU 125 associates it with the Kayenta Anasazi culture. To gain a better idea of surface data reliability, it is the task of archaeologists to understand the processes that affect the surface material and how they impact the archaeological record. Numerous agents transform artifacts from one state to another within the archaeological context. The formation processes themselves display patterns that can distort the archaeological record. It is important to understand these processes and their disturbances on the archaeological record. Without acknowledging these processes, poor inferences may be made in archaeological interpretations. However, in the case of MU 125 one can conclude that these processes did not affect the reliability of the surface ceramic data. Thus, inferences made from the data can be deemed reliable.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:surface data formation processes replicated collection

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2000

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