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From: Perspectives on archaeological resources management in the "Great Plains." Edited by Alan J. Osborn & Robert C. Hassler (Omaha: I & O Pub. Co., c1987).
Archaeology in America today is in a quandary. This is especially true for that portion of the profession responsible for investigating and managing the surface archaeology of large tracts of land. The quandary concerns how to maximize the amount of information about the archaeology of an area given finite budgets. Predictive modeling, a technique for projecting knowledge derived from a sample to its universe, has been proposed as one response to this dilemma. We shall present another response, distributional archaeology, which is designed to collect quality information about the archaeological record and is consistent with the formation and structure of that data base. Inherent in all archaeological modeling attempts are assumptions about the nature of the archaeological record. These assumptions must be questioned in light of the formation processes that are responsible for the archaeology potentially available to us. Before examining how the archaeological record is formed, we briefly examine some of the prejudgments archaeologists make about their data.