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Published inAmerican Anthropologist, New Series, 93:3 (September 1991), pp. 733-734 . Published by Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association. Used by permission.


The goal of this volume is “to expand the explicit rationale for [full-coverage survey], to affirm it as a practicable technique, and to illustrate its superiority as a basis for archaeological inference” (p. 2). Full-coverage survey (FCS) involves “the systematic examination of contiguous blocks of terrain at a uniform level of intensity” (p. 2), but stipulates no minimum areal extent and no special intensity of coverage. This volume argues that justification for expending limited resources on FCS lies in its potential to capture settlement patterns, which somehow reflect settlement systems and which cannot be approached by sample survey.
S. Fish and Kowalewski introduce the theme of the book, which is that of a general reaction to sample survey studies. Eight substantive chapters provide examples of FCS from a variety of archeological contexts, covering areas 50 to 2,150 sq km in extent. The regional archeological pictures from the Basin of Mexico (Parsons), the Valley of Oaxaca (Kowalewski), and the Kur River Basin of Iran (Sumner) are depicted. Wilson updates settlement-pattern studies in coastal Peru, the home-hearth of such work. P. Fish and Gresham describe the survey of a defoliated reservoir-take area from the vegetated Georgia piedmont. In arid North America, survey results from Long House Valley, Arizona (Dean) and the northern Tucson Basin (S. Fish, P. Fish, and Madsen) are presented. Also, Whalen compares simulated sample-based projections with those obtained through FCS of the Hueco Bolson (Texas), thereby duplicating findings of similar 1970s exercises. He introduces his endeavor with a thoughtful section on the why behind full-coverage survey.

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