Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 1992


Reproduced from Journal of Field Archaeology 19:2 (Summer, 1992), pp. 169-188, with the permission of the Trustees of Boston University. Used by permission.


Survey is one of the primary methods of data collection in archaeology today. Survey data often constitute the sole conserved record of the prehistoric use of an area and are used as the foundation for culture historical, demographic, and economic reconstructions. Given the fundamental nature of survey data in relation to other archaeological pursuits, identification of biases inherent in this type of data are important and have been the subject of a number of stimulating studies. Analyses reported here focus on the accuracy of results produced through intensive survey. Using data from several siteless surveys in the American West, the effects of artifact obtrusiveness, especially size, and artifact density on the survey accuracy are investigated. Implications for interpreting a biased archaeological document are addressed.

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