Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Steven R. Simms


Steven R. Simms


David Byers


Kenneth P. Cannon


Pedestrian based archaeological survey is commonly used throughout the western United States to locate, identify, record, and interpret archaeological sites. While procedures, such as transect spacing, transect orientation, data collection, artifact documentation, and site criteria may vary, most survey methods share a common goal: to locate and define the boundaries of archaeological sites. Other researchers question the traditional site-based survey method. Critics suggest that site-based surveys may fail to adequately detect and document artifacts outside of site boundaries (Dunnell and Dancey 1983; Wandsnider and Camilli 1992). Site-based methods may not discern archaeological signatures of past cultures that occurred on the scale of landscapes rather than discrete sites (Ebert 1992; Robins 1998)

In response, siteless approaches have been developed to test and address perceived shortcomings of site-based survey methods. The siteless survey utilizes artifacts as the basis for studying the relationships between clustered and non-clustered materials. This thesis examines traditional site-based survey vs. siteless survey within a study area in southern Idaho. Moreover, the study investigates the utility of the nonsite approach to identify spatial distributions, associations, and patterning in cultural materials on the surface of the analysis area. The results of the survey, data management and analyses evaluate if artifacts are randomly distributed or aggregated.

Survey results compare the surveys’ effectiveness in detecting artifacts. In this comparison, the effects of artifact obtrusiveness/visibility are considered. Results of survey data are examined at different spatial scales to identify clusters and evaluate cluster attributes. Spatial patterning analyses use GIS software including the Getis Ord Gi* hot spot analysis tool and the buffer tool in ArcMap 10.2. Both GIS analyses successfully identified clustering. Finally, the results of analysis compare artifact cluster attributes identified by GIS analyses with site attributes. Siteless survey data and post-field, GIS analyses demonstrate the ability to offer information not available through traditional site-based survey. These results suggest that the siteless survey methods and analytic techniques employed in this study warrant further testing and evaluation.



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Anthropology Commons