Geoarchaeo logical scale and archaeological interpretation: Examples from the central Jornada Mogollon

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Abstract

This paper examines the effects of traditional operating scales in North American archaeology and Quaternary geology on archaeological interpretation. An apparent emphasis on landscape-scale geoarchaeological studies has underemphasized the potentially significant role of small-scale geological processes on archaeological interpretation. In general, archaeological and geological collaboration has occurred at a scale where archaeological and geological research objectives are most obviously coincident, at landscape scales. The most compelling reason for the trend toward landscape-scale studies seems to be a lack of interdisciplinary communication. Despite the interdisciplinary foundations of geoarchaeology, cross-discipline education and knowledge are surprisingly uncommon. The interpretive potential for small-scale geoarchaeological analyses is demonstrated using archaeological and geological data from the Jornada Mogollon territory in New Mexico and Texas. The area has a lengthy history of archaeological and geological research and interdisciplinary collaborations have focused on questions about the relationship between sites and the landscape. In the past, archaeological interpretations rarely incorporated the effects of geological processes, particularly at the scale of the archaeological site. A number of studies are used to establish how site typologies and subsequent interpretations can be influenced by geological processes. Three characteristics, artifact density, site size, and recognition of reoccupied locales, play an important role in the classification of Jornada Mogollon sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-28
Number of pages18
JournalSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
Volume283
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology

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