Formation Processes of the Archaeological Record

This handbook synthesizes the most important principles of cultural and environmental formation processes for both students and practicing archaeologists.

Formation Process of the Archaeological Record embodies a vision that the cultural past is knowable, but only when the nature of the evidence is thoroughly understood. It shows how the past is accessible in practice by identifying variability introduced by the diverse effects of people and nature that in some sum, form the archaeological record.

For students, it is intended as both an introduction and guide in method and theory, field work, and analysis. Practicing archaeologists will find it a valuable checklist of sources of variability when observations on the archaeological record are used to justify inferences.

Michael Schiffer is professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona.

Table of Contents:


PART I. An Introduction to Formation Processes
1. The Nature of Archaeological Evidence
2. The Dimensions of Artifact Variability

PART II. Cultural Formation Processes
3. Reuse Processes
4. Cultural Deposition
5. Reclamation Processes
6. Disturbance Processes

PART III. Environmental Formation Processes
7. Environmental Formation Processes: The Artifact
8. Environmental Formation Processes: The Site
9. Environmental Formation Processes: The Region

PART IV. The Study of Formation Processes
10. The Identification of Formation Processes
11. Formation Processes and Archaeological Inference: Hohokam Chronology
12. Formation Processes and Archaeological Inference: Brother K Pueblo
13. The Archaeological Process