© 2006

Confronting Scale in Archaeology

Issues of Theory and Practice

  • Gary Lock
  • Brian Leigh Molyneaux

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Introduction: Confronting Scale

    1. Gary Lock, Brian L. Molyneaux
      Pages 1-11
  3. Introducing Scale: Space, Time and Size in The Past and the Present

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-13
    2. Chris Gosden, Karola Kirsanow
      Pages 27-37
  4. Constructing Scale: Identifying Problems

  5. Interpreting Scale: Towards New Methodologies and Understandings

About this book


Without realizing, most archaeologists shift within a scale of interpretation of material culture. Material data is interpreted from the scale of an individual in a specific place and time and then shifts to the complex dynamics of cultural groups extending over time and space. This ignoring of scale is the "concession" archaeologists make to interpretation. The introduction of geographical information systems (GIS) remote sensing, and virtual reality have expanded the scale at which data is interpreted even more, using multiple scales at the same time without recognizing the significance of their actions.

This book discusses the cultural, social and spatial aspects of scale and its impact on archaeology in practical and applicable cases. Each author takes one of the fundamental elements of archaeology - from the experience of time and space to the visualization of individuals, sites and landscapes to the intricacies of archaeological discourse - and shows how an awareness of scale can create new and exciting interpretations.


Evaluation archaeological analysis archaeological practice archaeological survey artifacts material culture

Editors and affiliations

  • Gary Lock
    • 1
  • Brian Leigh Molyneaux
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.University of South DakotaVermillionUSA

Bibliographic information


"Archaeologists from North America, Europe, and Australia grapple with the concept of scale and its intentional and unintentioanl influence in their practice.  The fundamental problem is that archaeologists, being human, have trouble imagining things very much larger or very much smaller than humans, and things very much longer or very much shorter than a human lifetime.  The contributions look at space, time, and size in the past and the present; problems of scale and their identification; and new methodologies and understandings for interpreting scale."  (Reference and Research Book News, November 2006)