Classification of Artifact Aggregates


Early twentieth-century Americanist archaeologists worried not only about how to measure time and how to classify artifacts in such a manner as to allow them to measure time, but also about how to build units larger than types of discrete objects—units that would allow some synthesis and comparison of the cultural manifestations they studied. That is, they worried about classifying cultures as those were represented by the sets, or aggregates, of artifacts that were regularly found associated with each other. Ultimately, archaeologists wanted to determine how such aggregates of forms were related in time and space and how they were related to each other developmentally (e.g., did one somehow influence another). In the Southwest, dendrochronology had begun to help sort things out according to calendrical time (Douglass 1919, Douglass 1921; Gladwin 1936; Hawley 1934; Wissler 1921), and though the same technique was attempted in the Southeast (Willey 1938), in the latter area stratigraphic excavation received the lion’s share of attention in chronological matters (Willey 1939).


Cultural Trait Basic Culture Seminar Participant Discrete Object Cultural Unit 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1997

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