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Types of Surveys

In conjunction with viewing this, students should also view archsurveys1.html, which is a continuation of this information.

Surveys may be performed through any one or all of the ways listed in the complimentary page. However, one of the goals of a scientific experiment is to make itself repeatable, and an excavation is not made repeatible simply by saying which surveying method was used. In addition, the type of survey must also be recorded. These differing survey types are introduced and explained below.

1) There are two main categories of surveys: NONPROBABILISTIC and PROBABILISTIC.

Nonprobabilistic surveys are "judgment" surveys; in other words an archaeologist performs the survey where he/she deems it most appropriate to the inquiry at hand. If the archaeologist wishes to study forms of water transportation, it makes little sense to survey a desert or mountaintop. Instead, he or she will focus on a river plain or some such location. Non probabilistic surveys attempt to sample a specific segment of the population. They rely on informed guesses.

Probabilistic surveys, meanwhile, attempt to sample the WHOLE population. They do this through one of four means, defined below. UNSTRATIFIED RANDOM (or simple) surveys: these surveys require no assumptions as to the habits of the previous civilization. A region is chosen for study, and then a number of sampling units are chosen at random. Every point in the sampling universe is just as likely to be chosen as any other point. Unfortunately, this system is sometimes meaningless, as all areas of possible inhabitance are not covered, and it is difficult to draw patterns of cultural similarity over space when the space definition is random due to the sampling method. STRATIFIED RANDOM surveys: these surveys break down the universe slightly more than do simple surveys. If there are three basic geographical regions in a universe (eg river basin, mountainous area, plains), each one of these regions becomes a "miniverse." These miniverses are then subject to random sampling as in the simple survey. The biggest advantage is that a greater amount of patterned similarity can be seen (eg no one lived in mountains, they lived by the river). An equal number of surveys are conducted in each region. UNSTRATIFIED SYSTEMATIC surveys: for this type of survey the entire universe will be broken down into quantitative components (squares, hexagons, etc). One specific area (eg top right corner) in each of these areas will be surveyed. This can be a problem as it leads to a geometrical design, and, as humans appear fond of such things, the design created may lay entiredly inside another nondescript design such as a street. This would then give a series of surveys revealing no housing, hearths, etc. STRATIFIED SYSTEMATIC surveys: finally, these surveys feature the same grid section as created in the unstratified systematic sites, but with random locations inside the grid chosen rather than rigid locals. This extra planning is much more time consuming, but it does serve to "even out" the randomness. However, just like the unstratified systematic, it is still quite possible to miss many many objects of interest.

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