less detail

2.4 Archaeological correlates

The archaeologically visible settlement pattern can be separated into three aspects, to a limited degree independent of each other. We consider these aspects to be the archaeological correlates of the food economy, viz.:

  • the spatial distribution of the sites (spatial patterns)
  • the geographical location of the sites (site location analysis)
  • the nature of the sites (site typology)

In the Meuse Valley Project, analysis of the data is always aimed at these three factors: investigation is directed towards whether different types of site can be distinguished, whether these occur in specific spatial patterns and in specific geographical units. Methodologically this means that three more or less separate analyses are executed, which, after interpretation, will eventually lead to a synthesis of the settlement system.

With the transition from a food-exploiting to a food-producing economy a number of changes in the settlement system may be thought of. As a result of the increase in agrarian products in the food economy there is a decrease in mobility, which in turn may well result in a reduced number of sites but an increase in the size of the sites (represented by number of artefacts and surface area).

The differences between the sites might increase as well during the Neolithic, as a result of a shift from more residential to more logistical mobility behaviour. The agrarian base settlements increasingly become an important focal point for many activities, resulting in large sites with a wide range of artefact types. On the other hand, special camps occur that strongly diverge in size and artefact composition.

Also a shift from more heterogeneous to more homogeneous environments may be expected, as well as a more clustered distribution of the sites in the agriculturally favourable areas.

Of course these predictions about the changes in the settlements during the Neolithization process are only preliminary. There are many as yet unknown factors influencing the changes mentioned above, the original point of departure in the Mesolithic not least among them. The nature of the terrain with the size and clustering (scale) of agriculturally favourable areas influences the changes in distribution pattern as well.

[Archaeological correlates]
Fig. 28 The three elements of the archaeological analysis of the Meuse Valley Project, from top to bottom: the spatial pattern, the geographical location and site typology


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Last updated: Wed Feb 25 1998