less detail

2.5 Research on different spatial levels

An economic interpretation of the settlement pattern is only useful when the archaeological value of the distribution map is known. However, it is precisely the limited representativeness of the distribution of surface finds that is the main problem in regional research. By all kinds of geological, soil, land use and research factors the distribution pattern is strongly distorted (Hammond 1980; Schiffer 1976). A thorough analysis of those distorting factors and the presentation of distribution maps showing all distorting factors are therefore highly important.

In a large research area so many data are available that relatively little time can be spent on a good assessment of the archaeological value of each individual site. In a smaller area it is much easier to assess the quality, in part because of personal contacts with amateur archaeologists. In the Meuse Valley Project this representativeness problem has been dealt with by doing research on various spatial levels. Data from a higher level may be checked by research at a lower level. In this way the data collected for all of the south-east of the Netherlands (approx. 4000 sites) are verified by the more detailed results of the research in one of the core regions (approx. 250 sites).

In the Meuse Valley Project a multi-stage approach has been executed on four spatial levels (Wansleeben & Verhart 1995). Each level has its own archaeological sources, research methods, problems, nature and degree of detail of the conclusions. The four levels are: the macro region, core region, micro region and the site.

Table 4 The four levels of the multi-stage approach of the Meuse Valley Project
levelareadataprimary research aim
macro region South-east of the Netherlands
(4500 km2)
literature and databank of the State Service for Archaeological Investigations (R.O.B.) large-scale cultural patterns
core region four regions
(each ± 100 km2)
museums and private collections settlement patterns
micro region one per core region
(each 5 km2)
field survey, geological mapping, test trenches detailed exploitation patterns
site one per micro region excavation local activities

By arranging the investigation in this way, more insight can be gained into the important influence of post-depositional and research factors.

[Spatial levels of research]
Fig. 29 The four spatial levels at which research has been undertaken in the Meuse Valley Project


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Last updated: Wed Feb 25 1998