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Excavation Sample Size: A Cautionary Tale

  • Dennis H. O'Neil (a1)


Frequently, only five percent or less of a midden site is excavated for environmental-analysis purposes before it is turned over to the bulldozers for destruction. Such exceptionally small sample sizes have become accepted in cultural-resource-management work as adequate for gaining a good understanding of the chronology and cultural activities at a site. This assumption was tested by the author with a 63 percent excavation sampling fraction from a southern California midden. The data indicate that a far-from-complete understanding of a site may result from small sampling fractions and that more carefully designed sampling strategies and statistical manipulation of the data may not overcome this problem.


Frecuentemente, sólo un cinco por ciento, o menos, de un basurero antiguo se excava con el propósito de analizar el medio ambiente antes de ser destruído por los caterpilars. Sin embargo, a pesar de que las muestras son tan excepcionalmente pequeñas, se han aceptado como cantidades adecuadas en el manejo de recursos culturales, para adquirir un buen conocimiento de la cronología y las actividades culturales de ese sitio. Esta suposición fue probada por el autor con un 63 por ciento de la fracción de muestra de excavación de un basurero del sur de California. Los datos indican que no se puede comprender completamente un sitio con tan pequeñas muestras y aunque piensen en ser més cuidadosos con las estrategias designadas de muestras y manipulen las estadísticas de los datos, no eliminarán este problema.



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Excavation Sample Size: A Cautionary Tale

  • Dennis H. O'Neil (a1)


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