Cumulative Survey: Defining Coalescent Communities in the American Southwest

Author(s): David Wilcox

Year: 2015


The fundamental shift from artifacts to settlements as the basic units of archaeological inquiry required a rethinking of methodologies. Now the basic questions were about measuring interactions of people deployed differentially on cultural landscapes. At a more abstract level it required adoption of the logic of relations in preference to the typological logic of entities and their qualities. If settlements are portrayed as variously colored dots on a map, interactions can be expressed as what connects those dots. Full coverage survey of whole cultural landscapes on larger and larger spatial scales, in the end, is essential for mapping the relationships that provide the data for discovering and testing models of those interactions. Cumulative survey, however, the assembling of information on all known sites larger than farmsteads on macro-regional scales, while not an alternative to full coverage survey, does allow at least preliminary studies of coalescent communities in the late prehistoric American Southwest. Distance parameters of potential interactions can then be studied, and the addition of ceramic data from those sites opens the door to analyses based on network theory. In my professional lifetime, Stephen Kowalewski has been a friend, a sounding board, and an inspiration for many such studies.

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Cite this Record

Cumulative Survey: Defining Coalescent Communities in the American Southwest. David Wilcox. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395857)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;