A Critical Review of the Meaning of Short-term Occupation in Early Prehistory

Author(s): Nuno Bicho; João Cascalheira

Year: 2017


One of the main elements in prehistoric research is the study of settlement patterns. In the last five decades, stemming partially from Binford’s research on the topic, the idea of settlement is based on site typology, including the traditional residential and logistic concepts. The latter is certainly marked by the notion of short-term occupation. This concept, used freely by many archaeologists, tends to rely on two main ideas— that of an occupation lasting a short span of time, and subsequently resulting in a limited amount of material culture. Our aim, based on various archaeological case studies from the Stone Age records of Portugal and Mozambique is to show that neither idea is necessarily correct (i.e., there may be short-term occupations with the production of large amounts of artifacts such as lithic workshops; there might be very small collections, such as lithic caches, resulting from short occupations but with very long uses of the site; and most times both are hardly differentiated within complex palimpsests). We will present a critical review of the definition of short-term occupation in Prehistory and will try to define both the criteria for definition and the concept of short-term occupation in the archeological record.

Cite this Record

A Critical Review of the Meaning of Short-term Occupation in Early Prehistory. Nuno Bicho, João Cascalheira. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430966)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14929