Empire of Aksum Settlement Patterns: Site Size Hierarchy and Spatial Clustering Analyses


Settlement pattern analysis has long remained a key means of examining the social, economic, and political relationships among archaeological sites and the way those relationships changed through time. Two common approaches involve: 1) analyzing the relative sizes of sites to evaluate possible site size hierarchies, and 2) analyzing the spatial distribution of sites across landscapes to evaluate possible clustering or dispersion. This paper applies more statistically rigorous methods that commonly employed, namely Ripley’s K Multi-Distance Spatial Cluster Analysis to evaluate possible spatial clustering/dispersion, and Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) analysis to evaluate possible site size categories/hierarchies. These methods are performed on archaeological site data from two distinct areas of the northern Ethiopian highlands collected by the Eastern Tigray Archaeological Project (ETAP) and Southern Red Sea Archaeological Histories (SRSAH) Project. Results show strikingly similar patterns in the two areas, including an increase in the number of sites and decrease in average site size over time, site clustering only during the Pre-Aksumite period, and a lack of site size hierarchies that are predicted by traditional models of state-level settlement patterns.

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Empire of Aksum Settlement Patterns: Site Size Hierarchy and Spatial Clustering Analyses. Joseph Mazzariello, Michael Harrower, A. Catherine D’Andrea. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444232)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: 32.432; min lat: -5.003 ; max long: 54.053; max lat: 18.062 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22201