Thinking about Spatial Scale and Diversity in Archaeology

Author(s): Steven Kuhn

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Defining and Measuring Diversity in Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Diversity is fundamentally a scalar phenomenon. Archaeologists have been very attentive to the relationship between sample size and various diversity measures. They have not paid as much attention to the spatial scale of diversity. Ecologists frequently consider diversity at three spatial scales. Alpha diversity refers to richness within patches or sample units. Gamma diversity refers to overall richness within an entire ecosystem or habitat. Beta diversity is a function of the differences among patches. Diversity at different spatial scales is influenced by different ranges of factors. Most of what has been said about diversity in archaeology refers effectively to alpha (within assemblage) diversity. Concepts analogous to beta and gamma diversity could be effectively applied in archaeology. To illustrate the relevance of thinking about diversity at different spatial scales, this paper considers some of the factors affecting alphas, beta, and gamma diversity in material culture, especially stone tools.

Cite this Record

Thinking about Spatial Scale and Diversity in Archaeology. Steven Kuhn. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450520)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22966