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By Thomas G. Whitley, and Inna Moore

2008 In, "Digital Discovery: Exploring New Frontiers in Human Heritage", Jeffery T. Clark and Emily M. Hagemeister (editors), Archaeolingua, Budapest, Hungary, pp121-130

It has been argued at the CAA, and other conferences, in the last few years that archaeological predictive models which explain the relationships between the environment and human activity, rather than merely identifying presumed correlations, have the greatest potential to inform land management decision-making. Additionally, employing such models in a GIS framework allows us to examine some of the academic issues and preconceived ideas about human settlement that have been developed by the archaeologists working in a region. Recently, an explanatory approach to archaeological predictive modeling was designed and used for a large scale highway development project in eastern South Carolina. Encompassing four counties located almost entirely in the Coastal Plain, and covering more than 6500 square kilometers (~2600 square miles) this model was an ideal test for some of our notions about the nature of human settlement, procurement, and interactive behaviors. The results of this model suggest that an explanatory approach is more enlightening, more flexible, more efficient, more effective, and ultimately more useful than any other approach for this largely homogenous region. They also indicate that the approach could be employed anywhere, can be used to establish regional and/or local baselines on which to build with new information or ideas, and is adaptive to the needs of a particular project or study question.


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