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By Thomas G. Whitley

2005 In, "Predictive Modelling for Archaeological Heritage Management: A Research Agenda", Martijn van Leusen and Hans Kamermans (editors), Nederlandse Archeologische Rapporten 29, Amersfoort: ROB, pp125-139.

In our effort to identify and manage the significant resources which comprise our cultural heritage, archaeologists have employed a number of methods which have focused on linking "sites" with key spatial factors in a predictive framework. Until recently these efforts have been largely correlative, deterministic, and devoid of social or interpretative theory. This has evolved into practical methods which lack an explication of causality, conflict with the intended economic or interpretative purposes of the undertaking, and relegate human cognition (both in the past and today) to being vaguely represented by a "black box" of uncertainty. In contrast, causality-based methods of cognitive modeling have the potential to produce ways of managing archaeological heritage, explaining patterns of cognition and behavior, and introducing agency and complexity into theories of human-spatial interaction. If the underlying causal relationships between conditions, events and decisions related to site selection are outlined in a mechanistic and probabilistic fashion, we may begin to understand why certain areas are selected for different kinds of behaviors, how that is transformed into what we consider to be "sites," and how we could use our knowledge to identify and protect significant archaeological resources. The methods presented here will be outlined on a theoretical basis, presented in a practical framework, and summarized as the intersection of three quite distinct kinds of models; past site selection, management priority, and disturbances.


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