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Interpreting intra-site spatial patterns in seasonal contexts: an ethnoarchaeological case-study from the Western Alps

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Francesco CarrerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This paper deals with the ethnoarchaeological analysis of the spatial pattern of artefacts and ecofacts within two traditional pastoral huts (a dwelling and a seasonal dairy) in the uplands of Val Maudagna (Cuneo province, Italian western Alps). The composition of the ethnoarchaeological assemblages of the two huts was studied and compared; point pattern analysis was applied to identify spatial processes mirrored in the interactions between objects; Moran’s I correlogram and empirical variogram were used to investigate the effects of trampling on the displacement of objects on the floor. The results were compared with information provided by the herder who still used the huts. The quantitative and ethnographical data enabled inferences to be made that can help in the interpretation of archaeological seasonal sites. The function of a seasonal site can be recognized, as can the impact of delayed curation on the composition of the assemblage and the importance of the intensity of occupation compared with the frequency of occupation. The spatial organization of activities is reflected in the spatial patterns of objects, with clearer identification of activity areas in intensively occupied sites, and there is evidence for the behaviour behind the spatial segregation of activities. Trampling is a crucial post-depositional factor in the displacement of artefacts and ecofacts, especially in non-intensively exploited sites. From a methodological point of view, this research is another example that highlights the importance of integrating quantitative methods (especially spatial analysis and geostatistical methods) and ethnoarchaeological data in order to improve the interpretation of archaeological sites and assemblages.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Carrer F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

Year: 2017

Volume: 24

Issue: 2

Pages: 303-327

Print publication date: 01/06/2017

Online publication date: 07/12/2015

Acceptance date: 10/11/2015

Date deposited: 04/01/2016

ISSN (print): 1072-5369

ISSN (electronic): 1573-7764

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10816-015-9268-5


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