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Archaeological Context and Systemic Context

Michael B. Schiffer
American Antiquity
Vol. 37, No. 2 (Apr., 1972), pp. 156-165
DOI: 10.2307/278203
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/278203
Page Count: 10
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Archaeological Context and Systemic Context
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Abstract

The cultural aspect of the processes responsible for forming the archaeological record is argued to be an underdeveloped branch of archaeological theory. A flow model is presented by which to view the "life history" or processes of systemic context of any material element. This model accounts for the production of a substantial portion of the archaeological record. The basic processes of this model are: procurement, manufacture, use, maintenance, and discard. Refuse labels the state of an element in archaeological context. The spatial implications of the model suggest a largely untapped source of behavioral information. Differential refuse disposal patterns are examined as they affect artifact location and association. The meaning of element relative frequencies in refuse is discussed.

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