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Least Cost Analysis of Social Landscapes
Archaeological Case Studies
Edited by Devin A. White and Sarah L. Surface-Evans
Archaeology / Anthropology
A growing number of archaeologists are applying Geographic Information Science (GIS) technologies to their research problems and questions. Advances in GIS and its use across disciplines allows for collaboration and enables archaeologists to ask ever more sophisticated questions and develop increasingly elaborate models on numerous aspects of past human behavior. Least cost analysis (LCA) is one such avenue of inquiry. While least cost studies are not new to the social sciences in general, LCA is relatively new to archaeology; until now, there has been no systematic exploration of its use within the field.
This edited volume presents a series of case studies illustrating the intersection of archaeology and LCA modeling at the practical, methodological, and theoretical levels. Designed to be a guidebook for archaeologists interested in using LCA in their own research, it presents a wide cross-section of practical examples for both novices and experts. The contributors to the volume showcase the richness and diversity of LCA’s application to archaeological questions, demonstrate that even simple applications can be used to explore sophisticated research questions, and highlight the challenges that come with injecting geospatial technologies into the archaeological research process.
Devin A. White received his PhD in anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He works at Integrity Applications Incorporated and is also a research associate at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.
Sarah L. Surface-Evans received her PhD from Michigan State University and is a postdoctoral fellow in archaeology at Central Michigan University.
Table of Contents:
1. An Introduction to the Least Cost Analysis of Social Landscapes
Sarah L. Surface-Evans and Devin A. White
PART 1: Traditional Applications of Existing Methods
2. Using Least Cost Path Analysis to Reinterpret Late Upper Paleolithic Hunter-Gatherer Procurement Zones in Northern Spain
John D. Rissetto
3. Connecting the Dots: Least Cost Analysis, Paleogeography, and the Search for Paleoindian Sites in Southern Highland Peru
Kurt Rademaker, David A. Reid, and Gordon R. M. Bromley
4. Wandering the Desert: Least Cost Path Modeling for Water Transport Trails in the Jornada Mogollon Region, Fort Bliss, South-Central New Mexico
Shaun M. Phillips and Phillip O. Leckman
5. A Method for Multiple Cost-Surface Evaluation of a Model of Fort Ancient Interaction
Kevin C. Nolan and Robert A. Cook
PART 2: Nontraditional Applications of Existing Methods
6. Walking and Watching: New Approaches to Reconstructing Cultural Landscapes through Space Syntax Analysis
Erin J. Hudson
7. Social Interaction at the Maya Site of Copán, Honduras: A Least Cost Approach to Configurational Analysis
8. Cost Catchments: A Least Cost Application for Modeling Hunter-Gatherer Land Use
Sarah L. Surface-Evans
PART 3: Custom Applications and Emerging Methods
Modeling the Consequences of Village Site Location: Least Cost Path Modeling in a Coupled GIS and Agent-Based Model of Village Agropastoralism in Eastern Spain
Isaac I. Ullah and Sean M. Bergin
No Crows Made Mounds: Do Cost-Distance Calculations of Travel Time Improve Our Understanding of Southern Appalachian Polity Size?
Prehistoric Trail Networks of the Western Papaguería: A Multifaceted Least Cost Graph Theory Analysis
Devin A. White
PART 4: Constructive Criticisms and Theoretical Discussions
Seven Solutions for Seven Problems with Least Cost Pathways
Realism, Reality, and Routes: Evaluating Cost-Surface and Cost-Path Algorithms
Least Cost Pathway Analysis in Archaeological Research: Approaches and Utility
David G. Anderson
List of Contributors
Praise and Reviews:
“Very significant. Scholarly contributions like this book will move archaeology rapidly into a new paradigm, beyond processualism and post-processualism, and into an identity of its own.”
—Douglas C. Comer, author of Ritual Ground: Bent’s Old Fort, World Formation, and the Annexation of the Southwest