Agricultural activities are responsible for extensive disturbance and destruction of archeological sites throughout the region and beyond. Plowing moves the artifacts from their original locations thus making it difficult to tie them back to the contexts in which they belong. It has become a relatively common practice for many archeologists when faced with this problem is to simply blade off the disturbed area of the site, usually the upper 30 to 40 centimeters, so that they can better access undisturbed areas. They do this because they believe that since the artifacts have been moved out of context that they are now useless for interpreting the site. This thesis challenges that assertion by using a common site mapping method, systematic shovel testing, in a new and more innovative way. Shovel tests were dug in a 5 x 5 meter grid across the Silvernale Site (21GD03), eventually totaling 567 shovel tests. The shovel tests were dug only to the depth of the plow-zone, usually 30-40 centimeters. After cleaning, and cataloguing the artifacts recovered from the shovel tests the data were entered into Microsoft Excel® and subsequently into the GIS Arc Map 10® computer program. Since the survey was systematically done across the village site it was possible to note concentrations of different classes of artifacts at different points in the village. These concentrations were subjected to a variety of statistical analyses and compared with the results of a geophysical survey along with the results of excavated units at the village. This method can be used to make use of previously discarded plow-zone materials to predict subsurface features at a site, such as middens, plazas, or even previously lost excavation units. It can also be used to more generally understand site patterning in cases where there are no intact subsurface features. Archeologists using this method will be able to pinpoint areas of the site that will best help them to answer specific research questions without the largely 'hit or miss' testing they would normally be subject to. Merely because a site has been cultivated for more than 100 years this does not mean that the surficial deposits lack relevant and reliable data.


Ronald C. Schirmer

Committee Member

Edward Fleming

Committee Member

Kathleen Blue

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Harvey_mnsu_1510M_10186_Appendix_A_Shovel_Test_Catalog.pdf (7275 kB)
Harvey Appendix A Shovel Test Catalog

Harvey_mnsu_1510M_10186_Appendix_B_Excavation_Unit_Catalogue_2011.pdf (769 kB)
Harvey Appendix B Excavation Unit Catalogue

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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