Surface Survey: Method and Strategies

  • Simon J. HoldawayEmail author
  • Joshua Emmitt
Living reference work entry


Archaeologists developed surface survey methods in regions with abundant surface artifacts where these artifacts are visible today because of the action of a variety of geomorphic processes often leading to deflation (see Deflation Archaeology) or due to the concentration of artifacts near the surface. In regions of the Mediterranean, for example, cultivation means that fragmentary ceramics are often abundant and highly visible. Surface survey in the form of “plow zone” archaeology developed accordingly, allowing mapping of the distribution of ceramics as well as other artifact types and features like house mounds. In some regions of Central and North America, good surface visibility led to the development of similar approaches. In other regions, stone artifacts are abundant, and at times hyper-abundant, in surface deposits (Foley and Lahr 2015). In these cases, surface survey strategies have developed to analyze stone artifact distributions. More recently, the advent of...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anthropology, School of Social SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

Section editors and affiliations

  • Sandra Monton Subias
    • 1
  • Bisserka Gaydarska
    • 2
  1. 1.Departament d'HumanitatsICREA/Universitat Pompeu Fabra.BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of ArchaeologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK