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Techniques for Assessing Standardization in Artifact Assemblages: Can We Scale Material Variability?

  • Jelmer W. Eerkens (a1) and Robert L. Bettinger (a2)

The study of artifact standardization is an important line of archaeological inquiry that continues to be plagued by the lack of an independent scale that would indicate what a highly variable or highly standardized assemblage should look like. Related to this problem is the absence of a robust statistical technique for comparing variation between different kinds of assemblages. This paper addresses these issues. The Weber fraction for line-length estimation describes the minimum difference that humans can perceive through unaided visual inspection. This value is used to derive a constant for the coefficient of variation (CV = 1.7 percent) that represents the highest degree of standardization attainable through manual human production of artifacts. Random data are used to define a second constant for the coefficient of variation that represents variation expected when production is random (CV = 57.7 percent). These two constants can be used to assess the degree of standardization in artifact assemblages regardless of kind. Our analysis further demonstrates that CV is an excellent measure of standardization and provides a robust statistical technique for comparing standardization in samples of artifacts.


El estudio de estandarización y variación ha sido una importante y valiosa linea de interés en los análisis arqueológicos. Sin embargo, aún persisten dos problemas que son el enfoque de este estudio. En primer lugar, faltan medidas independientes para evaluar problemas de estandarización y variación. En otros términes, no hay nada que indica cómo se debe hacer una muestra arqueológica bien estandardizada о bien variable. En segundo lugar, no existe una técnica estadistica segura para hacer comparaciones cuantitativas. El 'Weberfraction,' utilizado para la estimación de una línea amplia describe la diferencia mínima que seres humanos pueden percibir con solo una inspección ocular. Este valor es utilizado para derivar una constante (CV = 1.7percent) que représenta la variación minima obtenida a través de la producción manual de artefactos por seres humanos. Datas aleatorios son utilizados para determinar una segunda constante que représenta la variación esperada bajo condiciones aleato-rias (CV = 57.7 percent). De este modo, estas dos constantes pueden estar utilizadas para determinar el grado de estandarización en las colecciones de artefactos. También, este estudio proporciona una técnica estadistica segura para compararla estandarización en muestras de artefactos.

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