Finds distributions plotted over landscapes and continents, once the mainstay of archaeological cultural mapping, went into a lengthy period of decline when it was realised that many were artefacts of modern recovery rather than patterns of their own day. What price then, the rich harvest of finds being collected by modern routine procedures of rescue work and by metal-detectorists? The author shows how distribution patterns can be validated, and sample bias minimised, through comparison with maps of known populations and by presenting the distributions more sharply by risk surface analysis. This not only endorses the routine recording of surface finds currently undertaken in every country, but opens the door to new social and economic interpretations through methods of singular power.
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