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BIC Excellence Award

Regional Settlement Demography in Archaeology

By Robert C. Drennan, C. Adam Berrey and Christian E. Peterson

Regional Settlement Demography in Archaeology
Paperback, 200 pages £27.00
Published: 2015
ISBN: 9780989824941
Format: 224mm x 147mm
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Subjects: Archaeology, Eliot Werner Publications
Series: EWP Principles of Archaeology

Archaeological analysis at the regional scale investigates the past by studying how people distributed themselves and their activities across a landscape of hundreds or thousands of square kilometers. Archaeological field survey methods developed over half a century combine with powerful new quantitative tools for spatial analysis (including GIS) to unleash new potential for identifying and studying ancient local communities and regional polities. Varied approaches to estimating regional population sizes in both relative and absolute terms are synthesized and their advantages and disadvantages assessed. Tools for quantitative analysis of regional demographic data are presented. Field survey methods developed around the world are compiled from widely scattered sources and best practices for collecting archaeological data to sustain demographic analysis are delineated. Concepts for improved sampling design in regional survey work are derived from fundamental statistical principles. In conclusion, promising directions for future methodological development are identified.

Chapter 1. Regional Settlement Demography: Why Bother?

Chapter 2. What Can We Use as Population Proxies?

Chapter 3. What Can We Do with Population Proxies?

Chapter 4. How Can We Estimate Absolute Numbers of Inhabitants?

Chapter 5. How Can We Collect Regional Settlement Data for Demographic Analysis?

Chapter 6. Conclusion

Sources of Data for Examples



"The book's stated mission 'is to pull together into a single, coherent account the basic methods of regional settlement demography, beginning at square one' (p. v). Drennan and his colleagues not only have succeeded brilliantly in this task, but have accomplished a great deal more. The book represents a spirited defense of the possibility of reconstructing regional settlement demography and a compelling argument for the central importance of demography to fundamental archaeological questions. It is a testament to the power of archaeological survey and a demonstration of what well-designed research can accomplish with the surface archaeological record. [...] Drennan, Berrey, and Peterson deserve our thanks for producing a marvelous book. It is a high-impact contribution for any archaeologist concerned with understanding human behavior at settlement and larger scales. It is essential reading for anyone contemplating archaeological survey or making surface collections. While the writing is entirely accessible to graduate or advanced undergraduate students, I believe that experienced archaeologists will profit substantially from reading it cover to cover."
Keith W. Kintigh, Arizona State University

- Latin American Antiquity, Vol. 27, No. 3, 2016

"Many scholars dismiss reconstructions of paleodemography as too imprecise. In this volume the authors demonstrate this assessment is not true. They review methodological best practices to illustrate how to obtain reasonably accurate estimates of population size. More important, they show that reconstructing paleodemography is central to understanding ancient societies and how and why they change. This book is a must read for students and professionals alike."
Mark Varien, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center 

"I found the book a pleasure to read and I am convinced that it soon will become a required text for upper-level undergraduate and graduate classes in anthropological archaeology. The book is written in a colloquial style reminiscent of Kent V. Flannery's Early Mesoamerican Village that makes the material accessible even to novices. The book also is a great refresher for seasoned professionals who toy around with regional datasets but have not recently taught a course on regional demography."
William A. Parkinson, Field Museum of Natural History

"The current state of the art for examining population and population change in archaeology. The authors cover with considerable thought and care the important questions, answers, techniques, and doubts. Excellent examples from forests, deserts, alluvial valleys, farmland, and grasslands and a wide variety of cultural contexts. The annotated bibliographies are especially helpful. Essential reading and thinking for anyone designing or interpreting archaeological research on human demographic change over the long term."
Stephen A. Kowalewski, University of Georgia

It is a wonderful introduction to the world of demography, and it should be highly considered by those working in archaeology, particularly those that focus on group interactions and settlement distributions on a regional scale.
Anna Tremblay, Pennsylvania State University

Overall this is a strong book that makes an important contribution to regional survey methodology, despite ongoing skepticism in the community about population estimates. Drennan, Berrey, and Peterson are taking up the challenge and making important headway.

- American Anthropologist, Vol. 119, No. 2, June 2017

This compact, straightforward treatment of settlement demography is very welcome. Drennan et al.'s approach to settlement demography is appropriately careful; it's not overly optimistic, and it always keeps a critical eye on the data. The use of on-going examples throughout the book is excellent. The case examples draw on the authors' extensive experience in settlement demography. [...] Overall, this is an extremely useful volume that, I expect, will become a future staple for advanced undergraduate courses in archaeological methods, settlement archaeology, and ancient population studies.

- Journal of Anthropological Research, Summer 2017

‘The book is a significant contribution in that it puts together, in one place and in an explicit manner for the first time, the various methodologies that have been employed by different regional survey projects to generate population estimates. [...] The theoretical and methodological strengths of Drennan's processual body of work, masterful understanding of statistics, and decades of experience in regional surveys worldwide are reflected in the volume, which backs its main arguments with comparative datasets and contemporary examples.’ (Verónica Pérez Rodriguez, American Antiquity Vol. 81, No. 3, 2016)


Publication Details:

 Paperback , 200 pages
 224mm x 147mm

BIC Code:
 Eliot Werner Publications


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