Willem BEEX
(Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Keywords: Field Survey and Prospection

Archaeological Field Survey and Prospection is mainly used for three objectives: 1. A scientific hypothesis; 2. Heritage Management; 3. The location of a future archaeological excavation. And of course these objectives may overlap. It is important, however, to realise that the outcome will always be a sample. The implication of this last sentence is, that no survey or prospection can give a valid prediction without a valid quantifiable method. In this context it also has to be said, that a so-called “complete survey” is always an illusion. “Completeness” in archaeology can never be achieved…
One major problem for any survey or prospection is, of course, how to deal with an area. In general there are three solutions: 1. Simple random sampling; 2. Stratified sampling; 3. Systematic sampling. Each method has it’s own advantages, but simple random sampling seems very impracticable in most archaeological cases.
Another major problem are the environmental variables. They may in fact be the most difficult problem to tackle. Biases due to “variable archaeologists” will also be included with this topic.
Several theoretical and practical examples will be mentioned in this introduction. Hopefully they will inspire the questions and discussions afterwards.