Mobility, site maintenance and archaeological formation processes: An ethnoarchaeological perspective

David E. Friesem, Noa Lavi, Sheina Lew-Levy, Adam H. Boyette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Mobility is considered to play an important role in the way people use their habitual space. Highly mobile societies present a particular challenge to archaeologists as a direct relation is assumed between the duration of occupation and the intensity of its archaeological signature. Here, we present a cross-cultural, ethnoarchaeological study carried out among three contemporary societies that, while showing different patterns of mobility, all live in humid tropical forests—in Thailand, the Congo Basin, and India—and share many social notions and values. The aim of this study was to observe how differences in patterns of mobility affect the formation of archaeological signatures. Our study demonstrates that when a site is occupied for only a few days to a couple of weeks, activity residues tend to be deposited in situ. This could potentially preserve the original spatial pattern of material distribution that directly reflects the activity areas and people's use of space. However, when a site is occupied for more than a week or two, maintenance practices such as sweeping begin to take place, which result in almost complete removal of activity residues from their primary location and the formation of waste areas at the edge of the dwelling sites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101588
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Jun 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Inc.


  • Activity areas
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Mobility
  • Site maintenance
  • Site structure
  • Tropical forests


Dive into the research topics of 'Mobility, site maintenance and archaeological formation processes: An ethnoarchaeological perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this