Faculty Publications

Title

Measuring forager mobility

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Current Anthropology

Volume

47

Issue

3

First Page

435

Last Page

459

Abstract

Mobility plays a large role in generating the patterns of stone raw-material usage seen in forager archaeological sites, but how best to translate these patterns into a complete quantitative characterization of the organization of forager mobility remains a difficult problem. The number of potential variables involved, including raw-material quality and abundance as well as individual movement and technological decisions, makes it extremely difficult to analyze mobility independent of all other influences. This papers develops a formal model of forager mobility, based on a well-known stochastic process termed a Lévy random walk. When combined with neutral assumptions about how stone is procured and used, the model may be used to recover detailed quantitative information about the organization of forager mobility from raw-material transport distances. The model has clear behavioral interpretations in terms of levels of planning, risk sensitivity, and time-energy optimization and thus provides several potential currencies for comparative studies of prehistoric mobility strategies. How other behavioral decisions such as raw-material selectivity and even social exchange of raw material might influence patterns of stone raw-material transport is also explored. © 2006 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.

Original Publication Date

6-1-2006

DOI of published version

10.1086/503062

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