The effectiveness of subsurface testing: A simulation approach

Keith Kintigh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


This article briefly reviews methodological issues relevant to subsurface testing and advances a general method for objectively assessing the reliability of an archaeological survey program based on subsurface survey methods such as the excavation of shovel tests or the use of auger holes. The proposed technique employs simulation to model subsurface testing strategies using simple principles of probability and assumptions that are explicit and realistic. An arbitrary layout of test units can be evaluated to yield an estimate of the proportions of sites of different sizes and artifact densities that will be found (or missed) by the testing program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-707
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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