Accumulations research: Problems and prospects for estimating site occupation span

Mark D. Varien, Barbara J. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Accumulations research examines the dynamic relationship among artifact discard, duration of occupation, and population size. The history of accumulations research is reviewed, emphasizing studies that use accumulation rates to measure site occupation span. Ethnoarchaeological and experimental research demonstrates that cooking pots are an ideal artifact type for accumulations research. Data from the Duckfoot site in southwestern Colorado are used to develop an annual accumulation rate of cooking pot sherds for households. This rate is used, along with population estimates and estimates of the total cooking pot sherd accumulation, to determine the occupation span of five sites located in the nearby Dolores River valley.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-191
Number of pages51
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


  • Archaeology
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Pottery use and discard
  • Site occupation span

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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