(VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Outline: The paper reports on the final results of a project commissioned by the Dutch Cultural Heritage Service, in order to better understand the effect of different core sampling strategies on the detection probabilities of Stone Age sites.

Abstract: Detection of archaeological sites in the Netherlands is often done through core sampling. It is a relatively cheap prospection method that will reach depths that are not within reach of other methods, which is an important consideration when dealing with buried archaeological remains. However, core samples are not very effective for finding individual artefacts, because of the small sampling volume. In order to guarantee site detection, it is necessary to know the prospection characteristics of the archaeological sites in question (most importantly size and artefact density), and to adapt the sampling strategy accordingly. In 2006, national guidelines were set up for effective core sampling strategies, based on estimates of prospection characteristics taken from excavations. However, in the case of Stone Age sites the available evidence was very limited. The current project aimed at obtaining more reliable information on the prospection characteristics of these sites from digital excavation databases, and to estimate detection probabilities when using different core sampling strategies. By simulating the effect of using various sampling schemes on detection probabilities, it could be established that the current guidelines are too optimistic in their assessment of detection probabilities of Stone Age sites using core sampling. More intensive prospection strategies are therefore recommended.

Keywords: Stone Age sites, core sampling, simulation