Statistical Modelling: Prehistoric Site Location Sensitivity

    Using a standardized database of environmental information for previously documented sites and random control points, ACS constructed a statistical model for predicting the relative prehistoric sensitivity of any location in southern New England. The model provides a method for review agencies and site planners to evaluate the relative likelihood of prehistoric sites being present at any point in space within the region. Such statistical sensitivity models should prove useful for other applications of cultural resource management in the future.


Portion of a surficial materials map of Connecticut showing the distribution of major landforms.  Glacial meltwater deposits and alluvial terraces tend to contain the highest relative density of prehistoric sites in the region.


    Sites from the Native American burial survey performed by ACS were plotted on topographic, surficial materials, soil, and drainage basin maps. Each site was then assessed in terms of many specific environmental variables, including landform, drainage rank, nearest water type, slope, soil drainage and texture, and horizontal and vertical distances to water. This assessment also helped in the description of changing land-use patterns through time. While prehistoric burial sites tend to be located on nearly level, glacial meltwater landforms supporting well drained sandy loams within a short distance of water in major drainage basins, historic site distributions more closely match a set of randomly selected control points reflecting naturally prevalent qualities of the landscape, including a high proportion of sites on rocky hill slopes and greater distances from smaller water sources. This shifting pattern is indicative of the localized, yet effective removal of Native American groups after the arrival of Euroamericans in the region.


Use the following statistical prehistoric landscape sensitivity worksheet to evaluate the relative likelihood of finding traces of significant prehistoric sites at any given point in southern New England. Make one selection within each of the eight environmental categories, then add for a total score ranging between 0-100. Scores above 20 indicate a moderate to high sensitivity for the potential presence of prehistoric sites.

Landform:
Hills and Moraines 0.2677
Coarse Glacial Outwash Deposits 1.6380
Stacked Coarse Glacial Outwash Deposits 23.9188
Fine Glacial Outwash Deposits 4.9751
Postglacial Deposits (Alluvium) 21.4860

Surface Slope:
0-5% 3.7550
5-10% 0.6514
>10% 0.2763

Soil Texture:
Stony or Rocky Soils 0.1927
Gravelly Soils 3.5178
Loamy Sand 4.4162
Sandy Loam 8.6742
Fine Sandy Loam 1.1057
Loam or Silt Loam 0.5188
Silt, Clay, Muck 0.0000

Soil Drainage:
Very to Somewhat Poor 0.0000
Moderate 0.0779
Well to Somewhat Excessive 0.5684
Excessive 2.0396

Nearest Water Source:
Marsh or Swamp 0.3082
Intermittent Stream 1.0135
Perennial Stream 2.3828
Broad River or Tidal Inlet 44.8455
Bay or Sound 0.0000

Drainage Rank:
Rank 1 (No major feeder streams to nearest perennial stream) 0.5946
Rank 2 (2 or more Rank 1 feeder streams to nearest perennial stream) 5.2263
Rank 3-4 (2 or more Rank 2 feeder streams to nearest perennial stream) 9.0665

Horizontal Distance to Nearest Water Source:
0-150 feet 5.3431
150-300 feet 3.0550
300-1200 feet 0.4537
>1200 feet 0.0000

Vertical Distance to Nearest Water Source:
0-25 feet 2.3535
25-50 feet 0.5119
>50 feet 0.0000

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