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Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2001

Trees or Chains, Links or Branches: Conceptual


Alternatives for Consideration of Stone Tool
Production and Other Sequential Activities
Peter Bleed1

Archaeologists construct sequence models to describe the operation of past activities such as production of stone tools. As developed in Japan, France, and North
American, such models summarize processes, present intermediate steps, and link
formally diverse materials. Some sequence models are teleological in that they
present actions as predetermined patterns. Others can be considered evolutionary
in that they describe results produced by selected interaction between conditions
and variables. With separate strengths and different goals, both approaches to
sequence modeling have archaeological utility.
KEY WORDS: technology; chane operatoire; stone tools; tool production.

Very few real classifications of technological actions can be found in the literature.
Pierre Lemonnier, 1990, p. 49

Archaeologists hold ancient artifacts in interpretive arrangements with a conceptual grout of ideas. Some of these ideas have attracted a great deal of attention
and been extensively discussed whereas others have come into common use without much notice. This paper considers a group of archaeological constructs of
the latter type. They can be described as sequence models, and they are most
often used to study how ancient people made and used stone tools. Citing interesting ways by which sequence models have been applied and the ways they have
amplified archaeological analysis would show that they have a great deal of archaeological utility. This paper takes a greater challenge. Its goal is to present general
characteristics of sequence models and, furthermore, to show that the way these
models are constructed has implications for the theoretical and practical questions
archaeologists can address with them.
1 Department

of Anthropology, University of NebraskaLincoln, Nebraska.


101
C 2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation
1072-5369/01/0300-0101$19.50/0

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Sequence models have distinctive characteristics that make them different


from other archaeological constructs. Unlike unit concepts, types, and other descriptive categories that archaeologists use to organize observations, sequence
models deal with the operation of past systems. Sequence models also differ from
other processual models archaeologists have developed to study the functional
relationships seen in systems such as settlement patterns, seasonal rounds, trade
networks, or such social patterns as competitive feasts and interaction spheres.
Such systemic models treat operations that may have a history although they are
not temporal events in that they are not primarily about change through time.
The models of interest here deal with the operation of activities that progress
through time. These operations may take no longer than the time needed to make
and use a stone tool, but they have a specific duration with a beginning, an end,
and a temporal direction. Sequence models present conceptual summaries of such
activities by presenting themoften by means of a literal picturein terms of subdivisions that show how they started, what intermediate steps they passed through,
and how they ultimately ended. These models are very archaeological in that
they deal with historical events, formal diversity of artifacts, and change through
time. Because these are issues that resonate with archaeological research wherever
it is done, it is not surprising that sequence models have been developed and used
in a number of different archaeological traditions.
The ways sequence model have been developed and used by Japanese, French,
and Americanist archaeologists show how they can support archaeological investigations. These examples also show that the models can be built in a couple of
different ways. Finally, use of the models in these three areas shows that the ways
sequence models are constructed influence the interpretations they can support.

SEQUENCE MODELS IN JAPAN


The classic Japanese use of sequence models has addressed the reduction
sequences used by terminal Paleolithic peoples to produce microblades. Japanese
archaeologists have identified a number of different procedures for producing and
using microcores (Imamura, 1996, p. 35) (Fig. 1). Initially, these analyses were
based on extremely perceptive observation of technological attributes of microcores (Yoshizaki, 1961). These observations let researchers reconstruct specific
stoneworking procedures that could be described, named, and studied as archaeological entities (Kobayashi, 1970; Chiba et al., 1984). In general, such procedures
Japanese archaeologists have used the giho concept to study
are called giho.
a number of different kinds of lithic technologies beyond microblade production
(e.g., Fujiwara, 1984; Yanagizawa, 1984; Yanagida, 1984).
In translation, giho is invariably equated with the English word technique. In
a few cases (e.g., Kobayashi, 1984) the English word in transliteration is even used

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Fig. 1. Steps of various giho used to produce microblades in terminal Pleistocene Japan (Kato
and Tsurumaru, 1994, p. 59).

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in place of the Japanese term. Giho is not defined in major dictionaries of Japanese
archaeology. Even in a recent dictionary of stone tools (Kato and Tsurumaru,
1994, p. 56), where it is used repeatedly, the term itself is not defined or separately
considered. Similarly, in volumes devoted to theoretical and technical analysis of
stone tools, and in both Japanese (e.g., Kato and Tsurumaru, 1980, p. 58ff) and
English (e.g., Akazawa et al., 1980, pp. 2223), Japanese researchers have not felt
the need to explain the term. In other words, Japanese archaeologists use of the
concept seems essentially informal and commonsensical.
In actual practice, use of the giho concept is highly refined. The term is used to
describe a sequence of linked technical actions associated with highly patterned
stone reduction sequences. Japanese researchers treat such sequences as structured
behaviors carried out as routines. This treatment makes them implicitly similar to
routine patterns that are common in Japanese culture. Traditional Japanese martial
arts, for example, is taught in terms of formalized behavior sets, called kata, that are
learned and carried out as routines. Calligraphy is similarly mastered by Japanese
students, who are taught to form characters by executing sets of strokes in carefully
prescribed order. In practice, Japanese archaeologists act as if giho were behavior
patterns of this type.
Giho reconstructions that were initially based on typological observations
have been subsequently augmented by refitting analyses (Inada, 1988, pp. 140
141) and even later supported by replications (Inada, pp. 99104). Archaeological
research in other areas may have contributed to these developments, but sequential thinking about artifacts has deep roots in Japan. Notably, Sugao Yamanouchi
popularized use of reconstructed cord markings and sequences of cord marking to
classify Jomon ceramics (Yamanouchi, 1960, pp. 218220).
As recently expressed by Imamura (1996, p. x), Japanese archaeologists tend
to be disinterested in markedly theoretical analyses and prefer to stay very close
to their data. This may explain why they have not explicitly addressed theoretical
aspects of sequence modeling. It is also probably why they have found sequence
models useful for describing relationships between formally dissimilar artifacts.
Such descriptive applications of the models have let Japanese researchers go beyond typology without using theoretical interpretations they would find speculative. Japanese archaeologists treat reconstructed processes as characteristics or
markers of past societies. They tend to focus on the particular distinctive step
that is the special characteristic of a technique and assume that charting the
named techniques is a way of tracing the broad-human trends of their islands.
This kind of descriptive use of the models has spread from Japan to other
parts of the North Pacific basin (Andrefsky, 1987) and East Asia (Lu, 1998; Seong,
1998) where it informs much of the culturalhistorical research. Using sequence
models in this way is essentially normative, and like any normative approach, it
tends to hide variation within assemblages and similarities between typologically
different assemblages. Thus, although Japanese archaeologists find it easy to

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and to trace their distribution at different sites, they have


differentiate named giho,
found it hard to use the concept to identify similarities between differenteven
slightly differentassemblages.
Beyond that, Japanese archaeologists tend not to focus on the temporal variability represented by the steps of their sequential reconstructions. Examining how
the various steps of their reconstructed techniques are distributed in different sites
and different kinds of sites is not a common research activity. In this regard, it is
probably revealing that Japanese archaeologists often present their reconstructions
as a series of horizontally arranged steps. This contrasts with the stratigraphically
presented vertical flow charts preferred by North American and French archaeologists.
SEQUENCE MODELS IN FRANCE
A conceptual device developed by French archaeologists, the chane
operatoire or operational sequence, is certainly the most thoroughly discussed
approach to sequence modeling currently being used by archaeologists. In addition
to French sources, discussions and applications of chane operatoire models have
been presented in English by several European and American researchers (e.g.,
Bar-Yosef et al., 1992; Dobres, 1992; Edmonds, 1990; Julien and Julien, 1994;
Lemonnier, 1992; Schlanger, 1994; Sellet, 1993). In conception and application,
however, chane operatoire remains distinctively French because, as Schlanger
(1994) points out, two intersecting French intellectual traditions contributed to
the development of the modern chane operatoire approach. The first of these
was the replicative work of French archaeologists, such as Bordes and Tixier.
The second was the interest of many French anthropologistsnotably Mauss and
Leroi-Gourhanin cognitive aspects of behavior.
At base, a chane operatoire describes the technological operations that bring
a raw material from a natural state to a manufactured one (Lemonnier, 1992, p. 26).
Graphic representations of chane operatoire range from very simple to higly complex (Figs. 2 and 3). The concept has been used to describe tool production patterns and other specific behaviors, but especially as it has been presented in recent
English language sources, the cognitive behaviors associated with technological
operations are a special focus of chane operatoire. For example, Boeda (1995,
p. 43) says, The chane operatoire is the totality of technical stages from the acquisition of raw materials through to its discard, and includes the various process
of transformation and utilization. . .. Each technical stage reflects specific technical
knowledge. Similarly, Julien and Julien (1994, p. 15) say, The reconstruction of
certain chane operatoire allows us . . . to rediscover the process involved in techniques of production and, beyond that, the conceptual patterns from which they
sprang. At times, the cognitive component of the chane operatoire even comes
to outweigh the operational aspects.

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Fig. 2. Diagram of a simple operation sequence (chane


operatoire) (Lemonnier, 1992, p. 88).

(T)he chanes operatoires behind what we refer to generically as blade production techniques represent designs for producing tool blanks that were invented, abandoned, and reinvented due to a variety of factors, of which their success or failure in the techno-economic
sphere is only one (Bar-Yosef and Kuhn, 1999, p. 330).

Use of the chane operatoire concept has encouraged detailed observations of


artifacts and assemblages and certainly has complemented the typological analyses
that have been a hallmark of French archaeology. In addition, the concept has presented ways of transcribing technical processes and in that way has supported clear,
easy to grasp analyses of archaeological materials (see Lemonnier, 1992, pp. 25
36). Finally, the chane operatoire approach has encouraged archaeologists and
others to explore technological variability not just in prehistoric assemblages but
also in diverse ethnographic and modern materials. This, in turn, has encouraged
general, systematic study of technology (Lemonnier, 1992).
chane operatoire are about artifact production, use, and repair. Most often
they have been constructed to describe how stone tools were made, but they are
not necessarily limited to lithic technology. Knecht (1991, 1992, 1993) has used
them to study technical, social, and cognitive aspect of antler tools and art objects,
and Lemonnier (1986) has shown that they can be applied to other aspects of technology. In all cases, however, they are intended to address the human processes
that bring artifacts from raw material through production steps and recycling to

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Fig. 3. Elaboration of a chane operatoire as a technical scheme for the production of


Magdalenian blades (Julien and Julien, 1994).

a useable form (Vidale et al., 1992). They are not set up to deal with natural and
postdepositional transformations that may ultimately contribute to how artifacts
are presented them to the modern researchers. This restriction makes them different from archaeological concepts such as behavioral chains proposed by Schiffer
(1995), which have different conceptual underpinnings and different theoretical
goals.
Whatever their roots, at least three factors seem to have contributed to the
current popularity of the chane operatoire approach. First, like all sequence models

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including the Japanese ideas just discussed, the approach offers a concrete way of
going beyond descriptive typology to depict relationships between artifacts that
look different. Second, the fact that the concept has a name and that it has been
the subject to both theoretical and practical discussion has also served to give
chane operatoire form and substance that have increased their utility. Finally,
the most distinctive feature of the chane operatoire approach is its emphasis on
ideational aspects of material systems. It has helped archaeologists recognize that
the patterned activities that can be reconstructed to link prehistoric materials into
technological sequences must have been informed by cognitive structures. This
realization has given concrete reality to discussion of past thought and thought
processes and, thus, made chane operatoire popular with researchers interested
in cognitive and cognitive aspects of technology (Julien and Julien, 1994).
AMERICANIST SEQUENCE MODELS
Sequence models developed by North American archaeologists have similarities to Japanese and French constructs as well as peculiarities informed by their
own intellectual roots. Dynamic replicative research brought to American archaeology by Crabtree (1966) and pursued by many others certainly created an interest
in how tools were made and used (see Callahan, 1979; Collins, 1975; Sheets, 1975)
(Fig. 4). The processual focus of New Archaeology presented an intellectual context within which those interests could flourish. Behavioral archaeologists, led
by Schiffer (1976) (Fig. 5), further encouraged archaeologists to think about the
processes responsible for archaeological materials. Schiffer (1975) even offered
specific models of sequential behaviors, notably the idea of behavioral chains,
which archaeologists could use to address how artifacts progress from production,
through use, to deposition in the archaeological record. Given the broad interest in
replication studies and experimental archaeology, as well as the general materialist bias of American processual archaeologists, it is not surprising that technology
and material systems have tended to be the special focus of Americanist sequence
models.
The most commonly used sequence models among Americanist archaeologists are those that schematically present stages in the production of artifacts.
In fact, this type of model has very early roots. Holmes arrangement of bifaces
(Holmes, 1893) in a logical sequence that led from quarry blank to finished
tool reflected an understanding of stone-working processes from the earliest phase
of North American archaeological research (Fig. 6). In spite of this early start, the
implications of looking at artifact production in sequential terms settled in among
American researchers only after replication of stone tools became a common professional undertaking.
Most often, Americanist production stage models use arrangement of schematic drawings to summarize the steps that marked the creation of specific artifacts

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Fig. 4. Dendrogram (flow chart) representing the structure of the pre-Columbian chipped-stone
industry at Chalchuapa, El Salvador (Sheets, 1975).

(Figs. 7 and 8). Most of these models have dealt with either the production
(Andrefsky, 1998, pp. 156ff, 180188; Bradley, 1978; Frison and Bradley, 1980;
Morrow, 1995; Neeley and Barton, 1994) or use history (Ahler, 1971; Dibble,
1984, 1987, 1995; Goodyear, 1974; Hoffman, 1985) of stone tools. The same essential approach has also been applied to production of antler (MacGregor, 1985)
and bone artifacts (Bleed, 1991).
Computer simulation of archaeological systems represents another activity
that has encouraged archaeologists to think about the sequential development of
their data. Most of these simulations have addressed either site (OShea, 1978)
or assemblage (Aldendorfer, 1981, 1991) formation. Bleed (1996) showed that
even without computer-based manipulations, sequential operations research models, which lie behind such simulations, can support quantitative and qualitative
(Bleed and Watson, 1991) analysis of technological systems responsible for artifact production and use (see also Spratt, 1982, 1989).
Americanist sequence models have a couple of distinctive characteristics.
First, unlike the Japanese case, truly detailed observation of artifacts including really detailed typology has tended to follow rather than precede replication. Folsom
point typology, for example, has flourished since Crabtrees initial attempts at
replication. Another, and perhaps more interesting, typological development of
American sequence modeling is the common use of typological categories that are

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Fig. 5. Flow model for prehistoric chipped stone if the Cache River Basin, Arkansas (Schiffer, 1976, p. 48).

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Fig. 6. Holmes representation of the flintworking process (Holmes, 1893) presented as the elaboration of chipped-stone implements in Mason
(1895, p. 124ff ).

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Fig. 7. Schematic diagram of reduction trajectory for a cobble reduced to a bifacial core, illustrating
flake blanks removed and potential flake tools produced (Andrefsky, 1998, p. 157).

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Fig. 8. Fluted point manufacturing sequence model based on the Ready site (Illinois), 11JY46
(Morrow, 1997).

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based on sequential thinking. Many researchers, for example, address tool use and
production without formally defining a production sequence or presenting a specific sequence model. Instead, their analyses are based on manipulation of artifact
categories that, at least implicitly, reflect different production stages. Thus, it is
common in contemporary technical reports and museum catalogs to see artifacts
describes as blanks and preforms. In other cases, categories that are essentially typological variations are described with terms such as pathways (Close
and Sampson, 1998) to suggest that they result from different technical processes.
The sequences being addressed in these instances may be too general or too incompletely understood to be specifically modeled. Sometimes they need not be
elaborated to address the topic under discussion. In any case, the facility with
which American archaeologists now consider production processes as sequences
is a measure of the degree to which sequential thinking has become an intuitive
part of Americanist archaeological thought.
Secondly, although the culturalhistorical significance of distinctive reduction
techniques has been recognized by American archaeologists (Flenniken, 1985),
with it roots in the New Archaeology, most American sequence modeling has
been materialistic in emphasis and explicitly theoretical in application. It has also
matched well with interests in ecology and settlement patterns. Processual and
behavioral interests of many North American archaeologists have encouraged
them to focus on the temporal ranges inherent to sequence models. As noted earlier,
this has encouraged study of how the sequential steps of modeled activities are distributed across different sites (see Nelson, 1991). Sequence models have also been
apparent, at least implicitly, in archaeological discussions of risk (Bamforth, 1986;
Bamforth and Bleed, 1997; Myers, 1989; Torrence, 1989), cost (Bleed, 1996), design (Winfrey, 1990), and efficiency (Jeske, 1992) in past technological systems
(Fig. 9).
APPLICATIONS OF SEQUENCE MODELS
Although sequence models used by archaeologists in Japan, France, and
America appear to have developed independently, they have been used in similar ways that point out some of their general applications to archaeological research. First, sequence models seem to encourage close examination of individual
artifacts. They also appear to have encouraged integrative consideration of artifact assemblages because they have a straightforward, even intuitive, descriptive
quality that transcends morphological typology. Finally, some kind of middle-range
research, usually involving experimentation and replication, seems to be consistently associated with these models. At least, the process of replication verifies
their practicability and gives them graphic representation, which is a major way
of presenting them (e.g., Crabtree, 1966; Flenniken, 1978; Pike-Tay and Knecht,
1993).

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Fig. 9. Presentation of the process of microblade production at the Araya site as an event tree
(Bleed, 1996).

Beyond these general applications, archaeological uses of sequence models


have consistently focused on three issues: typology and classification, cognition,
and the organization of activity.
As explained above, sequence models have offered archaeologists a way of
transcending typological classification by showing procedural links between apparently different categories of objects. Some archaeologists have taken sequential
analysis another step and used it to assess typological categories. In a series of articles Dibble (1984, 1987, 1995) has developed the proposition that types of
Middle Paleolithic scrapers are best understood not as discrete emic categories
but rather as stages in the tools use-history that includes resharpening and reuse
(Figs. 10 and 11). He has supported this interpretation with reasoned discussion
of archaeological and ethnographic materials and with graphic presentation that
demonstrate technological similarities between typologically distinct categories.
Several North American archaeologists have also developed sequence models
of artifact use-history to clarify the typological variation of stone tools. Notable
in this regard was Goodyears arrangement of Dalton points from Arkansas in a
logical but compelling sequence from preform to exhausted discard. This presentation largely explained the relationships in the Dalton and McKean points

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Fig. 10. Stages in the continuous reduction of a scraper showing changes in shape, retouch, and edge
angle (Dibble, 1987).

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Fig. 11. A model of changes in end scraper morphology with progressing resharpening (Morrow,
1997).

(Goodyear, 1974). Using similar logic with more specific quantitative observations, Hoffman (1985) showed that a series of different, named projectile-point
types from the Southeast form a continuum that seemed best interpreted as the result of continuous resharpening of at most a couple of types of bifaces. In a similar
vein, Flenniken and Raymond (1986) used a replication experiment to argue that
supposedly time-sensitive shapes of Great Basin point may reflect nothing more
than changes of normal use-life.
In addition to clarification of use-history, sequence models have augmented
typological studies by explaining the production steps involved in the manufacture
of tools. Used in this way the models present a way of relating formally diverse
materials to a single process. They also move typological concerns from objects
to processes. Thus, as noted above, Japanese researchers have found it useful to
trace the distributions of different microblade techniques. Similarly, Morrows
reconstructed manufacturing sequence for midcontinental Clovis points (Fig. 8)
indicates that their formal similarities to points from other areas are in fact the
result of rather distinctive manufacturing patterns (Morrow, 1995).
Archaeologists interested in the intellectual behavior of past people have been
attracted to sequence models because they can isolate very regular performance
patterns. Such patterns are easy to interpret as cognitive entities (Schlanger, 1994),

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especially given theoretical perspectives that privilege mental phenomena. For this
reason, it is not surprising that chane operatoire methodology, with its roots in
French cognitive anthropology, takes a special interest in the cognitive basis of
past technological activities. Bradleys interpretation of PaleoIndian projectilepoint production (Bradley, 1982) shows, however, that issues of cognition and
meaning can arise from sequential analysis outside the chane operatoire tradition.
In any case, the cognitive bias of chane operatoire approach is not an intrinsic
requirement of all sequence models. As noted, for example, Dibble (1995) uses
a sequential approach specifically to call into question supposed emic basis of
typological categories (see also Shott, 1996).
To further demonstrate that sequence models do not carry an intrinsically
cognitive bias, one need simply point out that they have been used by a number of
Americanist processual archaeologists interested in the organization of past cultural systems. At base, organizational research builds on ideas presented by Binford
(1979) and developed by Nelson (1991). It aims at understanding how people used
seasonal resources and moved across the environment. Sequence models and sequential approaches to the study of technological systems are central to these
studies because they are a primary means of assessing what kinds of activities
were carried out at different kinds of sites. Most often this kind of research has
dealt with the production and use of stone tools such as bifaces (Kelly, 1988) or
unifacial scrapers (Morrow, 1997), but site function and mobility patterns have
been shown to be reflected in faunal assemblages (Gifford-Gonzalez, 1993).
SEQUENCE MODELS AND TECHNOLOGY
Wherever they have been used, sequence models originated and have been
most often used to consider the production and use of stone tools. The linkage
between sequence models and lithic technology is so apparent that it deserves to
be considered in detail. It also makes it necessary to ask if sequence modeling has
utility for the consideration of other kinds of technological endeavors.
The utility of sequence models for the study of lithic technology is certainly
apparent. As an irreversible, reductive process that involves a series of inherently
structured steps, stone-tool making is essentially sequential and precisely the sort
of activity that is easy to present and analyze with a sequence model. Technologies
such as pottery making, fiber production, or woodworking are less inherently
reductive than making stone tools and would be harder to understand strictly from
the debris they create.
Beyond this inherent structure, the steps of stone-tool production create
residues that survive well in the archaeological record. In addition to enabling
lithic analysts to study tool-making processes, the durability of lithic debitage
may have positively encouraged that interest. In fact, because the bulk of most
lithic assemblages consists of production debris, it would have been hard for lithic

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specialists to avoid dealing with the sequential aspects of stone tool production.
Thus, the success lithic analysts have had using sequence models may say less
about the linkage between the stone tools and sequence models than it does about
how lithic technology presents itself in the archaeological record.
Differences in production debris have certainly contributed to the different
kinds of analytical issues that mark the study of different artifact categories. Ceramicists have, for example, tended to study pottery with taxonomic approaches
and focused on social or cultural patterns rather than technological processes. This
may well be due to the lack of production debris in the archaeological record.
Interestingly, though, ethnoarchaeologcial studies of ceramics have regularly used
flow charts and other sequence models to describe the activities, decisions, and
choices of traditional potters (e.g., Arnold, 1984; Hardin, 1977; Krause, 1985).
Beyond its durability and bulk, lithic debitage has proved rather easy for
archaeologists to analyze. The experiments and replications needed to interpret
stone debitage as production debris have been within the easy reach of individual
archaeologist. This has certainly contributed to the popularity of lithic studies and
the progress that has been made in understanding lithic technology. By contrast,
analyses necessary to understand production residues of metal working are much
more complicated so that those processes remain more problematical (Lechtman,
1996). Significantly, once again, analysts who have studied metal working in cognitive (Keller and Keller, 1996) or historical terms have found a sequence approach
useful. In fact, archaeologists have used sequence analyses to study many kinds of
technology, including architecture (Cameron, 1991), cuisine (Ellis, 1997), butchering (Gifford-Gonzalez, 1993), bone-tool production (Bleed, 1991), and hunting
(Bleed, 1991) (Fig. 12).
These examples give clear indication that in addition to offering a powerful means of summarizing and analyzing reductive activities such as stone-tool
making, sequence models can be applied to other technological processes. Nonstone tool applications might reflect the growing popularity of sequence models
or they may simply indicate that sequence models are well suited for the summary of historical events and processes. Perhaps archaeologists will find ways of
using sequence models to study other kinds of historical processes and activities
as Renfrew and Bahn (1996, p. 26) have to describe the history of evolutionary
thought within archaeology. The vast majority of archaeological applications of
sequence models have, however, dealt with material culture and technology. This
fact may be worth savoring. Obviously, material systems constitute much of what
archaeologists deal with, but the link between sequence models and technology
may be deeper than that. The sphere of human endeavor we call technology may
well involves activities that are more intrinsically sequential than social, intellectual, or ideological behaviors (see Burke and Ornstein, 1997). Recognizing this
may be an important step in understanding technology and developing an explicit
social scientific approach to its study.

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Fig. 12. Nuunamiut reindeer hunting presented as an event tree (Bleed, 1991).

THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO SEQUENCE MODELING


At base, all sequence models treat a series of events. In building sequence
models, however, archaeologists have taken two very different approaches for
conceiving and linking these events. To be sure, these alternative approaches are
abstractions, but they determine the theoretical and interpretive power the models
have within archaeological research.
Some archaeologists have presented their sequence models as a series of
actions linked in some predetermined pattern. This perspective is apparent when
it is suggested that an artifact is the way it is because it follows a template (Deetz,
1967, p. 43ff) or some other essential part of the process of production (OBrien
and Holland, 1992, 1995). It is expressed in statements like the following: At
this point, a platform was prepared for the removal of a channel flake from the
face that had just been prepared by specialized pressure thining/shaping (Frison
and Bradley, 1980, p. 47). This series of steps leaves the flute platform directly
in line with the preform face to be fluted (Flenniken, 1978, p. 475). (F)requent
resharpening of Reveille phase points . . . suggests that the resharpening . . . was a
regular aspect of projectile-point use (Kelly, 1988, p. 730).
The alternative point of view is presented by archaeologists who treat the
steps that make up their models as a series of reactions to situations. Retouch
on projectile points or knives was not stylized when thin flake blanks were used,
but extremely well controlled parallel-collateral pressure flaking apparently was

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used to finish points made on thicker, larger flake blanks(Knudson, 1973, p. viii).
Given that reduction processes are influenced by the type of sources exploited and
the quality of the raw material . . . (Pearson, 1998, p. 85). (T)he working edge
convexity should decrease as the end scraper is resharpened toward the haft end,
which inhibits the creation of a rounded working edge (Morrow, 1997, p. 77).
The first of these alternatives, treating a sequence as set of internally determined actions that follow one from another and lead to a predetermined goal,
can appropriately be called teleological models. Models that emphasize the situational qualities of their component steps can be called evolutionary models
because they describe results that are produced by selected interaction between
conditions and variables.
Teleological models emphasize results. In these, the relationships between
steps is forward looking rather than responsive to situational constraints. Because
they are most often built around marked patterns and strong uniformity, teleological
models tend to be linear. Evolutionary models, on the other hand, are situational.
They emphasize the context of actions and the diversity that can exist within a
system and, therefore, are often form a dendritic pattern of branching options.
As teleological models are cognitive, evolutionary models are practical, looking
at what artifact makers actually did and at the actions that were actually taken.
Teleological models, by contrast, consider the objects that resulted from the process that was followed. Finally, because they are composed of distinctive actions,
decisions, and choices, evolutionary models consider sequences as a subdivided
series of separate steps. The teleological alternative is to consider technological
activities as a continuous process made up of activities that blend seamlessly together (Shott, 1996). Teleological models point us toward ideal patterns and the
emic study of cultural systems whereas evolutionary models help us understand
real behavior from a perspective that would have to be called etic.
The distinction between evolutionary and teleological models is not a simple one. Rarely do researchers make distinctions that are precisely specific, and
sometimes both perspectives are evidenced in the same analysis. Certainly, the two
approaches do not conform simply to any models described earlier. The cognitive
basis of the chane operatoire, for example, carries with it an assumption of an underlying plan that informs the overall process. This means that individual steps as
well as entire processes are carried out according to a plan. In applying the chane
operatoire approach, however, some analysts have used them to address situational
variability in technological systems. Lemonnier (1992, pp. 3536) emphasized the
possibility for diversity and variability within chaine operatiore. Similarly, BarYosef (Bar-Yosef et al., 1992) demonstrates an evolutionary approach by using
the chane operatoire model to evaluate choices made by Middle Paleolithic
occupants of Mt. Carmel.
On the other hand, researchers who use sequence models to address processual
and behavioral issues, such as the organization of technology or landscape use, may
in fact adopt a teleological approach to their presentation of technical sequences.

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This is the case, for example, when analysts simply lay out the steps that made up
a production or use sequence or use their models for nothing more than describing
which steps were practiced at a site.
Evaluating the alternative kinds of sequence models is not easy because they
have separate and different strengths. Simple experience indicates that there are
activities, some kinds of simple production sequences, for example, that operate
as a series of predetermined steps. There are products that are planned outcomes
of preordained sequences. Likewise, it is inconceivable that patterned actions of
technologyeven those that seem essentially ad hoc and responsive to immediate
conditionscan proceed without some kind of plan even if that plan is nothing
more than a vocabulary of known alternatives. The basis of both highly structured
activities and those that do not follow lock-stepped plans deserve archaeological
attention. Sequence models that help to understand the underlying bases of human
activities would be very useful. The challenge to such models is, of course, finding
ways of constructing and using them without a priori assumptions about cognition,
design, or any other mental variables. Given the importance of middle-range
research in the development of other sequence models, archaeologists interested
in realizing the teleological potential of sequence models would do well to find
ways of identifying archaeological correlates of the mental links that must exist to
inform sequences. These studies would be comparable to replication studies, but
I must admit I think they would be far harder to design.
Evolutionary models carry different potentials and other challenges. Carefully
constructed sequence models would be very powerful tools for applying Darwinian
principles to archaeological material for two reasons. Firstly, models of this type
could present the behavioral variability encompassed within past technological
processes. Such models would, secondly, offer a means of studying the adaptive
developments of archaeological patterns by showing contexts within which differing options were selected. The first challenge in creating evolutionary models of
this type is assessing the diversity that existed within the systems we study. With
this information, the challenge shifts to understanding the context within which
specific variations were differentially applied. Doing this would have to be a way of
addressing long-term patterns of survival and change in the archaeological record.
CONCLUSIONS
Sequence models are conceptual devices, but for archaeologists they have a
great deal of practical utility. First, they directly address topics of archaeological
momentartifact diversity, change through time, and historical events. Second,
because they deal with the operation of activities, they offer a specific means of
addressing the static things of the archaeological record in dynamic terms. Finally,
they offer a conceptual basis for linking apparently diverse objects into patterns that
can themselves be studied in behavioral, cultural, or cognitive terms. Recognizing

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the utility of sequence models will help them to be applied more regularly and
effectively, but refining sequence models to realize their utility may not be easy.
Sequence models have sprung up in several different quarters of our discipline
and grown without plan. For these reasons they have developed no more than informal methodologies and ad hoc procedures. Archaeological sequence models have
few rules and no established methods. Steps that will make sequence models more
concrete, rigorous, and tangible will make them more accessible to researchers by
making them easier to learn, grasp, and use. Methodological refinements will also
make sequence models more effective research tools by making them easier to
refine and evaluate. At this point it is not clear what makes one chane operatoire
better than another or how archaeologists might evaluate production sequences
proposed for Clovis points, end scrapers, or microblade cores.
Archaeologists interested in refining sequence models might do well to examine techniques developed by managers, engineers and designers. Without being
specifically interesting in historical issues, workers in these areas have developed
systemic techniques for presenting relationships between sequential activities (e.g.,
Davis, 1983). The logic and conventions of engineering and management modeling might prove very useful to archaeologists. Even if archaeologists find practical
utility in the conventions developed by system analysts, anthropological understanding of technological activities will have to remain the focus of archaeological
investigations. The theoretical perspective a researcher brings to an analysis, as
well as their research questions, will influence how models are constructed and
interpreted.
If teleological and evolutionary models have different strengths, both have
roles in modern archaeological research. Certainly, neither is right nor wrong. Teleological models emphasize systematic arrangements of action. They can expose
cognitive order, customary actions, and other variables of cultural behavior such
as social agency. Where such models help us understand behavioral patterns in the
archaeological record, evolutionary models emphasize diversity of technological
action. They do this by documenting actual performance and clarifying reactions
to situations. The strength of both of these kinds of models lies in their power to
lead archaeologists to new insights and stronger interpretations.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
A version of this paper was presented at the 1998 Annual Meeting of the
Society for American Archaeology in a session chaired by Erik Kaldahl who,
along with Barbara Luedtke, offered useful comments. Prof. Takashi Sutoh, Shoh
Yamada, and Tadashi Mizusaki helped me find and understand Japanese sources.
LuAnn Wandsnider and Alan Osborn read draft versions of the paper and made
suggestions that improved both the content and presentation. S. Parks drafted the
figure shown in Fig. 9. I wish to especially acknowledge and thank Marcia-Anne

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Dobres for the thoughtful scrutiny she gave to draft versions of this paper. In
thanking these colleagues I must also, of course, absolve them for failings that
remain in the paper.
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