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Environment and Planning B:

Planning and Design, 1986, pages 445-485

Archaeology, design theory, and the reconstruction of prehistoric design systems


C Chippindale Department of Archaeology, and Girton College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EN, England Received 15 September 1985; in revised form 9 January 1986

Abstract. Archaeology, systematic inquiry into the past using its material relics, is largely concerned with the study of artefacts, of the design systems that created them, and of the social and economic inferences that may be drawn. Artefact study, which began with typological sorting within an evolutionary framework, is more usefully seen as a systematic 'archaeological morphology' of artefacts, with regard to the character of the design systems which produced them. The archaeological recovery of weights and measures is given as a simple methodological example. The internal order of the design system is distinguished from the external inferences in historical - anthropological reconstruction that can be drawn from artefacts and from design systems: the 'middle-range' theory that connects internal to external systems is explored. The limitations of insight into design systems that can be gained by typological classification are noted, as is the particular character of prehistoric material. Four case studies in the recovery of prehistoric design systems are given. (1) The Thorn hypothesis of exact geometry in prehistoric stone rings is presented, together with other geometric and nongeometric hypotheses. Means for assessing them are set out, together with a simulation approach. (2) A typological classification for the cornu motif in prehistoric Alpine rock art is presented, together with a simulation study of the kind of variability in this artefactual form that would arise casually. (3) The limits of deduction from distribution maps, a commonplace of artefact study, are stated, and an example given of a more secure approach to spatial distribution. (4) The evidence of human manufacture and for earliest design systems, offered by first stone tools is given. The common pattern in the case studies is summarized, with a focus on the insights of design reconstruction over artefact sorting, the need for specific testable hypotheses, the role of simulation, and the distinction between formal and vernacular design systems. 1 Introduction A paper on archaeological method has no obvious place in a journal concerned with contemporary design theory. It turns out, however, that many issues are shared, as is shown by the presence of analytical studies of historical a r c h i t e c t u r e all quite modern to a prehistorian's sense of agein Planning and Design. A n d archaeology as much as architectural design largely remains "an undisciplined empirical discipline ... an intuitive skillan inexplicit manipulative dexterity learned by rote" (Clarke, 1968, page xiii). T h e 'New Archaeology' which, following the 'New Geography' of the 1960s, seized the initiative during the 1970s had as its prime concern the development of an explicit body of theory to discipline the discipline, as design theory tried to discipline design (1) . 1.1 Archaeology and artefact designs By the dictionary definition (Bray and Trump, 1970, page 21), archaeology is "the study of man's past by means of the material relics he has left behind him", in W There is a striking coincidence in the gestation and birth of the New Archaeology in Britain and the school of explicit design theory identified with Planning and Design. Clarke, the key figure by reputation and by formal citation (Sterud, 1978) in the movement and author of its founding text Analytical Archaeology (1968), was based at Peterhouse, Cambridge, at the same time Alexander, March, Martin, Steadman et al, were working with very similar concerns and techniques in the school of architecture.

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contrast to historical records and documents. The material relics are distinguished by their shape, form, and design, so archaeology is essentially the study of designs, of their design systems, and of the social and economic inferences that can be drawn from them. This makes the task of the artefactual archaeologist the exact reverse of the designer's. A designer or artisan works from a brief of function, purpose, manufacturing process, raw materials, stylistic convention, and so on, within a certain economic and social context, towards an artefact. An archaeologist works from the artefact back through the design process, inferring function, purpose, stylistic convention, and so on, from the evidence of the artefact. Where the design theorist is concerned to explore the range of artefactual possibilities which fulfil the brief, the theoretically inclined archaeologist explores the range of possible briefs which the artefact fulfils. Figure 1 sketches the processes involved. It also points to the balanced roles of design theory and archaeological theory: design theory makes the design process explicit, in the hope this will lead to a fuller understanding of what designs would be 'suitable for the job' and how best to choose from the range available; archaeological theory makes the process of reconstructing the brief explicit, in the hope this will lead to a fuller understanding of what inferences are possible, and how best to choose from the range available. The critical importance, for that archaeological inference, of the contemporary range of design variability is indicated. In the distant human cultures usually studied in prehistory, it is probably not safe to depend on a view of the design process which places a Western importance on such considerations as measured cash cost, so this is queried as an element in the brief. A craft tradition, in which the processes of design and manufacture are not separated, can often be assumed. Design, from formal, informal, and implicit brief to artefact:
Brief Design possibilities specifying, for example function material context 'style' expectations and habits 'range of designs (within a craft tradition) suitable for the job' technical knowledge symbolism and 'meaning' efficiency ? minimal cost Archaeology, Artefact

made design

from artefact towards explicit and implicit brief and other useful inference: Artefact

Brief as reconstructed Design possibilities indicating function material context 'style' date geographical location expectations and habits 'contemporary range (within an archaeological -+ of artefact variability' tradition) technical knowledge efficiency ? minimal cost ??social context ?? symbolism and 'meaning' Figure 1. Archaeology as the inverse of design.

found object

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Two important extra elements in archaeology are the inferences that can be made as to date of making (not a variable much under the artisan's control), and geographical affinities. Again considerations of minimal cash cost may not be casually assumed. 'Middle-range theory' (see section 4.1), in which the links between the design and the brief are studied, is reckoned most difficult in social context, symbolism and 'meaning', hence their double queries. As its interest is defined by method, rather than by time or place, archaeology runs from the earliest traces of hominids about 4 million BC to, increasingly, the 'ethnoarchaeology' and material-culture dynamics of modern societies (for example, Gould, 1980). It has the major role in prehistory. For historical periods, its contribution is roughly in inverse proportion to the richness of documentary sources, and generally declines as those increase. Questions of theory and method are therefore at their most acute in the prehistoric context, where archaeology is on its own, and tend to increase with age. 1.2 Typological approaches to design In its modern form, archaeology came of age in the later nineteenth century, applying techniques borrowed from natural sciences to what had previously been the material of disordered antiquarian collections. Key essentials were the chronological frameworks provided by Lyell's geology and by the recognition of three successive technological eras defined by the use of stone, bronze, and iron (Daniel, 1962). Like so many Victorian social sciences, archaeology began by interesting itself particularly in classification and evolution. A model for classification was provided by Linnaean biology, and the habit was established of sorting artefacts by their character into classes defined by ideal types, on the pattern of distinct species. In both systems, the defining typespecimen was the key. Two methods of arranging the types presented themselves. They could be grouped together by place and date into a geographical-historical framework. Or they could be set into evolutionary schemes tracing the descent of artefacts in a 'typological tree of progress' from the simplest human tools (or even ultimate prototypes in the animal kingdom) through the diverging branches which led to the modern diversity of complex artefacts (Steadman, 1979, pages 8 7 - 9 5 ; Thompson, 1977, pages 35-42). In the evolutionary scheme, older types were represented equally by archaeological finds and by the contemporary artefacts of modern primitives (Pitt-Rivers, 1875). These artefactual survivals of primitive forms provided a means to make sense of ancient artefacts, just as 'living fossils' of a backward character explicated the palaeontological record. Again, 'modern savages' provided social 'living fossils', to be set alongside the ancient societies whose material culture had comparable types and technologies. The style of this comparative ethnology is encapsulated in the title of Lubbock's epoch-making book, Pre-Historic Times, as Illustrated by Ancient Remains, and the Manners and Customs of Modern Savages (Lubbock, 1865). With the retreat of evolutionary models, this link between typology and progress has faded. Typological classification remains, nevertheless, a basic of archaeological method, the reflex action of an archaeologist faced with a heap of artefacts to make sense of; it has an obvious value as a simple procedure to organize a mass of information. Beyond this, there is a lively concern and some cynicism as to how best to sort into types, and just what it is that the types represent (Klejn, 1982; Whallon and Brown, 1982), and there are a variety of other methods (such as functional analysis and sorting by a series of shared attributes) that do not depend on ideal types.

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2 Reconstructuring design systems from their products The major component of archaeology, then, is the study of ancient artefacts large and small, the products of extinct design systems. By another definition, archaeology is "the description and explanation of differences and similarities observed in the archaeological record" (Binford, 1972, page 110). The methods are necessarily comparative. As well as archaeological material, modern material is used, whose remoteness in time and place from the prehistoric context is offset by the ethnohistorical information available about the social context of the design system. How different is 'different', how similar is 'similar', what should be matched with what and on what basis, are central questions. As the proper theoretical basis for architectural design is an 'architectural morphology' (Steadman, 1983), so the proper basis for artefact studies in archaeology is a systematic 'archaeological morphology', an understanding of the nature of variation in the shape and form of artefacts. In this paper, I explore aspects of comparative archaeological morphology, using a variety of worked examples. Ancient artefacts, whether single physical objects or larger forms such as the spatial distribution of settlements, are the product of implicit or explicit design systems. A major purpose of archaeological morphology is to reconstruct the internal systematics of those design systems, partly for its own sake, and partly as the basis of historical deductions about the societies in which those design systems operated. 3 Reconstructing systems of prehistoric(2) weights and measures An established system of weights and linear measures is likely in those early societies that show either evidence for bulk exchange of commodities or for complex monumental architecture. It may exist in others. How is such a design system to be recovered? 3.1 Weights Consider, first, weights. A preliminary essential is to identify which artefacts are the weights themselves - the physical objects. Since the sole purpose of the design system is a concern with mass, the materials or shape of the blocks is a matter of convention or convenience, requiring only that the material be heavy and durable. By analogy with documented systems, one may expect the weights to be regularly shaped. If the weights are natural objects, unshaped pebbles for example, rather than human artefacts, they may not be distinguishable as a group of putative weights. A quantum hypothesis, that the weights represent multiples of a standard unit, can be tested statistically (Berriman, 1953; Broadbent, 1955; 1956) if the mass of a sufficiently large number of putative weights is measured. This method has successfully identified, it is believed, the units of weight in cast brass blocks from Ashanti societies of West Africa (Hewsa, 1980), lead blocks from the later prehistoric Aegean (Petruso, 1978; 1979), and stone blocks from the Indus Valley civilization of the Indian peninsular (Hemmy, 1931). Some limits on the method are these: if the unit is not sufficiently standardized, either because it varies from contemporary household to household and settlement to settlement or because it drifts with time, the quanta may not be recognizable. If too few weights are found, statistical tests may not be decisive. And if whole-number multiples are not used, the relationship of the quanta may be lost. W Strictly, the societies in these examples are protohistoric or even historic, but the information available from their undeciphered or limited scripts is so slight that they are effectively prehistoric.

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Standard units demonstrate the existence of a concept of weight, the idea of a modular unit, and the development of a system of numeration with fixed units (Renfrew, 1983a, page 13-14). The weight ratiosthose from the Indus are as 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 320, 1600may hint at the base of arithmetic being used. All these matters concern the internal systematics of the weight system. Inferences may also be drawn about Ashanti, Aegean, and Indus societies from the internal systematics. When measuring scales are also found, the weight system is confirmed to have functioned as a measuring device to map the world in one of its aspects. Their use implies the notion of an equivalence, on the basis of weight, among different physical materials (Renfrew, 1983a, page 14). A rate of exchange between commodities is a likely corollary, and is comfortably congruent with other archaeological evidence from the Aegean and the Indus of organizing urban centres controlling, and being supported by the products of, an agricultural hinterland.
3.2 Measures of length

Units of length are harder to recover. Although unit weights have often been recovered from prehistoric contexts, standard measuring rods have not(3). Units of measure can, therefore, only be recovered indirectly. Given a standard unit, it is thought likely that architectural designers would lay out dimensions in whole-number multiples of units. Therefore, statistical analysis of a very large number of building measurements of the same design-system should yield the units of length, using similar methods to those applied to weight (Broadbent, 1955; Kendall, 1974). The technique is extraordinarily old. Sir Isaac Newton derived "the Sacred Cubit of the Jews" this way from, in part, measurements of the Great Pyramid (Manuel, 1963, pages 161, 294). It was applied to Stonehenge in the 1720s, when the antiquary William Stukeley measured 2000 of its dimensions and found them, by an unstated statistical procedure, to be "perfectly agreeable" to the Egyptian cubit of 20 f inches; he concluded that the absence of the Roman foot of 11 i inches ruled out the architect Inigo Jones's belief that Stonehenge was a Roman building (Jones and Webb, 1655), but did not take it to prove that Stonehenge was Egyptian-built (Stukeley, 1740). Petrie, after good success with stone-built Egyptian monuments, found British prehistoric sites trickierfor if the monument is a mass of eroded earthworks, where are the exact points to measure exact distances between (Petrie, 1877)? Recent applications include the claimed finding of two measures of length in the buildings of Minoan Crete, one of 0.27-0.28 m and one of 0.33-0.35 m (Preziosi, 1983; but contrast Graham, 1960), and of the 'megalithic' inch (about 2.1 cm), yard (about 0.83 m), and fathom (about 1.66 m) in the rough-stone monuments of Britain (Thorn, 1962; 1964; 1968; Thorn and Thorn, 1977) (see below, section 9).
4 Internal design systematics and external inferences

It is convenient to distinguish the internal systematics of the design system from external, historical, or anthropological, inferences(4). Where the internal systematics are largely descriptive, informing about how the design system worked and with
(3) Exceptionally, wooden measuring rods have been found in Egypt which are divided into equal units by incised marks, providing repeated evidence of a standard unit in a single physical artefact (Petrie, 1926, page 40, section 90, numbers 13, 14).
(4)

Historical or anthropological, because in E u r o p e archaeology has mostly been directed towards historical reconstruction of particular culture-sequences, whereas North American archaeology has been concerned more with comparative cultural anthropology.

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what technology, the external inferences are explanatory, relating the design system to economic, social, and cognitive concerns, and often attempting to account for the particular character of the design system in terms of them. The coupling of internal systematics to external forces is critical for historicalanthropological reconstruction. Indeed, the whole enterprise of archaeology, if it is to attempt much more than description, depends on the finding of internal systematics in the surviving material culture which reflect real historical - anthropological variables. The most developed theory available is the semiotic view, which sees an individual artefactual system, the built environment, or even human culture as a whole 'as a system of meaningful signs' (Broadbent et al, 1980; Leach, 1976; Preziosi, 1979; Wallis, 1973). Archaeologically, the semiotic question has two distinct aspects. First is the general question of whether a full semiotics of material culture exists and is useful as an explanatory approach. Opinion is divided. Especially vital for prehistory, with its special restrictions of available evidence, is a second question: can a material-culture semiotics be recovered, without external historical knowledge, solely by examining the artefacts of the material-culture system? For this second aspect, the experience of deciphering ancient languages is an instructive precedent. It offers ideal conditionsa design system of material culture whose known and primary purpose is the conveying of a specific kind of meaning in a known manner. Pope (1975, pages 186-191) concludes, after surveying success and failure in script decipherment, that three conditions have always been necessary: confidence the problem was soluble; the existence of a very small identified target within the problem (almost always the identification of proper names known in other scripts); and the discovery of the rules of the scriptthe means by which the message is encoded. It is hard to see, in the published literature on the semiotics of prehistoric architecture and design, evidence of more than the first condition applying (Hodder, 1982; Miller and Tilley, 1984). 4.1 'Middle-range theory": from internal design system to external inference A major concern of recent archaeological method, outside the semiotic analogy, has been the development of 'middle-range theory' securely to link the internal patterns of design systems to external variables. Consider ceramics, for example, the ubiquitous material culture of later prehistory and the basis for defining so many archaeological entities. Arnold (1985) refutes the comfortable assumption that ceramic variation reflects culture-historic differences. Adams (1979) finds the ceramic sequence in Nubia is quite unrelated to the political, religious, social, or cultural history of the area; Tschopik (1950) that Aymara pottery of the Titicacca Basin, Peru, barely changes, despite Inca and then Spanish domination, between pre-Inca and the present day; Charlton (1976) that ceramics in the valley of Mexico only began to change 150 years after the Spanish conquest. Arnold (1985) therefore attempts, using ethnographic material, to construct a 'ceramic theory' which would describe and analyze the relation between external variables (such as raw materials and environmental constraints), ceramics (as archaeologically recoverable), and nonceramic aspects of society, such as gender roles among artisans. A ceramic theory would allow the reliable recovery of external variables from the information internal to the ceramic design system, which archaeologists so often are deluged with.

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In defence of traditional archaeological classification, it must be said that many entities (often called 'cultures') defined by their internal systematics alone, are clear at that level. On field survey in central Italy, for example, the finding of a piece of pottery no larger than a little fingernail is reliably diagnostic of the Apennine Bronze Age', if its fabric is the characteristic hard, black or brown burnished ware that defines the culture. What the Apennine Bronze Age may represent in external social or economic terms (Barker, 1981) is uncertain; but it is securely located in time and place and it has a sufficiently distinct internal design system that its products are reliably recognizable. 4.2 Limits to middle-range theory, and to external inference Ethnoarchaeological studies of contemporary material culture are beginning to provide a few elements of a middle-range theory, but most findings are relentlessly discouraging for reconstructing external variables by inference. Three areas of difficulty can be identified. First, the coupling between external variables and internal design systematics is ambiguous. Ethnographic studies of funerary rites (Ucko, 1969) show that the standing of a buried corpse, as measured by the nature and richness of funeral rites and grave goods, is not a simple function of that of the living person. Patterns of burial wealth do not plainly mirror wealth in life. In modern Europe, for example, working-class funerals are often more lavish than middle-class funerals, and some socially marginal groups, such as gypsies, are famously showy in their burial rites. Death and funerals at least have the advantage of being ubiquitous. Individual systems of architectural design may be so peculiar that no close analogues exist in documented ethnohistorical circumstances. The repertoire of Mayan ceremonial architecture, from later prehistoric central America, offers open plazas, easy access from several directions, private buildings with restricted entry, tall pyramids topped by small-roomed structures, courts for playing a sacred ball-game, and sweatbaths (Hammond, 1982, pages 241-261). Spatial patterning does inform about some rules of the planning system (Hammond, 1975, pages 72-85), for example, that designers preferred to expend vast effort on maintaining a centralized plan for a ceremonial site as it grew in size, rather than allowing it to develop a linear form. Teotihuacan, the urban centre located in prehistoric central Mexico, with a population exceeding 100000, has no plain historical analogue. Inference about its spatial organization (Cowgill et al, 1984, page 156) has to deal with "the extraordinary size and intrinsic complexity" of the society of the city; it demands a deep general understanding of urban spatial design systems as a whole class, which can be applied, with allowances for economic and social conditions, to this particular system of which no direct historical record exists. Second, there may be an absolute information loss between external variables and internal systematics. Little human figures are made for a variety of reasons that range from religious cults to children's toys. Small pottery figurines offer a rather simple design system, in which the capacity for variability is not large; figurines created even in the same period and area but with different purposes may have the same physical form. Accordingly, a historical collection of figurines, defined by the shared internal design systematic of modelling a human figure in ceramic, may reflect a variety of external functions and uses, which are not expressed in the design schemes. That information, if it was lost originally, cannot be recovered by any modern study of figurines from, say, early Egypt and Crete (Ucko, 1968).

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Third, if a whole class of design systems is extinct, the nature of the coupling can nowhere be documented as a model for the prehistoric context. Rock engraving, the carving of representational and nonrepresentational figures on open rock surfaces, was a lively tradition in the Alps (for example, Mont Bego, section 10) and Scandinavia during later prehistoric times; it seems to have expired, at latest, about the time that literacyand the basis of historical r e c o r d s came in, leaving no independent evidence of the external variables to which the internal design systems of ancient European rock figures refer. Goody (1978) argues that writing represents so fundamental a change in the human world view that it irreversibly alters the role of pictures and how they are perceived. There is eloquent support for this view in the last stages of the rock art of Valcamonica, the best-documented sequence in the Alps. As writing begins, in the 5th century BC, the quantity and range of rock figures immediately dropsalthough the population is known to have increased. Visual subjects become few, and stock figures are repeated in the same positions and attitudes. As written inscriptions take their place, a world of pictures becomes a world of written words (Anati, 1976, pages 142-160). 5 What kind of internal design systematics? Pessimists and optimists have both issued convincing polemics about the possibility of developing middle-range theory. Whichever view is correct, a good understanding of internal design systematics is essential, for the pessimists because that is all that can be achieved, for the optimists because it is the only secure route to external inference. Internal design systematics has usually meant typological classification, for good historical and practical reasons (section 1.1). 5.1 What kind of classification! A collection of artefacts may be classified in an indefinitely large number of ways, the nature of the classification following its purpose. Here, archaeological typology has found real difficulties. The fading away of evolutionary preoccupations has removed the original purpose, of finding the evolutionary order of progress that is defined by successive types. The problems of middle-range theory throw doubt on whether the internal systematics of the design system actually reflect anything intelligible about its making in anthropological historical terms. There is no such thing as 'neutral' or 'natural' typology, but only typology for a particular purpose, the purpose indicating the appropriate variables. So the uncertainty of purpose has left the form of typology drifting. For a known design system, such as the 'Samian' fineware ceramics of the Roman period, appropriate typologies are known: by fabric for place of manufacture; by shape and size for function; by subject and style of decoration for iconography; by suitable combinations of these for chronology. Some of these typologies, such as iconography, reflect and reconstruct the design systems to which the artisan was aware of having worked. Others, such as chronology, do not, but define and document variables that are real and archaeologically interesting. Comparable sorting of prehistoric material is generally justified by its efficiency: a 'neutral' classification identifies 'real groupings', which make archaeological sense as a distinct spatial or chronological distribution within the range of the design system. Work with Beaker pottery demonstrates the difficulty of finding the right typology in prehistoric material (figure 2). Beakers, so named because they have

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been thought to be drinking cups, are a distinctive type of fine ceramic vessel widely distributed in Europe, from Poland to Spain, and Sicily to Scotland, in the centuries after about 2100 BC. The British Beakers were first classified in three

(a)

(c)

Figure 2. Three schemes to classify the prehistoric vessels found in Britain and known as Bell-beakers, (a) Abercrombie (1912), following Victorian precedent, found a straightforward pattern of A - B - C in chronological order, (b) Clarke (1970), in a pioneering application of computer sorting to a matrix of many attributes, found a more complex pattern, with seven kinds of Beaker intrusive into Britain (indicated by bold diagonal arrows). From these types developed regional variants in East Anglia, north Britain (N2 to N4), and south Britain (SI to S4). (c) A more recent scheme, by Case (1977), returns to a simple order of three broad groups in a chronological sequence. The drift in approaches to Beaker classification reflects uncertainty as to what are the significant variables in their design system.

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groups, A, B, and C (Abercrombie, 1912), thought to represent a chronological sequence. Reexaminations subdivided the Abercrombie scheme, which was supplanted by Clarke's (1970) system. With thirty-nine attributes concerning shape, size, proportions, position of decoration, and the decorative motifs, this pioneering use of computerized matrix-sorting methods divided the Beaker population into fifteen groups, which Clarke took to represent seven distinct incursions into Britain, and the regional development of variant styles from those imported prototypes. The Clarke scheme did not find favour, archaeological opinion preferring the seven subdivisions of Lanting and van der Waals (1972). The most recent scheme, by Case (1977), is simpler again, dividing the Beakers into just three groups, as Abercrombie did seventy years ago. 5.2 The purpose of classification Clearly, a classification that drifts from three up to fifteen groups and then back down to seven and three again over the years is an uneasy affair. It reflects archaeologists' ignorance of what Beakers represent, and how their design system works. Three particular kinds of uncertainties can be identified. First, the anthropological - historical (semiotic) interpretation of Beakers has drifted also. Taken as the characteristic artefacts of the first copper users, they were regarded by the 'culture = people' hypothesis as evidence of a dominant panEuropean warrior-aristocracy of metal traders. Now they seem primarily a ceramic entity, part of a 'prestige or fashion packet' or the material apparatus of a cult (Burgess, 1980, page 63) (although the abandoned 'Beaker folk' still linger as a shadowy conceptual entity: Harrison, 1980). With no consistent view of the anthropology of Beakers, no consistent requirements exist of the ultimate external variables, perhaps social and symbolic, to be pursued by the internal systematic of the typology. Second, a reliable middle-range theory has not been developed to link these varied views of the social meaning of Beakers to the internal systematics of Beaker design. With no indication as to what kind of variation exists in ceramic design systems expressing the particular social role, symbolism, or 'meaning' that is postulated, the appropriate variables are unknown. Last, there is no clear measure of the technical efficiency of classification. There are around 900 complete British Beakers altogether, no two identical, so a classification may run from a single undivided group (simply the definition of a Beaker) up to 900 distinct entities, each represented by one Beaker. As the number of divisions increases, the classification is in one sense more informative, since it takes more account of the variation that is presented; in another sense, it is less informative, since it increases the complexity of the classification without producing entities which make sense in anthropological - historical terms. 5.3 An alternative to classification The critical questions that follow from the inadequacies of typological sorting are whether a more refined approach to classification will suffice, or whether a different view of artefacts is necessary. This choice is taken up at the end of the paper (section 13). 6 The designed artefacts and the design system that created them 6.1 In the historical period In historical contexts, there is often sound information about the design process by which a set of artefacts was generated. The principles of classical architectural design, still a living tradition, have been well documented since Hellenistic times. Given, therefore, a monumental building

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in the Western classical tradition, whether Hellenistic, Roman, Palladian, or contemporary, the priorities and methods of the design system are known, and may be reconstructed. The order, as defined primarily by decoration but also involving base, capital, and entablature, is the first variable. Proportions of columns and their spacing, allowed to vary somewhat under each order, are a second variable. But the heights (thicknesses) of the individual drums which make up the columns are irrelevant, a matter of simple builders' convenience, which may have been to make them quite consistent. Would this be obvious to a prehistorian, coming to a classical building without foreknowledge? I suspect not, certainly if he or she took the 'natural' priorities of functionalism, which would place drums as a primary matter, the physical basis of construction; proportions as a secondary matter of free design choice within the engineering limits of drum-, column-, and beam-building methods; and ornaments of base and capital as minor matters, indicative of individual taste and fashion, useful if they chanced to be indicative of date also, but in no way fundamental to the real design system. This prehistorian, for one, has no confidence that he would understand, after finding that capitals on adjacent sides of the Parthenon differ in width by 2\ inches and intercolumn spacing by If inches (Lawrence, 1967, page 169), that this was a planned effect to avoid monotony, rather than haphazard variation, incompetence, or simply looseness in the design system. The ultimate aim of anthropological - historical reconstruction requires the prehistorian to reproduce the methods of the prehistoric design process as well as the results. Archaeologically, therefore, Stiny and Mitchell's (1978a) shapegrammar restatement of the Palladian system (Palladio, 1738) is in this single respect unhelpful. The processes of the Stiny and Mitchell grammar are: generating a symmetrical 'tartan' grid; defining the exterior and interior wall pattern; removing some interior walls to make rectangular, T-, H-, or + -shaped rooms; realigning interior walls; adding principal entrances; adding exterior ornaments; and piercing windows and doors. The method precisely reconstructs the repertoire of finished designs of the Palladian canon (Stiny and Mitchell, 1978b), and attempts maximum efficiency, in generating the full canon by the most economical route(5). But Palladio's own writing and other Renaissance treatises on architecture (fore example, Alberti, 1485; Serlio, 1575) show that those designs were arrived at in a very different way. The anthropological - historical insights of the grammar reconstruction are correspondingly restrictedthey indicate what Palladio did rather than what he thought he was doing. Does this matter, supposing Palladio to have been an anonymous prehistoric craftsman? Clearly it does, if we attempt a cognitive 'archaeology of mind' and want to know what he thought (Renfrew, 1983b). If we prefer to concentrate on what he actually produced, the formal evidence of the Stiny and Mitchell grammar is appropriate. 6.2 In the prehistoric period In prehistory, direct record of the design process is by definition lost. Nevertheless, evidence detectable in the artefact of how it was made, simple functional needs (for example, shelter and housing), engineering constraints (for example, in monumental building), and experimental replication (especially in technologies such as metal working) usually show what kind of design system to expect. Sometimes there are physical traces of the design process, such as fine-scratched lines that set out the geometric forms to be followed by incised decoration on iron-age 'La Tene' mirrors.
(5) Economy is an appropriate goal when the purpose is automating the design process, but not for reconstruction of the activity of design as formerly practised.

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7 Archaeological evidence and archaeological hypothesis-testing Another consideration which must be mentioned is the fragmentary nature of most archaeological evidence. Archaeological evidence is controlled by taphonomy, the variety of capricious and systematic processes which govern what survives, where, and in what condition and quantity. Distorted and reduced by taphonomy and the haphazard distribution of archaeological effort and recovery, samples in archaeology are usually small and unsystematic. They rarely conform to the formal requirements of statistical and sampling theory. Given an archaeological pattern of apparent order, it is right first to suspect sample bias. Given an archaeological pattern of no apparent order, it is usually safer to call it 'haphazard' rather than 'random', since the formal conditions of mathematical randomness are not always fulfilled. 8 Case studies in recovering prehistoric design systems Four case studies in the recovery of prehistoric design systems are now presented. The first two concern particular examples, one in prehistoric architecture, one in prehistoric art, of self-contained design systems. In each case, specific proposals have been made about how the design system functioned, and the means may exist to test them. The questions are: does the design system show this particular pattern, and what does it mean? The third is an examination of an example of two-dimensional spatial distributions. The questions are much broader. It is hoped the distribution displays an order, a pattern to be recognized that is meaningful. Beyond this little is known. The questions are: does the design system show any coherent pattern, and what does it mean? The fourth is an examination of a question of different character, the recognition of design in earliest human artefacts. The questions are: does the system show any pattern indicative of human design, and what does it mean? 9 Geometry in the plans of megalithic stone rings 9.1 The British stone rings The megalithic stone circles of the British Isles offer an architectural system that is defined by form and in time and space. The most famous of them is Stonehenge, a monument so aberrant among the group that it barely belongs at all. More typical are sites like those in figure 3. A stone circle may be defined as an approximately circular setting of spaced standing stones (Burl, 1976, page 8). Evidence exists for the building of at least 900 stone circles in the British Isles between the mid 3rd and late 2nd millennium BC (6) 9.2 The Thorn hypotheses of megalithic science It has been known for a long time that many stone circles are not circular at all, but seem to be flattened circles or ovals (Lewis, 1895; Windle, 1912). Little notice was taken of these variations, until Thorn proposed, from 1955 onwards, three separate hypotheses about the stone circles and other megalithic sites. [These are discussed in numerous papers and three books (Thorn, 1967; 1971; Thorn and Thorn, 1978); summarized, with wider bibliography, by Heggie (1981).] First, he suggested they were designed using standard units of length, the 'megalithic yard' and 'fathom', recovered from their plans by the usual procedures (section 3.2).
6 < > Neither the distinguishing of stone circles from related sites, nor their archaeological context (Burl, 1976, pages 7-13) concern or upset the specific questions of their geometry explored here. 'Megalithic' simply means constructions using very large stones.

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le) (f) Figure 3. Plans of six British stone rings, with Thorn's construction geometry, at various scales (after Thorn et al, 1980): (a) Rollrights, Oxfordshire: a circle in Thorn's scheme; (b) How Tallon, North Yorkshire: an ellipse; (c) Seascale, Cumbria: a flattened circle; (d) Twelve Apostles, Dumfriesshire: an egg; (e) Druidtemple, Inverness: a complex site with an egg set inside a decrepit circle; (f) Easter Delfour, Inverness: a compound ring whose outer element follows no standard geometry. In these and subsequent drawings of stone rings, stones drawn solid black are standing, those drawn in outline are fallen, and those v marked with dots are buried.

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Second, he suggested the circles were not casually ill-shaped, but followed a series of exact geometries based on Pythagorean triangles (figure 4 (7) ). Third, he found patterns in the orientation of sites which implied an advanced knowledge of the motion of sun, moon, and stars. All three hypotheses are independent, as far as their internal systematics are concerned, although Thorn does link them together in a unified vision of megalithic science. Nevertheless, they are connected at the level of anthropological-historical inference, since each makes more sense in a society possessing the other two skills, and the three taken together amount to a vision of megalithic society quite contrary to that otherwise archaeologically reconstructed (MacKie, 1977)and implying a knowledge of mathematics and astronomy far greater than is possessed by almost any archaeologist.

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Figure 4. The six standard geometric constructions proposed by Thorn for stone rings, and how they may be generated. They are all bilaterally symmetrical (modified from Thorn and Thorn, 1978; Heggie, 1981). (a) The circle is struck from its centre, (b) The ellipse is measured from its two foci, Fx and F2, and depends on a Pythagorean triangle, with sides a, b, c. (c) The flattened circles are struck from four points, half or two thirds of the way from the centre of the unflattened circle at A, the balance from a point on its circumference at Dy and two points, B and C, inside the circle. For type A, a 240 arc is struck from point A, and points B and C fall at the apices of a 120 isosceles triangle with A. For type B, a 180 arc is struck from point A, and points B and Clie on the diameter of the unflattened circle perpendicular to AD. [Thorn and Thorn (1978, page 18) add two variants, a modified type B, and a hybrid between types A and B called type D.] (d) The egg shapes are based on a pair of Pythagorean triangles, ABD and ACD, placed back to back. In type I, arcs are struck from all four points that make the vertices of the triangles. In type II, arcs are struck from two only, and joined by straight lines parallel to two sides of the quadrilateral ABCD formed by the triangles. [Thorn and Thorn (1978, page 18) add a type III egg shape with semielliptical end.] (7) In recognition of their noncircular plans, the name 'stone rings' is now preferred.

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I deal here only with the hypothesis of geometry in the stone rings. [For a summary of metrology, see Heggie (1981, pages 32-59); of astronomy, see Heggie (1981, pages 83-184) and Ruggles et al (1984); of the anthropological - historical implications of the Thorn hypothesis, see Ruggles and Whittle (1981).] 9.3 The Thorn geometric hypothesis for the design system This supposes that rings were repeatedly constructed to six geometric forms: circles, ellipses, flattened circles of two types, A and B, and egg shapes of two types, I and II (figure 4). A few sites, among them Avebury and Stonehenge, have more complex geometries (Thorn, 1967, pages 8 4 - 9 1 ; 1978, pages 3 2 - 3 4 ; 141-149). Three questions arise as to the internal systematics of the stone-ring design system. First, does the Thorn hypothesis satisfactorily account for the plans of the sites? If it does, is it the most economical explanation of their plans since a simpler hypothesis that matched the plans equally well should be preferred? (So might a more complex hypothesis if it matched the plans sufficiently better.) 'Economical' may be taken in various ways; an alternative set of figures may be simpler in its formal geometry, or require simpler means physically to lay out, or both. Last, there is a more purely historical - anthropological question: is the hypothesis compatible with other information about the intellectual capabilities and pursuits of prehistoric Britons? Figure 5(a) shows the plan of Burnmoor circle B, one of five rings on a plateau in west Cumbria in the English Lake District. It is a small ring of eleven stones, over a diameter of about 50 feet. Each stone is in plan a delimited area of upwards of 2 or 3 square feet, so a whole series of geometric shapes, all more or less complex, fulfil a strict requirement that it should pass through each stone. Among them is a set of polygons with as many sides as there are stones to be fitted [figure 5(b))]. But only four stones are standing, and it is likely the other seven have toppled in the falling; the strict requirement is unreasonable. A simple circle passes through all four upright stones, and through or near the other seven. Notice that the choice of a circle, its diameter and position, depends on arbitrary but reasonable judgments as to what constitutes the 'best fit'; since no circle fits all the stones, it is reasonable to take more notice of those that are standing than those that are fallen. Figure 6 shows Brats Hill, a larger ring in the same group. A circle is clearly a poor fit, and Thorn uses a type-A flattened circle. Again, the exact geometry, size, and position of the imposed shape are a matter of reasonable judgment.

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Another Cumbrian stone ring, Castle Rigg, is fitted to exactly the same geometric shape and size as Brats Hill (figures 6 and 7) (Thorn et al, 1980, pages 28-30). Ten stones making a 'corridor' on the east side are reckoned to belong with a separate geometry. Again, the fit is reasonable, but a series of stones on the northwest side fall within the curve; that is, a slight systematic deviation from the flattened circle type-A geometry is present as well as the haphazard deviation noted for Brats Hill. These few examples, taken from the 229 in Thorn et al's report (1980), indicate how the plans are fitted and with what order of accuracy. 0_-^-G&
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Figure 7. Castle Rigg stone ring, Cumbria. A type-A flattened circle passes through twenty-seven, touches three, and misses ten stones. (After Thorn et al, 1980, page 28).

9.4 Other geometric hypotheses for the design system Thorn's ellipses and egg shapes are based on Pythagorean triangles, that is, rightangled triangles all of whose sides are integral numbers of his megalithic units of length. Thorn (1967, pages 27-28) finds exact Pythagorean triangles were used from the simplest 3, 4, 5 up to 12, 35, 37, also the approximations to Pythagorean triangles provided by, for example, 8, 9, 12 which just fail to meet the Pythagorean equation. Thorn (1967, page 33) also notes that the perimeters of the rings fall as integral numbers of his megalithic fathom. The Thorn design system postulates, therefore, a mixture of three relatively distinct forms: circles; flattened circles; and ellipses and egg shapes based on Pythagorean constructions. Encouraged by Thorn's work, other researchers have developed different design systems for the rings. Cowan (1970) developed a set of shapes very similar to Thorn's (flattened circles of types A and B, oblate circle, and eggs of types I and II; plus a circle) all constructed by the same method of rope and peg. In each case there are two anchor points for the rope, which bends as it meets two other posts (figure 8). Cowan's construction gives a single design system for all the noncircular shapes. It requires lines ax-a2 and p1-p2 to be laid down at right angles, but no knowledge of Pythagorean triangles(8).

(8) However, it can be argued that a knowledge of Pythagorean triangles would have helped in setting the lines perpendicular.

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Angell (1976; 1977) noted that a circle is scribed by a rope tied to a single post, and an ellipse by one passed round two. Extending the method to loops round three or four posts, he generates a different set of shapes which also approximate closely to Thorn's series and to the shapes of stone rings (figure 9). Angell provides a single design system for all the stone rings, at the expense of uncertainty as to how the construction posts were set out.
Type Geometry Stake lines Constructional inscription

Figure 8. Cowan's construction methods for generating shapes like those of Thorn's geometry with posts and rope (after Cowan, 1970). For flattened circles of types A and B, the rope, tied to anchor point auis bent round other posts px and p2 as it scribes the arc. The figure is completed by an arc struck from the other anchor point a2. Oblate circles (ellipses) and egg shapes are constructed in much the same manner with, again, pairs of posts set at right angles.

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9.5 A nongeometric hypothesis for the design system Thorn, Cowan, and Angell agree that the ring shapes are a matter of precise geometry, but differ in what that geometry was. Clearly, most or all individual stones have moved, in falling and after subjection to 4000 years of frost heave, growing tree roots, weathering, and general decay. Perhaps this haphazard effect accounts entirely for the discrepancy between the exact geometries and the positioning of the stones. I am unsure that it does. If it does not, the discrepancy between the exactness of the geometry and the inexactness in the actual disposition of the stones gives cause for concern. Barnatt and Moir (1984) postulate a design system of different character, as do Patrick and Wallace (1982). Barnatt and Moir note (1984, page 204) Thorn's remark (1967, pages 164-165), that the subtleties of geometry are not and cannot ever have been apparent on casual examination; they only become clear when a plan is made and studied. The human eye seems very tolerant of rather large deviations from exact circularity in stone rings. At Long Meg and Her Daughters, another of the Cumbrian sites fitted to a flattened circle (Thorn et al, 1980, page 42), the ring is 55 feet out of true, around 15% of its diameter; yet the deviation is not apparent on the ground either to Barnatt and Moir's (1984, page 204) or to my own eyes. Some rings, even large ones, are excellent approximations to circles. Barnatt and Moir therefore propose that these rings were laid out to circular geometry, with good accuracy and using peg and rope. The rest were laid out by eye so as to appear circular, but without pegs and ropes. Approximations to the circular arcs of the Thorn geometries and to the more complex curves of Cowan and Angell arise simply as arcs are misjudged by eye. 9.6 Choosing between the hypotheses, given the relevance and quantity of the evidence Thorn's, Angell's, and Cowan's schemes generate very similar repertoires of theoretical geometries. Various measures exist to judge the deviation of rings from these plans, such as the simple counting used earlier in this section, and a least squares method of minimizing the distance of stones from the exact curve. None can be expected reliably to distinguish between the three schemes. A choice for one or other, if it is to be made, can be justified by the usual preference, by Occam's razor, for the simplest scheme, which might be Cowan's or AngelFs. Two considerations should be involved, simplicity of plan and goodness of fit, which Patrick and Wallace have combined into a single 'information measure' which is minimized to give a best derivation for the plan of the ring.

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Stone rings are finite in number, and more or less ill-preserved. They offer a limited total quantity of evidence. Some are simple in shape, such as the 'four-posters' (Burl, 1976, pages 1 9 0 - 1 9 5 ) , a type concentrated in central Scotland which includes only four stones in a rough quadrilaterial; since it is not required in matching a ring to a geometric construction that all the stones pass through the curve, the four-posters can be matched to any one scheme of each design system. They offer no relevant evidence. Surviving stones in some rings are concentrated in a small length of the perimeter, so a variety of geometries can be accommodated by them. They offer inadequate evidence. Some rings have been restored in whole or in part, so it is uncertain how far their present disposition reflects the prehistoric plan. They offer misleading evidence (9) . In most rings, many stones have tumbled from their original upright positions ( 1 0 ) . Thorn (1967, table 5.1) reckoned the size and shape of 145 rings could be established with good accuracy. Barnatt and Moir (1984, table 3) use stricter criteria and accept ony seventy six. They attempt to discriminate between hypotheses of exact geometries and of sighting by eye in three ways: by consistency of diameter, since noncircular geometries should generate regular deviations: by symmetry, since the geometries are symmetrical and sighting by eye should lead to haphazard asymmetry; and by repetition of shape, since sighting by eye should generate haphazard deviations from circularity with no specific shapes being repeated. In reducing the acceptable data set by almost half, Barnatt and Moir eliminate all but one postulated ellipse, all but two of the type-A and all but one of the type-B flattened circles, all but one type-I and all but one type-II egg shape. Left with only a handful of rings that match the supposed geometries, they conclude that no proven theoretical geometries exist to be explained, apart from the simple circle.

<9) Evidence of modern restoration is often ambiguous or ill-documented. One ring, Auldgirth, is entirely bogus, a fake built in 1827 (Burl, 1976, page 11). Since restoration is unlikely to have followed any consistent ground plans, accidental inclusion of restored sites has been reckoned to introduce statistical noise rather than a false pattern that would mislead. Surely, recent ring builders and restorers are more likely to have worked to a measured circle than to another geometric shape or to no geometric shape at all, and therefore to have increased the number of good circles in the sample. Even if they worked by eye, this has particular consequences (section 9.5). It is arguable whether the stones were ever intended to lie on any geometric construction shapes, since any marked point for the position of the stone that fell within the area of its base would have been destroyed in making its stone-hole. Stephan (1916, pages 216-218) suggested that stones were set with their inner faces on the geometric construction curve. Stonehenge is uniquely informative in this respect because its outer stones were dressed to geometric shapes and placed with an accuracy of about 1 part in 400 with their flattest, inner face on the perimeter of a perfect circle of 97 i feet diameter (Atkinson, 1960, page 38). But even this point, Atkinson (1975, page 48) notes, would be quarried away in making the stone-hole. He suggests that their position could best be marked by a string stretched between pegs on each side of the stone-hole. In that case, the necessary geometry for placing stones is not an even curve at all, but a polygon against each face of which the inner (or perhaps outer) edge of a stone is placed.
(10)

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9.7 Simulating the design process This may be the end of the affair, especially if the reliable data set is simply too

small to allow further successful testing. In that case, a judgment must be made on
the basis of rather limited formal testing, on the usual principles of economy and parsimony, and on relevant anthropological - historical information about the known cultural context of the stone rings. Two tiny openings remain to be explored. First, there remain a handful of stone rings not yet surveyed and studiedthat is, a small new data set, whose integrity has not been compromised by its role in developing the hypothesis that is to be tested(11). Second, the Barnatt and Moir design system, of sighting by eye, is not well understood. It is reasonable to expect that designs generated that way would be variable in shape, rather asymmetrical, and of no clear geometrical form, as they argued against Thorn. But how variable, how asymmetric, and how formless? Accordingly, the next step has been to lay out a modern set of over 100 stone-ring plans by eye, to survey them, and to compare the pattern in the order and disorder of the plans with that of the noncircular ancient rings (Barnatt and Herring, 1986). There are unquantifiable uncertainties. How much does the modern perception of shape differ from the ancient? How much does perception change with the size of the ring? How much does care, skill, and practice affect the circularity of the results? How much is the result affected by the real work of building a stone ring (the simulation simply sets out more portable modern artefacts)?but a pattern in the simulated population which followed that in the real noncircular rings will much strengthen this case. Barnatt and Herring's findings are so striking that they seem finally to decide the question. First, it appears that judging an exact circle by eye is very hard, in confirmation of Barnatt and Moir's (1984) belief that the exact circles must have been laid out formally, with peg and rope. Second, among the shapes laid out, all of themto their builders' visual inspectionpretty well circular, are numbers which conform rather well to the ellipses, flattened circles, eggs, and so on, of the formal Thorn geometries (figure 10). This finding emphasizes the critical distinction between the formal properties of a set of designs and the process by which those formal properties came about. Barnatt and Herring's volunteers have generated a set of shapes which do adhere rather well to the Thorn geometries; but the process of design was not geometrical at all. They simply misjudged circles. Barnatt and Herring (1986) conclude that they cannot therefore distinguish on geometric grounds alone, between the two hypotheses, of exact geometry and misjudged visual sighting; nevertheless, they are able to prefer that of visual sighting, on the basis of archaeological context and regional groups and because of its greater simplicity.

(n> The formal statistical requirement that a hypothesis developed on one data set be tested on an independent data set is a formidable obstacle in archaeology. In the case of the British stone rings, no other data set exists, beyond these few sites previously overlooked. Even if there was another population of prehistoric stone rings, in France perhaps, the different cultural history of each area would leave open a very real likelihood that the French sites were built to a different design-system. Their following, or failing to follow, the design system of the British Isles would not be conclusive in either way. Partitioning the data set into regional groups offers some help. Stonehenge, the oddest of the stone rings, offers a more difficult challenge. Many of its aspects appear unique, so how can they be dealt with by comparative methods within a class of designs (Chippindale, 1986b)?

Archaelogy, design theory, and prehistoric design systems

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10 Geometry in the cornu motif of Mont Bego rock art 10.1 The Mont Bego rock engravings The bare slopes of Mont Bego, a 2872-metre peak in the French Alps, carry a major collection of later prehistoric rock art (Lumley et al, 1976). On slabs smoothed by glacial action are pecked, with a stone or metal tool, several tens of thousands of figures. Some are securely dated to the early 2nd millennium BC. Since no distinct chronological sequence within the figures is proven, it is best to regard all the figures as belonging to a single coherent design system (figure 11). Among the figures are recognizable pictures of physical objects, daggers and halberds (blades hafted at right angles, like narrow axes) whose shape and profile conform well to the objects they depict and allow their identification [figure 11(a) and (b)]. For the internal systematics of this aspect of the design system displayed in the Mont Bego figures, nothing more complex is needed than a simple model of

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a representational art system which produces to a good accuracy in size and form the characteristic shapes of its subjects. The anthropological - historical context is less certain, but it clearly relates to the very large body of evidence that metal objects had a very special role in Europe at this period (Coles and Harding, 1979, pages 8-16). Another distinctive group of figures offers a geometric shape [figure 11(c)]. Sometimes thesesuch as open rectangles divided into regular squaresevoke, and may actually be, realistic depictions of objects of those shapes, nets perhaps; but it is safer to treat this element in the design system in terms of formal geometry, the organizing scheme to which either they themselves, or the objects they realistically depict, clearly adhere.

Figure 11. Some common motifs in the Mont Bego rock figures: (a) dagger, (b) halberd, (c) geometric shape, (d) geometric shape, perhaps a map, (e)-(j) cornusstylized oxen, (k) two yoked cornus drawing a plough, with ploughman. (After author's drawings of figures in the Fontanalba region of Mont Bego.)

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Some geometric shapes are very reminiscent of maps, in the modern Western sense [figure 11(d)], and have been so interpreted (Smith, 1985). This aspect of the design system is best studied by exploring the internal systematics of the geometries and comparing it with the layouts of the contemporary settlements they may belong with. Much the most common motif is neither realistic nor geometric in its design system. This is the cornu [figure 11(e) (j)], consisting of an area of pecking, from the top of which rise two diverging bands or lines. The area of pecking is very variable in shape and size; it often tends to a rectangle. The lines are variable also, sometimes straight, sometimes curved, but usually symmetrical left to right, and rarely crossing. Some pairs of cornus are embedded in larger figures [figure ll(k)] of characteristic form. These so clearly follow the shape of a plough, with two oxen (the cornus), a yoke, shaft, ploughshare, handle, and, often, ploughman, that their identification as pictures of plough teams is secure. Accordingly, the cornu along represents an ox. 10.2 Classifying the cornus The cornu design system may be called diagrammatic, in that it represents salient features of an ox (a body with a pair of horns on the front) but does not closely follow its physical appearance. No breed of cattle, modern or prehistoric, has horns that remotely approach the size, elaboration, or variability of the cornus, so considerations of realism do not apply. An anthropological - historical referent is provided by widespread evidence for oxen and ploughs having a special importance in 2nd millennium BC Europe (Coles and Harding, 1979, page 192; Lumley et al, 1976, pages 115-118), but this offers no specific guide as to what elements in the

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internal systematics might be most important. The physical location of the figures on a remote mountain top which is snow covered eight months of the year, our complete ignorance of their prehistoric purpose and role, and the absence of settlement sites to which the figures relate, offer no leads as to what variables are central to the design system. How are the cornus to be studied?(12). By number alone, they dominate in the collection, and therefore should carry substantial information of some kind. But they seem to vary in every element of size and shape within the wide limits of the 'body-plus-two-horns' formula that defines the class(13). In the absence of any guides as to how the cornu design system worked, a straightforward typological approach has been used (Lumley et al, 1977) involving the two elements, the shape of the body and the shape of the horns (figure 12). The body is classed by its approximation to a rectangle, circle, or triangle. The horns are classed by the number of straight or curved segments they show, that is, by the number of distinct breaks in their curve. 10.3 Limitations of a typological approach Many cornus are easily classed by this method. For these the concern is whether the internal variation in the design system tracked by the typology actually relates to any external variables, either in the conceptual intentions of the artisans, or in unconscious patterns in the design system that might be diagnostic of, for example, date. If it does not, then the typology is simply a convenient means of sorting an uncomfortably large mass of material. Other cornus are hard unambiguously to class (figure 13). If the body is an irregular blob, it falls between the three exact geometric forms. The typology offers little guide. Since exact geometric forms are followed to a high accuracy elsewhere in the design system, one cannot lightly dismiss these as a technical failure to achieve the 'correct' ideal form. The typology offers ideal types which the artisans did not in fact achieve and to which they seem not to have aimed. Similar problems arise when the horns do not show clear and distinct bends to place them neatly within a class. It is a nice matter of judgment to decide if a shift of direction constitutes a break in segments. Any number of other and different rationales for horn classification exist. Length in relation to the body size is a possibility. So is the distinction between horns composed of (any number of) straight segments, horns composed of (any number of) curved segments, and horns composed of both straight and curved segments. (That classification brings in equally nice judgments as to what is straight and what is curved.) Classing the cornus offers the classic typological difficulty: an ill-understood design system whose controlling variables are a matter of guesswork; uncertainty in the classification process; and a lack of confidence that the typological classes represent more than an arbitrary division of the material.

(12> I consider here only the classification of form, and set aside other insights from technique, size, position, etc. <13) One faint hint is that cornus on the same slab seem to show a family resemblance to each other; perhaps they represent the output of one artisan on the surface 'reserved' for him, or perhaps later artisans have copied the shapes left by their predecessors.

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Figure 13. Some Mont Bego cornus. The basic schema is a body with more or less symmetrical horns that out. A few have a tail below^the body, or a neck between 0 10 go up and 20 30 cm the body and horns; one has two pairs of legs. (After author's drawings of figures in the Fontanalba region of Mont Bego.) 10.4 An alternative approach to cornu variability In working with the less shapely cornus, I was struck by how frequently little reliable could be said beyond the falling of the figure within the cornu class. The typological approach presumed a set of ideal types which many cornus failed to achieve. Turning the concept of an ideal cornu type on its head (or horns, one might say) produced an alternative set of propositions, based on the idea that figures generated to no particular forms or ideal types would nevertheless show 'regularities' of the kind the typology dealt with: (a) Some cornus do closely follow well-defined geometric 'ideal' shapes with good accuracy. (b) Some cornus display only the vaguest approximation to an ideal shape of body or horns. (c) Given that a great many haphazardly generated shapes would show some appearance of order, it is likely that much of the variation explored in typological classification can be accounted for by stochastic variation within a rather free design system.

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(d) In that case, the variability monitored by the typology is unlikely directly to reflect the internal systematics of the design system, or any external variables. These proposals were tested by a computer simulation of the shapes of cornu horns. Field observation suggests the horns were begun at their base on the body and pecked on the rock upwards and generally outwards. Since the horns are generally symmetrical left to right, it sufficed to generate one, the right-hand horn, presenting the left as a simple mirror image. T h e simulation generated a population of horns by a similar procedure, using pixels in place of peckmarks on a rock. E a c h pixel was placed adjacent to its predecessor, subject to two conditions. One, systematic condition ensured the general direction of the pattern of pixels created (the horn) was upwards and outwards. A second, randomizing condition ensured that the particular position of any one pixel was stochastic (14) . Figure 14 shows four simulated pairs of horns created in this way. It was found that some were very irregular in shape, whereas others showed clear changes of direction to divide the horn into segments, of the kind the typology deals with. T h e nicety of judgment involved in assessing whether a slight deviation in a genuine cornu was confirmed by the very real difficulty involved in making the same assessment for simulated horns.

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(c) (d) Figure 14. Four simulated sets of cornu horns developed by the part-stochastic process. Each is symmetrical left to right, and 'grows' upwards and outwards from its origin. (a) Simulation 1 shows no very distinct order, although it does seem to have two definite slight corners in its line, (b) In simulation 2 the line moves out in distinct rectilinear steps, alternately up and out. (c) Simulation 3 also makes a rectilinear step, of larger and stronger form, (d) Simulation 4 again provides distinct breaks of direction. In this simulation run only, the lower part is filled in to make a body for the cornu. Each run uses the same directional matrix; it is only the random number series which varies.

(14) xhis was achieved by a 'directional matrix' of this form: 8 10 55 4 10 1 4 8 The empty, central cell represents the present position of the pixel. To move the pixel, a random number is chosen from the range 0 0 - 9 9 . If this falls within the first eight (00-07), then the pixel moves to the cell up and left; if it falls within the next ten (08-17), the pixel moves straight up; and so on. The procedure is repeated until the horn made up by the cumulative pixel pattern reaches a convenient length. The population tends to a limit represented by the overall balance of figures in the directional matrix, in this case symmetrically up and to the right. The position of any one pixel is random. Details of the procedure are in Chippindale (1986a).

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The simulation confirmed that a population of shapes generated by a partstochastic process mimicked features held to be significant in making a typological classification of the cornu figures. Those cornu horns of very clear shape, repeating, for instance, a short straight segment of standard length in a consistent manner, are clearly the result of design intent (figure 13); these are not generated in the simulation. But horns of less certain shape are. It is concluded that a large element in horn variation may have been generated by a haphazard process, in which the only clear requirements were that the two horns should be symmetrical, and that the horns should go upward, and optionally outward, from the body. A typological analysis in terms of how many segments are scribed in this way is inappropriate, as well as offering serious difficulties of consistency in judgment. 11 Pattern in archaeological distributions The previous case studies have involved particular design systems of two-dimensional forms. Archaeological distributions across a landscape are also two-dimensional forms, but of a different and more uncertain character (Hodder and Orton, 1976). Visual interpretation of the patterns in distribution maps whose spot points represent the occurrence of monuments of certain types, or the findspots of certain artefacts, is routine in archaeology (Fox, 1943, pages 10-14). A distribution map is an artefact, in two senses. First, it brings together implicit or explicit design choices in prehistory, which together make a systematic pattern. Sometimes there may be a single plan behind the pattern: the distribution pattern of Romano-British towns in Britain reflects their function of administering a new province of the Empire, and the towns are notably evenly spaced, each with its administrative territory (Hodder and Hassall, 1971). Or repeated individual acts, such as the sacrificial placing of bronze metalwork in a river or wet place, cumulatively generate a distribution pattern along the river valleys. Second, a distribution map is a modern artefact, created by the archaeologist from the information available. So it is entirely subject to the vagaries of taphonomy, survival, and recovery. Distribution maps in some parts of the world, and the archaeological entities defined by the evidence of their pattern, have a distressing habit of following modern political boundaries: they are the artefacts of archaeologists rather than of archaeology. Taphonomic effects may be overwhelming. To take a simple example, surviving evidence of prehistoric settlement on the fen edge of East Anglia has a very strong pattern of spatial distribution, concentrating in the gravels of the major rivers (Pryor, 1980). Is it significant? Perhaps, but three controlling factors must be discounted. First, arable cultivation of the thin topsoil of the limestone hills which lie higher than the gravels has obliterated almost all archaeological evidence. Second, later silting in the fen itself has covered the prehistoric ground surface by some metres, so it is only accessible where modern cuts have broken through to it. Third, the river gravels where sites are neither eroded nor deeply buried provide perfect conditions for the discovery of sites by the standard technique of aerial photography: The distribution pattern is only informative if it is clearly the result of more than accidents of survival and recovery. 11.1 What kind of order, what kind of scale? If the taphonomic and sampling problems can be overcome, the distribution map may be hoped to reflect some prehistoric reality. That is, the distribution is an artefact, not a physical one, but the product nevertheless of a prehistoric design system.

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It can be studied as a geographical spatial distribution (Cole and King, 1968, pages 164-338). However, such an 'artefact' will generally be an unlovely creature. Some considerable labour is required to construct the artefact from data that are, generally, scattered and of uncertain quality. And the choice of what is plotted together is critical, since conflating together distribution systems, each with a different pattern, onto a single map misleads. What order can be found in a distribution? As there are an indefinite number of typologies for physical artefacts, so there are an indefinite number of spatial orders to be found in distributions. To emphasize the similarity of the question to that of physical artefacts, the process by which the distribution is created will be called a design system in this section; obviously, the 'design system' will not have the creation of a distribution map as its intent. Three spatial orders are of particular relevance (figure 15). A random distribution [figure 15(a)] provides a model for the kind of distribution that would arise haphazardly. Furthest removed from it are not one but two ordered patterns, a clustered pattern [figure 15(b)] in which the nearest-neighbour distance tends to a minimum, and a spaced pattern [figure 15(c)] in which the nearest-neighbour distance tends to a maximum. Sometimes, there exists a clear hypothesis of the design system from which a particular pattern may be expected to arise. Thomas (1972), studying Great Basin foragers' camps in the US West, could expect the artefacts of a winter village to be clustered, whereas projectile points lost when deer hunting would be scattered haphazardly. When no clear hypothesis exists, clustered or spaced patterns may be sought. Clustered patterns may be identified by the drawing of contours around zones of high density. Spaced patterns are indicated by the fitting of a grid (usually hexagonal) in which sites fall one per polygon. Imperfections in the pattern may be put down to sampling and taphonomic defects. So, empty cells in the grid may mean only that its site has been destroyed, whereas two points in a cell may show that they are chronologically distinct, with one site taking the role of its neighbour and predecessor (Hodder and Orton, 1976, pages 4 - 9 ) . The defects of these visually convincing methods are underlined by the ease with which a random distribution can be treated as clustered or spaced, according to choice. Very often an archaeological distribution is not very clearly ordered (figure 16), and fragments of it are easily persuaded to look either clustered or random. Having found a fragment of the design which is 'ordered', an archaeologist is tempted to look at this part and set aside the rest. A range of mathematical

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methods do exist rigorously to explore particular hypotheses about distributions, but they cannot always offer leads as to what kind of hypothesis is appropriate, givenall too oftenthe kind of pattern of figure 1.7. Another area of doubt concerns the scale of distributions. A distribution may be well ordered at one scale, but haphazard at another (figure 18, see over).

(a) (b) Figure 16. Two views of the same random distribution, as made to fit different orders: (a) grouped into clusters, (b) scattered into even polygons. (After Hodder and Orton, 1976.)

Figure 17. Distribution of find-spots of Irish bronze swords. Solid circles indicate find-spots exactly known, open circles those located approximately. The pattern of distribution, as for those for other bronze artefacts, is likely to reflect the locations of peat-bogs and their cutting, since that is the most common way Irish bronzework has been found, and the activities of local collectors, as well as the real prehistoric distribution of metalwork across the island (Harbison, 1969, page 1). (After Eogan, 1965.)

11.2 Testing a specific hypothesis These difficulties have led to an increasing impatience with general distribution maps. In any case, the finding of a pattern is equivalent to the recognition of a design, and offers nothing in itself as to the particular design system by which that pattern came about.

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Furthermore, the landscape is not the uniform space, entirely white or decorated with a few rivers, which a distribution map commonly presents as the background to its array of dots. Rather, it is a highly structured system, to be treated in a variety of ways according to a specific hypothesis. Defended sites gain in efficiency if they are placed in strategic places, at key river crossings, by valley

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Figure 18. Distribution of flint tools on a late-palaeolithic settlement site at Pincevent, France. Distribution is strongly concentrated at the scale of the entire working floor, whereas it appears haphazard within each little unit represented by a single grid square. The distribution conforms to the reasonable hypothesis that tool use was concentrated in particular activity areas within the site, but that the exact position of tools is haphazard at the small scale. (After Johnson, 1976; Leroi-Gourhan and Brezillon, 1972.)

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mouths, on high places generally. They will not be scattered haphazardly, and a test of their location in this nonuniform landscape should indicate whether an enigmatic kind of monument genuinely is defensive. If it is believed that the design system behind the distribution of Irish bronzes is directly connected to the occurrence of metal ores, to water, or to other structures in the landscape, this may be tested. And so on. Some design systems for prehistoric distributions are subtle but convincing, all the less likely to display themselves on gross maps of distribution. The round barrows of the 2nd millennium BC in southern Britain are commonly found on the higher ground, but not actually on the summit ridges. It is noticeable, however, that they are often on a 'false crest', visible on the skyline from valleys below. A design system for their positioning places the barrow above the valley-bottom settlement site, clear of the low-lying arable, and in a conspicuous place high on the slope (Ashbee, 1960). 11.3 An island distribution tested Figure 19 shows the distribution of the thirteen neolithic chambered cairns on the island of Rousay, in the Scottish Orkneys (Childe, 1942). For once, there is some confidence that no sites have been destroyed, and it is hoped that the sites, for which there are no very reliable dates, represent the complete output of the spatial design system of cairns in the island. There are none in the centre of the island. All but one lie just inside or outside the edge of modern arable land, and their distribution is strikingly similar to those of modern crofts. Evidently, this is a spaced rather than a clustered distribution. (It can be made more spaced if it is argued that the two adjacent tombs in the northeast and the three in the southwest are successive monuments with the same role in the design, so each group can be treated as one.) Hypothetical territories can be given each cairn, the frontiers being the lines equidistant between them. The distribution conforms to a design system by which each cairn is placed about the uppermost edge of the arable land of about a dozen individual familygroups, each with its own territory (Renfrew, 1973, pages 135-138). It has two

Figure 19. Prehistoric chambered tombs on the island of Rousay, Orkney. Solid dots mark the tomb sites. Hypothetical territories relating to the tombs are indicated by the straight lines drawn equidistant between the sites. Areas of modern arable land are dotted; some support for the belief that each tomb marks a farming territory is given by the division of arable land amongst the territories. (After Renfrew, 1973.)

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difficulties (Renfrew, 1979, page 13): frontiers drawn by physical equidistance take no notice of the very varied terrain, and assume the territories of each site are mutually exclusive. Alternative hypotheses for the design system were also explored (Renfrew, 1979). One hypothesis retains the underlying idea that each cairn was a physical marker in the landscape for a social group. The assumption is that the cairns were built in prominent situations, within sight of the group's activity area. As the vegetation of Rousay has not much changed, study of modern visibility reflects that of ancient times and supports the hypothesis. A second approach was an attempt to specify further the particular considerations (elements in the design brief) for choosing cairn locations. Eight factors were taken into account which were hoped to reflect the main elements of the design systemdistance from coast, nature of near coast, slope, drainage, rockiness, altitude, visibility from the main Orkney island(15), and distance from arable land. Repeated simulations were made with these factors weighted differently, so as to determined which factors and which weightings generated a simulation closest to that actually found. They showed steep slope (a commanding situation?) and access to the sea (for transport or food?) were major considerations, together with absolute altitude and adjacency to arable land. 12 Design in earliest stone tools Stoneworking, the only technology of early prehistoric periods for which evidence commonly survives, has one precious characteristic for design reconstruction. Physically, it is a reductive process. Beginning with a natural block of stone, the artisan chips off flakes until the desired form is reached or a mishit aborts the procedure. By putting together matching pieces, the entire manufacturing process can be reconstructed from choice of flint nodule to finishing of the tool. 12.1 Recognizing a human artefact Pebbles are naturally broken by chance causes of all kinds, so chipped stone is not in itself diagnostic of any human action at all. An everyday find in field-survey work is a single flaked flint, with some appearance of design, which is the likely result of a blow made during cultivationa 'tractorfacf or 'goatefact', according to the local agricultural economyand not an artefact at all.

Figure 20. 'Eoliths': flint pebbles, especially in glacially redeposited material, have often been shaped by natural causes in an order which so simulates human design that their natural manufacture was long disputed. (After Burkitt, 1933.)

(15 > This factor is included in case Rousay acts as a cemetery for the main island, as San Michele does for Venice.

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Recognizing a flaked stone as a human artefact therefore depends on context (for example, association with hominid bones), on repetition (for example, finding of large numbers of flaked stones together), and on internal order (for example, the pattern of flakes on a stone is ordered rather than haphazard). Glacial conditions may drag frozen gravel over immoveable rocks in a manner which repeatedly flakes pebbles from the same direction, producing collections of 'cores' and 'flakes' which mimic, in form, repetition, and evident order, human artefacts (figure 20) (Wymer, 1968, page 13). These 'eoliths', particularly found in East Anglian deposits known for their human artefacts, bedevilled Victorian studies of early industries in northern Europe until experimental tests showed how natural causes could create them (Haward, 1914; Warren, 1914). Recognizing eoliths requires a second-order distinction, between the orders resulting from a repeated and structured natural process and from a human design system. 12.2 Earliest design systems Early stone tools, now proven to date in East Africa as early as 2 million years BC (Gowlett, 1984, page 169), are robust and simple in form. Generally, these first 'Oldowan' industries consist of rounded river cobbles of quartzite, bashed together so flakes break off and 'chopper' tools result (figure 21). Repeated flaking generates both flakes and choppers with multiple flake scars, and a concentration of flake scars together is common. Even a simple chopper, like that of figure 21 from the Vallonnet cave, south France (which provides the earliest securely dated evidence of human occupation in Europe: Lumley, 1976), is reliably diagnostic because it demonstrates a clear design system, a routine procedure for the manufacturing process. There is a clear design choice in repeating the flaking on the same part of the tool. However, it is uncertain whether the aim was to flake economically to yield the maximum number of flakes from a block, or to generate a core tool of a set shape: so it is uncertain whether these artisans had the concept of an abstract design, or "mental template" (Deetz, 1967, pages 45-49), of the proper form of a chopper tool towards which the artisan worked. They may have simply taken off flakes as required, without regard to the shape of core left behind.

Figure 21. Chopper tool from Vallonnet, drawn from four directions. (After Lumley, 1976.)

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Yet simpler as a design system than the repeated and ordered flaking of an Oldowan industry, and a likely precursor to it, would be the habit of splitting single flakes from a block; lacking the diagnostic elements of repetition, order, and a routine process, it would be dubiously identifiable as of human manufacture at all. An equivalent doubt surrounds earliest representational art, since the wellknown cave art of the later palaeolithic in Europe is preceded, at a distance of some thousand of years, by a few irregular shapes which can be seen as representations (Collins and Onians, 1978), but cannot be reliably diagnosed, as the design order they show is very slight. 12.3 First indications of abstract considerations in design systems The Oldowan industries are succeeded by Acheulaean, dated from 1.4 million BC to as recent as 150000 BC, whose characteristic form is a hand axe (figure 22), a core worked over most or all of its surface into a regular oval or pear shape. Their use or uses remains unknown. The Kilombe site in Kenya (Gowlett, 1978; 1982) offers a collection of hand axes securely dated to around 700000, so it is likely that Homo erectus, the species preceding Homo sapiens, made them. Measurements on Kilombe hand axes show they were made to a consistent shape (figure 23), as defined by length/breadth ratio, although their size varies by a factor

Figure 22. Two Acheulean handaxes from Kilombe, each drawn from both sides. (Drawings by John Gowlett.)

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of three (they are rarely less than 8 cm or more than 24 cm long). Thickness is more variable, because it was less important in the design system and/or harder to achieve in the flaking. These simple observations allow a good deal of specific information about Homo erectufs mental abilities. They demonstrate a geometrically accurate sense of proportion, a mathematical relationship imposed in making the hand axes, whatever their size: that is, a clear conception of the proper form of a hand axe design as an abstract entity. Since length/breadth ratios are consistent in collections from different parts of the site, and since it is most unlikely they were all made by the same hand, that abstract entity was agreed on by, and transmitted within a school of artisans (Gowlett, 1984). Hand axes as early as those from Kilombe show characteristics more pronounced in later hand axe collectionseconomy of shaping with minimum number of flakes and with flakes of a consistent size; symmetry; and the making of very thin hand axes (a risky business since they may split in two in the shaping). Since the function of hand axes is unknown, the utility of these design elements is uncertain. It is suspected (Sandars, 1968, pages 2 - 4 ) that they are not functionally advantageous, but show instead an aesthetic element, the making of elegance in forms for its own sake, which predates representational art by one human species and some hundreds of thousand of years. 13 Conclusion 13.1 Common problems and responses In choosing the issues and case studies for this paper, which is addressed to an audience outside archaeology, I selected examples by two criteria. First, they should relate to general questions in design theory, beyond archaeological specifics and technicalities. Second, they should be problems to which good responses have been made, though ones which fall short of solutions. What I did not anticipate, and which came as a surprise, was how similar the research approach has turned out to be in each case. Work on the stone rings, cornus, Rousay distributions, and (less strongly) the early stone tools has followed the same route. Study of a specific subject has led, generally on an intuitive basis, to a specific hypothesis about the data set. This specific hypothesis has been explored in terms of the pattern in the data set it can be expected to generate, a process requiring or helped by a simulation. The simulation does not prove the hypothesis, since an indefinite number of design systems exist which would generate indistinguishable populations of artefacts. However, it does set out one design system that works, that does generate artefacts of the right form. It gains strength if the simulated design system is simple and coherent with the indications from the historical - anthropological context as to the nature of the design system to be expected. This slight progress towards an important aim may be contrasted with the stagnation in Beaker typology and in generalized approaches to distribution maps. Where no specific hypothesis is in mind, or when 'middle-range theory' has yet to provide an unambiguous transformation by which the external variable of current concern is expressed in the internal systematics of the design system, it is much harder to decide how to proceed. (This is a special case of the general patternrecognition problem: although the means exist to search out a pattern of a particular character, how is a search to be made for a pattern of unknown character?) The stone rings provide another insight. The mathematical problem appears straightforward. It simply concerns the relation of spot points and small areas

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within a uniform two-dimensional space and with respect to some simple geometric shapes. But it has taken much work, probably more than any mathematical expression of an archaeological question has any been given, to make limited progress, already involving new statistical measures, and a resolution of the problem may not be possible. Even simple data collection has involved the laborious resurveying of many hundred scattered sites to new and sufficient accuracy. 13.2 Classification and process Another common factor in the case studies is that they move rapidly from classification to process. One aspect of archaeology, unfashionable but entirely proper, is an interest in ancient artefacts for their own sake, as objects that now exist in our modern , world. There is nothing wrong with, and very much to be said for, treating the painted bulls of Lascaux, from about 15 000 BC, as equal art objects alongside those of Pablo Picasso, born AD 1881. For the artefact as an object, a typological classification concerned with the form of the finished artefact is appropriate. For prehistoric systematics, however, the correct focus of interest is in process, the artefacts as the products of a design and manufacturing system, because it is the process of design which explicates the artefacts it generates and which provides a route to anthropological-historical reconstruction. Typology is only useful insofar as it contributes to this. 13.3 Judging probabilities A definition of archaeology offered earlier was the 'description and explanation of differences and similarities' in the archaeological record. Similarity can be treated in many ways, but the archaeological interest must be in significant similarities, those from which substantial patterns in the design system may be inferred. The importance of judging 'significant' similarities is strikingly shown by those fringe theorists who persuade themselves that the native civilizations of America were in fact the result of diffusionist influence from the Old World, most commonly Egypt. Numerous parallels may be found in aspects of artefacts in Mesoamerica and in Egypt, massive pyramids for example, and it is this similarity which is taken to prove a causal link. It does not, as a "systematic research into the possibilities" (Lethaby, 1922, page 67) of pyramids immediately shows (Edwards, 1961). Engineering stability requires, with the limits of ancient construction methods, that really tall structures have sloping rather than upright sides (and not steeply sloping at that: Egyptian pyramid builders generally used a slope of 52). Egyptian and Mayan monuments and ceremonial sites are both planned on good rectilinear grids, so it is natural that they both used square or almost square bases for their tall structures. The result of these two constraints is, in each case, a pyramid. Details of the design system offer a little more freedom. The faces may be smooth (Egypt) or stepped (Egypt and Mesoamerica). Holy places may be located in chambers within the solid fill (Egypt) or placed on top (Mesoamerica). This is more than a trivial example, for it underlies a central question of prehistoric method. Given that particular artefacts, design systems, and cultural traits have often been independently invented and have often been diffused by contact or migration, how are the two processes to be distinguished in the material culture? Often chronology provides a plain answer: if the supposed parent is younger, it cannot be. Often chronology is ambiguous: then the basis of judgment must take this route. How many possibilities exist in design systems of this character, within technical limits, functional directions, etc? If the possibilities are

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many, and the similarities are many, the probability of a link is increased. If both are few, the probability is reduced. The basis for judgment, then, is not the simple degree of similarity between the artefacts or design systems, but the degree of similarity in proportion to the range and number of possibilities that exist for artefacts or design systems of the class. Consider, for example, the first copper working in Europe. The diffusionist model of European prehistory, now abandoned, saw metallurgy spreading from the Near East to the Balkans, Italy, and Iberia. Absolute dating shows autonomous development of metallurgy in the Balkans (Renfrew, 1969). The dating of early metalwork in Italy and Iberia allows either possibility. Similarities in the form of early metal objects in the three areas once was supporting evidence in the case against independent invention. But how many possibilities are there in the design system of the first metal tools? The copper artefacts of the Great Lakes area of North America, undoubtedly developed independently, show others do exist, as they include arrowheads (absent in Europe) and knives with a single cutting edge where European metalwork prefers double-sided daggers. Weight may be placed on the similarities within Europe, but how much depends on how many possibilities actually existed. Quantifying these kinds of question is not easy, because they do not fall within the competence of most formal statistics. (They have been the major concern in judging the case for megalithic astronomy, the third element in Thorn's megalithic science (Chippindale, 1986c; Heggie, 1981, pages 83-220.) The same kind of judgment is involved in legal evidence, when it is required to prove something 'beyond reasonable doubt', a decision which depends on the significance of links in, say, forensic evidence showing similarities unlikely to have arisen by chance. Here, new developments in Bayesian statistics are promising (Aitken, 1985). 13.4 Formal and vernacular design The two sets of hypotheses about the stone rings embody a critical and ill-explored distinction for prehistory. Increasingly, contemporary design systems are formal, the preserve of designers working to abstract conceptions and creating specified designs to be manufactured by rote by others. But most design systems in the preindustrial age were vernacular, in which the process of design was inseparable from manufacture, and the artisan worked out 'on paper' at most a few major parameters before starting to work. The Thorn-Angell-Cowan schemes are formal, Barnatt and Moir's is vernacular. A priori, formal design systems can be expected to be less variable than vernacular, since more of the design is predetermined, and the artisan's freedom of choice is reduced. However, craft traditions, such as those of prehistoric design systems, appear very set in their forms. The prehistoric metalwork of the European bronze age, so fast moving it is the most sensitive basis of chronology between 2 500 and 1000 BC, drifts from one form of sword to another of just perceptible difference over a period of a century or more, or the working lifetimes of perhaps five generations of craftsmen. Perhaps a contrary factor is at work. Where a formal design system allows for abstract experiment to test the potential of new forms before they are manufactured, a vernacular design system involves the risk of making a new form which is unusable. The artisan's freedom of choice is effectively reduced as he sticks to what is known to work. Variability in vernacular design systems is, for the most part, an unknown field. As Barnatt's stone-ring hypothesis suggests, it is of a critical importance.

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