Operations Research and Archaeology

Pony Express, Dawson County

Publication: American Antiquity, Vol. 56, No. 1

Author: Peter Bleed

Date of Publication: 1991

PDF File: Bleed-1991-Operations-Research-and-Archaeology.pdf

URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/280969


Operations research is the systematic study of resource utilization through the manipulation of conceptual models. Used most often by engineers and managers, these models also have potential application in archaeology. Event tree analysis, which models multipart systems with a number of potential consequences resulting from a series of events, makes it possible to analyze artifact-production processes or the operation of complex economic activities such as hunting. Fault tree analysis models the interactions of factors that can cause a technological system to fail. It offers a framework for the interpretation of archaeological remains such as flintlock firearm parts at Indian and Euroamerican sites of the Great Plains.