Archaeological Unit Concepts
"Culture-historical integration" is the term we have chosen to designate what we regard as the primary task of archaeology on the descriptive level of organization. The procedural objectives of culture-historical integration have tended to be divided, in theoretical writings on American archaeology, between the reconstruction of spatial-temporal relationships, on the one hand, and what may be called contextual relationships, on the other.1 Operationally, neither is attainable without the other. The reconstruction of meaningful human history needs both structure and content.
Cultural forms may be plotted to demonstrate geographical continuity and contemporaneity, but, when we move to establish historical relationships between them, we immediately invoke processes like diffusion, trade, conquest, or migration and in so doing shift the problem from the bare frame of space and time into the realm of context and function. Conversely, the processes named have no historical applicability without control of the spatial and temporal media in which they operate. Taylor was undoubtedly correct in stating that American archaeologists have placed heavy____________________