The first presentation on Saturday was, in all honesty, a plug for the book that the presenter wrote and was selling in the vendor tent. He was also a sponsor for the conference so there are several warning flags with it. The presentation was about applying a fractal model to pueblos in Chaco Canyon. The presentation had no argument though and he appealed to the audience a lot. He was effectively saying that Chacoans had a significant understanding of math and used the math to build the pueblos. I am not sure who he was trying to convince though. Anybody who built a structure that lasts more than 10 years has to have a decent understanding of math to accomplish it. And you could apply this fractal model to Manhattan and plenty of building would line up. It is one of those things where it is going to happen no matter how the buildings are laid out.
The second thing I wanted to talk about was a poster I saw about applying artifact surface density to predict subsurface density. I do not know of a lot of studies like this that have ever worked out. There are so many variables in the formation of archaeological sites that I just do not think it would ever work. And it did not in the case of this poster, but I think that it was good work. It seems to me that a lot of archaeologists are only concerned with positive results in experiments, but i think that is shortsighted. Sometimes a negative result is as useful as a positive. If people keep doing studies like this we may one day get a positive result and can look deeper into the variables that provided that result. With computer processing speed where they are these days and easy cross subject training people can perform several of these studies with minimal effort.