Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

8.3: Activity 2 - Stylistic and Frequency Seriation

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Ilana Johnson, Sacramento City College

    Stylistic and frequency seriations are important tools archaeologists use to understand how artifact shapes and styles change over time. Once a stylistic seriation is established for a region, new sites can be classified and cross-dated based on where the new artifacts fit into the master sequence. Frequency seriations record the number of artifacts of a particular style or type found, allowing archaeologists to observe a sequence of stylistic changes and infer cultural changes that would have gone along with them.

    Part 1. Stylistic Seriation of Chevy Automobiles

    Review the following photos of 1950s and 1960s Chevy automobiles (Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) to Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\)) and place them in order from earliest to latest based on their stylistic features (hint: pay attention to the grills and fins). There is one photo for each year. To help orient you, photo #4 is the oldest. We recommended cutting out the photos and putting them on the table in order. Once you have ordered the images, list the numbers of the images in the spaces below to assign them to years.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)
    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\)
    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\)

    1950 __4___ 1951 ______ 1952 ______ 1953 ______ 1954 ______ 1955 ___­___

    1956 ______ 1957 ______ 1958 ______ 1959 ______ 1960 ______


    Part 2. Frequency Seriation of New England Headstone Designs

    Using the gravestone data set for Cambridge Cemetery in Massachusetts provided, tally the number of headstones of each type found in each time period. The first row has been completed for you as an example.

    Time period Death head Cherub Urn and willow


    Next, draw a horizontal bar representing the frequency of each style in the boxes in the following diagram starting with the center box to represent the number of gravestones from each time period. The first row has been completed for you. You can make a “ruler” using the edge of a sheet of lined paper.

    Time period

    sketch of skull inside an arc shape

    Death head

    sketch of a cherub face inside an arc shape


    sketch of a willow bough and urn inside and arc shape

    Urn and willow




    Data Set for This Exercise from Cambridge Cemetery, Massachusetts

    Date on Tombstone Name Death Head Cherub Urn and Willow
    1729 Mallett, Thomas X    
    1762 Hunter, Margaret   X  
    1744 Gidley, John X    
    1773 Gidley, Sarah   X  
    1763 Fitch, Sarah X    
    1730 Ayrault, Mary X    
    1792 Foster, Deborah     X
    1801 Whiting, Frances     X
    1783 Bartlett, William   X  
    1722 Walker, Cornelia X    
    1802 Henry, Charlotte   X  
    1754 Dickerson, Elba X    
    1727 Dickerson, Josephine X    
    1736 Dickerson, Margaret X    
    1774 Nash, George X    
    1811 Norton, Anna     X
    1805 Glashan, Charlotte     X
    1748 Glashan, Robert X    
    1781 Adams, Catherine X    
    1765 Edwards, Abby   X  
    1775 Greenwood, Hannah   X  
    1825 Herman, Ellen     X
    1741 Jackson, Edward X    
    1786 Wood, Helen   X  
    1797 Bucknam, Warren     X
    1725 Bucknam, Elizabeth X    
    1758 Newmarch, Caroline X    
    1733 Downs, Harriet X    
    1788 Norton, Charles   X  
    1779 Lane, Ruth     X
    1792 Norton, Stillborn   X  
    1766 Goddard, Josiah X    
    1790 Goddard, Lucy   X  
    1751 Woodman, Elizabeth X    
    1814 Woodman, Albert     X
    1772 Bixby, Eunice X    
    1752 Fuller, Capt. Joseph X    
    1738 Allen, Kinsley X    
    1800 Langan, Emma     X
    1777 Drue, Ebenezer   X  
    1762 Barton, James X    
    1824 Newhall, Richard     X
    1745 Mallen, Henri X    
    1827 Kingsbury, George     X
    1737 O’Dowd, Charles X    
    1784 Anthony, Elizabeth   X  
    1808 Longly, Nathaniel     X
    1786 Smith, Albion   X  
    1726 Bartlett, Michael X    
    1816 Sampson, Rebeckah     X
    1794 Fewster, Martha   X  
    1745 Archer, Hanna X    
    1818 Wheat, John     X
    1778 Murdock, Joanna X    
    1782 Spear, Susan X    
    1828 Lovell, Capt. Charles     X
    1759 Oliver, Samuel X    
    1767 Kenrick, William X    
    1819 Parker, Hope     X
    1822 Parker, Abraham     X
    1795 Cahoone, Abigail   X  

    This page titled 8.3: Activity 2 - Stylistic and Frequency Seriation is shared under a CC BY-NC license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Ilana Johnson (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI)) .