1 In North American archaeology this term refers to the common incidence of a component at a number of sites within a defined geographical area and specific time period. Originally defined by Alfred Kidder in 1946, the term was modified to more or less its modern application by G. Willey and P. Phillips in 1958: ‘an archaeological unit possessing traits sufficiently characteristic to distinguish it from all other units similarly conceived, whether of the same or other cultures or civilizations, spatially limited to the order of magnitude of a locality or region and chronologically limited to a relatively brief interval of time’. Distinctive traits recognized through items of material culture or the content of assemblages are therefore used to define phases. Subphases may be identified as more sites belonging to a particular phase illustrate details of geographical or temporal variation. A phase is thus broadly equivalent to the concept of a culture in European archaeology.
2 [De] In describing the development of a particular site or building, groups of broadly contemporary features are represented as a single entity even though in reality this approach conflates time and a whole succession of actions relating to the use of individual elements over widely differing durations.
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