Albert C. Spaulding (Choteau, Montana 1914 - 1990)

American archaeologist and anthropologist, he was one of the first scholars to promote the use of quantitative methods in archaeological research and one of the main forerunners of the New Archaeology movement.

Trained at Montana State University (B.A. in Economics), the University of Michigan (M.A. in Anthropology), and Columbia University (Ph.D.), he was professor and curator of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan (1947-1961). During the 1960s he was closely associated with the National Science Foundation, as program director for anthropology. He was Professor and chairman of Anthropology at the University of Oregon and Dean of the College of Letters and Science, University of California at Santa Barbara (1967-1971), where he taught until 1983 before being nominated Emeritus Professor.

President of the Society for American Archaeology (1963-1966), he conducted many field research works in the Mississippi Valley, in the Aleutian Islands and at Cahokia and Santa Cruz Island. In 1981 he received the SAA distinguished Service Award.

In the early 1950s, a discussion arose in the pages of «American Antiquity», which was referred to as the Ford-Spaulding debate on the meaning of types and the cultural nature of archaeological typologies. According to Spaulding, statistics provides not merely a collection of techniques applicable to artefact classification, but a key to achieve a formal and fruitful interpretation of archaeological data. In 1959 he participated in the Symposium on “The Application of Quantitative Methods in Archaeology”, organised by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Spaulding’s paper on Statistical Description and Comparison of Artifact Assemblages is generally referred to as one of the first methodological assessments of the role of statistical techniques applied to archaeology.