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Many archaeologists have expressed dissatisfaction with the degree of explanatory power provided by the "new archaeology." It is the author's contention that this failure of explanation is due to a continued emphasis on the modal character of archaeological data. The variation in a cultural system's activity structure has not been perceived as influencing the archaeological context. A heuristic device is suggested to help archaeologists conceptualize variation in activities within a cultural system. The detailed study of archaeological features is described as the best way of examining events in the archaeological context. Ethnoarchaeology is proposed as a means for interpreting these events.