人类学家可以通过与当地居民交谈并观察过程来进入一个社区并确定现有的交换网络：但考古学家必须使用大卫克拉克曾经称之为“不良样本中的间接痕迹”。交换系统考古研究的先驱包括Colin Renfrew，他认为研究贸易很重要，因为贸易网络的制度是文化变革的原因。根据Anna Shepard的研究成果，通过一系列技术创新确定了货物在整个景观中移动的考古证据。通常，采购工件 – 识别特定原材料的来源 – 涉及对工件的一系列实验室测试，然后将其与已知的类似材料进行比较。用于识别原料来源的化学分析技术包括中子活化分析（NAA），X射线荧光（XRF）和各种光谱方法，以及越来越多的实验室技术。除了识别获得原材料的来源或采石场之外，化学分析还可以识别陶器类型或其他种类的成品中的相似性，从而确定成品是在本地创建还是从远处引入。使用各种方法，考古学家可以确定看起来好像是在不同城镇制作的锅是真正的进口，还是本地制作的副本。
Anthropologists can enter a community and identify existing exchange networks by talking to local residents and observing the process: but archaeologists must use what David Clark once called “indirect traces in bad samples.” Pioneers in the archaeological research of exchange systems include Colin Renfrew, who believes that research trade is important because the system of trade networks is the cause of cultural change. According to Anna Shepard’s research, archaeological evidence of the movement of goods throughout the landscape was determined through a series of technological innovations. Typically, purchasing artifacts – identifying the source of a particular raw material – involves a series of laboratory tests on the workpiece and then comparing it to known similar materials. Chemical analysis techniques for identifying sources of feedstock include neutron activation analysis (NAA), X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and various spectroscopy methods, as well as an increasing number of laboratory techniques. In addition to identifying the source of the raw material or the quarry, chemical analysis can also identify similarities in the type of pottery or other type of finished product to determine whether the finished product was created locally or from a distance. Using a variety of methods, archaeologists can determine whether a pot that appears to be made in a different town is a real import or a locally made copy.