A settlement pattern is an archaeological term used to describe how cultural activities were distributed over a given area at a particular time period. Settlement pattern studies are conducted by archaeologists using maps, satellite imagery, aerial photography and land surveys to determine water course locations and settlement locations over time.
The locations of ancient settlements can be determined through settlement pattern studies, through the construction of maps from collected data. Additional information archaeologists acquire through such studies include land use and the distance settlements were from watercourses. Robert McAdams conducted a series of famous settlement pattern studies across Mesopotamia between the 1950s and 1970s.