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Reconstructing the full temporal range of archaeological phenomena from sparse data

Key, Alastair, Roberts, David, Jarić, Ivan (2021) Reconstructing the full temporal range of archaeological phenomena from sparse data. Journal of Archaeological Science, 135 . Article Number 105479. ISSN 0305-4403. E-ISSN 1095-9238. (doi:10.1016/j.jas.2021.105479) (KAR id:90224)


Archaeologists rarely discover the first or last known occurrences of past cultural phenomena, yet ‘start’ and ‘end’ dates are central to our understanding of past human behaviour; therein lays a paradox long known within the discipline. Optimal linear estimation (OLE) has recently been used to reconstruct the full temporal range of prehistoric archaeological technologies using only the partial records available. That is, OLE has been used to reconstruct the portions of the archaeological record not yet evidenced through artefact discoveries. Here we present OLE to a wider archaeological audience and outline for the first time the model’s assumptions as they pertain to archaeological phenomena. We demonstrate OLE to be an accessible, user-friendly and methodolog- ically transparent temporal range estimation method applied via a single set of equations. Further, we present five additional frequentist techniques that enable archaeologists to account for observation reliability, search effort and extreme data scarcity when inferring temporal ranges. These methods allow archaeologists to gain a more accurate understanding of the temporal range of past human behaviour.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.jas.2021.105479
Uncontrolled keywords: Temporal distribution; Modelling; End date and origin inference; Optimal linear estimation; Weibull; Computational archaeology; Archaeological record
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: David Roberts
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2021 02:01 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2022 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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