Statistical Inference of Prehistoric Demography from Frequency Distributions of Radiocarbon Dates: A Review and a Guide for the Perplexed

Change log

jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pThe last decade saw a rapid increase in the number of studies where time–frequency changes of radiocarbon dates have been used as a proxy for inferring past population dynamics. Although its universal and straightforward premise is appealing and undoubtedly offers some unique opportunities for research on long-term comparative demography, practical applications are far from trivial and riddled with issues pertaining to the very nature of the proxy under examination. Here I review the most common criticisms concerning the nature of radiocarbon time–frequency data as a demographic proxy, focusing on key statistical and inferential challenges. I then examine and compare recent methodological advances in the field by grouping them into three approaches: reconstructive, null-hypothesis significance testing, and model fitting. I will then conclude with some general recommendations for applying these techniques in archaeological and paleo-demographic research.</jats:p>

Prehistoric demography, Dates as data, Statistical inference, Radiocarbon dates
Journal Title
Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Leverhulme Trust (PLP-2019-304)