How Many Dates Do I Need? Using Simulations to Determine Robust Age Estimations of Archaeological Contexts

Jacob Holland-Lulewicz, Brandon Tyler Ritchison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

As the use of large-scale radiocarbon datasets becomes more common and applications of Bayesian chronological modeling become a standard aspect of archaeological practice, it is imperative that we grow a community of both effective users and consumers. Indeed, research proposals and publications now routinely employ Bayesian chronological modeling to estimate age ranges such as statistically informed starts, ends, and spans of archaeological phenomena. Although advances in interpretive techniques have been widely adopted, sampling strategies and determinations of appropriate sample sizes for radiocarbon data remain generally underdeveloped. As chronological models are only as robust as the information we feed into them, formal approaches to assessing the validity of model criteria and the appropriate number of radiocarbon dates deserve attention. In this article, through a series of commonly encountered scenarios, we present easy-to-follow instructions for running simulations that should be used to inform the design and construction of chronological models.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-287
Number of pages16
JournalAdvances in Archaeological Practice
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

Keywords

  • Bayesian modeling
  • chronology
  • radiocarbon dating
  • sampling
  • simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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