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Title: Bayesian methods for the construction of robust chronologies
Author: Lee, Sharen Woon Yee
ISNI:       0000 0004 0180 2814
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Bayesian modelling is a widely used, powerful approach for reducing absolute dating uncertainties in archaeological research. It is important that the methods used in chronology building are robust and reflect substantial prior knowledge. This thesis focuses on the development and evaluation of two novel, prior models: the trapezoidal phase model; and the Poisson process deposition model. Firstly, the limitations of the trapezoidal phase model were investigated by testing the model assumptions using simulations. It was found that a simple trapezoidal phase model does not reflect substantial prior knowledge and the addition of a non-informative element to the prior was proposed. An alternative parameterisation was also presented, to extend its use to a contiguous phase scenario. This method transforms the commonly-used abrupt transition model to allow for gradual changes. The second phase of this research evaluates the use of Bayesian model averaging in the Poisson process deposition model. The use of model averaging extends the application of the Poisson process model to remove the subjectivity involved in model selection. The last part of this thesis applies these models to different case studies, including attempts at resolving the Iron Age chronological debate in Israel, at determining the age of an important Quaternary tephra, at refining a cave chronology, and at more accurately modelling the mid-Holocene elm decline in the British Isles. The Bayesian methods discussed in this thesis are widely applicable in modelling situations where the associated prior assumptions are appropriate. Therefore, they are not limited to the case studies addressed in this thesis, nor are they limited to analysing radiocarbon chronologies.
Supervisor: Bronk Ramsey, Christopher Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Archeology ; Statistics (social sciences) ; Archaeology ; Bayesian modelling ; Chronology building ; Trapezoid ; Model averaging