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Empirical Bayesian Methods for Archaeological Survey Data: An Application from the Mesa Verde Region

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Scott G. Ortman
Affiliation:
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 23390 County Road K, Cortez, CO 81321. 970-565-8975 (sortman@crowcanyon.org mvarien@crowcanyon.org, lgripp@crowcanyon.org)
Mark D. Varien
Affiliation:
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 23390 County Road K, Cortez, CO 81321. 970-565-8975 (sortman@crowcanyon.org mvarien@crowcanyon.org, lgripp@crowcanyon.org)
T. Lee Gripp
Affiliation:
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 23390 County Road K, Cortez, CO 81321. 970-565-8975 (sortman@crowcanyon.org mvarien@crowcanyon.org, lgripp@crowcanyon.org)

Abstract

Cultural resource databases represent the single largest compilations of archaeological site data, but these databases are seldom used in research because they were designed for management purposes, evolved from paper-based inventories, contain significant interobserver variation, and record information inconsistently. In this paper we present methods designed to alleviate these problems in an analysis of more than 3,000 ancestral Pueblo habitation sites from southwestern Colorado. Our methods draw heavily upon Bayesian statistical concepts and utilize the rich excavation records of our study area to quantify the relationship between surface evidence and excavation results using probabilities. This approach offers a number of advantages over ad hoc, judgmental approaches, and produces a more empirically justified history of ancestral Pueblo settlement in our study area. We believe methods like these have great potential for reconstructing settlement patterns from survey data.

Résumé

Résumé

Las bases de datos de los restos culturales e históricos representan el compendio más grande de datos de los sitios arqueológicos. Sin embargo, estas bases de datos se usan pocas veces en investigaciones debido a que son diseñadas con propósitos de registro y administración, se desarrollan a partir de inventarios basados en documentos escritos, conteniendo variaciones significativas debido a las diferencias entre quienes registran los datos, y son inconsistentes en la información de sus registros. En este trabajo presentamos métodos diseñados a mejorar estos problemas a través del análisis de más de 3,000 sitios habitacionales Pueblo del Suroeste de Colorado. Nuestros métodos retoman en gran medida conceptos estadísticos Bayesianos, y utilizan los abundantes datos de excavación de nuestra área de estudio para cuantificar las relaciones entre las evidencias de superficie y los resultados de excavación usando probabilidades. Esta perspectiva ofrece numerosas ventajas en comparación con los enfoques intuitivos, y proporciona una historia más empíricamente respaldada de los asentamientos Pueblo en nuestra área de estudio. Creemos que los métodos como estos tienen gran potencialidad para reconstruir los patrones de asentamiento usando datos de los recorridos de superficie.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2007

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