AuthorBronk Ramsey, Christopher
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CitationBronk Ramsey, C. (1998). Probability and dating. Radiocarbon, 40(1), 461-474.
DescriptionFrom the 16th International Radiocarbon Conference held in Gronigen, Netherlands, June 16-20, 1997.
AbstractStatistical analysis is becoming much more widely used in conjunction with radiocarbon dating. In this paper I discuss the impact of Bayesian analysis (using computer programs such as OxCal) on archaeological research. In addition to simple analysis, the method has implications for the planning of dating projects and the assessment of the reliability of dates in their context. A new formalism for describing chronological models is introduced here: the Chronological Query Language (CQL), an extension of the model definitions found in the program OxCal. New methods of Bayesian analysis can be used to overcome some of the inherent biases in the uncertainty estimates of scientific dating methods. Most of these methods, including 14C, uranium series and thermoluminescence (TL), tend to favor some calendar dates over others. 14C calibration overcomes the problem where this is possible, but a Bayesian approach can be used more generally.