Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Bradshaw and Bayes: towards a timetable for the Neolithic
Author(s): Bayliss, Alex
Ramsey, Christopher Bronk
Van Der Plicht, Johannes
Whittle, Alasdair
Contact Email:
Keywords: dating prehistory
radiocarbon dates
chronology and archaeology
Issue Date: 28-Feb-2007
Date Deposited: 14-Jan-2019
Citation: Bayliss A, Ramsey CB, Van Der Plicht J & Whittle A (2007) Bradshaw and Bayes: towards a timetable for the Neolithic. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 17 (S1), pp. 1-28.
Abstract: The importance of chronology is re-asserted as a means to achieving history and a sense of temporality. A range of current methods for estimating the dates and durations of archaeological processes and events are considered, including visual inspection of graphs and tables of calibrated dates and the summing of the probability distributions of calibrated dates. These approaches are found wanting. The Bayesian statistical framework is introduced, and a worked example presents simulated radiocarbon dates as a demonstration of the explicit, quantified, probabilistic estimates now possible on a routine basis. Using this example, the reliability of the chronologies presented for the five long barrows considered in this series of papers is explored. It is essential that the ‘informative’ prior beliefs in a chronological model are correct. If they are not, the dating suggested by the model will be incorrect. In contrast, the ‘uninformative’ prior beliefs have to be grossly incorrect before the outputs of the model are importantly wrong. It is also vital that the radiocarbon ages included in a model are accurate, and that their errors are correctly estimated. If they are not, the dating suggested by a model may also be importantly wrong. Strenuous effort and rigorous attention to archaeological and scientific detail are inescapable if reliable chronologies are to be built. The dates presented in the following papers are based on models. ‘All models are wrong, some models are useful’ (Box 1979, 202). We hope readers will find them useful, and will employ ‘worry selectivity’ to determine whether and how each model may be importantly wrong. The questions demand the timetable, and our prehistories deserve both.
DOI Link: 10.1017/S0959774307000145
Rights: The publisher does not allow this work to be made publicly available in this Repository. Please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study.
Licence URL(s):

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Bradshaw download.pdfFulltext - Published Version4.39 MBAdobe PDFUnder Permanent Embargo    Request a copy

Note: If any of the files in this item are currently embargoed, you can request a copy directly from the author by clicking the padlock icon above. However, this facility is dependent on the depositor still being contactable at their original email address.

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

The metadata of the records in the Repository are available under the CC0 public domain dedication: No Rights Reserved

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.