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Paleobot.org: establishing open-access online reference collections for archaeobotanical research


Warinner, C; d’Alpoim Guedes, J; Goode, D (2011). Paleobot.org: establishing open-access online reference collections for archaeobotanical research. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 20(3):241-244.

Abstract

Like other analytic aspects of archaeology, archaeobotany has been growing progressively more quantitative in the past few decades. This may be a sign of the proliferation of increasingly mature and sophisticated methodologies for analyzing botanical data, but associated with the sophistication of quantitative methods is their inherent opacity: the value and applicability of anthropological conclusions drawn from quantitative archaeobotanical data are not only limited by the amount of information that can be extracted from data by sophisticated statistical tools, but also by our ability to draw reasonable anthropological—as opposed to merely statistical—conclusions. Even the words “classification” and “significance” have different meanings in statistics and in anthropology. In this paper, I propose the use of graphical analysis for archaeobotanical data in addition to, or instead of, typical statistical tools like significance tests, variable reduction, and clustering. Applied to data from charred seed assemblages from the ancient Near East, the visual representation of quantitative data has the advantage of handling semiquantitative data better and being interpretable without reliance on the paradigm of a formal statistical test.

Abstract

Like other analytic aspects of archaeology, archaeobotany has been growing progressively more quantitative in the past few decades. This may be a sign of the proliferation of increasingly mature and sophisticated methodologies for analyzing botanical data, but associated with the sophistication of quantitative methods is their inherent opacity: the value and applicability of anthropological conclusions drawn from quantitative archaeobotanical data are not only limited by the amount of information that can be extracted from data by sophisticated statistical tools, but also by our ability to draw reasonable anthropological—as opposed to merely statistical—conclusions. Even the words “classification” and “significance” have different meanings in statistics and in anthropology. In this paper, I propose the use of graphical analysis for archaeobotanical data in addition to, or instead of, typical statistical tools like significance tests, variable reduction, and clustering. Applied to data from charred seed assemblages from the ancient Near East, the visual representation of quantitative data has the advantage of handling semiquantitative data better and being interpretable without reliance on the paradigm of a formal statistical test.

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1 citation in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:May 2011
Deposited On:06 Mar 2012 11:33
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 12:09
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0939-6314
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-011-0282-6

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