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  Sum things are not what they seem: Problems with point-wise interpretations and quantitative analyses of proxies based on aggregated radiocarbon dates

Carleton, W. C., & Groucutt, H. S. (2020). Sum things are not what they seem: Problems with point-wise interpretations and quantitative analyses of proxies based on aggregated radiocarbon dates. The Holocene, 0959683620981700. doi:10.1177/0959683620981700.

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 Creators:
Carleton, W. Christopher, Author
Groucutt, Huw S.1, 2, Author              
Affiliations:
1Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society, ou_2074312              
2Max Planck Research Group Extreme Events, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society, ou_3262629              

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Free keywords: archaeological proxies, palaeoclimatology, palaeodemography, palaeoenvironmental proxies, radiocarbon dates, summed probability density functions
 Abstract: Radiocarbon-date assemblages are commonly used as proxies for past human and environmental phenomena. Prominent examples of target phenomena include past population levels and sea level fluctuations. These processes are thought to have affected the amount of organic carbon deposited into the archaeological and/or palaeoenvironmental record. Time-series representing through-time fluctuations in the frequency of radiocarbon samples are, therefore, often used as proxies for such processes. However, there are critical problems with using radiocarbon ?dates-as-data? in point-wise comparisons and these problems have gone largely underappreciated. The key problem is that the established proxies are easily misinterpreted. They conflate process variation and chronological uncertainty, which makes them unsuitable for point-wise comparisons aimed at identifying rates of change, comparing variables directly, or estimating parameters in regression models. Here we explore the interpretive and analytical problems in detail in an effort to raise awareness and promote skepticism about the use of the established proxies in point-wise comparisons. We also provide suggestions for future research and point to potential methodological alternatives that may improve the viability of dates-as-data approaches.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2020-12-20
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: 14
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: Introduction
Interpreting proxies based on aggregated radiocarbon dates
- SPDF
- Average KDE models
Discussion
- Analytical problems for point-wise approaches
- Implications
- Directions for future work
Conclusion
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1177/0959683620981700
Other: shh2798
 Degree: -

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Title: The Holocene
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Los Angeles, CA : Sage Publications
Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: 0959683620981700 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 1477-0911
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925578075_1