Bayesian Modelling and Refinement of Iroquoian Regional Settlement Histories

Author(s): Jennifer Birch; Sturt Manning

Year: 2016


An oft-cited problem in Iroquoian archaeology is that radiocarbon dating offers weak support for chronological estimates. These concerns focus on short durations of site occupation and multiple intercepts in the radiocarbon calibration curve. This logic has led researchers to rely on relative dating methods such as ceramic seriation—overlooking the assumptions and unverified step-wise logic transfers involved in these methods. Refinement in laboratory procedures and the application of Bayesian chronological modeling methods to archaeologically sequenced datasets promises to resolve previous limitations for radiocarbon dating—and has transformed the archaeological record of other cases such as the Neolithic of southern Britain or the Bronze Age Aegean. Our research demonstrates that reservations about absolute dating in Iroquoian archaeology are no longer legitimate and contributes to a growing body of literature which explores how high-precision dating is essential for resolving theoretically-informed and problem-oriented questions about cultural change. To that end, we present a model using previously published and newly acquired dates to inform the historical development of Iroquoian societies in the late pre- and early-contact periods. In particular, our results bear new insights into patterns of coalescence, conflict, and confederacy formation in the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries A.D.

Cite this Record

Bayesian Modelling and Refinement of Iroquoian Regional Settlement Histories. Jennifer Birch, Sturt Manning. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404539)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;