Recreating the Timing and Patterns of First Peopling with the Bayesian Approach

Author(s): Magdalena Schmid

Year: 2017


The timing and patterns of first peopling offer exciting opportunities to understand the legacies of colonization. In particular, islands are defined territories where colonization processes can be tracked through a rigorous synthesis of empirical data and a systematic application of Bayesian statistics. Iceland provides one of the world’s premier case studies for human interactions of pristine ecosystems because its colonization in the 9th century occurred relatively late in history. Furthermore a suite of tephrochronological and radiocarbon data helps define this process in Iceland.

This study systematically reassesses 500 radiocarbon dates from the settlement period that have been a matter of fierce contention. Bayesian statistical modeling is used to evaluate the reliability of the data using calibration methods; material classes; life-span; isotopes; archaeological contexts and associated tephra layers of 300 settlement and 25 burial sites. The data summarized here for the first time allows a countrywide comparison and a classification of these settlement sites into pre-Landnám (A.D. pre-877), Landnám (A.D. 877-939) and post-Landnám (A.D. 939-1104). It demonstrates that it will be possible to reconstruct the tempo and development of the colonization process in decadal resolution by more systematically utilizing the dating potential of tephrochronology and radiocarbon dates with Bayesian approaches.

Cite this Record

Recreating the Timing and Patterns of First Peopling with the Bayesian Approach. Magdalena Schmid. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430492)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 13236