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Resolution and the detection of cultural dispersals: development and application of spatiotemporal methods in Lowland South America.

Riris, P. and Parracho Silva, F., 2021. Resolution and the detection of cultural dispersals: development and application of spatiotemporal methods in Lowland South America. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8, 36.

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DOI: 10.1057/s41599-021-00717-w

Abstract

Inferring episodes of expansion, admixture, diffusion, and/or migration in prehistory is undergoing a resurgence in macro-scale archaeological interpretation. In parallel to this renewed popularity, access to computational tools among archaeologists has seen the use of aggregated radiocarbon datasets for the study of dispersals also increasing. This paper advocates for developing reflexive practice in the application of radiocarbon dates to pre- historic dispersals, by reflecting on the qualities of the underlying data, particularly chrono- metric uncertainty, and framing dispersals explicitly in terms of hypothesis testing. This paper draws on cultural expansions within South America and employs two emblematic examples, the Arauquinoid and Tupiguarani traditions, to develop an analytical solution that not only incorporates chronometric uncertainty in bivariate regression but, importantly, tests whether the datasets provide statistically significant evidence for a dispersal process. The analysis, which the paper provides the means to replicate, identifies fundamental issues with reso- lution and data quality that impede identification of pre-Columbian cultural dispersals through simple spatial gradients of radiocarbon data. The results suggest that reflexivity must be fed back into theoretical frameworks of prehistoric mobility for the study of dispersals, in turn informing the construction of more critical statistical null models, and alternative models of cultural expansion should be formally considered alongside demographic models.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:2662-9992
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:35208
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:22 Feb 2021 14:54
Last Modified:15 Aug 2021 08:28

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