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Comparing archaeological proxies for long-term population patterns: An example from central Italy

Palmisano, A; Bevan, A; Shennan, S; (2017) Comparing archaeological proxies for long-term population patterns: An example from central Italy. Journal of Archaeological Science , 87 pp. 59-72. 10.1016/j.jas.2017.10.001. Green open access

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Abstract

Raw counts of archaeological sites, estimates of changing settlement size and summed radiocarbon probability distributions have all become popular ways to investigate long-term regional trends in human population. Nevertheless, these three archaeological proxies have rarely been compared. This paper therefore explores the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of archaeological evidence for population patterns, as well as how they address related issues such as taphonomic loss, chronological uncertainty and uneven sampling. Our overall substantive goal is to reconstruct demographic fluctuations in central Italy from the Late Mesolithic to the fall of the Roman Empire (7500 BC-AD 500), and with this in mind, we bring to bear an unusually detailed and extensive dataset of published central Italian archaeological surveys, consisting of some 10,971 occupation phases at 7383 different sites. The comparative results demonstrate reassuring consistency in the suggested demographic patterns, and where such patterns diverge across different proxies (e.g. Late Bronze Age/Iron Age) they often do so in useful ways that suggest changes in population structure such as site nucleation or dispersal.

Type: Article
Title: Comparing archaeological proxies for long-term population patterns: An example from central Italy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2017.10.001
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2017.10.001
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Demography; Summed probability distributions; Radiocarbon; Aoristic methods; Mediterranean; Archaeological survey; Settlement patterns
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10024727
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