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Radiocarbon test for demographic events in written and oral history

Edinborough, K; Porcic, M; Martindale, A; Brown, TJ; Supernant, K; Ames, KM; (2017) Radiocarbon test for demographic events in written and oral history. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 114 (47) pp. 12436-12441. 10.1073/pnas.1713012114. Green open access

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We extend an established simulation-based method to test for significant short-duration (1–2 centuries) demographic events known from one documented historical and one oral historical context. Case study 1 extrapolates population data from the Western historical tradition using historically derived demographic data from the catastrophic European Black Death/bubonic plague (Yersinia pestis). We find a corresponding statistically significant drop in absolute population using an extended version of a previously published simulation method. Case study 2 uses this refined simulation method to test for a settlement gap identified in oral historical records of descendant Tsimshian First Nations communities from the Prince Rupert Harbour region of the Pacific Northwest region of British Columbia, Canada. Using a regional database of n = 523 radiocarbon dates, we find a significant drop in relative population using the extended simulation-based method consistent with Tsimshian oral records. We conclude that our technical refinement extends the utility of radiocarbon simulation methods and can provide a rigorous test of demographic predictions derived from a range of historical sources.

Type: Article
Title: Radiocarbon test for demographic events in written and oral history
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1713012114
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1713012114
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: historical record, oral history, archaeology, simulation, radiocarbon
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10059943
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