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Modifiable reporting unit problems and time series of long-term human activity

Bevan, A; Crema, ER; (2021) Modifiable reporting unit problems and time series of long-term human activity. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 376 (1816) , Article 20190726. 10.1098/rstb.2019.0726. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper responds to a resurgence of interest in constructing long-term time proxies of human activity, especially but not limited to models of population change over the Pleistocene and/or Holocene. While very much agreeing with the need for this increased attention, we emphasize three important issues that can all be thought of as modifiable reporting unit problems: the impact of (i) archaeological periodization, (ii) uneven event durations and (iii) geographical nucleation-dispersal phenomena. Drawing inspiration from real-world examples from prehistoric Britain, Greece and Japan, we explore their consequences and possible mitigation via a reproducible set of tactical simulations. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Cross-disciplinary approaches to prehistoric demography’.

Type: Article
Title: Modifiable reporting unit problems and time series of long-term human activity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2019.0726
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0726
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: research bias, population, radio, carbon, settlement, archaeology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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/10116350
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