This is a good book, buy it, you'll like it. You see, after going on and on in this blog about how most edited volumes in archaeology are worthless, I can't afford to edit a bad book. (Here is my original post on worthless edited volumes, and a later related post). So any volume I edit now must be good, almost by definition (please suspend your critical thinking skills here temporarily).
|Random ceramic thin section (internet)|
The most exciting news today was a new batch of radiocarbon results from the University of Arizona AMS lab. This is the first bunch from our second batch of dates. We are waiting for the entire suite to run them through Ox-Cal, but we are also working with the uncalibrated dates, not to assign ages, but to estimate phase lengths. It turns out that my colleagues George Cowgill and Keith Kintigh wrote a handy-dandy program a while ago using monte carlo simulation to estimate likely phase lengths from a suite of radiocarbon dates. We ran our initial batch of 20 dates, and we will run the entire group when they are all done. The simulation results in conjunction with the calibrated dates will give us estimates for the calendar dates of our ceramic phases. I am in the process of bugging George and Keith to actually publish their nice study and their algorithm, which illustrates some features of radiocarbon results that seem counterintuitive to many archaeologists.
Angela and I did the ceramic seriation and defined three phases based solely on ceramic type similarities. Then we looked at the seriated deposits stratigraphically and they were almost always in the right order. So two independent types of evidence agree. Now we look at the radiocarbon ages, and lo and behold the ceramic phases plot out in nice chronological sequence, with only a very small amount of overlap (yes, I know, once we calibrate the dates it will be much messier with lots of overlap. I have the bad fortune of working in a period when the calibration curve goes back on itself and ALL relevant dates have multiple age ranges. This is where the Cowgill/Kintigh procedure will help).