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ARCH 2126/6126 & BIAN 3010/6510. Co-ordinators for these 3-unit honours preparation classes:- Robert Attenborough (ARCH2126) Colin Groves (BIAN3010). How these courses link. They are distinct courses with partially different time slots

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arch 2126 6126 bian 3010 6510

ARCH 2126/6126 & BIAN 3010/6510

Co-ordinators for these 3-unit honours preparation classes:-

Robert Attenborough (ARCH2126)

Colin Groves (BIAN3010)

how these courses link
How these courses link
  • They are distinct courses with partially different time slots
  • ARCH 2126 runs 2 x 1 ½ hours per week, Mon 1-2.30, Wed 10-11.30
  • BIAN 3010 runs Wed 10-11.30, Fri 10-11.30: see separate info
  • ARCH 2126 runs in first 7 weeks, July-August, BIAN 3010 after that
techniques in biological anthropology

Techniques in Biological Anthropology

Lecturer: Prof Colin Groves

analytical methods for anthropology archaeology

Analytical Methods for Anthropology & Archaeology

ARCH 2126/6126

Session 1


for anthropology archaeology
… for Anthropology & Archaeology
  • Basically, though not exclusively, an Honours preparation course for the anthropological disciplines (incl. arch.)
  • How many here intending Honours or MA in:-
  •  Social/cultural anthropology? Biological anthropology? Archaeology?
  • Anyone else?
analytical methods
Analytical Methods …
  • Analysis in the anthropological disciplines can be of many kinds: verbal, linguistic, intellectual etc.
  • For this course, the focus is on analysis through the use of numbers
  • Let’s be blunt: statistics
  • The textbooks already give this away
  • Main textbook: Robert Drennan (1996) Statistics for Archaeologists: a Commonsense Approach. Plenum, NY.
  • Also recommended: Lorena Madrigal (1998) Statistics for Anthropology. Cambridge University Press.
  • Important difference between Drennan & Madrigal is more in their approach than in their discipline or their merit
Historically …
  • “Historically, Statistics is no more than State Arithmetic … It has been used – indeed still is used – to enable rulers to know how far they may safely go in picking the pockets of their subjects … Taxation and military service were the earliest fields for the use of Statistics. For this reason was the Domesday book compiled.” M.J. Moroney 1956
various senses of the word
Various senses of the word
  • National statistics as in “Australian Bureau of Statistics”, cf. Moroney
  • Statistics is also a branch of the mathematical sciences: probability
  • Statisticians are not necessarily enthusiasts for calculation
  • Nor do they necessarily always share the same opinions on statistics
why should anthropologists archaeologists study statistics
Why should anthropologists & archaeologists study statistics?
  • I assume that, for most of you, it is not sheer love of it that brings you here
  • Anyone taken a statistics course?
  • Anyone afraid of statistics or convinced they are incapable of it? proudly innumerate?
  • Anyone feel statistical analysis is a badge of academic respectability rather than a truly necessary step in the research process?
  • Or that if figures show it, it must be true?
so why are numerical analyses so common in our disciplines
So why are numerical analyses so common in our disciplines?
  • After all, we (mostly) became anthropologists/archaeologists out of curiosity & excitement about human beings, societies, cultures, artefacts, biology, evolution – not numbers
  • Let’s accept for the moment that numbers are helpful to us: will return to the reasons later
the purpose of this course
The purpose of this course
  • You could have attended a formal statistics course run by a statistician
  • Here you do not get a statistician, but you get someone more familiar with the uses you have for numerical analysis
  • I aim for us to break down barriers to comprehension, develop confidence & competence, encourage thought in terms of probability & quantity, & practise a few basic methods of data presentation & analysis
  • We do not become statisticians
assessment two items three for postgrads
Assessment: two items (three for postgrads)
  • Take-home open-book test: week 7
  • Results interpretation exercise:week 8
  • Weighting 50:50
  • For postgrads only, a third item: review of selected academic paper:week 10 (weighting 1/3:1/3:1/3)
structure of the course
Structure of the course
  • 14 sessions, 1½-hours (maximum)
  • Normally no more than one hour lecture, ½-hr for questions, discussion, problems
  • Please draw my attention to good/bad uses of numerical data that you see in the media or in your academic reading
  • Self-paced STEPS tutorials (ADH LG29)
  • Adjunct ILP Excel & SPSS sessions: pls sign up:
a little history the role of computers
A little history: the role of computers
  • ‘Classical’ statistical theory and many of the tests in common use to this day were developed in the 1920s & 1930s
  • Choices made then were guided in part by need to keep calculations within feasible & tolerable limits
  • Since then & especially since 1970s computers have become able to do massive amounts of tedious arithmetic
hands on
Hands on
  • This growth in computing power has implications for us at several levels
  • Practical statistics no longer involves facility with calculation: rather, ability to use computers to run packages
  • We have a laboratory at our disposal: AD Hope LG29, with 3 computers – we have priority use of it for self-paced work Wednesdays 1-5 pm
gathering data in the anthropological disciplines
Gathering data in the anthropological disciplines
  • Empirical research in any of these disciplines involves data gathering at times – though in very different styles
  • A socio-cultural anthropologist may collect a myth or a genealogy, observe a conversation or a ceremony, interview an informant, map and census a village or suburb
And …
  • An archaeologist may describe, photograph or survey a site, draw a section, reconstruct a pot or a stone artefact, measure an artefact, sieve and analyse a soil sample, collect pollen or phytoliths, interview a traditional land owner, collect carbon or another material from which to estimate a date
And …
  • A biological anthropologist may categorise a bone, fingerprint or blood group, count occurrences of a type of behaviour, undertake a craniometric or anthropometric measurement, weigh a baby, count malaria parasites in a blood sample, measure actual or self-reported food intake
what are the data like
What are the data like?
  • Some are purely qualitative – interview transcripts etc.
  • But some are categorizations – we can count the numbers in the different categories
  • And others are actual measurements
  • Both of the last two are quantitative
our analytical methods here are for quantitative data
Our analytical methods here are for quantitative data
  • Why? The world is complex: there are few absolutes in the biological and social sciences – we need to be able to detect trends, patterns, relationships (e.g. smoking & cancer) which may not be simple or obvious,& may have counter-examples; & this is where good statistics can help
  • So: the discipline of statistics
the purpose of statistics
The purpose of statistics
  • To provide insight into situations and problems by means of numbers
  • How is this provided?
  • Numerical data are available or are collected
  • Data are organized, summarized, analysed and results presented
  • Conclusions are drawn, in context
  • Whole process is often guided by critical appraisal of similar work already done