## Activity, Inferring Social Organization using Quantitative Methods

Archaeologists count and measure artifacts and features on every excavation and in the laboratory. In this activity you have an opportunity to practice some basic statistical and graphical techniques used to describe data gathered from archaeological investigations.

Below is a list of the lengths (in meters) of some Neolithic burial mounds from southern England. Please analyse these data using the following statistical methods and answer the questions below.

Steps in this activity:

1. Create a 4 column table with the statistical method in the left column, the calculated result in the second column, the strengths of the method/result in the third column, and the weaknesses of the method/result in the fourth column. Or,

2. Create three graphical displays of these data to aid your interpretation. These displays should include:

a. one stem and leaf plot (note: don't center the "leaf" data, it needs to be flush left)

b. two histograms with different bin sizes. Make sure the x axis values don't overlap; e.g., 54-60, 60-64. This will result in double-counting the mounds. Label your x and y axis.

3. Answer the question: How does changing the bin sizes affect your understanding of the distribution of the burial mound lengths?

4. Answer the question: What do you infer was the type of social organization (see textbook for the types of social organization) of the people that produced these mounds?

5. Answer the question: Why did you select the type of social organization you did?

6. Answer the question: What additional information would be helpful to strengthen your inferences about the people or behavior that produced the mounds?

NOTES: You can use any spreadsheet or statistical program you like to help you with this activity and you do not need to "show your work" if you do any calculations by hand. There are many on-line tutorials on how to calculate these descriptive statistics and make stem and leaf plots, histograms, and box plots. Learning how to calculate the results and produce these graphical data representations with a software program is part of the learning objectives of this activity, so hand-drawn graphs/figures are not acceptable. Don't forget to label the x and y axes with titles.

33

34

60

95

30

58

98

69

36

72

49

56

60

70

70

37

70

44

61

31

95

35

81

58

75

71

74

51

63

51

64

51

60

36

51

52

Data adapted from Stephen Shennen (1988), Quantifying Archaeology

This site on quantitative evidence as used by historians is very interesting and helpful.

Below is a list of the lengths (in meters) of some Neolithic burial mounds from southern England. Please analyse these data using the following statistical methods and answer the questions below.

Steps in this activity:

1. Create a 4 column table with the statistical method in the left column, the calculated result in the second column, the strengths of the method/result in the third column, and the weaknesses of the method/result in the fourth column. Or,

__just download my Microsoft Word template for the activity by clicking here__. The statistics to be calculated are the mean, median, mode, and standard deviation of the burial data.2. Create three graphical displays of these data to aid your interpretation. These displays should include:

a. one stem and leaf plot (note: don't center the "leaf" data, it needs to be flush left)

b. two histograms with different bin sizes. Make sure the x axis values don't overlap; e.g., 54-60, 60-64. This will result in double-counting the mounds. Label your x and y axis.

3. Answer the question: How does changing the bin sizes affect your understanding of the distribution of the burial mound lengths?

4. Answer the question: What do you infer was the type of social organization (see textbook for the types of social organization) of the people that produced these mounds?

5. Answer the question: Why did you select the type of social organization you did?

6. Answer the question: What additional information would be helpful to strengthen your inferences about the people or behavior that produced the mounds?

NOTES: You can use any spreadsheet or statistical program you like to help you with this activity and you do not need to "show your work" if you do any calculations by hand. There are many on-line tutorials on how to calculate these descriptive statistics and make stem and leaf plots, histograms, and box plots. Learning how to calculate the results and produce these graphical data representations with a software program is part of the learning objectives of this activity, so hand-drawn graphs/figures are not acceptable. Don't forget to label the x and y axes with titles.

33

34

60

95

30

58

98

69

36

72

49

56

60

70

70

37

70

44

61

31

95

35

81

58

75

71

74

51

63

51

64

51

60

36

51

52

Data adapted from Stephen Shennen (1988), Quantifying Archaeology

This site on quantitative evidence as used by historians is very interesting and helpful.