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Empirical Bayes estimation for archaeological stratigraphy

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Models and algorithms are presented for the stratigraphic analysis of earth core samples collected at archaeological sites. The aim is to separate the occupation of the site into distinct periods, by dividing the earth core into well-defined blocks of uniform magnetic susceptibility. The models describe the response of detector equipment by using both a spread function and an error process, and they incorporate prior beliefs regarding the nature of the true susceptibility values. The prior parameters are estimated by using pseudolikelihood and the susceptibilities by maximum a posteriori methods via the one-step-late algorithm. These procedures are illustrated with data from synthetic and real core specimens. The new procedures prove to be far superior to other approaches, producing reconstructions which clearly show distinct periods of uniform magnetic susceptibility separated by sharp discontinuities.

Keywords: Archaeology; Concave priors; Geophysics; Implicit discontinuity priors; Maximum a posteriori estimation; One-step-late algorithm; Pseudolikelihood; Stratigraphy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Leeds and University of Bradford, UK 2: University of Leeds, UK 3: University of Bradford, UK

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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