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Reference: Prof Christopher Bronk Ramsey, (2009). Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon, 51 (1), 337-360.Citable link to this page:


Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates

Abstract: If radiocarbon measurements are to be used at all for chronological purposes, we have to use statistical methods for calibration. The most widely used method of calibration can be seen as a simple application of Bayesian statistics, which uses both the information from the new measurement and information from the 14C calibration curve. In most dating applications, however, we have larger numbers of 14C measurements and we wish to relate those to events in the past. Bayesian statistics provides a coherent framework in which such analysis can be performed and is becoming a core element in many 14C dating projects. This article gives an overview of the main model components used in chronological analysis, their mathematical formulation, and examples of how such analyses can be performed using the latest version of the OxCal software (v4). Many such models can be put together, in a modular fashion, from simple elements, with defined constraints and groupings. In other cases, the commonly used uniform phase models might not be appropriate, and ramped, exponential, or normal distributions of events might be more useful. When considering analyses of these kinds, it is useful to be able run simulations on synthetic data. Methods for performing such tests are discussed here along with other methods of diagnosing possible problems with statistical models of this kind.

Publication status:PublishedPeer Review status:Peer reviewedVersion:Publisher's versionNotes:Copyright © 2009 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Bibliographic Details

Publisher: University of Arizona

Publisher Website:

Journal: Radiocarbonsee more from them

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Issue Date: 2009-01-01


Urn: uuid:bbcb620d-af5c-479c-97e3-9d0c6bdb6e48

Source identifier: 976

Issn: 0033-8222 Item Description

Type: Journal Article;

Version: Publisher's version Tiny URL: daisy:976


Author: Prof Christopher Bronk Ramsey - institutionUniversity of Oxford facultyOxford, SSD, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the H



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