University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Exploring Archaeological Methods: Using Quantitative and Qualitative Techniques to Examine the Distribution of Amateur Collected Finds
Katherine Robbins

Last modified: 2012-01-25


With nearly 750,000 amateur-collected objects recorded onto an
online database, the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has created a unique dataset that has the potential to revolutionise the way in which we research our past. However, whilst the biases inherent in archaeological data have been explored in the context of professional collection, there has been little work on understanding the factors that control the distribution of objects recovered by amateur collectors. In this paper, I argue that the biases behind the distribution of the amateur collected finds recorded by the PAS need to be understood before these objects can be fully incorporated into our interpretations of the past. Despite the numbers of academics now using the PAS data, there are no established methodologies for exploring the factors controlling the distribution of finds. This paper introduces a number of quantitative and qualitative techniques that have been used to explore bias in the past, including comparative analyses with other archaeological datasets, the identification of internal variation, and statistical analyses of the distributions of landscape features. The paper concludes with an analysis of the effectiveness of these methods.