Journal article

Radiocarbon test for demographic events in written and oral history

Kevan Edinborough, Marko Porcic, Andrew Martindale, Thomas Jay Brown, Kisha Supernant, Kenneth M Ames



We extend an established simulation-based method to test for significant short-duration (1-2 centuries) demographic events known from one documented historical and one oral historical context. Case study 1 extrapolates population data from the Western historical tradition using historically derived demographic data from the catastrophic European Black Death/bubonic plague (Yersinia pestis). We find a corresponding statistically significant drop in absolute population using an extended version of a previously published simulation method. Case study 2 uses this refined simulation method to test for a settlement gap identified in oral historical records of descendant Tsimshian First Nations com..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Awarded by National Science Foundation

Awarded by Leverhulme Trust

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank the following people and organizations: Lax Kw'alaams Indian Band, Metlakatla Indian Band, Susan Marsden, David Archer, Bryn Letham, lain McKechnie, Ian Hutchinson, Eric Guiry, Steven Dennis, and David Leask; and Gordon Cook and Phillipa Ascough (University of Glasgow) and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Council staff for the 14C sample preparations and measurements. Samples for dating were collected through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant 410-2011-0814 awarded to A.M. as Principal Investigator (PI). Radiocarbon measurements were obtained through National Science Foundation Grant 12168147 awarded to K.M.A. as PI. The UCL Institute of Archaeology NEOMINE project team funded by the Leverhulme Trust for Research Project Grant RPG-2015-199 awarded to PI Prof. Stephen Shennan are all thanked for inspiration, as are Prof. Mark Thomas and Adrian Timp-son (Molecular and Cultural Evolution Lab, UCL) and Dr. Enrico Crema (Division of Archaeology, Cambridge University). We acknowledge the following basemap sources: Esri; HERE, DeLorme, increment P Corp.; General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans; US Geological Survey; Food and Agriculture Organization; National Park Service; Natural Resources Canada; GeoBase; Institut Geographique National; Kadaster NL; Ordnance Survey; Esri Japan; Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Esri China (Hong Kong); swisstopo; Mapmylndia; National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; CGIAR; N. Robinson; National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis; National Library of Scotland; National Museum of Australia; Geodatastyrelsen; Rijkswaterstaat; Geological Society of America; Geoland; Federal Emergency Management Agency; Intermap OpenStreetMap contributors; and the Geographic Information Service User Community.