The pots of Phylakopi: applying statistical techniques to archaeology
Archaeology explores the lifestyles of societies of the past. It does this by finding and studying the physical remains of these societies. We are all familiar with the image of the archaeologist as an excavator of ancient sites and a collector of artifacts. But this is only part of the job: Once they have uncovered a selection of potentially interesting objects, archaeologists still have to understand how their different finds relate to each other and what they say about the people they are studying. By looking at recent studies of the ancient settlement at Phylakopi on the Greek island of Melos, we will see how challenging this can be. We will also learn more about some of the statistical techniques that now play as large a role in archaeological life as picks and shovels do.