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Special Collection

Meta-analyses in zooarchaeology

David Orton, Session Organizer     James Morris, Session Organizer    
Collection launched: 20 Dec 2016
Large-scale meta-analyses of zooarchaeological data have the potential to address issues well beyond the reach of conventional site-level studies. From the spread of farming in the Neolithic to the development of global trade networks in the modern era, and from the transmission of human cultural innovations to the detection of anthropogenic impacts on the environment, many of the big themes in contemporary archaeology necessitate synthesis of data on a grand-scale. Where past approaches have largely been fairly informal, the cumulative results of decades of zooarchaeological research in many regions now present opportunities for more systematic synthesis or even data-mining of publications and archives, while increasing interest in online data publication raises the prospect of raw zooarchaeological data being widely available in the future. This collection is made up of five papers drawn from a session entitled Meta-analyses in zooarchaeology: large-scale syntheses in the era of 'big data', held at the 2014 International Council for ArchaeoZoology (ICAZ) conference in San Rafael, Argentina. Authors discuss the challenges of variable data quality; showcase statistical tools for data synthesis; and present case studies spanning three continents and ranging from the late Pleistocene to the seventeenth century AD.