Statistics in Bioarcheology: A Review

Research Article

Clifford Qualls and Otto App


Statistics is a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of numerical data, whereas, mummy studies are about death and mortality in ancient populations. The combination of an exact science (statistics) together with attempts at the restoration of the biology of long dead individuals requires interpretation of statistical data and knowledge of biology. Here we review recent progress made in this field. Bioarcheology relies on statistical modeling. These are mathematical models that embody a set of statistical assumptions concerning the generation of some sample data from a larger population. A statistical model represents a form of the data. The assumptions used in statistical models describe probability distributions, from which a particular data set is sampled. These probability distributions distinguish a statistical model from other, non-statistical, mathematical models. The statistical models are best represented by mathematical equations.

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