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Applying GIS and statistical analysis to assess the correlation of human behaviour and ephemeral architectural features among Palaeo-Eskimo sites on Southern Baffin Island, Nunavut

Thacher, Dana, Milne, S. Brooke, Park, Robert
Journal of archaeological science: Reports 2017 v.14 pp. 21-30
archaeology, geographic information systems, human behavior, models, statistical analysis, Nunavut
This paper applies statistical methods—Ripley's K-function, kernel density estimates and the chi-squared test—to analyze spatially the distribution of archaeological material within two Palaeo-Eskimo tent rings excavated at the LdFa-1 site on Baffin Island, Nunavut. The purpose of this analysis is to determine if there are any statistically verifiable patterns in the distribution of material at this site. Our results indicate that the material inside the tent rings does not follow the spatial segregation of space as laid out by older Palaeo-Eskimo models nor are there any other statistically relevant patterns. Such results outline why it is important for archaeologists to test for spatial randomness prior to inferring any patterns in the distribution of material. Notable differences between the two dwellings we investigated also suggest that statistical tests can be useful to determine if a dwelling is in fact contemporary with recovered artifacts. Finally, our investigation reveals that the common practice of focusing archaeological excavation efforts on interior units within tent ring structures misses important patterns outside of these features.