Applying Multivariate Methods to Archaelogical Data (using R)


Instructor: Dr. Georg Roth (Ur- und Frühgeschichte, University of Cologne)

The workshop focuses on explorative and inferential multivariate methods suited specifically for archaeological data sets. Methods are discussed with special reference to archaeological research questions, i.e. what insight is sought for and which method can support this approach.

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Starting with the classic archaeological method CA its fields of application are reviewed with a focus on its limitations and an alternative solution for archaeological data, transformation based PCA (tbPCA), is introduced. First day ends with including explanatory information into ordinations i.e. canonical ordinations (CCA, tbRDA).

Besides (explorative) ordination finding reliable groupings is an important field of multivariate analysis. Starting with a special emphasis on choosing suitable distance measures traditional cluster approaches are discussed and enhanced by building reliable groupings based on internal validity criteria. The workshop closes with perspectives on multivariate methods for more specific purposes.

During afternoon intermissions individual mentoring is possible. Participation requires base knowledge of data handling in R. Participants are kindly asked to refresh their skills in advance. A small list of free media is provided in advance.

Workshop Schedule Day 1, Friday

10.00-12.00h Introduction: Why m-var stats anyway?

Repetition getting data into R, multivariate stats packages, CA – myths of CA and seriation.

12.00-13.00h Lunchbreak

13.00-15.00h Comparing CA with tbPCA; new alternative ordinations for archaeological data sets.

15.00-16.00h Didactic break (individual mentoring)

16.00-18.00h Testing interpretations in ordination (constrained analysis); how to connect cause and effect for multivariate data. 

Workshop Schedule Day 2, Friday

10.00-12.00h Distance based methods with focus on clustering; how to measure differences for different kinds of data.

12.00-13.00h Lunchbreak

13.00-15.00h Finding reliable groups with cluster validity criteria; how to define objective groups. 

15.00-16.00h Didactic break (individual mentoring).

16.00-18.00h Perspectives on multivariate solutions for specific research questions.

Borcard et al. 2011: D. Borcard/Fr. Gillet/P. Legendre, Numerical ecology with R (New York 2011).
Legendre/Legendre 2012: P. Legendre/L. Legendre, Numerical ecology. Developments in environmental modelling 24 (Amsterdam 2012 3rd).

[a small collection of additional introductory media is provided in advance].

Event Information:

Date, Time: 03/06/2016, 10:00 h – 18:00 h
& 10/06/2016 10.00 – 18.00 h

Location: Room 1.90 Bernhard Feilchenfeld Str. 11, Bernhard Feilchenfeld Str. 11, Cologne

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10th Martin Schwarzbach Colloquium


15.00 – 15.10h:        Ansgar Büschges
(Dean of Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Cologne)

Words of Welcome in Honour of Martin Schwarzbach

15.10 – 15.30h:        Bettina Adenauer-Bieberstein
(Honorary Consul of Iceland in Cologne)

“Martin Schwarzbach and his special relation to Iceland”

15.30 – 16.30h:        Rick Potts

Potts“The Environmental Dynamics of Human Evolution” 

East Africa is the source of much information about the evolution of early human ancestors. A synthesis of East African environmental data suggests that significant events in human origins typically developed during lengthy eras of strong climate fluctuation. Analysis of Earth’s orbital dynamics offers a model of alternating high and low climate variability over the past 5 million years.

This high/low variability model shows that fluctuations between arid and moist climate were important in the evolution of key human adaptations. The origin of the major early human lineages, critical transitions in stone technology, and the main geographic milestones in human origins all appear to coincide with prolonged intervals of intense climate variability. Climate dynamics and resource uncertainty likely shaped the adaptive versatility of our species, expressed by the expansion of mobile technologies, symbolic behavior, social networks, and behavioral diversity. Long climate sequences obtained by drilling in the East African Rift Valley, including near the site of Olorgesailie, Kenya, will test these ideas about the significance of adaptability in the origin of our species.

16.30 – 16.45h: Coffee Break

16.45 – 17.45h:        Mark Maslin

Mark Maslin“The Cradle of Humanity: How the changing landscape of Africa made us smart”

Current evidence suggests that all of the major events in hominin evolution have occurred in East Africa. Over the last two decades, there has been intensive work undertaken to understand African palaeoclimate and tectonics in order to put together a coherent picture of how the environment of East Africa has varied in the past. The landscape of East Africa has altered dramatically over the last 10 million years. It has changed from a relatively flat, homogenous region covered with mixed tropical forest, to a varied and heterogeneous environment, with mountains over 4 km high and vegetation ranging from desert to cloud forest.

The progressive rifting of East Africa has also generated numerous lake basins, which are highly sensitive to changes in the local precipitation-evaporation regime. There is now evidence that the rapid oscillation between the presence and absence of deep-water lakes in East Africa were concurrent with major events in hominin evolution. It seems the unusual geology and climate of East Africa created periods of highly variable local climate, which, it has been suggested could have driven hominin speciation, brain expansion and dispersal out of Africa. One example is the significant hominin speciation and brain expansion event at ~1.8 million years ago that seems to have been coeval with the occurrence of highly variable, extensive, deep-water lakes. This complex, climatically very variable setting inspired the pulsed climate variability hypothesis that suggests the long-term drying trend in East Africa was punctuated by episodes of short, alternating periods of extreme humidity and aridity. The fundamental question, however, remains how much did variations in the landscape versus social factors influence the 80% expansion of brain capacity and the dispersal out of Africa at 1.8 million years ago.

17.45h:         Get Together (incl. Snacks & Drinks)

If you are interested in attending, please reserve a seat using our online booking system or send an email to the IRTG Office till April 18, 2016.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 29/04/2016, 15:00 h – 19:00 h

Location: Geo-/Bio-Hörsaal, Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Geochronological investigation of loess-paleosol sequences in southeastern Europe

banner_bösken_2016Janina Bösken is a PhD-student working within the B project, which deals with the so called eastern trajectory of early modern human migration to Europe.

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janina bösken

Janina Bösken, Project B1

The B1 team from Aachen investigates the paleoenvironmental conditions during this migration and Janina’s focus lies on luminescence dating. She investigates mainly loess-paleosol sequences, but also fluvial sands within an archeological excavation are part of her research. Also, the analysis and visualization with GIS is an important aspect of her PhD.

In this presentation she will elaborate the investigation of the B1 team in Hungary, Serbia and Romania and she will show how geochronology contributes to this. Furthermore, several profiles and their timing will be shown and the challenges and implications will be explained. Finally, some examples of the GIS analysis will be presented.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 02/05/2016, 14:00 h – 14:45 h

Location: Room S12, Seminargebäude (Building 106), Universitätsstraße 37 , Cologne

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Reconstructing Environmental Conditions of the Last Glacial in the Northern Harz Foreland


Several types of archives are used for reconstructing paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic conditions during the quaternary. Loess-paleosol-sequences often represent the best accessible archive in terrestrial environments. The accumulation of loess is linked to cold environments whereas soil formation on loess occurs during warmer and moister periods.

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Repeating changes of climatic and environmental conditions result in accumulation and development of loess-paleosol-sequenes. Two loess-paleosol sections in the northern Harz foreland have been investigated within the second phase of the “Collaborative Research Centre 806 (CRC806) – Our Way to Europe


Lydia Krauß, Project D1

– Culture-Environment Interaction and Human Mobility in the Late Quaternary”. We are aiming towards a better understanding of the paleoenvironmental conditions during the Weichselian in an area close to the Scandinavian ice sheet. To achieve that, a multi-proxy approach is applied. During June 2014 the two profiles Hecklingen and Zilly were cleaned, documented and sampled for sedimentological analyses. Samples were continuously taken in a high resolution of 5 cm for multi-elemental (XRF), CaCO3 content, environmental magnetism, color and grain size distribution measurements.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 02/05/2016, 14:45 h – 15:30 h

Location: Room S12, Seminargebäude (Building 106), Universitätsstraße 37 , Cologne

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Combining geochronological and stratigraphic information for Central European loess sections

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Loess-paleosol sequences (LPS) are the most extensively available archives for the reconstruction of paleoenvironmental conditions in Central Europe. A huge amount of sections were published during the past centuries providing information concerning stratigraphy, geochemical, biological or sedimentological proxy data. Luminescence dating was applied to develop a chronological framework which allows for correlations to other archives and large-scale proxy data such oxygen isotopic stages or Greenland ice core data.

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However, it is hardly possible to date short-time climatic oscillations (e.g. Dansgaar-Oeschger cycles) or transitions only at one location due to local specifics concerning accumulation rates and erosive processes. This phenomenon ends in the observation that very often dates from different localities do not match well. Thus, the integrated perspective of stratigraphy and luminescence dating from different localities could improve the chronological knowledge.

In this study, we focused on the transition from the local LGM in the sense of the maximum extent of glaciation and a following ‘terrestrial LGM’ with a maximum of aridity and coldness.

Jörg Zens

Jörg Zens, Project D1

The associated sediment sequence contains the Eltville Tephra. It was never dated directly but the surrounding sediments were dated 87 times at 15 localities with different luminescence techniques yielding ages between 13.5 and 49.6 ka. These ages were quantitatively combined to calculate a reproducible common age and compared to a new date directly from the tephra. Additionally, further luminescence ages were determined from the remaining units of the transitions zone and finally correlated to independent proxy data and chronologies.  As a result, a more reliable chronology and environmental model is presented.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 02/05/2016, 15:30 h – 16:15 h

Location: Room S12, Seminargebäude (Building 106), Universitätsstraße 37 , Cologne

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In Situ Dose Rate Determination: First Measurements by the Use of BeO OSL Dosimeters within the Purpose of Luminescence Dating


Franz Hartung is PhD student and research associate at the Cologne Luminescence Laboratory and the project F2 of the CRC 806 “Our way to Europe” and investigates dose rate determination techniques within the context of trapped charge dating methods. Before he came to Cologne, Franz Hartung studied Physics at the TU Dresden and graduated with a diploma degree, whereas the thesis was written in the radiation Physics group (ASP) in the institute of nuclear and particle Physics (IKTP).

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