The golden years for mathematics and computers in archaeology (1965-1985)

Djindjian, F. (2009) The golden years for mathematics and computers in archaeology (1965-1985). Archeologia e Calcolatori, 20. pp. 61-73. ISSN 1120-6861


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A major quantitative movement in all of the Social and Human Sciences known as Operational Research, started after the last world war with the application of mathematics developed for the optimization of war logistics. Since the 1960s, the fascinating progress of computer technology in the field of scientific research has amplified the movement which saw the first applications to Archaeology around 1966. At the time, the success of a Quantitative Archaeology was associated with the revolution in multidimensional data analysis, which occurred with computerisation and improvements in the algorithms, mainly Multidimensional scaling, Factor Analysis, Principal Component Analysis, Correspondence Analysis and various Cluster Analyses. The Conference of Mamaia (Romania) in 1970, which may be considered as the first and most spectacular scientific event of this period of foundation, found expression in the book Mathematics and Computers in Archaeology by Doran and Hodson (1975). From 1975 to 1985, the quantitative movement experienced its finest period with the transition from the research field to the application field, both for algorithms and software, and the diffusion of Correspondence Analysis, Principal Component Analysis associated with Cluster Analysis and their use by archaeologists. Numerous papers and books were published during that period. After 1985, the quantitative movement fell into disfavour, probably due to the "deconstruction" paradigm and the passing fashion of expert systems. Nevertheless, it is also possible to state that Quantitative Archaeology had now definitively entered into the standard methods of Archaeology.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Moscati P. (ed.), La nascita dell’informatica archeologica. Atti del Convegno Internazionale (Roma, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 24 ottobre 2008)
Uncontrolled Keywords: History of applications and research projects; theoretical and methodological problems
Subjects: 900 Storia, Geografia e discipline ausiliarie > 930 Storia dei mondo antico fino al 499 ca. > 930.1 Archeologia (Classificare qui la Storia fino al 4000 a.C., l'Archeologia preistorica, le opere interdisciplinari sull'Archeologia) > 930.102 Archeologia - Opere miscellanee > 930.1028 Archeologia – Tecniche, metodologie, apparecchi e strumenti (comprende: Archeometria) > 930.10285 Archeologia – Applicazioni informatiche (comprende: tecniche di datazione)
Depositing User: Dott.ssa Paola Moscati
Date Deposited: 17 May 2010
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2017 10:04

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