Understanding trade patterns in ancient Greece. A Princeton archaeologist was studying artifacts found on Greek islands and dating to 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. He needed to better understand the relationships between objects, their historical periods, and the areas where they were found within each site. Initially, complex correlation matrices contributed to his understanding of these relationships. Next, several iterations of cluster analysis, conducted collaboratively, revealed the types of objects that tended to appear together and thus the profiles that might be attached to certain locations, based on the abundance of their artifacts and on the wealth and variety of trade that they indicated. All in all, the findings helped explain both the mindsets of these ancient peoples and the dynamics of their economies. Results led to a publication in a prestigious archaeological journal.
Gauging specialization in Pre-Columbian societies. An undergraduate researcher was studying the progression of societies in ancient Mexico. Her thesis depended on her ability to distinguish between greater and lesser specialization of roles, as reflected in the relative standardization of artifacts such as potsherds. We helped her evaluate several methods of comparing variabilities of different artifact measurements and to incorporate the most applicable variance tests in her dissertation. This provided her with solid evidence on the specialization characterizing these early societies.