Exploring the guale village and spanish mission occupations at the sapelo shell ring complex through bayesian analysis

Victor D. Thompson, Richard W. Jefferies, Christopher R. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon (14C) dates in North American archaeology is increasing, especially among archaeologists working in deeper time. However, historical archaeologists have been slow to embrace these new techniques, and there have been only a few examples of the incorporation of calendar dates as informative priors in Bayesian models in such work in the United States. To illustrate the value of Bayesian approaches to sites with both substantial earlier Native American occupations as well as a historic era European presence, we present the results of our Bayesian analysis of 14C dates from the earlier Guale village and the Mission period contexts from the Sapelo Shell Ring Complex (9MC23) in southern Georgia. Jefferies and Moore have explored the Spanish Mission period deposits at this site to better understand the Native American interactions with the Spanish during the 16th and 17th centuries along the Georgia Coast. Given the results of our Bayesian modeling, we can say with some degree of confidence that the deposits thus far excavated and sampled contain important information dating to the 17th-century mission on Sapelo Island. In addition, our modeling of new dates suggests the range of the pre-Mission era Guale village. Based on these new dates, we can now say with some degree of certainty which of the deposits sampled likely contain information that dates to one of the critical periods of Mission period research, the AD 1660-1684 period that ushered in the close of mission efforts on the Georgia Coast.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1771-1784
Number of pages14
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • AMS dating
  • Bayesian
  • Georgia Coast
  • Spanish
  • historic period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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