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Identifying Signatures of Selection in Archaeological Sequences

Both neutral drift and selection cause the frequencies of artefact types in archaeological sequences to vary over time. Discriminating between these two processes, based on a time series of artefacts from a site or region, if often important for answering archaeological questions. However, archaeologists have few tools available for detecting if there is a significant signal of selection for a specific artefact type over time. We draw on recent work in population genetics to explore statistical methods for detecting selection in archaeological assemblages. Here we present an archaeological application of the frequency increment test (FIT), which rejects neutrality if the distribution of normalized artefact-type-frequency increments exhibits a mean that deviates significantly from zero.