5. An Introduction to Probability

  1. Todd L. VanPool and
  2. Robert D. Leonard

Published Online: 20 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444390155.ch5

Quantitative Analysis in Archaeology

Quantitative Analysis in Archaeology

How to Cite

VanPool, T. L. and Leonard, R. D. (2010) An Introduction to Probability, in Quantitative Analysis in Archaeology, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444390155.ch5

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 APR 2011
  2. Published Print: 22 NOV 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405189514

Online ISBN: 9781444390155



  • probability, and statistical procedure/outcome - simply not understanding what it means;
  • probability, a powerful tool - assumption that the world is consistent;
  • theoretical determinations of probability;
  • consistent use of symbolism - removing ambiguity, data connected to analytic results;
  • probability of rolling a given sum - pair of dice and distribution of probabilities of rolling a sum with a pair of dice;
  • deriving probabilities, theoretically not possible - lack of a priori knowledge of pertinent factors;
  • empirically derived probabilities – argument, justifying application of probability to future past events;
  • probability calculation - of repeated events;
  • binomial formulas, trials determining - probability of any possible outcome;
  • probability in archaeological contexts - central tenant to most research


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Theoretical Determinations of Probability

  • Empirical Determinations of Probability

  • Complex Events

  • Using Probability to Determine Likelihood

  • The Binomial Distribution

  • Probability in Archaeological Contexts