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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Charlotte Roberts

Byers, S. & Roberts, C.A. (2003). Bayes' theorem in palaeopathological diagnosis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121(1): 1-9.

Author(s) from Durham


The utility of Bayes' theorem in paleopathological diagnoses is explored. Since this theorem has been used heavily by modern clinical medicine, its usefulness in that field is described first. Next, the mechanics of the theorem are discussed, along with methods for deriving the prior probabilities needed for its application. Following this, the sources of these prior probabilities and their accompanying problems in paleopathology are considered. Finally, an application using prehistoric rib lesions is presented to demonstrate the utility of this method to paleopathology.