Skip to contents

r-universe CRAN Version CRAN checks CRAN Downloads

Project Status: Active – The project has reached a stable, usable state and is being actively developed.



A toolkit for absolute dating and analysis of chronological patterns. This package includes functions for chronological modeling and dating of archaeological assemblages from count data. It allows to compute time point estimates and density estimates of the occupation and duration of an archaeological site. kairos provides methods for:

  • Mean ceramic date estimation (South 1977): mcd()
  • Event and accumulation date estimation (Bellanger and Husi 2012): event()
  • Aoristic analysis (Ratcliffe 2000): aoristic()
  • Chronological apportioning (Roberts et al. 2012): apportion()


You can install the released version of kairos from CRAN with:

And the development version from GitHub with:

# install.packages("remotes")


## Load packages
library(folio) # datasets

kairos only supports dates expressed in CE years (BCE years must be given as negative numbers). All results are rounded to zero decimal places (sub-annual precision does not make sense in most situations). You can change this behavior with options(kairos.precision = x) (for x decimal places).

kairos uses a set of S4 classes that represent different special types of matrix. Please refer to the documentation of the arkhe package where these classes are defined.

It assumes that you keep your data tidy: each variable (type/taxa) must be saved in its own column and each observation (sample/case) must be saved in its own row.

## Aoristic Analysis
data("zuni", package = "folio")

## Set the start and end dates for each ceramic type
dates <- list(
  LINO = c(600, 875), KIAT = c(850, 950), RED = c(900, 1050),
  GALL = c(1025, 1125), ESC = c(1050, 1150), PUBW = c(1050, 1150),
  RES = c(1000, 1200), TULA = c(1175, 1300), PINE = c(1275, 1350),
  PUBR = c(1000, 1200), WING = c(1100, 1200), WIPO = c(1125, 1225),
  SJ = c(1200, 1300), LSJ = c(1250, 1300), SPR = c(1250, 1300),
  PINER = c(1275, 1325), HESH = c(1275, 1450), KWAK = c(1275, 1450)

## Keep only assemblages that have a sample size of at least 10
keep <- apply(X = zuni, MARGIN = 1, FUN = function(x) sum(x) >= 10)

## Calculate date ranges for each assemblage
span <- apply(
  X = zuni[keep, ],
  FUN = function(x, dates) range(unlist(dates[x > 0])),
  MARGIN = 1,
  dates = dates

## Coerce to data.frame
span <-
colnames(span) <- c("from", "to")

## Calculate aoristic sum (weights)
aorist_weigth <- aoristic(span, step = 50, weight = TRUE)

## Rate of change
aorist_roc <- roc(aorist_weigth, n = 30)


Please note that the kairos project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By contributing to this project, you agree to abide by its terms.


Bellanger, Lise, and Philippe Husi. 2012. “Statistical Tool for Dating and Interpreting Archaeological Contexts Using Pottery.” Journal of Archaeological Science 39 (4): 777–90.

Ratcliffe, Jerry H. 2000. “Aoristic Analysis: The Spatial Interpretation of Unspecific Temporal Events.” International Journal of Geographical Information Science 14 (7): 669–79.

Roberts, John M., Barbara J. Mills, Jeffery J. Clark, W. Randall Haas, Deborah L. Huntley, and Meaghan A. Trowbridge. 2012. “A Method for Chronological Apportioning of Ceramic Assemblages.” Journal of Archaeological Science 39 (5): 1513–20.

South, S. A. 1977. Method and Theory in Historical Archaeology. Studies in Archeology. New York: Academic Press.