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The Analysis of Animal Bones from Archeological Sites

In growing numbers, archeologists are specializing in the analysis of excavated animal bones as clues to the environment and behavior of ancient peoples. This pathbreaking work provides a detailed discussion of the outstanding issues and methods of bone studies that will interest zooarcheologists as well as paleontologists who focus on reconstructing ecologies from bones. Because large samples of bones from archeological sites require tedious and time-consuming analysis, the authors also offer a set of computer programs that will greatly simplify the bone specialist’s job.

After setting forth the interpretive framework that governs their use of numbers in faunal analysis, Richard G. Klein and Kathryn Cruz-Uribe survey various measures of taxonomic abundance, review methods for estimating the sex and age composition of a fossil species sample, and then give examples to show how these measures and sex/age profiles can provide useful information about the past. In the second part of their book, the authors present the computer programs used to calculate and analyze each numerical measure or count discussed in the earlier chapters. These elegant and original programs, written in BASIC, can easily be used by anyone with a microcomputer or with access to large mainframe computers.

273 pages | 6.375 x 9.25 | © 1984

Prehistoric Archeology and Ecology series

Anthropology: Physical Anthropology


Biological Sciences: Paleobiology, Geology, and Paleontology

Table of Contents

Series Editors’ Foreword
Part One - The Analysis of Archeological Bone Assemblages
1. The Interpretation of Fossil Faunas
Fossil Samples and Populations
Controlling Comparisons among Fossil Assemblages
Problems in "Controlling" for the Collector
Controlled Comparisons vs Taphonomy
2. The First Steps in Analysis: Sorting, Identification, Sexing, Aging, and Measurement
The Mammalian Skeleton: Terminology
Identifiable and Nonidentifiable Bone
Sexing and Aging
3. Quantifying Taxonomic Abundance
Indexes of Species Abundance
The Number of Identified Specimens (NISP)
The Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI)
More on NISPs and MNIs
Modified MNIs
Meat Weight Estimates
The Petersen Index
Summary and Conclusion
4. Sex and Age Profiles of Fossil Species
The Utility of Sex and Age Determination
Determination of Sex
Determination of Age: Ephphyseal Fusion versus Dental Criteria
Determining Individual Age from Teeth
Ungulate Crown Height and Age
Some Problems in Constructing Age Profiles from Crown Heights
Interpretation of Age Profiles
Discontinuities in Age Distributions
5. Interpreting NISPs, MNIs, Age/Sex Profiles, and Descriptive Statistics in Faunal Analysis
Skeletal Element Representation
The Transformation from the Death Assemblage to the Deposited Assemblage
The Transformation from the Deposited Assemblage to the Fossil Assemblage
Species Abundance
Species Abundance and Changes in Environment
Species Abundance and Cultural Change
Species Abundance and Assemblages Created by Carnivores
Age and Sex Profiles
Age/Sex Profiles and Collector Behavior: Example 1
Age/Sex Profiles and Collector Behavior: Example 2
Age/Sex Profiles and Collector Behavior: Example 3
Age/Sex Profiles of a Fossil Species and Its Population Dynamics
Mean Individual Size
Mean Individual Size and Climate
Size Variation and Human Predation Pressure
Part Two - BASIC Programs for the Analysis of Animal Bones from Archeological Sites
Some Technical Features Common to All the Programs
6. Computing the Minimum Number of Individuals in a Fossil Sample: Programs MNI, BONECODE, DENTCODE, and SKELDIV
The Assumptions behind MNI: Skeletal Parts Other Than Dentitions
The Assumptions behind MNI: Dentitions
File Names
Entry of Skeletal Parts Other Than Dentitions: Program BONECODE
Entry of Dentitions: Program DENTCODE
How MNI Deals with Indeterminacy: Skeletal Parts Other Than Dentitions
How MNI Deals with Indeterminacy: Dentitions
The Entry of Skeletal Part Divisors: Program SKELDIV
A Sample Session with MNI
The Results of an MNI Session
7. Computing Age Profiles from Dental Crown Heights: Programs AGEPROF, DENTDATA, CRNHGT, and SMIRNOV
File Names
Data Entry: Program DENTDATA
Automatic Entry of Age and Crown Height Parameters: Program CRNHGT
A Sample Session with AGEPROF
Results of an AGEPROF Session
Comparing Age Profiles: Program SMIRNOV
8. Computing Descriptive Statistics from Measurements of Bones and Teeth: Programs BONESTAT and BONEDATA
File Names
Entry of Bone Measurements: Program BONEDATA
A Sample Session with BONESTAT
The Results of a BONESTAT Session
Appendix. The Principal Variables Used in the Program MNI

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