Faunal Analysis or Zooarchaeology is the study of animal
bones found in the archaeological record. The goal of this type of research
in archaeology is toreconstrust the environment and behavior of ancient peoples
as thoroughly as animal remains allow.
A researcher will begin by isolating fragements of bone that are diagnostic, that are identifiable to species level. The next step is to compare the bone assemblages. To do this two measures of specimen abundance are used:
1) The Number of Identified Specimens (NISP) is a count of the number of bones or bone fragments. This assay has obvious disadvantages because it is easy to overestimate one species at the expense of another, especially if its bones are cut into small fragments.From 1999 Fagan, B. Archaeology: A Brief Introduction. Prentice-Hall.
2) The Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI), a count of the number of individuals necessary to account for all of the identifiable bones. This count is based on careful inventories of individual body parts (e.g., jaws). The MNI is a much more accurate estimate of the number of animals present in a collection.
Go to Recitation Schedule.
Go to Syllabus.
Return to Home Page.