Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Quantitative Units and Terminology in Zooarchaeology

  • R. Lee Lyman (a1)
Abstract

Fifteen years ago Casteel and Grayson (1977) identified potential ambiguity in the definitions of quantitative terms and units used by zooarchaeologists. As solutions they suggested that analysts use the original definitions of terms and explicitly specify how units are counted. The history of zooarchaeology since then has involved a shift from producing estimates of taxonomic abundances to measuring various taphonomic processes and effects within taxa. As a result, many new quantitative units and terms for those units have been proposed. Some of these new units and terms have been used to measure properties of bone assemblages that are not clearly related to a taphonomic process or effect. Other units and terms have been used inappropriately due to apparent misunderstanding of the property measured by a unit or due to some assumed, implicit meaning of a term. The 112 terms compiled for this study have 122 distinct definitions. Some of the designated quantitative units are synonymous with one another while other units are used in ambiguous manners that seriously compromise their reliability. Explicit definitions of quantitative units and terms along with detailed descriptions of how individual units are measured are mandatory to the efficient communication of research results and the continued prosperity of zooarchaeological research.

Resumen

Hace quince años Casteel y Grayson (1977) identificaron la potencial ambigüedad en las definiciones de los términos cuantitativos y las unidades utilizados por zooarqueólogos. Ellos sugirieron como solución que los analistas utilizaran las definiciones originates de los términos y especificaran explicitamente la manera de contar las unidades. Desde aquel entonces la historia de zooarqueología ha cambiado de manera que ya no se producen las estimaciones de la abundancia taxonómica sino que se miden varios procesos tafonómicos y sus efectos dentro de los taxa. Como resultado, se han propuesto muchas unidades cuantitativos nuevas además de los términos para ellas. Algunos de estos términos y unidades nuevas se han utilizado para medir las propiedades de las colecciones de huesos que no están claramente relacionadas con algún proceso o efecto tafonómico. Se han utilizado inapropiadamente otras unidades y términos debido a la aparente mala interpretación de la propiedad medida por la unidad o debido a algún supuesto, implícito significado del término. Los 112 términos compilados para este estudio tienen 122 distintas definiciones. Algunas de las unidades cuantitativas indicadas tienen significados sinónimos, mientras que se utilizan otras unidades de manera tan ambigua que se compromete su veracidad. Las definiciones explícitas de las unidades cuantitativas y sus términos junto con las descripciones detalladas de cómo se miden las unidades individuales son obligatorias para la eficaz comunicación de los resultados de la investigación y la contínua prosperidad de las investigaciones zooarqueológicas.

Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Allen , and J. B. M. Guy 1984 Optimal Estimations of Individuals in Archaeological Faunal Analysis : How Minimal is the MNI? Archaeology in Oceania 19 : 4147.

P. Andrews , and J. Cook 1985 Natural Modifications to Bones in a Temperate Setting. Man 20 : 675691.

C. Badgley 1986 Counting Individuals in Mammalian Fossil Assemblages from Fluvial Environments. Palaios 1 : 328338.

L. R. Binford 1988 Fact and Fiction about the Zinjanthropus Floor : Data, Arguments, and Interpretations. Current Anthropology 29 : 123135.

R. J. Blumenschine 1989 A Landscape Taphonomic Model of the Scale of Prehistoric Scavenging Opportunities. Journal of Human Evolution 18 : 345371.

L. A. Borrero , M. Casiraghi , and H. D. Yacobaccio 1985 First Guanaco-Processing Site in Southern South America. Current Anthropology 26 : 273276.

H. T. Bunn 1986 Patterns of Skeletal Representation and Hominid Subsistence Activities at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, and Koobi Fora, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 15 : 673690.

H. T. Bunn 1991 A Taphonomic Perspective on the Archaeology of Human Origins. Annual Review of Anthropology 20 : 433467.

H. T. Bunn , and E. M. Kroll 1986 Systematic Butchery by Plio/Pleistocene Hominids at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Current Anthropology 27 : 431452.

R. W. Casteel , and D. K. Grayson 1977 Terminological Problems in Quantitative Faunal Analysis. World Archaeology 9 : 235242.

D. C. Crader 1984 The Zooarchaeology of the Storehouse and the Dry Well at Monticello. American Antiquity 49 : 542558.

D. C. Crader 1990 Slave Diet at Monticello. American Antiquity 55 : 690717.

K. Cruz-Uribe 1988 The Use and Meaning of Species Diversity and Richness in Archaeological Faunas. Journal of Archaeological Science 15 : 179196.

K. Cruz-Uribe , and R. G. Klein 1986 Pascal Programs for Computing Taxonomic Abundance in Samples of Fossil Mammals. Journal of A rchaeological Science 13 : 171187.

J. Damuth 1982 Analysis of the Preservation of Community Structure in Assemblages of Fossil Mammals. Paleobiology 8 : 434446.

P. Dodson , and D. Wexlar 1979 Taphonomic Investigations of Owl Pellets. Paleobiology 5 : 275284.

B. S. Everitt 1977 The Analysis of Contingency Tables. Chapman and Hall, London.

N. R. J. Fieller , and A. Turner 1982 Number Estimation in Vertebrate Samples. Journal of Archaeological Science 9 : 4962.

C. Gamble 1985 Review of ‘Quantitative Zooarchaeology : Topics in the Analysis of Archaeological Faunas’ by D. K. Grayson . Journal of Archaeological Science 12 : 403404.

A. S. Gilbert , and B. H. Singer 1982 Reassessing Zooarchaeological Quantification. World Archaeology 14 : 2140.

A. S. Gilbert , and P. Steinfeld 1977 Faunal Remains from Dinkha Tepe, Northwestern Iran. Journal of Field Archaeology 4 : 329351.

D. K. Grayson 1991 Alpine Faunas from the White Mountains, California : Adaptive Change in the Late Prehistoric Great Basin? Journal of Archaeological Science 18 : 483506.

A. Hill 1979a Butchery and Natural Disarticulation : An Investigatory Technique. American Antiquity 44 : 739744.

A. Hill 1979b Disarticulation and Scattering of Mammal Skeletons. Paleobiology 5 : 261274.

A. Hill , and A. K. Behrensmeyer 1984 Disarticulation Patterns of Some Modern East African Mammals. Paleobiology 10 : 366376.

R. C. Holtzman 1979 Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Fossil Assemblage Composition. Paleobiology 5 : 7789.

D. R. Horton 1984 Minimum Numbers : A Consideration. Journal of Archaeological Science 11 : 25 5271.

D. L. Hull 1988 Science as a Process. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

T. F. Kehoe , and A. B. Kehoe 1960 Observations on the Butchering Technique at a Prehistoric Bison-Kill in Montana. American Antiquity 25 : 420423.

R. G. Klein 1989 Why Does Skeletal Part Representation Differ Between Smaller and Larger Bovids at Klasies River Mouth and Other Archeological Sites? Journal of Archaeological Science 16 : 363381.

K. D. Kusmer 1990 Taphonomy of Owl Pellet Deposition. Journal of Paleontology 64 : 629637.

R. W. Lie 1980 Minimum Number of Individuals from Osteological Samples. Norwegian Archaeological Review 13 : 2430.

R. W. Lie 1983 Reply. Norwegian Archaeological Review 16 : 49.

R. L. Lyman 1979b Available Meat from Faunal Remains : A Consideration of Techniques. American Antiquity 44 : 536546.

R. L. Lyman 1984 Bone Density and Differential Survivorship of Fossil Classes. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 3 : 259299.

R. L. Lyman 1985 Bone Frequencies : Differential Transport, In Situ Destruction, and the MGUI. Journal of Archaeological Science 12 : 221236.

R. L. Lyman 1987a On Zooarchaeological Measures of Socioeconomic Position and Cost-Efficient Meat Purchases. Historical Archaeology 21 : 5866.

R. L. Lyman 1992 Anatomical Considerations of Utility Curves in Zooarchaeology. Journal of Archaeological Science 19 : 722.

C. W. Marean , and L. M. Spencer 1991 Impact of Carnivore Ravaging on Zooarchaeological Measures of Element Abundance. American Antiquity 56 : 645658.

R. H. Meadow 1981 Animal Bones— Problems for the Archaeologist Together with Some Possible Solutions. Paleorient 6 : 6577.

R. E. Morlan 1989 Paleoecological Implications of Late Pleistocene and Holocene Microtine Rodents from the Bluefish Caves, Northern Yukon Territory. . Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 26 : 149156.

R. K. Nichol , and C. J. Wild 1984 ‘Numbers of Individuals’ in Faunal Analysis : The Decay of Fish Bone in Archaeological Sites. Journal of Archaeological Science 11 : 3551.

N. Noe-Nygaard 1977 Butchering and Marrow Fracturing as a Taphonomic Factor in Archaeological Deposits. Paleobiology 3 : 218237.

C Plug , and I. Plug 1990 MNI Counts as Estimates of Species Abundance. South African Archaeological Bulletin 45 : 5357.

T. J. Ringrose 1993 Bone Counts and Statistics : A Critique. Journal of Archaeological Science 20 : 121157.

M. D. Russell 1987 Mortuary practices at the Krapina Neandertal site. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 72 : 381397.

J. A. Shotwell 1955 An Approach to the Paleoecology of Mammals. Ecology 36 : 327337.

J. A. Shotwell 1958 Inter-Community Relationships in Hemphillian (Mid-Pliocene) Mammals. Ecology 39 : 271282.

J. M. Skibo , M. B. Schiffer , and N. Kowalski 1989 Ceramic Style Analysis in Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology : Bridging the Analytical Gap. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 8 : 388409.

S. S. Stevens 1946 On the Theory of Scales of Measurement. Science 103 : 677680.

M. C. Stiner 1991 Food Procurement and Transport by Human and Non-human Predators. Journal of Archaeological Science 18 : 455182.

M. C. Stiner 1992 Overlapping Species ‘Choice’ by Italian Upper Pleistocene Predators. Current Anthropology 33 : 433451.

L. C. Todd 1987 Taphonomy of the Horner II Bone Bed. In The Horner Site : The Type Site of the Cody Cultural Complex, edited by G. C. Frison and L. C. Todd , pp. 107198. Academic Press, Orlando.

L. C Todd , and D. J. Rapson 1988 Long Bone Fragmentation and Interpretation of Faunal Assemblages : Approaches to Comparative Analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 15 : 307325.

A. Turner , and N. Fieller 1985 Considerations of Minimum Numbers : A Response to Horton. Journal of Archaeological Science 12 : 477183.

H. -P. Uerpmann 1973 Animal Bone Finds and Economic Archaeology : A Critical Study of ‘Osteo-archaeological’ Method. World Archaeology 4 : 307332.

P. Villa , C. Bouville , J. Courtin , D. Helmar , E. Mahieu , P. Shipman , G. Belluomini , and M. Granca 1986 Cannibalism in the Neolithic. Science 233 : 43137.

J. P. N. Watson 1979 The Estimation of the Relative Frequencies of Mammalian Species : Khirokitia 1972. Journal of A rchaeological Science 6 : 127137.

T. E. White 1952a Observations on the Butchering Technique of Some Aboriginal Peoples : 1. American Antiquity 17 : 337338.

T. E. White 1953b Observations on the Butchering Technique of Some Aboriginal Peoples No. 2. American Antiquity 19 : 160164.

T. E. White 1954 Observations on the Butchering Technique of Some Aboriginal Peoples Nos. 3, 4, 5, and 6. American Antiquity 19 : 254264.

T. E. White 1955 Observations on the Butchering Technique of Some Aboriginal Peoples Numbers 7, 8, and 9. American Antiquity 21 : 170178.

T. E. White 1956 The Study of Osteological Materials in the Plains. American Antiquity 21 : 401404.

C. J. Wild , and R. K. Nichol 1983a A Note on Rolf W. Lie's Approach to Estimating Minimum Numbers from Osteological Samples. Norwegian Archaeological Review 16 : 4548.

C. J. Wild , and R. K. Nichol 1983b Estimation of the Original Number of Individuals from Paired Bone Counts Using Estimators of the Krantz Type. Journal of Field Archaeology 10 : 337344.

R. G. Wolff 1973 Hydrodynamic Sorting and Ecology of a Pleistocene Mammalian Assemblage from California (U. S. A.). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 13 : 91101.

W. R. Wood 1968 Mississippian Hunting and Butchering Patterns : Bone from the Vista Shelter, 23SR-20, Missouri. American Antiquity 33 : 170179.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 2 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 60 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th January 2017 - 27th July 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.