The use of statistical size estimations in minimum number calculations

  • Orchard T
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Analyses of archaeological faunal assemblages often require the use of varied quantitative techniques for reconstructing aspects of the harvested populations. This is particularly important with the increasing use of zooarchaeological data outside of the realm of traditional archaeological inquiry. Detailed size estimations of archaeological faunal specimens can be used to distinguish between the remains of individual animals, aiding in the reconstruction of minimum number calculations. Statistical regression provides a particularly useful technique for generating size estimations which may then be used to calculate such modified MNI values. This paper outlines a methodology for utilising regression estimated sizes in MNI calculations, and tests the methodology in the context of a case study involving fish remains from Aleutian Islands archaeological sites. The use of this methodology to generate modified MNI values results in consistent increases over values calculated using traditional MNI approaches. Such an approach, while more costly in terms of required effort, is felt to be preferable to traditional approaches in contexts where detailed size estimations are usefully calculated to answer other research questions.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Allometry
  • MNI
  • Quantitative methods
  • Regression
  • Size estimation
  • Zooarchaeology

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  • Trevor J. Orchard

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