Quantification & Interpretation
You are a zooarchaeologist analyzing the faunal assemblage from a site. Carefully examine the data
below and use it to answer the following questions.
Table 1: Quantities of skeletal elements at the Nyama Site. n/a: no side U: side undetermined
Animal Specimen Quantity Modified?
Bison bison (Bison) Femur, left 22 5 burned
Bison bison Femur, right 32 11 cut
Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed deer) Metacarpal, left 58 22 cut
Odocoileus virginianus Metacarpal, right 54 16 cut
Castor canadensis (Beaver) Humerii, left 2 1 cut
Castor canadensis Humerii, right 3 2 cut
Gavia immer (Loon) Tarsometatarsus, right 13 0
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Salmon) Cranium 85 5 burned
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Otolith 150 13 burned
Mussel sp. Shells 87 0
Table 2: Descriptions of skeletal elements
Table 3: Average weight of taxon found in assemblage
Animal Element Quantity per Species
Bison Femur 2
Deer Metacarpals: Corresponds to the hand bones
in humans; in the deer family, they fuse
together so one per limb.
2
Beaver Humerus 2
Loon Tarsometatarsus: a leg bone 2
Salmon Otolith: “ear stone”, calcium carbonate that
grows in fish ears, indicates age and size.
2
Mussel Shell 2
Animal Average Weight
Bison 410 kg (F)
1000 kg (M)
Deer 91 kg
Beaver 25 kg
Loon 4.1 kg
ANTH 103 DE – Lab 2: Zooarchaeology Exercises
2
1. For each taxon, calculate the NISP and the MNI. (10 marks)
NISP MNI
Bison
Deer
Beaver
Loon
Salmon

2. What is the NISP of the entire assemblage? Show your work. (1 mark)
3. Sometimes zooarchaeologists are interested in determining the dietary contribution of a taxon using a
measurement called meat weight. To calculate meat weight you use the equation MNI x Average
Weight. Using the MNI for each taxon and the average weights in Table 2, calculate the dietary
contribution for: (4 marks) Show your work.
 Bison =
 White-tailed deer =
 Beavers =
 Loon =
4. Based on these counts, which resources appear to be the most important in this assemblage? Which
ones are least important? (1 mark)
5. Calculate the percentage of the assemblage that was modified in terms of NISP (modified NISP/total
NISP). Be sure to calculate this figure for each type of modification and show your calculations. (3 marks)
6. The researchers return to you with a black bear humerus that has many disorganized, deep, rounded
striations near the proximal end. Upon further observation you can see several parallel, light, v-shaped
striations along the shaft. What do you think caused the two types of damage to the bear humerus? (2
marks)
 Disorganized, deep, rounded striations:
 Parallel, light, v-shaped striations:
ANTH 103 DE – Lab 2: Zooarchaeology Exercises
3
7. Based on the data provided in Table 4, use the birthing period and the mean ages of death (in
months) to calculate the most likely months for when the site was occupied. (1 mark)
Table 4 Birthing Period and Mean Ages of Death for Bison and Deer
Species Mating Season Gestation Birth Period Mean Ages of Death
Bison July – Sept 9.5 months mid-March – May 6 months
Deer Oct – Dec 6.5 months mid-April – mid-May 18 months
8. Table 5 contains the MNI for age classes of the deer remains found at the site. Using this table draw a
mortality profile (a bar graph representing age versus quantity). How would you categorize this
mortality profile? Provide an explanation about what may have happened to this population of deer. (3
marks)
Table 5 MNI of deer remains sorted by age
Age (in years) MNI
1 10
2 4
3 2
4 1
5 1
6 6
7 5

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