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NISP vs. MNI in Quantification of Body-Part Representation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Fiona Marshall
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Washington University, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130
Tom Pilgram
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Washington University, and Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, 510 South Kingshighway Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110

Abstract

In an effort to understand the relative advantages and drawbacks of the minimum number of individuals (MNI) and number of identifiable specimens (NISP) for quantifying body-part representation in faunas from archaeological sites, we analyzed relations among NISP, MNI, fragmentation, and bulk density in the fauna from Ngamuriak, a Kenyan pastoral Neolithic site. Our findings suggest that MNI is at least as sensitive as NISP to effects of fragmentation. While MNI decreases with increasing fragmentation, NISP moves in two directions with fragmentation, increasing at low levels of fragmentation and decreasing at high levels of fragmentation. In addition, MNI appears more sensitive than NISP to the relative identifiability of different body parts. We believe MNI may be a less representative descriptor of relative element frequency than NISP in highly fragmented assemblages.

Resumen

Resumen

Con la finalidad de entender las ventajas y desventajas del mínimo número de individuos (MNI) y el número de especímenes identificables (NISP) para cuantificar partes de cuerpo que representen faunas de sitios arqueológicos, nosotros hemos analizado las relaciones entre el NISP, MNI, fragmentación, y densidad ósea en la fauna de Ngamuriak. Ngamuriak es un sitio pastoral del período Neolítico de Kenya. Nuestros resultados indican que el MNI es tan sensitivo a los efectos de fragmentación como lo es el NISP. Mientras que el MNI sólo disminuye al incrementarse la fragmentación, el NISP se mueve en ambas direcciones al aplicarse fragmentación: crece a bajos niveles de fragmentación, y disminuye al incrementarse los niveles de fragmentación. Además, el MNI parece ser más sensitivo que el NISP a la identificación diferencial de diferentes huesos fragmentados. Comparado con el NISP, nosotros creemos que el MNI describe con menor precisión las frecuencias relativas de huesos en colecciones altamente fragmentadas.

Type
Reports
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 1993

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