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Critical review of the MNI (minimum number of individuals) as a zooarchaeological unit of quantification

  • Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo
Original Paper

Abstract

The use of minimum number of individuals (MNI) in the analysis of mammal archaeofaunal assemblages has received intense criticism for its derived nature and its dependence of biasing variables. Some authors have argued that similar taxonomic variability as documented by MNI can be achieved with other less biased measuring units, such as number of identified specimens (NISP) and derivates thereof. The present study is the first experimentally controlled test that shows the degree of bias of estimates of MNI and NISP by different analysts. It shows that the margins of error of both measuring units are independent and that MNI can be more accurately estimated than NISP, despite its “derived” inferential nature.

Keywords

MNI NISP MNE QSP Aggregation Mathematical modelling 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am extremely thankful to T.R. Pickering and J. Yravedra for their very useful comments in an earlier draft of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PrehistoryComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.IDEA (Instituto de Evolución en África)Museo de los OrígenesMadridSpain

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