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Offering a field-tested analytic method for identifying faunal remains, along with helpful references, images, and examples of the most commonly encountered North American species, Identifying and Interpreting Animal Bones: A Manual provides an important new reference for students, avocational archaeologists, and even naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts. Using the basic principles outlined here, the bones of any vertebrate animal, including humans, can be identified and their relevance to common research questions can be better understood.
Because the interpretation of archaeological sites depends heavily on the analysis of surrounding materials – soils, artifacts, and floral and faunal remains – it is important that non-human remains be correctly distinguished from human bones, that distinctions between domesticated and wild or feral animals be made correctly, and that evidence of the reasons for faunal remains in the site be recognized. But the ability to identify and analyze animal bones is a skill that is not easy to learn from a traditional textbook. In Identifying and Interpreting Animal Bones: A Manual, veteran archaeologist and educator April Beisaw guides readers through the stages of identification and analysis with sample images and data, also illustrating how specialists make analytical decisions that allow for the identification of the smallest fragments of bone.
Extensive additional illustrative material, from the author's own collected assemblages and from those in the Archaeological Analytical Research Facility at Binghamton University in New York, are also available in Identifying and Interpreting Animal Bones: A Manual's online supplement. There, readers can view and interact with images to further understanding of the principles explained in the text. Please visit www.identifyingbones.com for more information.
April M Beisaw is an assistant professor of anthropology at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and an adjunct research associate in anthropology at Binghamton University. She has served as an independent faunal analyst since 1998 and has analyzed assemblages from prehistoric and historic sites across North America.
"This manual contains detailed and concise direction to the preparation, identification, description and reporting of bone assemblages from archaeological sites. Embedded within the text are easily accessible topical references and beneficial 'tools of the trade.' Beisaw's book, with its' meticulously organized approach to this complex topic, will certainly be a welcome addition to the libraries and laboratories of students and professionals alike."
– Bruce F. C. Thompson, research archaeologist
"This significant volume brings together cutting edge knowledge of the analysis of archaeological faunal remains. Discussions of broken, worked, weathered, gnawed and digested bone add new depth to analysis. The emphasis on using faunal remains from particular contexts as separate assemblages for understanding human activity areas at sites is particularly significant as archaeological specialists push to learn more from their collections."
– Jack Rossen, professor, Department of Anthropology, Ithaca College
"While there are many scholarly books on the study of archaeologically recovered animal bones, most are aimed at advanced students and established professionals who already have a firm grounding in zooarchaeology. April Beisaw, therefore, makes a valuable contribution by writing a "how to" manual explicitly designed for the beginner. She takes the novice step by step through the essentials of zooarchaeology – from receipt of a faunal assemblage, to cleaning, sorting, and identifying the bones, to recording essential taxonomic and quantitative information, to writing up a preliminary report. With its many illustrations, lucid explanations, and comprehensive glossary, this book is an excellent place for the beginner to get a solid foundation in the basics of zooarchaeology."
– John D. Speth, Arthur F. Thurnau Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan
"Dr. Beisaw's manual provides a clear, logical, step-by-step procedure to conduct a faunal analysis. Oh, that I had had such a tool as I began my career! Not only is it a rich and detailed map of how to perform such analyses, it is full of tidbits that most of us have learned only by hard experience. April draws our attention to what and how we can analyze our first stage results, moving the raw data into the interpretive realm of human behavior. Had I participated in a program based on this manual, I would have published a far better first paper, and could have saved myself some painful lessons. I think a student entering this field is well served by reading, and ideally, following a program built around this manual."
– Charles W. Wheeler, vice president, WCRM