A Bayesian Approach to the Interpretation of Andean Faunal Assemblages

Author(s): Jo Osborn

Year: 2017


Zooarchaeology offers a rich source of data for exploring a number of important questions, from domestication and subsistence to ritual practices and political economy. However, issues of equifinality frequently arise, making it difficult to interpret faunal assemblages as different agents and processes may create similar archaeological signatures. Researchers are often forced to make subjective choices when suggesting preferred explanations for their data. Such approaches are subject to human calculation errors, and may also obscure the fact that in Andean prehistory, activities we consider separate were often intrinsically linked. This study draws on ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and archaeological data to construct Bayesian probabilities for distinguishing various types of faunal assemblages, including feasting refuse, sacrificial offerings, divinatory activities, and domestic middens. The models are then evaluated against a case study from Huaca Soto, a monumental Paracas platform mound. Ultimately, this paper seeks to quantify the probability of various formation processes in faunal assemblages, allowing for more accurate and transparent interpretations of Andean prehistory.

Cite this Record

A Bayesian Approach to the Interpretation of Andean Faunal Assemblages. Jo Osborn. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430599)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17103