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Investigating Variation in the Prevalence of Weathering in Faunal Assemblages in the UK: A Multivariate Statistical Approach.

Madgwick, R. and Mulville, J., 2012. Investigating Variation in the Prevalence of Weathering in Faunal Assemblages in the UK: A Multivariate Statistical Approach. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 22 (5), 509-522.

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Madgwick&Mulville_Typeset_proof.pdf - Accepted Version


DOI: 10.1002/oa.1274


This article presents an exploratory multivariate statistical approach to gaining a more comprehensive understanding of variation in subaerial bone weathering in a British context. Weathering is among the most common taphonomic modifications and provides a crucial line of evidence for reconstructing the taphonomic trajectories of faunal assemblages and archaeological deposits. It provides clear evidence for prolonged subaerial exposure either before deposition in a context or because of later disturbance. In combination with other taphonomic indices such as gnawing, trampling, abrasion and fracture patterns, weathering can be used to reconstruct depositional histories and to investigate the structured treatment of different body parts or taxa in deposition. However, a broad range of factors affect the prevalence and severity of weathering, and therefore patterns can rarely be interpreted at face value. Many variables such as predepositional microenvironment cannot be traced archaeologically. Other contributory factors pertaining to the structural properties of elements and taxa can be discerned and must be taken into account in interpreting weathering signatures. However, disagreement exists regarding which variables are most important in mediating weathering. In addition for zooarchaeologists to interpret modification patterns, it is necessary for elements and taxa that are most likely to be affected by weathering to be defined. This is the case as deposits that are dominated by those classes of remains are likely to exhibit greater modification than those that are not, even if depositional histories were similar. Through a combination of classification tree and ordinal regression analysis, this article identifies which archaeologically recoverable variables explain the greatest variance in weathering and which anatomical elements and taxa are most likely to be affected in archaeological deposits in the UK.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:depositional histories; formation processes; modification; multivariate statistics; taphonomy; weathering; zooarchaeology
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:18365
Deposited By: Dr Richard Madgwick LEFT
Deposited On:01 Aug 2011 10:27
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:39


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