Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Tal Simmons

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Anemone

Third Advisor

Dr. William Cremin

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


In 1998 the Neolithic archaeological site of Bawwab al-Ghazal (ca. 11,500- 7,500 BP) was excavated by a team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside and Whitman College. Among the many artifacts recovered from the site, ranging from stone and shell beads to stone tools and related debitage, were an abundant sample of bird bones. Excavators shipped the sample, consisting of some 407 specimens, to the Anthropology Department of Western Michigan University for a faunal analysis.

This study seeks to illustrate the importance of bird remains in the archaeological record. The avifaunal analysis of Bawwab al-Ghazal began with identifying the largely fragmentary skeletal assemblage. Once the specimens were identified and classified into Family, genera, and species, a statistical analysis was undertaken. The statistical tools used in this thesis include MNE estimates, MNI estimates, and tMNE/MNI (or the index of anatomical completeness). The use of these methods assists researchers in overcoming some problems caused by sampling errors. Interpretation of statistical data from this zooarchaeological analysis provides insight into anthropological issues such as species diversity, hunting preference, environmental reconstruction, and seasonality at Bawwab al-Ghazal. Questions regarding the interrelationship between humans and birds at the site are considered. In light of the avifaunal analysis, larger issues concerning human exploitation of the Middle Eastern desert margins and the origin and development of nomadic pastoralism are discussed.

Included in

Anthropology Commons