Using Spatial Analysis To Determine The MNI Of Mass Graves

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Carmen Dianne Spruill (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Gwendolyn Robbins-Schug

Abstract: Many common methods for establishing the number of individuals represented by a skeletal assemblage within mass graves decontextualize the elements by not considering the position of the element within the burial site. Here I argue that based on the position of skeletal elements within space, they can be inferred to belong to the same individual (or not). The ability to reassociate elements can provide more accurate estimates of the number of individuals present. The position of the elements within the grave is affected by a variety of geotaphonomic forces which must be considered before assaying spatial analysis. Mass graves which represent a primary inhumation site, in which the remains are articulated or were disarticulated through natural taphonomic processes, in which carnivore scavenging is minimal, in which the geological context is favorable for preservation, and in which fluvial transport is low-energy or not present are the best candidates for effective analysis of the spatial distribution of remains. This thesis will discuss current methods for detecting and mapping mass graves, geotaphonomic factors which affect spatial distribution of bones relative to each other, and the application of technologies for spatial analysis to the establishment of the number of individuals represented by an assemblage.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Spruill, C. (2017). "Using Spatial Analysis To Determine The MNI Of Mass Graves." Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2017
Mass graves, minimum number of individuals, taphonomy, geographic information systems

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