Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Winter 2019

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Cultural and Environmental Resource Management

Committee Chair

Patrick M. Lubinski

Second Committee Member

Meaghan Wetherell

Third Committee Member

Patrick T. McCutcheon


Artiodactyl bones are the most common faunal remains found in Washington prehistoric archaeology sites, but they are often too fragmented to accurately identify a family, genus, or species. Traditional faunal analysis can only organize unidentifiable bone fragments into size class, and chemical methods often require the destruction of bone samples. In this thesis research, I tested a new, nondestructive faunal analysis technique using portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) to measure trace element concentrations in comparative collection and archaeological bone samples. Using cannonbones from five different artiodactyl species, I collected trace element data from 50 comparative collection specimens and 18 archaeological specimens previously identified to species. I used a Random Forest classification analysis to predict the family and species of modern comparative and archaeological specimens based on collected trace element data. Species identification accuracy was 70% for modern specimens and 22% for archaeological specimens, while family identification accuracy was 82% for modern specimens and 67% for archaeological specimens. These results suggest that identification pXRF method used in this thesis is promising, but would require further work to be definitive.


Co-Chair: Meaghan Wetherell