Systematic Butchery of Small Game at Kephalari Cave (Peloponnese, Greece)

Author(s): Britt Starkovich

Year: 2015


An ongoing faunal analysis at Kephalari Cave documents a remarkable standardization in the butchery of small game animals during the Upper Paleolithic. The site spans several phases of occupation, including small Middle Paleolithic, early Upper Paleolithic, and Aurignacian components, but the majority of the materials are from the post-Aurignacian Upper Paleolithic, Epigravettian, and late Upper Paleolithic (possibly Mesolithic) periods. Diverse ungulate taxa are found at the site, but the faunal remains are heavily dominated by small game, particularly hares, partridges, and fish. This abundance of small game is similar to later Upper Paleolithic layers at nearby Klissoura Cave 1. The representation of partridge and hare body parts is biased toward meat-rich elements, suggesting that these taxa were skinned outside of the cave, possibly at a spring directly adjacent to the site. A particularly striking feature in the assemblage is cut marks on the distal tibiotarsus of at least 40 individual partridges, which indicates standardized skinning of these birds across multiple late Upper Paleolithic layers. This might reflect the practicalities of removing the skin and feathers from the body before consumption, as well as the use of feathers for decoration.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Systematic Butchery of Small Game at Kephalari Cave (Peloponnese, Greece). Britt Starkovich. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397571)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;