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The Identification of Archaeological Bone through Non-Destructive ZooMS: The Example of Iroquoian Bone Projectile Points

Author(s): Christian Gates St-Pierre ; Krista McGrath ; Keri Rowsell ; Matthew Collins

Year: 2016

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Summary

ZooMS (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) is a well-established technique for the identification of archaeological bone. In this study, we apply a refined ZooMS method to worked bone points in order to analyse them in a completely non-destructive fashion. The traditional ZooMS technique requires destructive analysis of a specimen, which is obviously problematic when dealing with intact rare artefacts. The bone points are part of large assemblages of bone tools and manufacturing debris recovered from two Pre-Contact Iroquoian village sites located in southern Quebec, Canada. White-tailed deer was the most important mammal species identified in the faunal assemblages. This information combined with the approximate size of the original bone suggested the points were likely deer, however preliminary ZooMS analyses using this new technique revealed the unexpected species identification of bear. The results were subsequently confirmed using traditional ZooMS and DNA analysis. Further testing of additional artefacts from the site using the modified ZooMS method has resulted in several additional species identifications. These surprising results would never have come to light through traditional zooarchaeological methods, highlighting the importance of advancing biomolecular research in this field.


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The Identification of Archaeological Bone through Non-Destructive ZooMS: The Example of Iroquoian Bone Projectile Points. Christian Gates St-Pierre, Krista McGrath, Keri Rowsell, Matthew Collins. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403596)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America