A Field Processing Model that Accounts for the Cost of Home Labor


Hunter-gatherer and subsistence farmer populations frequently make decisions regarding field processing when collecting resources away from a central base. These decisions can have a profound influence on the relative abundance of items in archaeological assemblages if systematic biases exist in the propensity for particular goods to be field processed. An influential and productive framework for understanding field processing decisions is the model formulated by Metcalfe and Barlow. In this poster, we (1) describe an extension to their model that accounts for the opportunity cost of home labor, (2) discuss a graphical approach for testing the model, and (3) illustrate the approach using ethnographic observations of field processing decisions from the island of Seram in eastern Indonesia. We show that the extended model can account for otherwise unexplained deviations from the predictions of standard field processing models, and conclude that the ethnographic observations are consistent with the cost of home labor time making a significant contribution to field processing decisions. We discuss the archaeological implications of the updated model using ethnoarchaeological and archaeological case studies of shellfish field processing on the island of Mer in the Torres Straight between Australia and New Guinea and on California’s northern Channel Islands.

Cite this Record

A Field Processing Model that Accounts for the Cost of Home Labor. Michael Price, Christopher Jazwa, Douglas Bird, Rebecca Bliege Bird. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405269)

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min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;