Testing for Mass Processing in Archaeological Ungulate Remains

Author(s): Martina Steffen

Year: 2017


Archaeological applications of ethnographic models require that variables derived from the activities of living people be translated into archaeological terms. Enloe suggested that processing caribou (Rangifer tarandus) carcasses for food storage should be recognizable in patterns of bone fragmentation. He predicted that relatively uniform and large-sized bone fragments would result from mass processing for marrow as part of logistic collector subsistence strategies, compared with smaller and less uniform bone fragments typical of individual consumption practices by foragers. He tested this expectation with caribou remains derived from known activities in historic village sites. When I applied this model to a faunal sample from the Croxton Site, the expectation that late Holocene prehistoric occupants of northern Alaska were logistic collectors that mass processed bones for marrow was not supported. This result indicates either that site occupants were not logistic collectors, that mass processing did not occur, or that mass processing is not decipherable in the bone sample. Most likely explanations are offered and some implications of this study are discussed.

Cite this Record

Testing for Mass Processing in Archaeological Ungulate Remains. Martina Steffen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428998)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14817