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The impact of experience and flake attributes on carcass processing time and efficiency during actualistic Early Stone Age butchery

Author(s): Stephen Merritt ; Kara Peters

Year: 2017

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Actualistic butchery often investigates the relationship between tool characteristics and butchery behavior but rarely considers individuals’ butchery skill. Therefore idiosyncratic behavioral differences may confound analyses of butchery time or efficiency. Here, two novice butchers used replicated Oldowan flakes on 40 domestic goat limbs to examine how tool attributes affected processing time and efficiency during defleshing and disarticulation, and whether a learning curve impacted butchery performance as individuals gained experience. Neither butcher displayed significant temporal trends in defleshing efficiency (weight of meat defleshed per unit time) or disarticulation time (number of seconds required to separate joints) during the experimental series, however rank-order correlation indicates a significant positive trend in hindlimb defleshing efficiency through time for one individual. Two-way ANOVA shows hindlimbs were butchered more efficiently than forelimbs, but both butchers were similarly efficient. In contrast, disarticulation took significantly longer for one butcher, but forelimb and hindlimb disarticulation times were similar. Flake length, width, longest cutting edge length, and weight were positively related to defleshing efficiency, and negatively related to disarticulation time. Overall, bigger flakes were better for disarticulating limb joints and quickly removing meat, and these patterns were not obscured by increasing butchery experience. Supported by NSF awards 1358178 and 1358200.

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The impact of experience and flake attributes on carcass processing time and efficiency during actualistic Early Stone Age butchery. Stephen Merritt, Kara Peters. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429983)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16953

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