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Seasonal Bison Exploitation in North American Prehistory: A Probabilistic Approach Using Fetal Prey Osteometry

Author(s): Ryan Breslawski

Year: 2017

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Summary

Bison remains often serve as evidence for seasonal food exploitation in archaeological investigations of the Great Plains and adjacent regions. Interpreting this evidence relies on discrete rutting and calving periods that allow zooarchaeologists to link ontogenetic data to a specific time of year. However, ecological data on modern bison show that the timing of rutting and calving behavior varies between herds and even within the same herd between years. To address this problem, this study models variability in conception dates across modern bison herds. In combination with metric data from fetal prey remains, these conception models are then used to create intra-annual probability distributions for the timing of a hunting event. Using intra-annual probability distributions obtained through this approach, this paper assesses seasonal subsistence hypotheses at three Late Holocene sites: Big Goose Creek (Wyoming), Baker Cave III (Idaho), and Upper Tucker (Texas). Unlike efforts to infer seasonality from fetal bison remains with other methods, this study provides easily interpretable probabilities showing the level of agreement between data and hypotheses.


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Seasonal Bison Exploitation in North American Prehistory: A Probabilistic Approach Using Fetal Prey Osteometry. Ryan Breslawski. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430380)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14662

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