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Buck-ing the Trend: surprising species identifications of archaeological bone points using ZooMS in deer-dominated faunal assemblages

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

Year: 2017

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Summary

Fragmented and worked bone continues to be problematic for accurate identification using traditional morphology-based analyses. In this study, we apply a number of ZooMS (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) techniques for the identification of bone points from two Pre-Contact Iroquoian village sites in southern Quebec, Canada. The predominance of white-tailed deer in the mammalian faunal assemblages of both sites, combined with the approximate size of the original bones, led to the initial assumption that the majority of the bone points found were likely to have been made of this animal. A preliminary non-destructive study of two of these points, first reported at the 2016 SAA conference, revealed the unexpected species identification of bear. Further testing of additional points from the sites has revealed a wide variety of surprising species, rather than the expected result of deer. These identifications highlight the importance of biomolecular techniques, such as ZooMS, in providing reliable and accurate species determinations, particularly for worked bone. It also provides a cautionary tale in applying general faunal assemblage assumptions to worked artefacts, which has implications for the interpretation of species-specific importance.


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Buck-ing the Trend: surprising species identifications of archaeological bone points using ZooMS in deer-dominated faunal assemblages. Krista McGrath, Keri Rowsell, Christian Gates St-Pierre, Matthew Collins. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430387)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15783

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