The Energetics of Butchery

Author(s): Andrew Boehm; Erik R. Otárola-Castillo

Year: 2018


Animal butchery is an important aspect of human evolution. While it provides obvious nutritional and non-nutritional benefits, the choice to butcher an animal involves costs. These costs are primarily time, energy. Most research investigating these costs has focused on time alone. By creating ranking schemes using post-encounter return rates, researchers usually hypothesize which animals or body parts hunters should butcher. Yet, the energetic cost of butchery and its effects on these rankings remain unknown. To shed light on this problem, we measured the energetic and time costs of butchers during butchery of domestic sheep using stone tools. We used a heart rate monitor to measure the energetic expenditure for each segment of butchery while documenting time during the event, and verifying it by reviewing video recording. These data were analyzed using basic Heart rate variability techniques using the RHRV package (v. 4.2.3) of the R computing environment. Adding energetic cost, an important yet often omitted variable, to quantifying the butchery sequence provides a basis to better understand the costs and trade-offs of processing animals. These data are applicable to all archaeological events involving the human butchery of medium-to large-sized mammals.

Cite this Record

The Energetics of Butchery. Andrew Boehm, Erik R. Otárola-Castillo. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443656)

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Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20293