t OSTEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE OF CHANGE IN BUTCHERING TECHMQUE

Rita I-Arje
unpublished
Data on butchering marks can yield information on prehistoric butchering techniques. A selection of cutmarks deriving from the various stages in the butchering process of caribou as conducted by the Nunamiut Eskimo (Binford 1981) is presented. Some examples from bone collections from Neolithic to Medieval times are given. Stress is laid on the importance that any bone collection to be searched for butchery marks should be as unbiased and as unsampled as possible. Systematically analysed and
more » ... ly analysed and recorded cutmarks provide data which rnight reveal renewal or conservatism in butchery practice, and, give a basis for a more detailed picture of the use of animal products and greater insight into prehistoric economy. Animal bone rexnains from prehistoric settlements usually consist of food garbage and the refuse from the manufacturing oftools from bones and antlers. These remains can yield important information about the fauna on the site and in its surroundings. Besides the basic data on species distribution the archaeological bone colle,ctions can provide information about the composition of the livestock and how the domestic animals were utilized as regards production of meat, milk, hides, hair and nulnure, raw rnaterial for tool making or the use of animals for traction or transport. The wild fauna can, apart from the obvious contribution of meat, also give information about hunting and fishing strategies concerning species chosen, time of year and type of catchment area. Butchery marks on bones fromboth wild and dornestic animals can also reveal how the animal carcass was treated once the beast was slaughtered. Only small animals could be prepared for consumption in one piece. Medium-sized and large animals had to be broken down into parts more easy to handle for the cook and more suiLatrle for the pot. To get information about butchering strategies it is necessary to include a systematic recording of data conceming butchery marks in the analysis of the bone material. During the last decade considerable attention has been given to morphology, patterning, and behavioral significance of such archaeological traces (Bunn 1981, Binford 1981, Fotts & Shiprnan 1981, Shipman and Rose 1983, Toth & Woods 1 9 89). The identifi cation of cutmarks on fossil and archaeological bones has become an important tool in recognizing butchery or carcass-processing sites. To distinguish hominid-worked specimens from those damaged by other processes it is crucial that the marks found on bones can be verified to be either the cutmarks made with human tools or the marks inflicted on the bones by animal teeth (Sutcliffe 1970) or other non-hominid agencies (Behrensmeyer et al. 1986). The partitioning of a carcass with tools will give telltale marks. Thus, the evidence for butchering lies with the bones themselves and bones from all parts of the body are irnportant. The frequent occurrence of butchery marks on various skeletal elements can show how the carcasses were divided for meat distribution and con-sumption" It has to be remembered, though, that all cutrnarks are not necessarily due to butchering for meat. Bone and antler also provide good raw materials for the manufacturing of tools and various other objects and, accordingly, will display a variety of cutmarks due to such activities. The most distinctive feature of cutmarks is the presence of multiple, fine, linear striations which cut into, and orient longitudinally within, the rnain groove. The use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is recom-rnended in order to distinguish cutmarks made by human tools frommarks madeby otheragencies should there be any doubt about the origin (Potts & Shipman 23 t
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