Underwater carcass storage and processing of marrow, brains, and dental pulp: evidence for the role of proboscideans in human subsistence

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URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10900/114208
Dokumentart: Buch (einzelnes Kapitel)
Date: 2021-04-14
Language: English
Other Keywords: clastic anchor
carcass processing
green-bone fracture
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Skeletal material of Late Pleistocene proboscideans in the North American Great Lakes region is often preserved in fine-grained, organic-rich sediment characteristic of small lakes and wetlands. Patterns of spatial distribution and articulation of bones often suggest that carcass parts were emplaced as multiple clusters of anatomically disparate butch- ery units, each including multiple bones. Clusters of skeletal material are sometimes associated with features that may have served as anchors intend- ed to keep carcass parts tethered to a selected lo- cation within a pond, despite gas accumulation within soft tissues. One type of anchor consists of lithic material ranging from sand to gravel, where these sediments appear to have occupied a cylin- drical container that was probably a length of in- testine from the butchered animal. One site with well-documented “clastic anchors” also preserved two “marking posts” (an inverted main axis of spruce and an unidentified lateral axis) extending into sediment below the bone horizon but trun- cated by decomposition at the bone horizon. Each post probably extended to the pond surface at the time of emplacement and would have been visi- ble from shore. These features suggest a practice of securing, concealing, and returning to utilize groups of nutritionally significant carcass parts stored underwater. Ethnographic parallels and ra- tionales (extended time and reduced uncertainty of resource access) for this behavior are known, and experimental studies of subaqueous meat storage using deer heads, legs of lamb, and an adult draft horse show it to be effective over timescales rang- ing from months to years.

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