ArticlePDF Available

Late Pleistocene butchered Bison antiquus from Ayer Pond, Orcas Island, Pacific Northwest: Age confirmation and taphonomy

  • Cascadia Archaeology

Abstract and Figures

Bone modifications on well-preserved Bison antiquus remains recently discovered during pond construction in the Pacific Northwest provide evidence suggestive of Late Pleistocene human activity. Since excavation and recovery conditions were not ideal careful evaluation of all observations separated those that can be made with confidence, and identified and discounted those less reliable. The report focuses on the context of the discovery, the taphonomic evidence, and compares modifications to those from other reported kill sites, considering evidence for human butchering and predator and scavenger damage. New test results confirm the bison is Late Pleistocene in age. A recent AMS radiocarbon date involving different pretreatment protocols places the event at 11,990 14C BP, slightly older than the first test results of 11,760 14C BP. These dates and observations were used to conclude that the bison was butchered by humans shortly after deglaciation.
Content may be subject to copyright.
This article appeared in a journal published by Elsevier. The attached
copy is furnished to the author for internal non-commercial research
and education use, including for instruction at the authors institution
and sharing with colleagues.
Other uses, including reproduction and distribution, or selling or
licensing copies, or posting to personal, institutional or third party
websites are prohibited.
In most cases authors are permitted to post their version of the
article (e.g. in Word or Tex form) to their personal website or
institutional repository. Authors requiring further information
regarding Elsevier’s archiving and manuscript policies are
encouraged to visit:
Author's personal copy
Late Pleistocene butchered Bison antiquus from Ayer Pond, Orcas Island, Pacic
Northwest: Age conrmation and taphonomy
Stephen M. Kenady
, Michael C. Wilson
, Randall F. Schalk
, Robert R. Mierendorf
Cultural Resource Management, 5319 Cedar Ridge Place, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284, USA
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Douglas College, P.O. Box 2503, New Westminster, BC, Canada V3L 5B2
Cascadia Archaeology, P.O. Box 51058, Seattle, WA 98115-1058, USA
National Park Service, 2105 Highway 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284, USA
article info
Article history:
Available online 21 April 2010
Bone modications on well-preserved Bison antiquus remains recently discovered during pond
construction in the Pacic Northwest provide evidence suggestive of Late Pleistocene human activity.
Since excavation and recovery conditions were not ideal careful evaluation of all observations separated
those that can be made with condence, and identied and discounted those less reliable. The report
focuses on the context of the discovery, the taphonomic evidence, and compares modications to those
from other reported kill sites, considering evidence for human butchering and predator and scavenger
damage. New test results conrm the bison is Late Pleistocene in age. A recent AMS radiocarbon date
involving different pretreatment protocols places the event at 11,990
C BP, slightly older than the rst
test results of 11,760
C BP. These dates and observations were used to conclude that the bison was
butchered by humans shortly after deglaciation.
Ó2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Shortly after recession of last Glacial Maximum ice, an evolving
postglacial landscape nearly connected the San Juan Islands to both
mainland Washington and Vancouver Island (James et al., 2009;
Wilson et al., 2009). Emergent glaciomarine substrates supported
the early successional habitat suitable for large ungulates and their
predators. Pollen core analysis indicates the presence of an open
pine (Pinus sp.) parkland with buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis),
northern wormwood (Artemisia campestris), and Sitka alder (Alnus
sinuata) on Orcas Island by 12,000
CBP(Leopold et al., 2009).
Extinct Late Pleistocene (LP) vertebrates including at least eleven
bison (Bison antiquus) have been discovered in wetland deposits at
several sites in the San Juans (Wilson et al., 2009) and additional
bison from the Saanich Peninsula of Vancouver Island (Wilson et al.,
2003). New discoveries of ground sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii) and
giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) conrm the great potential
of such depositional settings for early postglacial discoveries (Bar-
ton, B.R., pers. comm., Dethier, D., pers. comm.). Radiocarbon dates
indicate the bison population persisted for over a millennium, from
w12,000 to 10,800
C BP. The oldest of three reported
C dates
from Orcas Island bison found in separate wetlands,11,760 70
BP (Beta-216160), was from an apparently butchered mature male
B. antiquus (45SJ454/1e98, Fig.1) from Ayer Pond (45SJ454; Kenady
et al., 2007; Kenady, 2008). The possible association of human
activity with such an early date prompted a new effort to conrm
the age of the material as well as a critical assessment of the
context, taphonomy, and cultural evidence.
A new AMS date on bone collagen using more stringent
methods to minimize contamination shows this bison to be even
closer to 12,000
C BP. No artifacts were found with these bison
bones so it cannot be assigned to any known lithic technology and
the interpretation of cultural context rests with the evidence for
butchering. However, both Clovis and early stemmed/lanceolate
points are known in the Puget Sound region (Meltzer and Dunnell,
1987; Carlson and Magne, 2008; Kenady et al., 2008). It is note-
worthy that the Clovis points thus far found in Washington state
were inadvertent discoveries similar to those in this report. This
pattern underscores the importance of such discoveries in under-
standing the Late Pleistocene settlement of this region and in
development of targeted discovery strategies.
More rigorous excavations have produced evidence of nearly
coeval human activity farther south in Oregon at Paisley Cave,
dated 300
C years earlier (Gilbert et al., 2008); and the Manis
*Corresponding author. Tel./fax: þ1 360 854 7780.
E-mail addresses: (S.M. Kenady),
(M.C. Wilson), (R.F. Schalk), (R.R.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Quaternary International
journal homepage:
1040-6182/$ esee front matter Ó2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141
Author's personal copy
Mastodon Site (another accidental discovery), also showing
evidence of cultural modication of bone, is dated to 12,000
(Gustafson et al., 1979; Gilbow,1981; Peterson et al., 1983). The Ayer
Pond bison does not stand alone as evidence of a human presence
in the region during the LP.
We document both primary data edirect observations from the
bones themselves eand secondary contextual data from a variety
of sources including photographs, a wetlands inventory and our
own systematic investigations adjacent to the pond. The butchering
interpretation for the Ayer Pond bison rests upon a combination of
multiple observations reported by others and direct observations
by the authors. Analyses of megafauna with different taphonomic
proles provide an outline of attributes and lines of reasoning that
can support or challenge an interpretation of butchering. Other
researchers (Brain, 1981; Gilbow, 1981; Grayson, 1989;
Blumenschine, 1995; Fisher, 1995b; Lyman 1985; Bement, 1999;
Rogers, 2000; Morlan, 2003; Haynes, 2007; Galán et al., 2009:
273) have demonstrated that multiple lines of evidence must be
integrated before human agency can be assigned, an approach
necessitated by the apparent lack of a single diagnostic character-
istic. Sequential critical analysis of the natural setting, recovery
methods, skeletal element representation, and modication char-
acteristics is required, each of which is examined separately below.
It is important to note that the San Juan Islands are within
a region typied by coniferous forests and alder stands that tend to
promote soil acidity and, consequently, poor bone preservation
except under unusual conditions. Sphagnum bogs are also acidic,
destroying bones, but wetlands in the San Juans with calcareous
substrates have buffered waters and form taphonomic windows of
opportunityin which bones can be locally preserved. These
taphonomic windows must therefore be relied upon to provide
information for a wider landscape. They were formerly ponds and
thus not specic areas of human activity, though such activity likely
took place along their margins. The limited overlap between these
taphonomic windows (i.e., the wetlands) and the actual loci of
human activity (i.e., areas adjacent to the wetlands) signicantly
limits the possibility of nding associations between diagnostic
stone tools and well-preserved megafaunal bones and helps to
explain the paucity of such discoveries in the past.
2. Natural setting
2.1. Discovery location
The 1.2 hectare (3 acre) pond at the Ayer Site, 45SJ454, was
created articially in a headwater wetland in a large topographic
trough (Fig. 2). The stream gradient through the wetland is very
low, allowing ne sediment, organic material and volcanic ash to
settle to the pond bottom in well-dened strata. The terrain
surrounding the pond is rolling and gradually sloped with occa-
sional bedrock outcrops. There are no cliffs or evidence of mass-
wasting events that could have led to the observed modications to
the bison bones.
2.2. Reported discovery and collection
Workmen excavating the wetland to create a pond in 2003
discovered bison bones in basal lacustrine silts atop glaciomarine
sediments and beneath a woody peat sequence. The nds special
signicance was not understood, so it was not initially reported.
Fig. 1. Cranial (above) and frontal (below) views of adult male Bison antiquus cranium from Ayer Pond on Orcas Island. Note the excellent preservation in the ne surface detail and
the healed injury to the left nasal.
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141 131
Author's personal copy
The description of the excavation methods and geological context
presented here is based upon the rst authors later interviews of
the workman responsible for the discovery.
The project began during a dry summer with excavation of
a drainage ditch through the spillpoint at the outfall (north) end of
the wetland in order to dry out the peat. Excavation to remove the
peat and create the pond was done by a tracked mechanical exca-
vator (track-hoe) with a telescoping articulated arm and a 1.2 m-
wide toothless bucket. Although the digging technique was crude
by archaeological standards it was, nonetheless, planned and
systematic. For example, conditions in the excavation permit
specied creation of a pre-designed terraced pond bottom to insure
a variety of underwater and wetland habitats. This required coor-
dinated excavation technique stripping away the peat in layers. The
track-hoe operator was responsible for establishing correct eleva-
tions and was therefore focused on the surface being worked. The
woody peat that was removed was loaded directly into dump
trucks shuttling the tailings to a nearby dump site on the property.
During this procedure the truck drivers would routinely assist the
excavator and help to monitor the surface.
As the operator was transferring excavated material into a truck,
one of the drivers noticed a bone protruding from the cutwall at the
Fig. 2. Ayer Pond bison discovery location: San Juan Islands region in northwest Washington state (above); Ayer Pond and surrounding topography (below). The spillpoint of the
pond is its north end. Locations AeD are 2007 soil prole trenches.
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141132
Author's personal copy
base of the peat about 3 m below the present pond surface. Work
stopped immediately while one workman searched the truck for
any bone that might have been loaded unseen. One bone described
as a vertebra was discovered in the truck and was set aside. Next, all
three workmen sorted through the easily excavated in-place peat
and immediately underlying silts by hand, without tools, looking
for more bone. Digging down through the undisturbed peat by
hand they eventually uncovered a surface of glaciomarine sedi-
ments about 10 m
in extent. They exposed 98 whole bones and
fragments lying on this lighter contrasting surface with the lower
limb bones in a partially articulated arrangement lying parallel to
each other across the slope. They described the location and nd as
ablue sand beach with shellsand the skull uphill on a 1:1 slope.
The bones were collected by hand and placed in a large card-
board box. The workers also examined the contents of the truck
once more, as they observed that the rib cage was largely missing,
but no additional bones were found. It is noteworthy that the
workmen were able to identify and collect very small fragments
and skeletal elements under these conditions. Visibility and
recovery appear to have been relatively good. Although no one
present had formal training in archaeology, they would certainly
have been able to identify obvious lithic artifacts such as projectile
points. The equipment operators had an acquired familiarity with
formed artifacts through past inadvertent discoveries and self
education. Less obvious artifacts such as cobble choppers or anvil
stones may have been overlooked, although when questioned the
workmen could not recall any stone objects st-sized or larger. The
only anomaly in terms of skeletal elements might be the absence of
most phalanges of one hind foot, given the presence of a distal
phalanx. These elements as a cluster may have been removed by
the excavator and trucked to the dump site, to remain hidden even
during subsequent blading.
Uncertain about what to do with the bones since the property
owner was out of the country, a driver stored the box in his garden
shed. Eventually in 2005 the rst author wascontacted for advice and
visited the shed for an inspection. The bones, still in the original
cardboard box, were encrusted with sandymarl. They had apparently
not been handled or moved since being placed in the box. The
magnicent, extremely well-preserved skull had been stored sepa-
rately indoors and undoubtedly had been handled, though with care.
It is most signicant to note that no shovels, trowels or other
sharp tools were involved in the excavation that might have
scratched or gouged the bones. The track-hoe bucket had no teeth
and the leading edge had a 2 cm radius so it can be ruled out as
a cutting edge. During the short period of transport, no coarse
gravel was present with the bones that might have scratched bone
surfaces and most of the specimens were handled only once. Since
few bones had been displaced at the time of discovery, bone-on-
bone scraping was also minimized.
Subsequently the woody peat and other sediments from the
excavation were widely spread out by bulldozer for landscaping. The
surface of thispile of material was inspected before being spread out
and the bulldozing was closely monitored by authors Kenady and
Wilson, assisted by landowner Tony Ayer and geographer Ineke J.
Dijks. Not a single bone fragment was observed during these opera-
tions, even though a few isolated bones (bison vertebra, female bison
phalanx, calf bison cranium, large cervid antler fragment) had been
found elsewhere in the pond and the missing hind limb phalanges
mighthavebeenpresent.Thuswearecondent that no large bone
elements, such as complete ribs or vertebrae, were missed.
3. Stratigraphy and soils
Observations by the original excavators, property owner Tony
Ayer, and the authors document a stratigraphic sequence of glacial
diamict, overlain by shell-bearing glaciomarine sands, overlain by
thin basal lacustrine marly silts and sands, then by woody peat. The
geologic context of the bones is shown in Fig. 3, in relation to
authorsobserved and inferred stratal boundaries and radiometric
time markers. Tony Ayers observation of light bands in the peat
was conrmed by the authors during a surface inspection of the
excavation backdirt spread by a bulldozer. Volcanic ash clumps
were noted across the graded surface together with woody peat.
Scattered faceted dropstones were also observed, with adhering
sandy matrix indicating they were from the basal glaciomarine
sediments. The same coarse sandy matrix was observed on, and
occasionally inside, articulated marine bivalve shells indicating the
organisms were once living in the sediments and not present there
as marine drift. On close examination the bone specimens recov-
ered earlier were found to be encrusted with similar sandy matrix
together with freshwater gastropods and to a lesser extent woody
peat fragments. When considered together all of these observations
are consistent with those reported by the workmen as to the
discovery stratigraphic context. Additional corroborative strati-
graphic information is detailed below.
3.1. Wetland description
Local wetland development regulations required a formal site
evaluation by a registered wetlands scientist as a basis for the
project design. This work was conducted by Azous Environmental
Sciences and reported in May 2001 (Azous, 2001), and provides
a description of the wetland deposits that is consistent with
observations of the pond excavators and the authors:
.there is a layer of marine sands and silts containing numerous
seashells. This layer was found between 10 and 15 feet below the
peat surface in a test hole dug approximately midway the length of
the wetland. Gray silty clay was observed at approximately 3 feet
from the surface near the outlet at the northern end of the wetland
and medium textured gravelly glacial till was located at about 20þ
feet deep in the middle of the wetland. Soils samples taken from
Wetland Or380 [Ayer Pond] show it to be native shallow to deep
organic deposits of black to dark brown (Munsell colors 10YR 2/1 to
7.5YR 3/2) sapric and hemic material (mucks and mucky peats)
generally ranging from 10 to over 30 inches thick overlying mucky
silt loams and diatomaceous-rich silt loams. A single layer of light
gray (10YR 7/1) volcanic ash ranging from 0.25 to 0.75 inches thick
was observed at several locations within the wetland depression at
variable depths.
3.2. Pond margin investigations
In 2007 the rst author and archaeologists Randall Schalk and
Robert Mierendorf revisited Ayer Pond with the purpose of exam-
ining the depositional sequence along the margins of the pond. The
objective was to identify paleosol markers that might be useful in
future attempts to locate evidence of human activity adjacent tothe
pond dating to the age of the bison bones.
Four track-hoe trenches were excavated roughly perpendicular
to the pond shore line in locations noted in Fig. 2. Trench A, Fig. 3,
conrmed Azousobservation of hydric soils near the outfall of the
old pond and revealed the presence of a primary volcanic ash layer,
presumably the same one observed in the center of the pond during
Azousearlier investigations. A sample of the ash from trench A was
submitted for identication to F.F. Foit, Jr., School of Earth and
Environmental Sciences, Washington state University. Based on
microprobe analysis of major and minor elements encased in glass
shards, the sample is a close match (0.99 Similarity Coefcient) to
Mount Mazama O, from an eruptive event dated at 6730
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141 133
Author's personal copy
(Hallett et al., 1997). Zdanowicz et al. (1999) provide a date of
7627 150 cal BP based upon Greenland ice core evidence.
Unexpectedly, trench A also showed evidence of an anthropo-
genic hearth feature post-dating the Mazama ash and strati-
graphically unrelated to the older bison (Fig.1). Equally unexpected
was the discovery of three small pieces of dacite lithic debitage in
trench B during random screening of the trench backdirt. Neither
the hearth nor the artifacts can be directly related to the bison
remains, but it is notable that a low-effort, reconnaissance-level
search along one portion of the pond edge has already revealed
evidence of human presence for at least several thousand years.
4. Radiocarbon dates
The rst radiocarbon date of 11,760 70
C BP was based on
AMS dating of bone collagen prepared with a strong acid wash of
a sample taken from a horn core. Recognizing concerns about
sample contamination, a medial phalanx from the same animal was
dated recently under the direction of Tom Stafford after pretreat-
ment by a second method which processes the XAD-resin-puried
hydrolyzate of extracted collagen (Stafford et al., 1991). This
produced a new date of 11,990 25
C BP (UCIAMS-53549).
Both radiocarbon dates are in the range that can be expected in
the stratigraphic sequence in which the bones were found. The
underlying glaciomarine sediments predate the bones establishing
a maximum possible age. Radiocarbon-dated bivalve shells from
glaciomarine deposits on Orcas Island range from 12,600 to
C BP before marine reservoir correction (Easterbrook,
196 6) and those from the San Juans overall range between 13,240
and 12,000
C BP before correction (Dethier et al., 1995, 1996). An
appropriate marine correction is likely on the order of 800 yr
(Wilson et al., 2009). All of these dates are from sites at lower
elevation than the Ayer Site, so their lower limit could overlap with
the presence of bison on higher, exposed landscapes. The overlying
peat deposit is banded and includes a primary layer of Mazama O
tephra (Hallett et al., 1997; 7627 150 cal BP, Zdanowicz et al.,
1999; Bacon and Lanphere, 2006) which establishes a minimum
age for the bison found below it. Thus the age of the bison bones
can be expected to be bracketed between w12,200
et al., 2009: 55) and 6730 40
5. Interpreting the nd
Examination of recovered bones clearly underscored excellent
preservation conditions, with even delicate bones such as the
hyoids as well as small cranial and limb bone fragments present.
Close examination revealed crescentic impact points on some
bones, as well as a few cutmarks. Thus the possibility that the bones
documented ancient human activity prompted critical review of all
aspects of the discovery.
The discovery location in basal pond deposits beneath 3 m of
woody peat cannot be explained as the result of geologic or
hydraulic transport. The ne-grained matrix and setting within an
old lake or pond basin are inconsistent with uvial transport of
large bones, especially the massive cranium, which is intact with
even a partial maxilla, a premaxilla, and the nasals preserved. The
great variety of sizes among the specimens indicates the absence of
hydraulic sorting and the pond level was evidently controlled by
a spillpoint. Minor downslope movement through mass-wasting
cannot be completely ruled out, but the relatively close association
of pieces of such varied sizes, many of which could be retted, plus
the near-absence of striations, indicates this to be unlikely. The
bison could not have been butchered in the pond but could have
been butchered on ice if the pond was frozen.
Fig. 3. Schematic cross-section, correlation diagram showing stratigraphic relations of Ayer Pond deposits to pond edge deposits, bison bones, and radiometric-derived time
markers. Solid lines depict observed strata boundaries; dashed lines depict inferred strata boundaries. Not to scale.
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141134
Author's personal copy
Bottomvegetation near the pond margincould havecontributedto
a high rate of sedimentation, further protecting the bones (Haynes,
1982: 279). An alternative possibility is that the elements were dis-
carded into water from the adjacent pond margin, but if so they were
thrownas articulatedunits and one was theheavy head, still including
esh and brain, with the mandibular ramus and hyoids still attached.
5.1. Element identication
The rst author tentatively identied the cranium as B. antiquus
through biometric comparison with data provided by McDonald
(1981: 87). This procedure was later duplicated by the second
author (Wilson et al., 2009) conrming the identication. The horn
core size is smaller than for coeval Great Plains B. antiquus pop-
ulations, possibly reecting an insular effect.
Individual skeletal elements and fragments were identied and
catalogued by Kenady after visual and biometric comparisons with
data from McDonald. Visual comparison with a B.bison osteological
key (Todd n.d., online) and a nal opinion by Wilson conrmed
element identications. Each of the 98 whole bones and fragments
was then labeled and catalogued.
The individual age of the bison, based upon dental wear and
sagittal suture fusion as compared with the Garnsey, New Mexico,
sample (Wilson, 1980)wasw7e8 y. The right M
was fully in wear,
though still cross-crested (bilophodont). The entostyle was worn to
a roughly triangular loop, still separate from the main wear
surfaces. The paracone height of 37.0 mm indicates a crown about
half worn away. Unfortunately, dental eruption and wear are not
reliable enough to indicate seasonality once the tooth is in full wear,
so an individual of this age cannot be assigned seasonality on this
basis. Tooth cementum annuli show promise for determination of
seasonality but analyses of later Holocene samples show consid-
erable individual variation; hence cluster analysis is important and
a single specimen is not denitive (Peck, 2004). We have not
sectioned the tooth for cementum analysis.
5.2. Element distribution
Aside from any evidence for markings, the pattern of selective
element representation at Ayer Pond is instructive.The mature male
bison is represented by a cranium with nasals, one maxilla and
premaxilla, one mandibular ascending ramus and the hyoids, one
thoracic vertebra, right lower front limb from distal humerus to
phalanges, left lower front limb from carpals to phalanges, both hind
limbs from distal tibia to phalanges, and humerus and tibia shaft
fragments. Lyman (1985, 1994) cautioned that denser elements tend
to occur in parts of the carcass that are low in nutrition, making it
problematic to distinguish butchering from differential preserva-
tion. At Ayer Pond, bones that should have been preservable and
highly visible are clearly absent and delicate elements are present,
suggesting that density-mediated attrition is not an issue.
Methodical dismemberment and breakage are inferred from the
98 bones and fragments and from the pattern of missing skeletal
elements (Fig. 4a). Most of the remaining bones represent non-
meaty, low-utility elements and the units lay in near-articulation,
aside from the single thoracic vertebra. A similar pattern of selec-
tion and removal of high value portions is characteristic of
agourmet butcheringpattern widely reported from other Pale-
oindian bison kill sites (Binford, 1981; Meltzer, 2009). Todd et al.
(1997) observed that limb bones in Paleoindian kills were often
smashed for marrow with hide and meat still attached while the
remainder of the carcass was processed in another location. The
Ayer Pond nd is consistent with such a removal strategy. The
pattern is unlike those of non-human predator kills or scavenged
sites, as is discussed below.
5.3. Modications
The excellent preservation of the bones, better than typical
Stage 1 examples (Behrensmeyer, 1978), makes post-mortem
modications distinct. Linear fracturing in response to subaerial
drying before burial (Haynes, 1982:268e269) was not observed in
this sample, though some splitting appeared, together with minor
exfoliation, during storage as the specimens slowly dried. The high
quality of bone surfaces indicates rapid burial or submersion with
little or no time for subaerial weathering. Surface detail and artic-
ulations suggest that at least some of the bones were covered with
skin and/or esh when buried.
Color is an important attribute of the modied surfaces. Nearly
all fractured, cut, or polished surfaces are the same color as adjacent
unmodied bone. One limb bone fragment (45SJ454/86) has a light
colored impact fracture that intersects a darker fracture scar. The
edges are slightly sharper to the touch and the surface has
a comparatively gritty texture when compared to adjoining
surfaces. This is interpreted as a single example of recent modi-
cation. The remaining modications have a close color similarity to
adjacent surfaces suggesting a common history of exposure to
processes which have effected color change. They are therefore
likely to be the same age and all are older than the single recent
impact fracture. These interpretations support the conclusion that
almost none of the modications are the result of recovery methods
or mishandling.
Modications resulting from impact are dominant. Although
there are no ne cutmarks that would result from slicing with
a sharp edge, there are two larger V-section grooves that may be
better described as cleaver-like chop marks. Depressions such as
these having straight margins and steep walls may be denitive of
butchering (Domínguez-Rodrigo and Barba, 2006) although Galán
et al. (2009: 783) and others urge caution in the use of isolated
criteria to make taphonomic inferences.
The fragments of the more proximal, meatier limb bones show
spirally-fractured green bonebreaks and points of impact,
dened by concentric sub-angular fractures (ring fractures) around
a single point or as impact notches. Such fractures have been
viewed as highly suggestive of human agency (Morlan, 1980; Todd
et al., 1997; Harington and Morlan, 2002) and typically produce
cone akesor segments of cones (Holen, 2006, 2007). Percussion
marks (pits and grooves from hammerstones or anvils) have been
suggested as diagnostic of human behavior in contrast to carnivore
or scavenger activity (Blumenschine and Selvaggio, 1988;
Blumenschine, 1995; Galán et al., 2009), though the depositional
context must still be considered, including other potential site-
specic impact factors such as roof-fall, trampling, or uvial ice-
push. There are no U-shaped grooves, splintered crushed bone, or
opposing depressed fractures in the Ayer sample to suggest
mastication or gnawing by scavengers or carnivores (Sutcliffe, 1970;
Gilbow, 1981; Haynes, 1980, 1982: 269; Wilson, 1983; Lupo and
OConnell, 2002). Evidence of trampling (Haynes, 1982; Fiorillo,
1989; Bement, 1999) by heavy ungulates is absent.
Altogether we have identied 61 modications on 34 of the
bone specimens recovered. The denitions of these modications
are listed below and the specic details and skeletal elements are
tabulated in Table 1.
5.3.1. Modication denitions and abbreviations
GBF Green Bone Fractures. These have sharp regular edges
with smooth fracture surfaces. Some radiate from a point of
impact and some do not.
POI Point of Impact. Sub-angular point of impact with GBF
radiating out creating <180
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141 135
Author's personal copy
POIC Point of Impact with concentric fractures (ring fractures)
encircling a single point.
P Polish. Characterized by a rounded visibly shiny edge or
RGM Rodent Gnaw Marks. These are generally parallel (paired)
repetitious straight striations, sets of which sometimes inter-
sect. These marks are about 5 mm width and length and no
more than 1 mm deep. They are rarely parallel to the longitu-
dinal axis of the bone.
PSCT Parallel straight scratches. These are very light, V-shaped
in section, straight and no more than 1 mm deep.
DVCT Deep V-Cut Marks. These are V-shaped in section and
more than 2 mm deep.
The locations of the cutmarks and points of impact (Fig. 4a, Table
1) are signicant when compared to other reported evidence of
Late Pleistocene butchering of bison (Frison, 1974; Jodry and
Stanford, 1992; Todd et al., 1997; Byers, 2002; Hill et al., 2008). Of
butchered bones from the 10,000-year-old Casper Site, Wyoming,
the elements most frequently showing signs of modication (as % of
NISP) were tabulated by Todd et al. (1997). Impact marks were most
frequent on radii and femora (20.7%), humeri (18.1%), tibiae (15.9%),
and metatarsals (9.6%). All other elements were less than 2.5%.
Casper Site tibiae showed extreme fragmentation except for distal
ends. Recomputed values for impact marks when shaft fragments
were excluded (to eliminate any bias from fragmentation) showed
tibiae as highest (30.2%), followed by radii (23.7%), humeri (20.0%),
femora (19.5%), metatarsal (9.6%), and others again much lower.
The highest percentage of cutmarks at Casper was on tibiae. The
Ayer Pond sample ts this pattern closely with metapodials
complete and humeri, radii and tibiae fragmented as illustrated in
Hill et al. (2008: Figs. 7 and 12). The locations of Ayer Pond impact
marks also agree with examples logged for Casper: lateral surface of
humerus, cranial surface of radius near proximal end, and all four
surfaces of tibiae near the distal end. The same patterning is
reported by Byers (2002) at the Hell Gap Site and again at the
Stewarts Cattle Guard Site by Jodry and Stanford (1992).Inbothof
these sites the patterning was interpreted to be evidence of efforts
to harvest the nutrient-rich marrow.
Additional indications of butchering are found at two anatomical
locations. The hind limb evidence includes nearly identical fracture
patterning on both distal tibiae (Fig. 5, 45SJ454/40, 79, 80 and 14),
Fig. 4. Recovered elements and fragments with modications: (a) skeletal diagram; modications only found in black areas (red in color) and unshaded bones absent; (b) two deep
V-section chop/cutmarks to right distal tibia, one split astragalus; (c) ret green bone fractures of right radio-ulna and distal humerus; (d) concentric fractures (ring fractures)
partially encircling points of impact.
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141136
Author's personal copy
both being broken through the same region of dense cortical bone
tissue. This suggests an exacting agenda by the butchering agent, not
simply the similar shapes of the bones. Another line of evidence is
evident where the right distal tibia rets the astragalus (Fig. 4b). Two
deep V-section grooves indicate roughly parallel strikes bya sharp
heavy object. One blow struck the tibia and continued through the
joint, splitting the astragalus in line.
Experimental butchering studies using large ungulate bones
have shown no relationship between carcass processing intensity
and creation of cutmarks, so cleaver-like blows such as these in the
Table 1
Modied Bison bones in the Ayer Pond (45SJ454) sample.
Cat. no., 45SJ454/x Skeletal element Portion Side GBF POI POIC P PSCT RGM DVCT Impact surface
1 Cranium X
91 Mandible R X
92 Maxilla R X
95 Ascending ramus R X
89 Hyoid R X
3 Cranial fragments X
5 X
7 X
8 Bag of very
small fragments
Axial bone X
93 Thoracic X
Appendicular Bone
Front limb
11 Humerus distal R X
X Lateral
12 R X
X Lateral
13 R X
14 R X
15 Radius proximal R X
X Cranial
16 distal R X
X Lateral
17 R X
X Cranial
18 R X
19 R X
X Cranial
X Cranial
20 Ulna proximal R X
21 R X
Hind limb
40 Tibia distal L X
X Caudal
X Lateral
79 L X
X Medial/Cranial
80 L X
X Medial
41 distal R X
X Caudal/Lateral
X Caudal/Lateral
44 Astragalus L
45 R X
46 R X
81 Limb bone fragments X
82 X
83 X
84 X
85 X
86 Humerus? X
87 Tibia? X
R indicates right side, L indicates left side and X indicates present.
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141 137
Author's personal copy
near-absence of cutmarks are by no means anomalous (Egeland,
2003). Cutmarks are infrequent in Paleoindian contexts as
compared to later kill sites (Meltzer, 2006).
Retting of several fragments shows forelimb modications
including smashing of a right distal humerus and radio-ulna
(45SJ454/11, 15e19, Fig. 4c). The humerus (45SJ454/11e14, Fig. 6)
was smashed across the lower diaphysis above the olecranon fossa
in an area of thick cortical tissue. Below the spirally-fractured
humerus are at least two impact fracture points on the radio-ulna
cranial (anterior) surface (Fig. 4d). These marks show evidence of
blows by a heavy object with a gritty surface, likely a cobble
chopper. These fractured bones could only have been struck with
the limb segment rotated and supported so that the cranial surface
was uppermost. Without support, the large paddle-like olecranon
process of the ulna would have caused the limb segment to roll to
its side, making the cranial surface difcult to strike, so this posi-
tioning required the butchering agent to supply the support. Such
positioning may also have been inuenced by the limb being
stiffened through rigor mortis at the time of fracture (Lupo, 1994).
Similar fracture patterns have been interpreted as evidence for
butchering on other bison (Zeimens, 1982; Todd et al., 1997;
Harington and Morlan, 2002) and almost identical fractures are
known from Plains bison kills spanning the Holocene.
6. Discussion and conclusions
The Ayer Pond specimen shows evidence consistent with
butchering by humans, based on element selection, spiral frac-
turing, and character and location of blows. Such evidence at
Holocene sites has been routinely accepted as indicative of butch-
ering. However, alternative explanations must be rigorously
examined. Previous researchers have reported taphonomic
analogues that warrant consideration for purposes of comparison.
A concern is the issue of equinality, that even if humans were the
agent, other pathways could have produced indistinguishable
results. However, Rogers (2000) argues that butchering should not
be strictly equinal (identical) with evidence from other processes,
though they may be substantially similar, and that denitive
criteria can be sought.
6.1. Context and strategy
Factors relating to the location of the discovery must be consid-
ered. Haynes (1982: 279) found that dried lake or pond bottoms often
yield ungulate bones and those in his studyseemed not to be predator
related.Natural deaths,such as by winter-kill, could accountfor many.
A carcass on pond ice would be protected by freezing and by snow
cover, then could settle gently to the bottom in a thaw. However, in
such a case the selective element distribution noted at Ayer Pond
would still require a second factor such as scavenging.
The hypothesis that a butchered carcass was left on the surface
of the frozen pond is in agreement with several aspects of the nd.
First, a butchered and then rapidly frozen carcass would not draw
scavengers and there is no evidence of large carnivore gnawing.
Additionally, thawing and breakup of the ice could have allowed
the frozen carcass simply to settle or to drift a short distance toward
the outfall (north) end of the pond, Fig. 2, where it then settled to
the bottom.
Caching of meat in water (Fisher, 1995a) is a potential expla-
nation at Ayer Pond though unlikely in viewof the low-yield nature
of the remaining bones, unless this was a utilized cache from which
pieces had already been removed. It may be that this is an example
of caching on ice, with partial utilization. The cranium could have
been left at the cache to assist hunters in relocating it, as suggested
for other such cases. A mammoth cranium rested atop a pile of
bones from more than one individual, possibly representing
a frozen meat cache, at the Colby Site, Wyoming; and frozen caches
may have been widely used by Paleoindians (Frison, 1981). Binford
(1978) described Nunamiut use of antlered caribou crania to mark
frozen meat caches covered with snow.
Fig. 5. Left (a) and right (b) distal tibiae showing similarity in breakage patterns and sides struck.
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141138
Author's personal copy
It is also possible, given the presence of scavengers like Arctodus,
that unwanted carcass remains were disposed of underwater to
mask odors that might attract unwelcome animals to the process-
ing area. The Arctodus from nearby San Juan Island appears to date
from the same time interval as the bison remains (Barton, B., pers.
comm.; Dethier, D., pers. comm). Arctodus has been interpreted as
a hyena-like bone crusher (Matheus, 2003:112e113), but would
have left tooth marks on the bones in addition to crushing marks.
Crushing should have left opposing marks on the other side of the
bone in contrast to the one-sided pattern of smashing typical of
butchering. None of the Ayer Pond specimens have any modica-
tions that can be attributed to Arctodus and scavenging from that
source appears unlikely.
6.2. Patterns left by predators and scavengers
Predation or scavenging by other species must be carefully
considered on the basis of documented observations. For example,
in the case of predation by wolves, adult bison long bones are rarely
fractured, even though entire articular ends may be chewed away
and adjacent cortical tissue snapped off (Haynes, 1982: 273).
Humeri therefore become open-ended tubes (cylinders) with
scoring on the shaft; while tibiae lose their proximal ends and may
show adjacent fractures and rounding, though they still tend to be
articulated distally with the tarsals (Haynes, 1982:274e275). These
patterns were not present in the Ayer Pond sample and the bones
were more heavily fractured.
Experiments with African lions and hyenas showed that if they
are allowed rst access to a carcass the long bone shafts are often
heavily tooth-marked (Blumenschine, 1995). At the feeding sites of
contemporary African carnivores (Brain, 1981; Binford, 1981, 1984;
Blumenschine, 1986a,b) heads and lower limbs are commonly the
only consumable portions left, which resembles the pattern of
element representation at Ayer Pond. However, such bones typi-
cally show abundant other evidence in the form of tooth scoring.
Wolves and dogs are predictable in terms of element preference
even though seasonal and situational exigencies no doubt affect the
sequence.The results of canid scavenging are as strongly patterned as
butchering by humans and far from haphazardwith consistent
preferences in selection of elements and repetitive patterns of
breakage and tooth-marking (Binford, 1981;Haynes, 1980, 1982;
Wilson, 1983; Garvin, 1987; Marean and Spencer, 1991). In discus-
sing predation by North American wolves, Haynes (1982: 269e270)
observed even for deer carcasses that vertebral segments with
proximal ribs and scapulae may remain articulated for a long time
after a kill event. Among the elements remaining from heavy carcass
utilization are upper and lowerdentitions, glenoidportion of scapula,
acetabulum of the innominate, and distal limb portions with articu-
lated phalanges; there may also still be articulations involving the
distal tibia and distal humerus (Haynes, 1982:269e270). In wolf-
killed bison articulated thoracic segments with vertebrae and prox-
imal ribs, sometimes with pelvic material, can persist for months.
Only one vertebra was present in the Ayer Pond sample, and ribs,
scapulae, and pelvic elements were absent. For large prey such as
bison (Haynes, 1982:270e274), wolves damage the nasal bones early
in carcass reduction, before separation and fragmentation of limbs.
The Ayer Pond nasals are intact, showing no signs of damage by
In early stages of carcass reduction by wolves, lower legs and
crania are rarely stripped of their hide, which can keep limbs in
nearly anatomical order (Haynes, 1982: 272). Skulls are protected
longest by unpeeled hide, save for the nasals, which soon show
distal chewing (Haynes, 1982: 276). Kills fully utilized by wolves
usually have the cranium and mandibles with two lower legs left at
abandonment (one or two are typically dragged away). Crania
remain even after a season or two of scavenging by other species,
such as wolverine and other mustelids. The most common isolated
bones, dragged up to hundreds of meters from the kill, are verte-
brae, scapulae, and metapodials. The most extensive scattering of
scavenged carcasses may not occur until after soft tissue is gone,
after several months (see also Toots, 1965). Ten or more vertebrae
can remain as an articulated unit even several months after a kill,
though some vertebrae may be dragged away. Vertebral spines may
be snapped away from the centra and show bilateral tooth punc-
tures at the base of the spine (Wilson, 1983: 125). When evaluated
strictly on the basis of present and absent skeletal elements, some
Fig. 6. Posterior (a) and anterior (b) views of right distal humerus showing green bonespiral fractures of dense cortical bone nearly 1 cm thick.
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141 139
Author's personal copy
attributes of Ayer Pond bison might be attributed to methodical
scavenging by canids. However, this conclusion is rejected because
of the absence of bone modications associated with canid scav-
enging such as highly patterned chewing and breakage (Binford,
Scavenging bears eat the hide from the lower limbs, causing
disarticulation, the opposite of the situation noted at Ayer Pond.
Despite some examples of breakage by captive animals, bears
typically do not seem to break ungulate long bones (Haynes, 1982:
277), though Arctodus was likely an exception given its stronger
mandibular musculature and scavenging habits (Matheus, 2003).
Wolverines, which can fragment long bones, tend to remove and
cache bones away from a kill (Haynes, Matheus, 2003), so the more
easily movable elements would not be expected together with the
cranium. Wolves, dogs, bears, and wolverines would all have left
surface marking on the scavenged bones. There is scant evidence in
the Ayer sample for such scavenging. In particular, the smashing of
the humerus near the densest portion of the distal shaft, with
evidence of direct impact, is in strong contrast to carnivore activity.
While good bone surface condition could reect protection by
hide for an undetermined time after death, its uniformity is also
consistent with rapid burial in a lacustrine depositional environ-
ment with minimal prior exposure. Three minor examples of
rodent gnawing, stand as the only evidence for any subaerial
exposure. The Ayer Pond bones show no evidence of gnawing or
chewing by large mammals.
6.3. Conclusions
Butchering by humans is the explanation that is most consistent
with all of the physical evidence that is currently available for the
male B. antiquus from Ayer Pond. Trampling by heavy ungulates and
gnawing or crushing by large carnivores or scavengers are ruled out
on the basis of the taphonomic evidence. The assemblage of
elements present suggests discard of low-utility elements, possibly
onto the ice of a winter-frozen pond, after a nearby kill event.
The new date of 11,990 25
C BP reported here places the
butchered Ayer Pond bison nearly 800
C years older than the
cluster of most reliably dated Clovis assemblages (Waters and
Stafford, 2007), at a location where both hunters and bison could
have ranged within a few tens of kilometers of the retreating
Cordilleran ice sheet.
We are most grateful to the local residents of Orcas Island for
reporting their discoveries, granting permission for additional work
on their land, and providing nancial support. In particular, the
workmen who discovered the Ayer Pond bison are appreciated for
keen observations and responsible handling of the nds. We thank
Dan Watters, Bathan Shaner, and Dan Kimple for contacting the
rst author about their nds. Tony and Nancy Ayer are especially
thanked for allowing us to study the Ayer Pond bison and for much
assistance. The authors provided initial funding for eldwork,
initial dating of the Ayer Pond bison and identication of the tephra
sample. The Orcas Island Historical Society and the Douglas College
Scholarly Activities Fund provided additional funds for dating and
eldwork. Ineke J. Dijks assisted in the eld. For other assistance,
reference material, advice, and encouragement we thank Steven
Holen, Marshall Sanborn, Sarah Campbell, John Underwood, and
Daniel Meatte. Kenady prepared the gures. We thank Margaret
Nelson and two anonymous reviewers for reading drafts and
providing many helpful comments. Any errors, of course, are our
Azous, A., 2001. Wetland Boundary Determination Final Report Wetland No.
OR380F and OR368F, Orcas Island, San Juan County, WA. Azous Environmental
Sciences, Olga, WA.
Bacon, C.R., Lanphere, M.A., 2006. Eruptive history and geochronology of Mount
Mazama and the Crater Lake region, Oregon. Geological Society of America
Bulletin 118 (11e12), 1331e1359.
Behrensmeyer, A.K., 1978. Taphonomic and ecologic information from bone
weathering. Paleobiology 4, 150e162.
Bement, L.C., 1999. Bison Hunting at the Cooper Site: Where Lightning Bolts Drew
Thundering Herds. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Binford, L.R., 1978. Nunamiut Ethnoarchaeology. Academic Press, New York.
Binford, L.R., 1981. Bones: Ancient Men and Modern Myths. Academic Press, New
Binford, L.R., 1984. Faunal Resources from Klasies River Mouth. Academic Press,
New York.
Blumenschine, R.J., 1986a. Early Hominid Scavenging Opportunities: Implications of
Carcass Availability in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Ecosystems. In: BAR
International Series 283 Oxford.
Blumenschine, R.J., 1986b. Carcass consumption sequences and the archaeological
distinction of scavenging and hunting. Journal of Human Evolution 15,
Blumenschine, R.J., 1995. Percussion marks, tooth marks, and experimental deter-
minations of the timing of hominid and carnivore access to long bones at FLK
Zinjanthropus, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 29, 21e51.
Blumenschine, R.J., Selvaggio, M.M., 1988. Percussion marks on bone surfaces as
a new diagnostic of hominid behavior. Nature 333, 763e765.
Brain, C.K., 1981. The Hunters or the Hunted? An Introduction to African Cave
Taphonomy. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Byers, D.A., 2002. Paleoindian fat-seeking behavior: evidence from the Hell Gap
Site, locality II Agate Basin Faunal Assemblage. Plains Anthropologist 47 (183),
Carlson, R.L., Magne, M.P.R., 2008. Projectile Point Sequences in Northwestern
North America. In: Archaeology Press Publication 35. Simon Fraser University,
Burnaby, BC.
Dethier, D.P., Pessl Jr., F., Keuler, R.F., Balzarini, M.A., Pevear, D.R., 1995. Late Wis-
consinan glaciomarine deposition and isostatic rebound, Orthern Puget
Lowland, Washington. Geological Society of America Bulletin 107, 1288e1303.
Dethier, D.P., White, D.P., Brookeld, C.M., 1996. Maps of the Surcial Geology and
Depth to Bedrock of False Bay, Friday Harbor, Richardson, and Shaw Island 7.5-
minute Quadrangles, San Juan County, Washington. Washington State Depart-
ment of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Earth Resources, Open File
Report 96e7. 7 pp.
Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Barba, R., 2006. New estimates of tooth mark and
percussion mark frequencies at the Flk Zinj Site: the carnivor-
eehominidecarnivore hypothesis falsied. Journal of Human Evolution 50,
170 e194.
Easterbrook, D.J., 1966. Radiocarbon chronology of late Pleistocene deposits in
northwest Washington. Science 152, 764e767.
Egeland, C.P., 2003. Carcass processing intensity and cutmark creation: an experi-
mental approach. Plains Anthropologist 48 (184), 39e51.
Fiorillo, A.R., 1989. An experimental study of trampling: implications for the fossil
record. In: Bonnichsen, R., Sorg, M.H. (Eds.), Bone Modication. Center for the
Study of the First Americans, Orono, Maine, pp. 61e72.
Fisher, D.C., 1995a. Experiments on subaqueous meat caching. Current Research in
the Pleistocene 12, 77e80.
Fisher Jr., J.W., 1995b. Bone surface modications in zooarchaeology. Journal of
Archaeological Method and Theory 2 (1), 7e68.
Frison, G.C., 1974. Archeology of the Casper site. In: Frison, G.C. (Ed.), The Casper
Site: A Hell Gap Bison Kill on the High Plains. Academic Press, New York,
pp. 1e
Frison, G.C., 1981. Paleo-Indian winter subsistence strategies on the high plains. In:
Ubelaker, Douglas H., Viola, Herman J. (Eds.), Plains Indian Studies: a Collection
of Essays in Honor of John C. Ewers and Waldo R. Wedel. Smithsonian Contri-
butions to Anthropology, No. 30, pp. 193e201. Washington, DC.
Galán, A.B., Rodríguez, M., de Juana, S., Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., 2009. A new
experimental study on percussion marks and notches and their bearing on the
interpretation of hammerstone-broken faunal assemblages. Journal of Archae-
ological Science 36, 776e784.
Garvin, R.D. 1987. Research in Plains Taphonomy: the Manipulation of Faunal
Assemblages by Scavengers. Unpublished M.A. thesis, Department of
Archaeology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, 187 pp.
Gilbert, M.T.P., Jenkins, D.L., Götherstrom, A., Naveran, N., Sanchez, J.J., Hofreiter, M.,
Thomsen, P.F., Binladen, J., Higham, T.F.G., Yohe II, R.M., Parr, R., Cummings, L.S.,
Willerslev, E., 2008. DNA from pre-Clovis human coprolites in Oregon, North
America. Science 320 (5877), 786e789.
Gilbow, D.W.,1981. Inference of Human Activity from Faunal Remains. Unpublished
Masters thesis, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University,
Grayson, D.K., 1989. Bone transport, bone destruction, and reverse utility curves.
Journal of Archaeological Science 16, 643e652.
Gustafson, C.E., Gilbow, D.W., Daugherty, R.D., 1979. The Manis Mastodon site: early
man on the Olympic Peninsula. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 3, 157e164.
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141140
Author's personal copy
Hallett, D.J., Hills, L.V., Clague, J.J., 1997. New accelerator mass spectrometry radio-
carbon ages for the Mazama tephra layer from Kootenay National Park, British
Columbia. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 34, 1202e1209.
Harington, C.R., Morlan, R.E., 2002. Evidence for human modication of a Late
Pleistocene bison (Bison sp.) bone from the Klondike District, Yukon Territory,
Canada. Arctic 55 (2), 143e147.
Haynes, G., 1980. Evidence of carnivore gnawing on Pleistocene and recent
mammalian bones. Paleobiology 6 (3), 341e351.
Haynes, G., 1982. Utilization and skeletal disturbances of North American prey
carcasses. Arctic 35 (2), 266e281.
Haynes, G., 2007. Rather odd detective stories: a view of some actualistic and
taphonomic trends in paleoindian studies. In: Pickering, T., Schick, K., Toth, N.
(Eds.), Breathing Life Into Fossils: Taphonomic Studies in Honor of C.K. (Bob)
Brain. Stone Age Institute Publication Series Number 2. Stone Age Institute
Press, Gosport, IN, pp. 25e35.
Hill, M.G., May, D.W., Rapson, D.J., Boehm, A.R., Otarola-Castillo, E., 2008. Faunal
exploitation by early Holocene hunter/gatherers on the Great Plains of North
America: evidence from the Clary Ranch sites. Quaternary International 191,
115 e130.
Holen, S.R., 2006. Taphonomy of two last glacial maximum mammoth sites in the
central great plains of North America: a preliminary report on La Sena and
Lovewell. Quaternary International 142e143, 30e43.
Holen, S.R., 2007. The age and taphonomy of mammoths at Lovewell reservoir,
Jewell County, Kansas, USA. Quaternary International 169e170, 51e63.
James, T., Gowan, E.J., Hutchinson, I., Clague, J.J., Barrie, J.V., Conway, K.W., 2009.
Sea-level change and paleogeographic reconstructions, Southern Vancouver
Island, British Columbia, Canada. Quaternary Science Reviews 28 (11e12),
Jodry, M.A., Stanford, D.J., 1992. Stewarts Cattle Guard site: an analysis of bison
remains in a Folsom kill-butchery campsite. In: Stanford, Dennis J., Day, Jane S.
(Eds.), Ice Age Hunters of the Rockies. Denver Museum of Natural History and
University Press of Colorado.
Kenady, S.M., 2008. Evidence of pre-Clovis butchering on a Bison antiquus from the
Ayer Pond Site, 45SJ454, in Northwest Washington State. In: Society for
American Archaeology, 73rd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia,
March 23e30, 2008, Abstracts of the 73rd Annual Meeting, p. 304.
Kenady, S.M., Wilson, M.C., Schalk, R.F., 2007. Indications of butchering on a late-
Pleistocene Bison antiquus from the maritime Pacic Northwest. Current
Research in the Pleistocene 24, 167e170.
Kenady, S.M., Schalk, R.F., Wolverton, M., Wilson, M.C., Mierendorf, R.R., 2008. A
new perspective on the DeStaffany Site, an early Lithic site in the San Juan
Islands Washington. Current Research in the Pleistocene 25, 105e108.
Leopold, E.B., Nickmann, R.J., Sharpe, F., 2009. Postglacial history and revegetation
of the San Juan Islands, Washington (Abstract). In: CANQUA-CGRC Biennial
Meeting, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Program and Abstracts, p. 120.
Lupo, K.D., 1994. Butchering marks and carcass acquisition strategies: distinguish-
ing hunting from scavenging in archaeological contexts. Journal of Archaeo-
logical Science 21, 827e837.
Lupo, K.D., OConnell, J.F., 2002. Cut and tooth mark distributions on large animal
bones: ethnoarchaeological datafrom the Hadza and their implicationsfor current
ideas about early human carnivory. Journal of Archaeological Science 29, 85e109 .
Lyman, R.L., 1985. Bone frequencies: differential transport, in situ destruction, and
the MGUI. Journal of Archaeological Science 12, 221e236.
Lyman, R.L., 1994. Vertebrate Taphonomy. Cambridge University Press, New York.
Marean, C.W., Spencer, L.M., 1991. Impact of carnivore ravaging on zooarchaeo-
logical measures of element abundance. American Antiquity 56, 645e658.
Matheus, P.E., 2003. Locomotor adaptations and ecomorphology of short-faced bears
(Arctodus simus) in Eastern Beringia. Occasional Papers in Earth Sciences 7.
McDonald, J.N., 1981. North American Bison: Their Classication and Evolution.
University of California Press, Berkeley.
Meltzer, D.J., 2006. Folsom: New Archaeological Investigations of a Classic Paleo-
indian Bison Kill. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 374 pp.
Meltzer, D.J., 2009. First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America.
University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 446 pp.
Meltzer, D.J., Dunnell, R.C., 1987. Fluted points from the Pacic Northwest. Current
Research in the Pleistocene 4, 64e66.
Morlan, R.E., 1980. Taphonomy and archaeology in the upper Pleistocene of the
Northern Yukon Territory: a glimpse of the peopling of the New World. National
Museum of Man Mercury Series. Archaeological Survey of Canada Paper 94.
Morlan, R.E., 2003. Current perspectives on the pleistocene archaeology of eastern
Beringia. Quaternary Research 60, 123e132.
Peck, T.R., 2004. Bison Ethology and Native Settlement Patterns During the Old
Womens Phase on the Northwestern Plains. In: BAR International Series 1278.
Archaeopress, Oxford, UK, 147 pp.
Peterson, K.L., Mehringer Jr., P.J., Gustafson, C.E., 1983. Late-glacial vegetation and
Climate at the Manis Mastodon site, Olympic Peninsula, Washington. Quater-
nary Research 20, 215e231.
Rogers, A.R., 2000. On equinality in faunal analysis. American Antiquity 65 (4),
Stafford Jr., T.W., Hare, P.E., Currie, L., Jull, A.J.T., Donahue, D.J., 1991. Accelerator
radiocarbon dating at the molecular level. Journal of Archaeological Science 18,
Sutcliffe, A.J., 1970. Spotted hyena: crusher, gnawer, digester and collector of bones.
Nature 227, 1110e1113 .
Todd, L.C.. n.d. Bison Osteology. Online Resource.
Todd, L.C., Hill, M.G., Rapson, D.J., Frison, G.C., 1997. Cutmarks, impacts, and carni-
vores at the Casper Site bison bonebed. In: Adrien Hannus, L., Rossum, Lynette,
Peter Winham, P. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 1993 Bone Modication Conference,
Hot Springs, South Dakota. Occasional Publication No. 1. Archaeology Labora-
tory, Augustana College, Sioux Falls.
Toots, H., 1965. Sequence of disarticulation in mammalian skeletons. Contributions
to Geology, University of Wyoming 4 (1), 37e39.
Waters, M.R., Stafford, T.W., 2007. Redening the age of Clovis: implications for the
peopling of the Americas. Science 315, 1122e1126.
Wilson, M.C., 1980. Population dynamics of the Garnsey site bison. Technical Report
no. 12. In: Speth, J.D., Parry, W.J. (Eds.), Late Prehistoric Bison Procurement in
Southeastern New Mexico: the 1978 Season at the Garnsey Site. Museum of
Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, pp. 88e129.
Wilson, M.C., 1983. Canid scavengers and butchering patterns: evidence from
a 3600-year-old Bison Kill Site. In: Lemoine, G.M., MacEachern, A.S. (Eds.),
Carnivores, Human Scavengers and Predators: a Question of Bone Technology.
Proceedings of the 15th Annual Conference, Chacmool. The Archaeological
Association of the University of Calgary, Calgary, AB., pp. 95e139.
Wilson, M.C., Hebda, R.J., Keddie, G., 2003. Early postglacial fossil bison from Van-
couver Island, British Columbia, and Orcas Island, Washington: morphology,
taxonomy and paleoecological setting. In: Geological Association of Canada/
Mineralogical Association of Canada Joint Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC,
Abstracts, vol. 28, p. 761.
Wilson, M.C., Kenady, S.M., Schalk, R.F., 2009. Late Pleistocene Bison antiquus from
Orcas Island, Washington, and the biogeographic importance of an early post-
glacial land mammal dispersal corridor from the mainland to Vancouver Island.
Quaternary Research 71, 49e61.
Zdanowicz, C.M., Zielinski, G.A., Germani, M.S., 1999. Mount Mazama eruption:
calendrical age veried and atmospheric impact assessed. Geology 27 (7),
Zeimens, G.M., 1982. Analysis of postcranial bison remains. In: Frison, G.C.,
Stanford, D.J. (Eds.), The Agate Basin Site: A Record of the Paleoindian Occu-
pation of the Northwestern High Plains. Academic Press, New York, pp.
S.M. Kenady et al. / Quaternary International 233 (2011) 130e141 141
... Labeled sites: Sanak Island (Misarti et al., 2012); Kodiak Island (Mann and Peteet, 1994); Copper River Delta (Davies et al., 2011); Alexander Archipelago (Lesnek et al., 2018(Lesnek et al., , 2020; Dixon Entrance ( Barrie and Conway, 1999); Dogfish Bank ; Cape Ball (Warner et al., 1982;Warner, 1984); Calvert Island (Darvill et al., 2018); Topknot Lake (this study); Explorer Ridge (Blaise et al., 1990); Little Woss Lake (this study); Vancouver Island Slope . Numbered sites: 1: Manis Mastodon (Waters et al., 2011); 2: Ayer Pond (Kenady et al., 2011); 3: Port Eliza Cave (Al-Suwaidi et al., 2006); 4: Brooks Peninsula (Hebda, 1997); 5: Misty Lake (Lacourse, 2005); 6: Bear Cove Bog (Hebda, 1983) 7: Cook Bank (Lacourse et al., 2003); 8: Meay Channel 1 ; 9: Triquet Island (Gauvreau and McLaren, 2017;Gauvreau et al., in prep); 10: Kildidt Narrows (McLaren et al., 2015); 11: Kilgii Gwaay (Mathewes et al., 2019;Fedje et al., 2021); 12: West Side Pond ; 13: Hippa Island (Lacourse et al., 2012); 14: Langara Island (Heusser, 1995); 15: Shuk a K aa (Lesnek et al., 2018); 16: Hummingbird Lake (Ager, 2019). (B) Detail of Study Area, including locations of Topknot Lake and Little Woss Lake on northern Vancouver Island. ...
... 13,100 to 10,000 cal BP; Fedje et al., 2011;Mackie et al., 2011;Dixon, 2013;Mathewes et al., 2019;Fedje et al., 2021), as are human-modified remains of megafauna to the south in Washington state at Ayer Pond and the Manis Mastodon site (ca. 13,900e13,750 cal BP; Kenady et al., 2011;Waters et al., 2011). Collectively, these sites demonstrate relatively early human occupation in the region. ...
Full-text available
Multi-proxy palaeoecological analyses of lake cores from two sites on northern Vancouver Island reveal previously undocumented non-arboreal environments in the region during the late Pleistocene. Radiocarbon, pollen, sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA), diatom, and grain size analyses indicate that Topknot Lake on the west coast of northern Vancouver Island was not glaciated in the last 18,500 years, extending into the hypothesized regional glacial maximum. A cold herb-shrub coastal tundra existed at the site from ca. 17,500–16,000 cal BP with species including willows (Salix), grasses (Poaceae), sedges (Cyperaceae), heathers (Ericaceae), and sagebrush (Artemisia). SedaDNA analysis also supports the presence of rare non-arboreal taxa at Topknot Lake during this interval including Jacob's-ladder (Polemonium), bistort (Bistorta), and wild berries (Rubus). After ca. 16,000 cal BP and through the terminal Pleistocene, pine (Pinus), alder (Alnus), and ferns formed open forests under cool and dry conditions. At Little Woss Lake in the mountains of north-central Vancouver Island, fir (Abies) stands dominated from ca. 14,200–14,100 cal BP, then were replaced by open pine woodland with alder and ferns from ca. 14,100–12,000 cal BP. SedaDNA corroborates these plant taxa as well as indicating grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) and Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in and around the basin by ca. 14,100 cal BP. Mixed conifer forests of pine, western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), and alder spread into the island's interior ca. 12,000–11,100 cal BP during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. The records from these two lakes demonstrate the diachronous development of postglacial ecosystems on northern Vancouver Island. Furthermore, these data provide key evidence for environments that could have supported human populations on the northwest coast of North America for several millennia during the terminal Pleistocene.
... The nutritional value of bovid feet is limited, and ethnographic and archaeological studies show that the foot bones of large bovids are often discarded at kill sites (Binford, 1981;Helmer & Monchot, 2006;Kenady et al., 2011;Prummel & Niekus, 2011;Prummel et al., 2002;Rowley-Conwy, 2017;Street, 1991;Todd et al., 1997). Bone marrow from the metapodials may, however, be extracted by cracking the bones at the butchery site, a further 'snack' can be obtained by splitting the compact tarsal bones to recover bone grease. ...
Full-text available
This paper discusses the evidence relating to an assemblage of Pleistocene bones and teeth discovered in a brick pit at Great Yeldham, Essex, in the late nineteenth century. Surviving elements from this collection, which include a bison foot bone with cut-marks, are now in the British Geological Survey Museum, Keyworth. A re-examination of this collection suggests that humans were present at the site during a temperate period in the earlier part of the late Middle Pleistocene. The cut-marks suggest that the hind foot was detached and discarded as butchery waste at the death site. Finally, the paper discusses the implications of humanly modified bones for understanding aspects of early human behaviour and distribution in Britain, which have hitherto largely centred around the study of stone tools.
... The methods employed here are important for archeology generally as they can detect nuanced diagnostic evidence of human presence in unexpected geographic and temporal settings, and in the absence of stylized worked lithics. Pitulko et al. (2016aPitulko et al. ( ,b, 2017 used CT and bone breakage patterns to diagnose butchering of Mammuthus primigenius 45,000 years ago in the central Siberian Arctic locality of Sopochnaya Karga (see also Kenady et al., 2011). We augment and extend their findings by highlighting the diagnostic importance of butterfly fragments, and by demonstrating the application of CT and µCT in detecting arrested fracture networks in bone flakes and microflakes, particulate residues diagnostic of managed fires, and in documenting microfauna. ...
Full-text available
Calibrating human population dispersals across Earth’s surface is fundamental to assessing rates and timing of anthropogenic impacts and distinguishing ecological phenomena influenced by humans from those that were not. Here, we describe the Hartley mammoth locality, which dates to 38,900–36,250 cal BP by AMS 14C analysis of hydroxyproline from bone collagen. We accept the standard view that elaborate stone technology of the Eurasian Upper Paleolithic was introduced into the Americas by arrival of the Native American clade ∼16,000 cal BP. It follows that if older cultural sites exist in the Americas, they might only be diagnosed using nuanced taphonomic approaches. We employed computed tomography (CT and μCT) and other state-of-the-art methods that had not previously been applied to investigating ancient American sites. This revealed multiple lines of taphonomic evidence suggesting that two mammoths were butchered using expedient lithic and bone technology, along with evidence diagnostic of controlled (domestic) fire. That this may be an ancient cultural site is corroborated by independent genetic evidence of two founding populations for humans in the Americas, which has already raised the possibility of a dispersal into the Americas by people of East Asian ancestry that preceded the Native American clade by millennia. The Hartley mammoth locality thus provides a new deep point of chronologic reference for occupation of the Americas and the attainment by humans of a near-global distribution.
... The lack of significant difference in mark traits when impact angle was controlled indicates that mark type and location are mostly consistent regardless of how the bone is positioned, which corresponds to the results from mechanical experiments (Table 6.2). In light of this, the prevalence of observed percussion grooves-an elongate shape of uniform depth, with a V or U-shaped cross-section and obvious compaction-as a primary damage type (parallel) suggests that they are more likely to occur when the bone is stabilised parallel to the ground (or anvil) (Galán et al. 2009;Kenady et al. 2011). Little difference in secondary mark types indicates that the majority of marks all show the same traits-that is microstriation patches, bone compaction, and crushing damage-at similar frequencies. ...
Full-text available
Modifications to the surfaces of fossil bones are one of the most important lines of evidence for understanding different issues in palaeoanthropological, archaeological, and taphonomic research. Bone surface modifications (BSM) are used to infer past lifeways and behaviours through site formation processes, subsistence patterns and adaptations and how they influenced human evolution, as well as patterns of economic and social evolutions. The study of BSM first appeared in palaeontology in the mid-19th Century, before gaining traction in archaeology during the processual boom of the 1960s. By identifying BSM from ethnographic studies of BSM created by people in the present day and comparing them to marks found in the archaeological record, archaeologists were able to tie traces to specific bone modifying actions (e.g. Binford 1978; Brain 1981; White 1954). However, traces left by non-human modifiers can mimic those produced by humans (e.g. Blumenschine et al. 1996; Olsen and Shipman 1988; Selvaggio 1994a; Shipman and Rose 1984). Experimental taphonomic studies in zooarchaeology have been largely conducted with the goal of confidently tying traces to known actors and effectors (Gifford-Gonzalez 1989b, 1991). However, variation in experimental design, experimental bone subjects, and how the resultant BSM are classified and analysed has contributed to a lack of consensus between researchers. For example, cut marked bones found in deposits dating to 3.39 million-years-ago (Ma) challenged the current paradigm that butchery, meat-eating behaviours and, subsequently, stone tool use were present in pre-Homo hominins (Domínguez-Rodrigo et al. 2011; McPherron et al. 2011). Furthermore, debates based on bone surface modification interpretations illustrate the lack of consensus amongst researchers about how to best identify and differentiate anthropogenic from non-anthropogenic modifications on bones. In the context of the origins of tool-assisted butchery, having a robust method to identify these traces is a foremost concern for understanding our own evolution. Resolving this issue requires two things: 1) a large dataset in which marks on bones have been produced experimentally under highly controlled conditions; and 2) a replicable method for quantitatively analysing and describing traces on bone surfaces. This research provides impetus for the standardisation of bone surface modification studies, specifically the experimental and analytical methods, as well as how researchers identify and classify modifications and, subsequently, communicate their results and interpretations.
... In addition, a number of species of Pleistocene megafauna not present along the northwestern coast would likely have been encountered by these immigrants as they moved south of the ice. Taxa documented as being present in northwestern North America south of the ice during pre-Clovis times include mastodon (e.g., Waters et al. 2011b), mammoth (e.g., Agenbroad 2005, table 2; Barton 1999;Lubinski et al. 2007), large bison (e.g., Kenady et al. 2011), camel , and horse , although specific details on their numbers and distribution are poorly known. ...
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the initial migrants into the Americas arrived via the Pacific coastal route prior to the inception of the Clovis complex. It further appears that these initial immigrants had non-Clovis technology and a generalized (or broad spectrum) economy with little use of the megafauna in their midst. Once developed, Clovis, marked by a different lithic technology, quickly spread over most of the Americas as far south as Panama, and is associated with the exploitation of proboscideans. This begs the question of why these animals were not exploited by the apparently earlier people. It is speculated herein that the seemingly abrupt appearance of Clovis, its focus on proboscideans, and its sudden demise reflects the appearance of a technologic and organizational system focused on the ritual exploitation of mammoths operating within preexisting Paleoindian societies, herein called the Western Clovis Ritual Complex.
... Our interpretation is more in line with Kuhn's (2013), who sees these changes as a continuous variation in the length of human occupations. Since in extremely short episodes of site use humans would rely exclusively on their personal gear, the archaeological signature for these kinds of occupations would comprise only a few worn discarded artefacts and/or tool maintainance waste, or no lithic artefacts at all (Binford, 1980;Kenady et al., 2011;Legoupil, 2011;Prummel and Niekus, 2011;Waters et al., 2011). As occupations grew longer, however, people had more time for raw material selection and tool manufacture, and the need for new, fresh blanks would also increase (Kuhn, 2013). ...
Full-text available
Variability in the composition of lithic assemblages stems from the combined action of different agents. In this study we used shifts in the relation between lithic artefact density and lithic technological organisation as a tool to better understand the underlying causes of lithic techno-typological variability throughout the archaeological sequence of Nesher Ramla (Israel). Nesher Ramla is a Middle Palaeolithic open-air site found in a karst sinkhole, where human occupation took place in situ. The upper part of the site’s sequence (Units II-I, dated to Marine Isotope Stage 5), is characterised by sharp shifts in lithic artefact densities, concomitant with changes in the composition of the lithic assemblages. Using lithic artefact density as a proxy, we were able to partially dissect palimpsests at the site as well as isolate which components of the lithic assemblages are affected by the length of the site occupation and which are possibly the outcome of different activities performed on-site (i.e., the site function) or result from the stylistic preferences of the site inhabitants. We suggest that the role played by the site within past hunter-gatherers’ mobility systems changed from the occupation of Unit IIB-Lower, when it was possibly repeatedly used for hunting and processing animal resources, to Unit I, when it was only sporadically visited for more general purposes. Morphological changes in the karst sinkhole over time are suggested as the major causes of change in site use.
Full-text available
Phenacomys cf. intermedius, the heather vole, is known from three late Pleistocene and early Holocene localities on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, where they are absent today. This study describes the heather vole specimens from one of these sites, P2 Cave, and provides a human behavioural context for its presence and eventual extirpation as a consequence of changing environments. Phenacomys is a cold-adapted rodent. The early Holocene thermal maximum and subsequent development of coastal western hemlock forests contributed to its Vancouver Island extinction without an apparent corresponding range restriction in higher elevation habitats as has been noted elsewhere in Western North America. Tendencies for low population densities in closed-canopy forests, anti-social intraspecies behaviours, and limited immigration from the mainland would have supported its local extinction. The absence of heather vole in the modern environment elsewhere along the coasts of British Columbia, Southeast Alaska, and Washington are probably due to similar factors as are highlighted here. This study suggests that humans are unlikely to have occupied the Vancouver Island area during a hiatus in the vertebrate faunal record from about 19,700 to 14,700 years ago when the Cordilleran Ice Sheet expanded west to the continental shelf. It also suggests that the glacial conditions in which the heather vole occupied the island diverge from the Holocene interglacial setting that saw an expansion of a human presence and of the corresponding archaeological record.
The study of the peopling of the Americas has been transformed in the past decade by astonishing progress in paleogenomic research. Ancient genomes now show that Native American ancestors were formed in Siberia or the Amur region by admixture of ca. 15–30% Ancient North Eurasian genes with those of East Asians. The Anzick infant, buried with Clovis bifaces at 12,900 cal BP, belonged to a group that was ancestral to later Native Central and South Americans. Fishtail points, derived from Clovis, mark the arrival and rapid expansion of Clovis-descended Paleoindians across South America, also evident in the sharp increase of radiocarbon dates, continent-wide, at 13,000–12,500 cal BP. In both North and South America, extinction of most genera of megafauna was virtually simultaneous with Paleoindian expansion. Human hunting must have been involved, perhaps in concert with other indirect impacts. Contrary to the alternative bolide impact theory, there is no evidence of a dramatic human population decline after 12,800 cal BP. Ancient genomes show that divergent lithic traditions after 13,000 cal BP need not be attributed to a separate Pacific Rim migration stream. Several recent finds raise the possibility that pre-Clovis people might have reached the Americas before 20,000 cal BP, but these precursors must have either failed to thrive, or were ultimately replaced by proto-Clovis or Clovis people. Consilient paleogenomic and archaeological data indicate that initial colonization by Paleoindian ancestors of living Native Americans occurred after 14,500 cal BP.
The phenomenon of the cultural layer is a fundamental concept of archaeology and the main object of study in the practice of field research. Despite this, its definition, surprisingly, still remains undeveloped. The widely known classical definition leaves many important questions unanswered. Thus, what about the horizon, formed in the past by redeposition of material, especially if this is not obvious? Can the bone-bearing horizon (for example, bone deposit of the mammoth “graveyard”) definitely human-created but lacking (completely or almost completely) of formal artifacts be regarded as a cultural layer? What about areas of primary archaeological contexts, the elements of which retain their original structure and interconnection, but have lost their original spatial position along with the block of matrix sediments? In similar cases, except for burial structures, the concept of culture-bearing deposits, representing a specific geological formation, will be much more universal. Then culture-bearing deposits are deposits locally enriched with traces of past human activities (artifacts, technological waste, biological remains, structures, i. e., cultural remains sensu lato) as a result of the transfer and accumulation of matter in the process of lithogenesis. It should be emphasized that up to 65 % of the territory of Russia is the permafrost area, while that of the former permafrost zone was significantly larger and included currently unfrozen areas. The culture-bearing deposits of the Stone Age sites of the Late Pleistocene age represented in these regions undoubtedly experienced the impact of cryogenic processes. The study of the Stone Age sites in Eastern Siberia provides the richest opportunities and material for the development of this issue.
Full-text available
Multiple hypotheses have been advanced for the geographic origin of the Clovis technocomplex. Several competing hypotheses are considered in relation to the distribution of Clovis caches. Clovis caching behavior is interpreted as a strategy for maximizing exploration and migration rather than an embedded strategy associated with an annual foraging round. Based on this analysis, it is hypothesized that the Clovis technocomplex may have originated along the North Pacific coast or south of the Cordilleran ice sheet in the Puget Lowland before rapidly spreading across the continent.
Full-text available
Americas Redefining the Age of Clovis: Implications for the Peopling of the This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. clicking here. colleagues, clients, or customers by , you can order high-quality copies for your If you wish to distribute this article to others here. following the guidelines can be obtained by Permission to republish or repurpose articles or portions of articles): July 7, 2014 (this information is current as of The following resources related to this article are available online at
Full-text available
Cutmarks observed in archaeofaunal assemblages are an important source of evidence in the reconstruction of prehistoric butchery strategies. Inherent in these reconstructions is the assumed covariance of the intensity of butchery activities and the resulting cutmarks. This study proposes a simple measure of processing (butchery) intensity—the number of tool strokes amassed during defleshing activities—in an attempt to test this assumption. Data on this measure of processing intensity were collected during the experimental butchery of 16 appendicular carcass segments from large ungulates. Based on the measure of processing intensity utilized here, there seems to be no clear-cut relationship between the number of tool strokes and the resulting frequency of cutmarks or the frequency with which specific bone specimen classes are cutmarked. The results presented here have substantial implications for the interpretation of cutmarks and concomitant assessments of prehistoric human diet and subsistence behavior.
Analysis of the Agate Basin component faunal remains from the Hell Gap Site (48G0305) Locality II suggests that the assemblage results from a multi-dimensional formational history. Comparisons of skeletal element frequencies with models of density-mediated attrition, bison settling velocities, and several nutritional utility indices indicate that both fluvial action and the transport of high marrow value elements from kill sites to the residential base in the Hell Gap Valley may have contributed to assemblage composition. Observations of impact related conchoidal flake scars document the intensive secondary processing of long bone elements. Although skeletal part frequencies likely document several taphonomic processes, when viewed together with bone modifications they suggest that the Agate Basin Paleoindians responsible for the Locality II deposits may have practiced a fat-seeking feeding strategy stressing the transport of high bulk protein/skeletal fat utility bison parts from kill sites to the residential base at Locality II.
Bones of recent mammals in the Amboseli Basin, southern Kenya, exhibit distinctive weathering characteristics that can be related to the time since death and to the local conditions of temperature, humidity and soil chemistry. A categorization of weathering characteristics into six stages, recognizable on descriptive criteria, provides a basis for investigation of weathering rates and processes. The time necessary to achieve each successive weathering stage has been calibrated using known-age carcasses. Most bones decompose beyond recognition in 10 to 15 yr. Bones of animals under 100 kg and juveniles appear to weather more rapidly than bones of large animals or adults. Small-scale rather than widespread environmental factors seem to have greatest influence on weathering characteristics and rates. Bone weathering is potentially valuable as evidence for the period of time represented in recent or fossil bone assemblages, including those on archeological sites, and may also be an important tool in censusing populations of animals in modern ecosystems.