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Lecture 20

Lecture 20 – Zooarchaeology

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Western University
Anthropology 2229F/G
Christopher Ellis

Lecture 20 Part 1 – Zooarchaeology  Goals: o 1. Identification  Catching/collecting certain goods  What were they eating/hunting  Bison? Fish? Etc.  Try to identify the genus and species of the animals that were eaten  Very difficult based on bones alone  Bones have gone through a cultural system, complete carcasses are not thrown away  Broken up, smashed, etc.  Very fragmentary  Natural processes break down the bones, especially in very old sites  People have not used techniques to recover some of these artifacts; if proper technique haven’t been used to collect teeth, bones etc. then you wont be able to identify them  Breadth of identification necessary  Huge number of animals that need to be identified  Also dealing with animals that have gone extinct  Need to have a large comparative collection to compare what you are finding to known species; also need be representative of age and sex of animals o 2. Quantify  Which foods were major parts of the diet? What did they eat more of?  NISP: Number of Identified Specimens  Problems with NISP:  1. Some animals are larger than others = larger bones, broken into more fragments, larger number of bones on site; bias  2. Some species simply have more bones
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