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White-Tailed Deer Meat and Marrow Return Rates and Their Application to Eastern Woodlands Archaeology

  • T. Cregg Madrigal (a1) and Julie Zimmermann Holt (a2)
Abstract

Zooarchaeological hypotheses concerning prehistoric transport, processing decisions, and social stratification are often tested by correlating archaeological element frequencies with indices of the economic utility of carcass parts. Such indices have not been developed for one of the largest and most important mammals in Eastern Woodlands prehistory, the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). We present kilocalorie (Kcal) yields and return rates of meat and marrow from a sample of several white-tailed deer. We then compare the meat and marrow data with skeletal element abundance in two Late Archaic assemblages from New York and a Middle Woodland/early Late Woodland assemblage from Illinois. In both examples, archaeological element abundance is positively correlated with marrow yield and return rate, but negatively correlated or uncorrelated with meat yield and return rate. These results do not provide evidence for differential transport of higher meat-yield carcass parts, but instead may indicate differential processing of high-yield marrow bones after entire deer carcasses were transported to the sites.

Résumé

A menudo las hipótesis zooarqueológicas sobre transporte prehistórico, decisiones de procesamiento y estratificación social son contrastadas correlacionando las frecuencias de los elementos arqueológicos con los índices de utilidad económica de las partes de una carcasa. Estos índices no han sido desarrollados para el ciervo de cola blanca (Odocoileus virginianus), uno de los más grandes y el más importante mamífero de la prehistoria de las Woodlands Orientales. Aquí presentamos rendimientos kilocalóricos y tasas de retorno de carne y médula para una muestra de varios ciervos de cola blanca. Luego, comparamos los datos sobre carne y médula con la abundancia de elementos esqueletarios en dos conjuntos Arcaico Tardíos de New York y uno Woodland Medio /Woodland Tardío inicial de Illinois. En ambos ejemplos, la abundancia de elementos arqueológicos se correlaciona positivamente con el rendimiento y la tasa de retorno de médula, pero negativamente, o no se correlaciona, con el rendimiento y tasa de retorno de carne. Estos resultados no suministran evidencia a favor del transporte diferencial de partes de mayor rendimiento de carne pero, en cambio, pueden indicar el procesamiento diferencial de huesos de alto rendimiento de médula después que las carcasas enteras de ciervos fueron transportadas a los sitios.

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