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Volumen 1 Issue 1 Year 2003

2020-03-28T21:19:01+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Issue 1. Year 2003.|

Introduction to a New Journal for Taphonomic Research.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Travis Rayne Pickering, Luis Alcalá.

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Quantification and Sampling of Faunal Remains in Owl Pellets.

R. Lee Lyman, Emma Power, R. Jay Lyman.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 1. APRIL 2003 (2 issue)

Paleozoologists and taphonomists have long recognized various properties of quantification and sampling with respect to collections they study. Those same properties attend samples of modern owl pellets. The particular skeletal elements identified and the way in which prey remains are grouped for tallying both influence measures of relative prey abundance in a collection of 56 barn-owl (Tyto alba) pellets from southeastern Washington. As the number of prey and the number of pellets in a collection increases across 107 published collections of North American barn-owl pellets, the richness of mammalian genera per collection increases. As the size of the most abundant prey taxon in a pellet collection decreases, the average number of individual prey per pellet increases. Pellets with more identifiable mammalian remains contain more individual prey. Larger pellets contain more individual prey than smaller pellets. These observations indicate that the properties of quantification and sampling so well known to paleozoologists can be created during the biostratinomic phase of a taphonomic history. Modern owl pellets are an excellent educational resource for teaching principles of taphonomy and zooarchaeology.

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Large Mammal Skeletal Element Transport: Applying Foraging Theory in a Complex Taphonomic System.

Curtis W. Marean, Naomi Cleghorn


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 1. APRIL 2003 (3 issue)

The transport and processing of large mammal carcasses by humans seems to provide a perfect data-set for the application of foraging theory. However, such applications in archaeology have generally been unsuccessful in that the results diverge widely from the predictions of foraging theory, and ethnographic applications have been rare and the results mixed. These applications require good estimates of skeletal element return rates, but to date we have insufficient net return rate data. Using some basic parameters we can rank skeletal elements by gross return rate, and classify them into high cost and low cost elements. We examine three of the best data-sets on hunter-gatherer skeletal element transport (Hadza, Nunamiut, and Kua), and find that the Nunamiut and Kua data diverge significantly from the Hadza data. We argue that this difference is not due to differences in skeletal element transport, but rather that the Hadza data-set represents observed instances of transport while the Nunamiut and Kua data-sets represent discarded bone assemblages that were scavenged by carnivores. Thus the Nunamiut and Kua sets represent a first stage in bone destruction after discard by people, and this would be followed by further destruction as such assemblages are transformed into archaeological samples. This result, when joined to taphonomic data on skeletal element survival, leads to a general model of bone survival that separates skeletal elements into two groups: 1) a low-survival set defined by a lack of non-cancellous thick cortical portions, and 2) a high-survival set defined by the presence of thick cortical bone portions lacking cancellous bone. The archaeological representation of the low survival set is primarily the product of post-discard destructive processes, and most low survival elements also belong to the high cost set. The relative abundance of the high survival elements in archaeological contexts is primarily the product of what was discarded after processing, and most of these belong to the low cost set. Foraging theory needs to be linked to the realities of skeletal element survival and destruction as understood in taphonomy, connecting the general and middle range theory, respectively. We need a synthetic taphonomic-foraging theory model, and we provide some foundations for that model here.

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Quantitative Fidelity of Brachiopod-Mollusk Assemblages from Modern Subtidal Environments of San Juan Islands, USA.

Michal Kowalewski, Monica Carroll, Lorraine Casazza, Neal S. Gupta, Bjarte Hannisdal, Austin Hendy, Richard A. Krause Jr., Michael LaBarbera, Dario G. Lazo, Carlo Messina, Stephaney Puchalski, Thomas A. Rothfus, Jenny Sälgeback, Jennifer Stempien, Rebecca C. Terry, Adam Tomašových.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 1. APRIL 2003 (4 issue)

Whereas a majority of previous fidelity studies have dealt exclusively with mollusks, this study evaluates the compositional fidelity of mixed brachiopod-mollusk benthic assemblages sampled from the San Juan Islands area (Washington State, USA). A total of ca. 2500 live specimens and over 7500 shells and shell fragments were recovered from nine samples dredged along a subtidal transect. The shell material was dominated by fragments; less than 500 dead specimens were represented by complete valves or shells. The compositional fidelity was high: over 60% of live species and over 70% of live genera were also found in the death assemblage and over 60% of dead species and genera were represented in the life assemblage. These high numbers were consistent for all analyzed size fractions (2.3, 4, and 12mm). The life and death assemblages displayed a significant Spearman rank correlation (r = 0.41, p = 0.0001) suggesting that, despite the biasing action of taphonomic processes and time-averaging, the relative abundance of species in the original communities is at least partly preserved in the resulting death assemblages. The results also indicate that a restrictive analytical approach, with fragments excluded from the datasets, appears to provide more credible estimates of diversity and fidelity than an exhaustive approach, which included all fragments. Differences between the two analytical strategies most likely reflect the presence of several genera (e.g., Chlamys), which were readily identifiable from fragments (the five most abundant species in the exhaustive death assemblage were all identifiable from even small and heavily altered fragments). The “Chlamys effect” illustrates a general principle, because species often vary in their morphological distinctness, the inclusion of fragments is likely to notably distort the taxonomic composition of the studied death (or fossil) assemblages and may depress estimates of diversity and evenness. This study suggests that mixed brachiopod-mollusk associations are reasonably well preserved in the death assemblage in terms of taxonomic composition and rank abundance of dominant taxa. Moreover, despite considerable microstructural and compositional differences between brachiopod and mollusk shells, the class-level fidelity is excellent when fragments are excluded from the analysis. The results are highly congruent with patterns observed previously in fidelity studies focused exclusively on mollusks.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner | Hungry Lions.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo.

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Volumen 1 Issue 2 Year 2003

2020-03-27T20:43:48+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Issue 2. Year 2003.|

VOLUME 1. NUMBER 2. 2003

Decay and Disarticulation of Small Vertebrates in Controlled Experiments.

Leonard R. Brand, Michael Hussey, John Taylor.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 2. 2003 (1 issue)

A study was conducted to examine the timing and nature of decay and disarticulation in small vertebrates, using an experimental regime that allowed comparison among different environments, and different size classes of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Decay and disarticulation of freshly killed small vertebrates was documented in freshwater and seawater aquaria as well as outdoor terrestrial settings protected from scavengers by partially buried cages. Experimental animals included salamanders (two sizes), lizards, finches, doves, mice, rats, squirrels, and rabbits. The study area was hot and dry (southern California), with scattered winter rains. Some specimens of each species in the terrestrial environment were transferred after about one month to one of two other environments - freshwater, or an outdoor terrestrial cage simulating increased rainfall. In water the carcasses' flesh decayed by bacterial action in one to six months, but insect larvae removed the flesh from terrestrial carcasses within two weeks, leaving dry, desiccated carcasses that changed little over a four to 11 month period. The process of decay and disarticulation was greatly affected by differences in properties of the skin between species and the reaction of each type of skin to drying or water saturation. Disarticulation time was shortest in water, followed by the high rainfall treatment, then dry terrestrial environment. The sequence of disarticulation varied considerably, especially in the terrestrial treatment, but heads and limbs tended to separate from the body first, and then individual bones separated from the limbs. Also, the pattern of tooth loss or cracking differed among environments. These data provide an actualistic analogue to assist in the interpretation of some parameters of fossil assemblages, including maximum time between death and burial of partially or fully articulated small vertebrate fossils (about 3 months in water, but over a year in dry terrestrial conditions), or the likely paleoenvironment in which an assemblage accumulated.

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Observations on the Release of Gastroliths from Ostrich Chick Carcasses in Terrestrial and Aquatic Environments.

Oliver Wings


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 2. 2003 (2 issue)

The decomposition of two ostrich (Struthio camelus) chicks (body masses 2.1 kg and 11.5 kg) was observed in a terrestrial and an aquatic setting, respectively, in a hot and arid climate with temperatures ranging from 25-40°C. Special attention was given to the observation of the release of gastroliths from the body cavity. The results show that the gastroliths can be set free from carcasses with a body weight <12 kg after relatively short periods (3-6 days), and that a separation in an aquatic environment is likely because of prolonged floating of the carcass.

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Damage Inflicted upon Animal Bone by Wooden Projectiles: Experimental Results and Archaeological Implications.

Geoff M. Smith.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 2. 2003 (3 issue)

Experiments with lamb carcasses were used to investigate whether any identifiable "damage signatures" are imparted by wooden spears on bones and whether these differ between a javelin and a thrusting spear. The data from the experiments demonstrated no distinction in damage caused by the two types of spears. Both spears caused high frequencies of saw-toothed fractures on ribs and vertebrae and the javelin inflicted a spiral fracture on a humerus. However, the most conclusive evidence of projectile usage was in the form of puncture wounds on scapulae. Some of the experimental damage recorded is similar to that caused by other taphonomic processes. These experiments illustrate the effectiveness and durability of wooden spears as potential hunting implements and provide insight regarding the tools, technology and subsistence strategies of Middle and Late Pleistocene hominids.

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A Taphonomic Perspective on Oldowan Hominid Encroachment on the Carnivoran Paleoguild.

Briana L. Pobiner, Robert J. Blumenschine.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 2. 2003 (4 issue)

We argue that the evolutionary significance of prehistoric hominid carnivory will be better appreciated if taphonomic tests for evaluating the initial encroachment on the larger carnivoran paleoguild by Oldowan hominids are developed and applied to zooarchaeological assemblages. We propose that the development of taphonomic tests should be guided by three premises: 1) taphonomic measures used to test scenarios of hominid carnivory should be free of interpretive equifinalities; where equifinalities are currently suspected, these must be identified and broken; 2) carnivorans are not a single, homogeneous, taphonomic agent; actualistic research is needed to differentiate the preservable feeding traces of individual carnivore taxa; 3) multiple carnivore species should be assumed to have been involved in creation and modification of bone assemblages; the recognition of the timing and nature of the access of each carnivore to prey carcasses should be sought.
We offer some fundamental steps in developing a methodology to satisfy this research agenda, integrating information from naturalistic observations of carnivoran feeding on mammalian prey carcasses, actualistic studies that simulate the timing of hominid access to these prey carcasses, and functional aspects of presumed carnivoran paleoguilds defined by carcass size-specific edible tissue specialization and bone modification capabilities. We focus on skeletal element and element portion profiles in conjunction with the incidence, anatomical distribution and morphology of tooth marking as the relevant taphonomic measures. The ultimate goal is to diagnose and zooarchaeologically identify unambiguous traces of individual carnivoran taxa and ecological scenarios involving feeding sequences by multiple carnivore taxa, including hominids.

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Volumen 1 Issue 3 Year 2003

2020-03-27T20:44:09+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Issue 3. Year 2003.|

VOLUME 1. NUMBER 3. 2003

Experimental Effects of Water Abrasion on Bone Fragments.

Yolanda Fernández-Jalvo


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 3. 2003 (1 issue)

Water transport is a frequent taphonomic agent in continental environments that may affect and disturb original bone associations. Fossil allochthony occurs as a result of resedimentation (before burial) and/or secondary deposition (after initial burial) altering palaeoenvironmental and palaeoecological indications provided by fossils. Skeletal element sorting or preferred orientations of fossils are evidence of fluvial transport as studied by several authors. Bone surface abrasion is another trait recorded on fossils that may provide evidence of water transport in a fossil association. Results of a preliminary experiment on the effects of abrasion have shown characteristic differences relating to the type of sediment (coarse to fine) and the type of bone involved (fresh, dry, weathered or fossil). This indicates that the effects and consequences of water transport on bone associations can be identified from traits of abrasion. This paper also considers other experiments involving abrasion on large and small mammal bones and owl pellets.

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Some Middle Paleozoic Conulariids (Cnidaria) as Possible Examples of Taphonomic Artifacts.

Marcello Guimarães Simões*, Sabrina Coelho Rodrigues, Juliana de Moraes Leme, Heyo Van Iten.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 3. 2003 (2 issue)

Conulariids provide good examples of how biometric and other characters that have been used to diagnose fossil species can be affected by taphonomic processes, possibly leading to the erection of taphonomic taxa, or taphonomic artifacts. Based on analysis of the taphonomy of Conularia quichua Ulrich from the Devonian Ponta Grossa of southern Brazil, we argue that caution must be exercised when using biometric and other characters to diagnose conulariid species. For example, measurements of the spacing of the transverse ribs must be corrected for compaction of the theca parallel to its long axis. C. quichua oriented at high angles to bedding almost always exhibit this kind of deformation, which if not corrected for results in substantial additional measurement error. Similarly, the value of the apical angle of C. quichua differs between compressed and uncompressed specimens, making it difficult to measure this character with a high degree of consistency and reproducibility. Other characters (geometry of the transverse ribs, presence or absence of interspace ridges and nodes) used to diagnose conulariids are susceptible to modification and information loss through weathering. In reviewing published descriptions of other conulariids, we have found that certain species may be taphotaxa. Future descriptions of new species should be based on collections encompassing the known spectrum of preservational patterns. Also, the erection of new conulariid taxa should be based as much as possible on complete or nearly complete specimens, and morphometric comparisons should be made using specimens showing similar patterns of preservation.

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Smothered Scampi: Taphonomy of Lobsters in the Upper Cretaceous Bearpaw Formation, Southern Alberta.

Cameron J. Tsujita.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 3. 2003 (3 issue)

Phosphatic concretions, containing remains of the lobster Palaeonephrops browni (Whitfield), are described from the Upper Cretaceous Bearpaw Formation of southern Alberta. Two modes of burial are interpreted to have enhanced the preservation potential of the lobsters: (1) burial of remains by volcanic ash, and (2) burial of remains within burrows due to sediment injection during storms. The latter mode of burial is indicated for the majority of the specimens studied, suggesting that the exceptional preservation of Palaeonephrops, and probably some other fossil decapod taxa may have been more strongly influenced by their life-habits than previously assumed. Within-burrow preservation of lobster specimens also demonstrates that obrution is not only important for the preservation of faunal elements residing on the sea-floor, but can also bias the preservation of some deep infaunal taxa. Following rapid burial, the preservation potential of the lobster remains was further enhanced by virtue of its phosphate-bearing cuticle, upon which, early diagenetic phosphate cements were preferentially precipitated. Further phosphate precipitation resulted in the entombment of the remains within phosphatic concretions, further protecting them from destructive taphonomic processes.

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Volumen 1 Issue 4 Year 2003

2020-03-27T20:44:33+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 1. Issue 4. Year 2003.|

VOLUME 1. NUMBER 4. 2003

Structural and Chemical Bone Modifications in a Modern Owl Pellet Assemblage from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania).

Yannicke Dauphin, Peter Andrews, Christiane Denys, Yolanda Fernández-Jalvo, Terry Williams.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 4. 2003 (1 issue)

A modern regurgitation pellet assemblage created by an unknown avian predator from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) was analyzed taphonomically and chemically. The combined use of several analytical techniques allowed us to determine some characteristic effects of bone surface modification induced by the predator´s digestive process. Based on these analyses, it is suggested that the predator is Bubo lacteus, Verreaux´s eagle owl. The chemical analyses of the mineral and organic components of the bones show only small changes in composition and proportion. However, the small alterations favour the hypothesis of post-predation diagenetic changes, which may create bias in the preservation of different types of bones.

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Taphonomy of Freshwater Turtles: Decay and Disarticulation in Controlled Experiments.

Leonard R. Brand, Michael Hussey, John Taylor.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 4. 2003 (2 issue)

We conducted an experimental study of the timing and nature of taphonomic processes in turtles that allowed a comparison among different environments. We documented decay and disarticulation of freshly-killed aquatic turtles in controlled settings, including freshwater and seawater aquaria, and outdoor terrestrial settings protected from scavengers. The study area was in hot and dry southern California, with scattered winter rains. We transferred some specimens after 53 days from the terrestrial environment to one of two other environments - freshwater, or an outdoor terrestrial cage - simulating increased rainfall. In water, turtle flesh decayed by bacterial action in three and a half to five months, but insect larvae removed the flesh from terrestrial carcasses within two weeks, leaving dry, desiccated carcasses. Turtles disarticulated most rapidly in water, followed by the high rainfall treatment, then dry terrestrial. The sequence of disarticulation of different bones from the body varied considerably, especially in the terrestrial treatment, but there were some consistent trends. Heads and necks, tails, and limbs tended to disarticulate early in the process. Next the carapace, and lastly, the plastron, disarticulated. Minor weathering occurred on the inside surface of some shell bones in the terrestrial environment. These data provide a basis for estimating maximum length of exposure of fossil turtles before burial and for comparison of turtle taphonomy with taphonomy of other small vertebrates.

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Biostratinomic Patterns in Archosaur Fossils: Influence of Morphological Organization on Dispersal.

Cambra-Moo, O. & Buscalioni, A. D.


[+info] VOLUME 1. ISSUE 4. 2003 (3 issue)

The dispersal of 122 specimens of fossil archosaurs and lepidosaurians from different localities throughout the world, catalogued as fossil-lagerstätten, has been characterized. The analysis is based on the quantification of dispersal by the evaluation of burial position, anatomical disarticulation, overlap and significant absences of bony elements. Our goal is to identify commonalities of morphological organization, and to reveal dispersal patterns. First, we explore a theoretical space of burial positions, and seek logical alignments of variables in order to understand the sequence of the earliest biostratinomic phenomena. Dinosauria and the basal avian specimens (Archaeopteryx-like organisms) are biased towards lateral burials with crossed forelimbs or hindlimbs. Pterosauria and Ornithuromorpha have ambivalent burial positions, while Enantiornithes and Confuciusornithidae adopt preferentially dorso-ventral burial positions. There is a significantly negative regression coefficient relating overlap and disarticulation-absence. A high percentage overlap corresponds to a high percentage articulation and completeness of body elements, particularly in laterally lying fossils. Conversely, overlap and disarticulation are not significantly related in specimens with a dorso-ventral burial position. Ambivalence in burial positions is associated with singularities in disarticulation patterns. Aves and Pterosauria both diverge from the general disarticulation sequence of diapsids. The results indicate that dispersal has a strong biological component at least in the initial steps of the biostratinomic process.

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Volumen 2. Issue 1-4. Year 2004.

2020-03-27T20:44:52+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 2. Issue 1-4. Year 2004.|

VOLUME 2. NUMBERS 1-4. 2004 [Special volume on Debating Issues of Equifinality in Ungulate Skeletal Part Studies. N. D. Munro & G. Bar-Oz (eds.)]

Debating Issues of Equifinality in Ungulate Skeletal Part Studies.

Natalie D. Munro, G. Bar-Oz.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (1 issue)

This paper introduces a collection of 11 papers originally presented in a symposium held at the 2004 meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The papers debate and propose solutions for multiple aspects of equifinality in ungulate skeletal part studies and focus on four primary themes: (1) theoretical issues of equifinality; (2) methods for generating skeletal part frequencies; (3) the tools for analyzing skeletal part frequencies; and (4) attritional biases caused by natural and cultural taphonomic agents. Although debate continues over the methods used to quantify and analyze ungulate skeletal parts, most participants agree on the need for detailed publication of raw bone portion counts and bone portion coding and quantification methods.

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The Concept of Equifinality in Taphonomy.

R. Lee Lyman.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (2 issue)

The term "equifinality" was coined by Ludwig von Bertalanffy as he worked to develop general system theory. In 1949 he defined equifinality as reaching the "same final state from different initial states" in an open system, one capable of "exchanging materials with its environment." Taphonomists have typically defined equifinality as reaching the same final state from different initial conditions and in different ways, without consideration of whether a system was open or closed. Natural historical processes involving organic tissues comprise open systems. Whether two alternate taphonomic hypotheses can be distinguished or not can be construed as a problem of taphonomic equifinality, or it can be construed as a problem of statistical indistinguishability. For both, the epistemological problem reduces to one of classification. The production of much greater knowledge and understanding of the many reasons (cause-effect relations) why skeletal part frequencies vary has resulted from use of the equifinality concept because that concept demands innovative analyses of previously unimagined variables.

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Measuring Skeletal Part Representation in Archaeological Faunas.

Donald K. Grayson, Carol J. Frey.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (3 issue)

Most analyses of relative skeletal abundances in archaeological contexts are based on units derived, in one way or another, from the number of identified specimens (NISP): the minimum number of elements (MNE), the "minimal animal unit" (MAU), and the skeletal-element based minimum number of individuals (MNI). MNE values can be interpreted as if they were the results of a sampling exercise, telling us the chances that specimens drawn from a population of NISP values match in some specified way. Since this is the case, MNE values should scale to the NISPs for the body part involved. Since MAUs are generally calculated by standardizing MNE values by the number of times the part occurs in the skeleton, and MNIs by a combination of this and both age- and side-matching, there should be a very predictable relationship between the values of NISP, MNE, MAU, and MNI within any given assemblage. Using a series of assemblages from South Africa, Iran, and France, we show that this is, in fact, the case.

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Distinguishing Selective Transport and In Situ Attrition: A Critical Review of Analytical Approaches.

Naomi Cleghorn, Curtis W. Marean.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (4 issue)

Skeletal element frequencies are at once enticing sources of behavioral information and thorny taphonomic dilemmas. Many archaeofaunal assemblages combine some degree of selective transport and in situ attrition, both of which affect the relative representation of elements. In addition, some analytical methods may add their own signature, further complicating the analysis of the element profile (Marean et al., this volume). Three methods have been applied to the problem of distinguishing attrition from selective transport: the Anatomical Region Profile (ARP), the Analysis of Bone Counts by Maximum Likelihood (ABCML), and the high and low survival element set model. We find that the ARP technique fails to perform as suggested. The ABCML is an innovative and promising line of inquiry, but is currently limited by methodological and theoretical shortcomings. The high and low survival set model appears to be an effective approach to analysis, but the actualistic tests of its power are still limited. We conclude that sensitivity to the issue of differential intra-element survival is key to future research into this problem.

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Skeletal Element Equifinality in Zooarchaeology Begins with Method: The Evolution and Status of the «Shaft Critique».

Curtis W. Marean, Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Travis Rayne Pickering.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (5 issue)

The most common pattern of skeletal part representation described for zooarchaeological assemblages is a head-dominated or head and foot-dominated sample (Type II assemblages). Although an important early study by C.K. Brain (1969) suggested strongly that such a pattern might be mediated by skeleton-wide variation in bone density, this conclusion was under-appreciated for nearly twenty years. Instead, a majority of researchers working on Type II assemblages that are widely separated by geography and archaeological time argued in each case that the pattern was a by-product of foraging strategies used by hominins. In response, a small group of researchers expanded on Brain's pioneering work, concluding that the Type II pattern is actually instead a methodological artifact caused by (1) a combination of taphonomic factors that selectively destroy bone portions based on relative density and (2) analytical procedures that subsequently selectively bias against those same bone portions. Here we discuss in detail specific methodological and data recording recommendations that should eliminate the identified analytical problems and assist zooarchaeologists in assessing the degree of bias in the published work of other researchers.

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The Fallibility of Bone Density Values and Their Use in Archaeological Analyses.

Y. M. Lam, O. M. Pearson.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (6 issue)

As a proxy measure of resistance to destructive processes, bone density has played a central role in the discussion of equifinality and faunal representation. Bone density data sets have been derived for a diverse range of species, providing zooarchaeologists with a framework for assessing the occurrence of density-mediated destructive processes. These data sets vary tremendously in accuracy. In addition, the representation of the density of a bone portion as a single number -while convenient for quantitative analyses- obscures by oversimplification the many factors that affect the derivation of density values, a complicated process subject to multiple potential sources of variation and error. Density data sets and methods of quantitative analysis must be chosen with care, and the reasons for these choices made explicit. At the same time, it must be recognized that, despite the amount of attention that it has received, density is only one of many variables that affect the ability of a bone to restrict destruction.

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A Comparison of Photon Densitometry and Computed Tomography Parameters of Bone Density in Ungulate Body Part Profiles.

Mary C. Stiner.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (7 issue)

Biases in ungulate body part representation in archaeofaunas potentially reflect human foraging decisions. However, the signatures of density-mediated attrition of body parts and human selectivity in response to nutritional content can overlap to a significant extent. Zooarchaeologists' techniques for analyzing skeletal representation for density-dependent biases must either address differential resistance among distinct skeletal macro-tissue classes, or compare skeletal representation within a narrower density range that is widely distributed in the skeleton. This presentation examines the potential comparability of bone density parameters obtained by photon densitometry (PD) and computed tomography (CT) within limb elements and across regions of the whole skeleton. "Unadjusted" parameters obtained by PD and CT techniques are in reasonably good agreement, and these parameters yield similar results when applied to patterns of skeletal representation in Mediterranean faunas generated by Paleolithic humans and Pleistocene spotted hyenas. More significant than the technique for measuring density in modern mammal skeletons is whether the density parameter values have been adjusted, arguably to compensate for problems of shape and the presence of large internal voids in limb bone tubes. The results of systematic comparison of density parameter variation among published sources, and their application to prehistoric cases accumulated by diverse agents, contradict the great preservation differential between spongy and compact bone specimens suggested by certain captive hyena experiments and the Mousterian fauna from Kobeh Cave (Iran). Only the adjustments made to the CT parameters for limb shafts (BMD2) accommodate the latter cases.

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Equifinality, Assemblage Integrity and Behavioral Inferences at Verberie.

James G. Enloe.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (8 issue)

Body part representation is often used to identify site function, particularly transport to or transport from kill sites. Taphonomic research has indicated that a number of pre- and post-depositional agencies can result in similar part representation, largely a function of bone density, which can be measured in a variety of ways. A number of procedures for measuring bone density are discussed and applied to a late Upper Paleolithic faunal assemblage from Verberie, France. Comparisons of those densities with percent survivorship of reindeer bones from the archaeological site indicate that density-mediated attrition, most commonly associated with equifinality, is not primarily responsible for the skeletal element representation. A reverse bulk utility curve suggests that high and medium nutritional value skeletal elements were removed from this hunting site for subsequent processing and consumption elsewhere.

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Applied Models and Indices vs. High-Resolution, Observed Data: Detailed Fracture and Fragmentation Analyses for the Investigation of Skeletal Part Abundance Patterns.

Alan K. Outram.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (9 issue)

The history and development of skeletal part abundance studies is briefly discussed. Two principal strands of this sub-discipline are the application of indices of food utility and bone mineral density to the interpretation of skeletal part abundance patterns. Both food utility and bone mineral density indices are derived from modern observations, underwritten by uniformitarian assumptions, and are used to model behavioural and taphonomic patterns in the selection and survival of bone elements. The application of such models is critiqued. It is argued that, whilst such models remain extremely valuable, they will always suffer from equifinality with regard to end interpretations. The solution to this problem does not lie in improving these models, or the data they derive from, though this may be desirable, but in the more time-consuming option of improving the resolution of archaeologically observed data. Several ways of doing this are briefly discussed. One of these options, fracture and fragmentation analysis, is outlined in detail. Sample applications of such an approach are presented and discussed. These include the use of fracture and fragmentation analysis to identify specific practices that can severely skew skeletal part abundances, such as bone grease rendering, and the identification of levels of pre-depositional and post-depositional fracturing within the taphonomic history of bone assemblages.

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The Derivation and Application of White-Tailed Deer Utility Indices and Return Rates.

T. Cregg Madrigal.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (10 issue)

Utility indices have long been used to interpret ungulate body part representation at archaeological sites. The use of return rates, which are a more appropriate measure for studies of foraging efficiency, have been used less frequently. Until recently, zooarchaeologists interested in the prehistoric use of white-tailed deer were forced to use utility indices developed from other species. In this paper, the derivation and application of utility indices and return rates for white-tailed deer are discussed and two recently derived white-tailed deer utility indices are compared.

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Beyond Cautionary Tales: A Multivariate Taphonomic Approach for Resolving Equifinality in Zooarchaeological Studies.

Guy Bar-Oz, Natalie D. Munro.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (11 issue)

We describe a multivariate approach that reconstructs the taphonomic histories of zooarchaeological assemblages. The approach applies a sequence of zooarchaeological analyses to bone assemblages to determine the most significant agents of assemblage formation. By examining the differential survivorship of bones from subgroups within an assemblage, problems of equifinality in skeletal part studies can be overcome. The multivariate approach follows three primary analytical stages including: a) a descriptive stage that summarizes the representation of key taphonomic variables of each assemblage; b) an analytical stage that investigates the completeness and fragmentation of skeletal parts; and c) a comparative stage that evaluates taphonomic variation amongst subgroups within a zooarchaeological assemblage. In a case study of six Epipaleolithic assemblages from the southern Levant, the multivariate approach reveals that intensive bone processing by humans for marrow and possibly grease was the primary determinant of gazelle bone survivorship, while small game taxa experienced independent taphonomic histories.

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Body Part Representation and Seasonality: Sheep/Goat, Bird and Fish Remains From Early Neolithic Ecsegfalva 23, SE Hungary.

Anne Pike-Tay , László Bartosiewicz, Erika Gál, Alasdair Whittle.


[+info] VOLUME 2. ISSUE 1-4. 2004 (12 issue)

Assessments of site seasonality have increasingly relied upon three methods: 1) the presence or absence of seasonally available fauna, the oldest, most widely-used approach; 2) the population structure method, which relies upon the seasonal variation in the age and sex composition of the animals exploited; and 3) techniques such as skeletochronology or dental growth-increment studies. With all three methods, issues of equifinality result from the variability in body part representation. Cultural actions such as differential transport, modes of butchery, storage and culinary practices, in addition, natural taphonomic agents, also result in uneven body part representation, which can lead to false seasonal patterns. The consonance between different seasonality data for caprines and fish suggest that spring to fall occupations must have played a serious role in shaping the Neolithic animal bone deposits from Ecsegfalva 23, Hungary. Tooth sectioning data on caprines add late winter to this time interval. Finally, the broad seasonal spectrum of avian remains is potentially indicative of a year-round occupation.

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Volumen 3. Issue 1. Year 2005.

2020-03-28T19:16:12+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 3. Issue 1. Year 2005., Year 2005|

VOLUME 3. NUMBER 1. 2005

Analysis of Bone Modifications of Bubo virginianus’ Pellets from Argentina.

Gustavo Norberto Gómez


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 4. 2005 (1 issue)

Two samples of pellets belonging to Bubo virginianus were collected from two different environments in Argentina. One of them was produced by experiment using a captive individual in the County Zoo. The other sample was obtained from a wild exemplar in the province of Catamarca. Both samples were analysed together with the aim of categorising the total sample of Bubo virginianus obtained in Argentina. The main goal of the work presented here is to find the necessary tools to analyse the possible activity of predators both in the paleontological and the archaeological record in the Pampean region. The methodological procedure used was the one designed by Andrews (1990) for predators of the Northern Hemisphere. The modifications produced by the two individuals allowed the categorisation of the Bubo virginianus as a predator of Category 2. The sample was compared with the results of other species which were presented in bibliography from different parts of the world, and with the results of some species from the Pampa region, such as Tyto alba, Asio flammeus and Athene cunicularia, and especially other species from the same genus Bubo.

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The Taphonomic Relevance of the Analysis of Bovid Long Limb Bone Shaft Features and Their Application to Element Identification: Study of Bone Thickness and Morphology of the Medullary Cavity.

Rebeca Barba, Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo.


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 4. 2005 (2 issue)

Recent debates on equifinality processes involved in skeletal part analyses have shown the accuracy of MNE identification by using long limb shaft fragments. Given the taphonomic and behavioural relevance of elaborating accurate skeletal part profiles at archaeological sites, the present work will show a combined set of features used to identify elements from shaft specimens. Landmark features (already in use by several researchers) are combined with shaft thickness/shape and with new diagnostic characteristics of medullary surfaces, which enable researchers to identify most of the shaft fragments from bovid animals that can be found in archaeological assemblages.

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Bone Accumulations at Brown Hyena (Parahyaena brunnea) Den Sites in the Makgadikgadi Pans, Northern Botswana: Taphonomic, Behavioral and Palaeoecological Implications.

Rodrigo Lacruz, Glyn Maude.


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 4. 2005 (3 issue)

Bone accumulations at five brown hyena den sites representing two clans in the Makgadikgadi Pans region of northern Botswana were studied. Our intent was to assess the correlation between the taxonomic abundance at these den sites and the local faunas. Our statistical interpretation shows that such accumulations significantly correlate with the local fauna. A previously proposed criterion which suggested a carnivore representation of 20 % or more of the total Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI) at hyena-accumulated assemblages is re-assessed. The use of this criterion is important to assess the involvement of hyenas as accumulating agents in bone assemblages of unknown origin. We suggest that bone accumulations created by different hyena species may not always meet the proposed criterion. This is probably because of behavioral differences between hyena species. In agreement with other studies, we observed that juvenile brown hyenas are widely represented in the accumulations and that there is a high percentage of bones showing carnivore damage. We conclude that fossil assemblages purportedly accumulated by brown hyenas do provide information about the predominant ungulate taxa in the area and thus, the overall habitats.

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The Taphonomist´s Corner: Frozen Storage.

Fabiana María Martin


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Volumen 3. Issue 2-3. Year 2005.

2020-03-28T19:16:47+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 3. Issue 2-3. Year 2005.|

VOLUME 3. NUMBER 2-3. 2005 [Special Issue: On Archaeology and Actualism Editors: Briana Pobiner & David Braun

Special Issue. On Archaeology and Actualism Editors: Briana Pobiner & David BraunEditors: Briana Pobiner & David Braun.

Applying Actualism: Considerations for Future Research.

Briana L. Pobiner, David R. Braun.


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 2-3. 2005 (1 issue)

This paper serves as an introduction and discussion of a collection of five papers originally presented in a symposium held at the 69th meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in 2004 entitled "Applied actualism: Experimental studies of hominid activity traces". These papers primarily present actualistic studies aimed at addressing questions of hominin carcass processing activities, generally using cutmark data. They serve as a reminder of the utility and importance of actualistic studies to test hypotheses of hominin behavior using zooarchaeological and taphonomic data. We review the manner in which actualism is used in these various studies of human butchery practices to construct models to generate test implications for the archaeological record. Finally, some considerations for future actualistic work are discussed.

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The Impact of Post-Depositional Processes on Bone Surface Modification Frequencies: A Corrective Strategy and its Application to the Loiyangalani Site, Serengeti Plain, Tanzania.

Jessica C. Thompson


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 2-3. 2005 (2 issue)

The frequencies of surface modification such as percussion, cut, and tooth marks on experimental faunal assemblages are not always directly comparable to those in fossil assemblages. Extensive post-depositional modification of bone surfaces may render many of these marks unidentifiable, depressing the overall frequencies or affecting some mark classes more than others. An analysis of the fauna from an open-air Middle Stone Age site on the Loiyangalani River in the Serengeti Plain, Tanzania, illustrates this point. A coding system is presented here that allows the elimination of heavily affected fragments from analysis so that the observed mark frequencies can more closely approximate their original ones.

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The Physics of Cutmarks.

Sheridan L. Potter


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 2-3. 2005 (3 issue)

Cutmarks are the most direct evidence of faunal butchery by humans. However, the physical properties of the creation of cutmarks are currently poorly understood. Experiments to quantify the minimum amount of force required to cut through muscle tissue and to produce a visible cutmark on the surface of bone were conducted. Those force values were then correlated with the maximum amount of force exerted by a human butchering with a stone tool. By quantifying such data, archaeologists can better understand the conditions conducive to creating cutmarks. Results show: 1) less force is required to cut through soft tissue when using obsidian as opposed to chert flakes; 2) the average depth of a visible cutmark is 65-80 mm; and 3) on average males can exert a greater maximum force using both large and small stone tools than females, but both can exert forces that far exceed the minimum force requirements tested in this experiment. These results present compelling data regarding the physical processes and agents involved in the formation of a cutmark on a bone, and offer incentive for future studies to be conducted.

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Strengthening the Inferential Link Between Cutmark Frequency Data and Oldowan Hominid Behavior: Results From Modern Butchery Experiments.

Briana L. Pobiner, David R. Braun.


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 2-3. 2005 (4 issue)

Cutmark frequencies are often cited in discussions of Oldowan hominid behavior, yet their interpretation remains enigmatic. To strengthen inferences derived from cutmark data, we conducted experiments with Turkana butchers. We test two hypotheses: (1) cutmark frequency is related to the amount of meat present, and (2) cutmark frequency is related to the size of the bone/carcass being butchered. Hypothesis 1 is not supported, while hypothesis 2 is supported. We document a positive correlation between bone/carcass size and cutmark frequency. We therefore advocate treating bones/carcasses of different sizes as analytically discrete units.

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A Study of Cut Marks on Small-Sized Carcasses and its Application to the Study of Cut-Marked Bones from Small Mammals at the FLK Zinj Site.

Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Rebeca Barba.


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 2-3. 2005 (5 issue)

Studies of cut marks have long been the subject of controversy regarding their ability to infer hominid carcass exploitation behavior, and the interaction between hominids and carnivores. Previous studies have emphasized the usefulness of cut mark frequency and distribution to reconstruct hominid access to carcasses. Still, one pending issue is how cut mark patterns vary between different carcass sizes (small versus large). This work presents new experimental results in which cut marks on small-sized carcasses are analysed and compared to both 1) experimental samples with larger-sized animals, and 2) the FLK 22 (Zinj) Plio-Pleistocene archaeological site.

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Application of Return Rates to Large Mammal Butchery and Transport among Hunter-gatherers and its Implications for Plio-Pleistocene Hominid Carcass.

Foraging and Site Use.

Charles P. Egeland, Ryan M. Byerly.


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 2-3. 2005 (6 issue)

The butchery and bone transport behavior of Plio-Pleistocene hominids has sparked much debate among paleoanthropologists because of the implications these behaviors have for hominid site use and socio-ecology. Contemporary hunter-gatherers provide useful test cases for zooarchaeologists interested in modeling these behaviors prehistorically. Among the set of available utility indices meant to aid in predictions of carcass resource use, return rates may be the most useful, as they estimate the net gain associated with nutrient extraction. This study presents experimentally-derived post encounter return rates associated with the butchery of meat-bearing appendicular skeletal elements from Size Class 2, 3 and 4 ungulates. Combining these new data with published data on marrow extraction allows composite return rates to be calculated. This study applies these data to ethnoarchaeological reports of bone transport among Hadza (Tanzania) and Kua (Botswana) hunter-gatherers. Results indicate that return rate does not systematically correlate with appendicular bone transport among contemporary foragers, suggesting: (1) the difference between zooarchaeologically-meaningful (i.e. individual skeletal elements and element portions) and behaviorally-meaningful (i.e. articulated limb segments) units of analysis exaggerate the differential transport potentials of these skeletal elements and (2) maximizing caloric gain per unit time at the site of carcass acquisition may not be a primary goal. Return rates also do not significantly correlate with skeletal part abundances from a number of important Plio-Pleistocene sites. This in turn suggests that current return rate data are probably not comprehensive enough to adequately account for the many variables influencing transport decisions. Given these findings, we suggest that return rates may be more productively applied to questions of carcass processing instead of carcass transport. Addressing these questions requires an analytical shift from skeletal part abundances to hominid-inflicted bone damage. We therefore integrate experimental return rates with data on surface modifications from some Plio-Pleistocene assemblages and examine the implications for hominid carcass processing and site use.

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Volumen 3. Issue 4. Year 2005.

2020-03-28T19:17:08+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 3. Issue 4. Year 2005.|

VOLUME 3. NUMBER 4. 2005

A Methodology for the Intraspecific Assessment of Heterogeneously Worn Hypsodont Teeth Using Computerized Tomography.

Justin W. Adams


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 4. 2005 (4 issue)

Computerized tomography (CT) has been used to address many diverse issues within several subfields of paleontology since its development in the 1970s. Here, an extension of CT based paleontological analysis is described that applies this technology intra-dentally in an attempt to mediate some of the difficulties posed in directly comparing hypsodont dental specimens that exhibit differing degrees of occlusal wear. As a case study, this report describes the use of CT scans to produce virtual occlusal wear on several third molar specimens of the extinct suid, Metridiochoerus andrewsi, from the Gondolin GD 2 South African Plio-Pleistocene faunal assemblage. The GD 2 assemblage has yielded a number of M. andrewsi third molar specimens, including several that exhibit only superficial occlusal wear which limits assessment of their occlusal morphologies. The resulting CT scanned teeth from the GD 2 assemblage are compared both to other more heavily worn third molar specimens from the GD 2 deposits, as well as to M. andrewsi third molar specimens from the Swartkrans Member 1 assemblage. Results indicate that once the appropriate CT slice level has been selected, individual specimens exhibiting essentially any occlusal wear stage can be directly compared to one another. The methodology described here has applications for virtually any taxonomic group with hypsodont dentitions and will provide a useful tool for more accurate specimen identifications, for assessing changes and intraspecific variation in occlusal surface morphology throughout wear, and for potentially understanding the variation, evolution and functional significance of hypsodont dental morphologies among certain taxa.

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Dragging and Scattering of Camelid Bones by Fluvial Action in the Real Grande Gorge, Province of Catamarca, Southern Argentinean Puna.

Atilio Nasti


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 4. 2005 (5 issue)

Research carried out in the southern sector of the Puna de Atacama, Argentina, enables taphonomic hypotheses concerning bone scattering and the fossil record to be tested. To that end, this study is based on bone samples from modern camelid (Lama sp.) carcasses. In the first stages of research I evaluated the role played by disarticulation and fluvial transport in relation to different skeletal elements. Subsequently, I tested the various sedimentary contexts where the bones were buried and their relative importance in the different topographic localities. In certain areas of the vega hydraulic transport power decreases in relation to certain topographic accidents and patches of vegetation that act as a retaining wall. The reduction of this form of transport produces bone sedimentation. As such, there is the possibility of elaborating certain expectations, when possible, for the formation of a future fossil record in some sectors of this environment. Without underestimating the importance of previously developed fluvial bone transport models, my research favours a model in which some skeletal parts are more affected by transport than others, allowing us to determine the existence of different patterns of bone scattering and fossil assemblage in this area. In brief, this article produces preliminary empirical evidence for fluvial transport of camelid bones in the high desert, evidence which could be used as an indicator of original conditions in environments where bones were accumulated and became fossilized.

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Taphonomic History of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic Faunal Assemblage from Ortvale Klde, Georgian Republic.

Guy Bar-Oz, Daniel S. Adler.


[+info] VOLUME 3. ISSUE 4. 2005 (6 issue)

We present the results of a detailed taphonomic and zooarchaeological study of the faunal remains from the late Middle Palaeolithic (LMP) and early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP) bone assemblage of Ortvale Klde, Georgian Republic. A series of taphonomic tests and analyses are employed to reconstruct the depositional history of the bone assemblage and investigate LMP (Neanderthal) and EUP (Modern human) hunting and subsistence strategies. We identify the maximum number of skeletal elements, document bone surface modifications, the mode of bone fragmentation, and the demographic structure of the main hunted ungulate population. The assemblage is characterized by significant density-mediated biases, yet in situ attrition and carnivore damage play a minimal role in assemblage formation. Data suggest that most bone destruction occurred during site occupation, probably in relation to marrow consumption as indicated by the mode of bone fragmentation. Caucasian tur (Capra caucasica) is the major prey species throughout the LMP and EUP, and body part representation, the absence of selective transport, and butchery marks from all stages of carcass processing suggest that Caucasian tur were subjected to extensive handling. Analysis of Caucasian tur dental eruption and wear indicates that prime-age adult individuals dominate the assemblage. The results of this study, the first zooarchaeological and taphonomic study carried out on a Palaeolithic bone assemblage from the southern Caucasus, indicates that hunting strategies and meat processing behaviors were not significantly different between Neanderthals and Modern humans.

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Volumen 4. Issue 1. Year 2006.

2020-03-28T19:17:25+02:00octubre 26th, 2019|Volumen 4. Issue 1. Year 2006.|

VOLUME 4. NUMBER 1. 2006

Dissolution Behavior of Calcareous Nannoplankton and Possible Alteration of Their Assemblages.

Kyoma Takahashi-Shimase, Satoru Nakashima.


[+info] VOLUME 4. ISSUE 1. 2006 (1 issue)

In order to evaluate alteration of calcareous nannoplankton assemblages during their deposition-diagenesis, a dissolution experiment of calcareous nannoplankton from a marine sediment sample was carried out. An assemblage of calcareous nannoplankton (coccoliths) found in surface sediments taken from the Caribbean Sea was put in stirred pure water with a fixed ionic strength (0.7 mol/l KCl) at 27.5°C to trace their dissolution behaviors. Temporal changes in pH and Ca concentration during the dissolution experiment indicated that the dissolution kinetics were similar to those found in the simple calcite system. By counting numbers of different species and taxonomic groups, the apparent dissolution rates were determined for each species and taxonomic group. The obtained individual dissolution rates differ among different species and taxonomic groups up to a factor of about 9. The resulted nannoplankton assemblages after dissolution were therefore very different from the original ones. This implies that the fossil assemblage can be altered during the deposition-diagenesis by carbonate dissolution processes.

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The Taphonomy of the Micromammals from the Late Middle Pleistocene Site of Hoedjiespunt 1 (Cape Province, South Africa).

Thalassa Matthews, John E. Parkington, Christiane Denys.


[+info] VOLUME 4. ISSUE 1. 2006 (2 issue)

The palaeontological site of Hoedjiespunt 1 (HDP1) has been dated to the late Middle Pleistocene. The rich mammalian fauna, recovered from the site, including four hominid teeth, is believed to have been accumulated by a hyaena. Micromammals were recovered from within the same horizons as the macro fauna. Previous analyses of the micromammals from the hyaena lair did not include a taphonomic analysis, and the agent of accumulation was assumed to be the hyaena responsible for the accumulation of the larger mammals. This assumption had not, however; been verified by a taphonomic analysis of the micromammal assemblages. A taxonomic and taphonomic study was thus carried out on the HDP1 micromammals in order to identify the predator(s) or agents responsible for the micromammal accumulation, and to evaluate the suitability of the assemblage for palaeoenvironmental analysis. The general pattern of species distribution of the murids from the two main fossil-bearing horizons at Hoedjiespunt 1 suggests that the micromammals have come from the same, original assemblage. The similarity observed in the micromammal taxonomy of these horizons is echoed in the taphonomy. The digestion on prey incisors, together with the range and activity patterns of prey species, suggests that the predator responsible for the fossil accumulation was a barn owl. The assemblage may provide a brief window into the micromammal population living on the west coast, in the immediate vicinity of the site, during the late Middle Pleistocene.

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Middle-Range Theory in Paleolithic Archaeology: The Past and the Present.

Levent Atici


[+info] VOLUME 4. ISSUE 1. 2006 (3 issue)

Middle-range theory (MRT), as the concept of intermediate theory between observed empirical data and general theories, was first formulated by the sociologist R.K. Merton in the context of the positivist waves of the 1960s as a reaction to the doctrinaire and descriptive paradigms of previous decades. Among the first archaeologists to employ this concept was L.R. Binford, whose work was particularly influential in the subsequent development of MRT in archaeology. Understanding site formation processes and the mechanisms responsible for generating, modifying and destroying traces of the past has been equated with MRT, particularly in Paleolithic archaeology. The development of MRT has played a crucial role in the formation and elaboration of field techniques, research designs, and new methodologies and, as such, has stimulated new directions and new questions in Paleolithic archaeology. This paper elaborates the definition of middle-range theory and discusses its development and application by archaeologists. Relevant components of MRT such as ethnographic analogy, ethnoarchaeology, experimental archaeology, taphonomy, and uniformitarianism are addressed, and some representative case studies are presented.

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