2000 Speth (Boiling vs. Baking and Roasting A Taphonomic Approach to the Recognition of Cooking Techniques in Small Mammals)

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2000 Speth (Boiling vs. Baking and Roasting A Taphonomic Approach to the Recognition of Cooking Techniques in Small Mammals)
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  Animal Bones, HumanSocieties Editedby PeterRowley-Conwy OxbowBooks OxfordandOakville ':lobO  10 Boiling vs.baking and roasting: a taphonomic approach to the recognition of cooking techniquesin small mammals John D.Speth lNTRODUCfION Hunting hasbeenamajorfocus of interest to bothculturalanthropologistsandprehistoriansformanygenerations, and thereisnowawealth of detailedethnographicand archaeological information on howanimals are procured and butchered,andthecomplexdecision-makingpro cesses thatunderlieandguidethehunters'selection of body partsfortransportbacktoacamp or village.Over the pasttwodecades,therehasalsobeenanexplosion of taphonomicresearchonthefate of animalbonesonce they havebeendiscardedatthehomesettlement.Thesestudiesexaminethehroadarray of non-culturalprocesses that candamage or destroybonesbeforetheyfinallybecomepart of thearchaeologicalrecord. Curiously.however,aside from discussions of marrow extraction(e.g.,Binford1978,1981),therehasbeensurprisinglylittleattentiongiven to whathappens to bonesaftertheyarriveinasettlementbutbeforetheygettossed into thetrash.Particularlyconspicuous by itsscarcityisdetailedinformationonhowmeatisactuallyprepared and cooked,andtheimpactthatmode of cookingexerts on thenatureandultimatefate of thediscardedbones.A few recentethnoarchaeologicalstudiesclearlydemonstratetheimportantrolethatcookingislikelytoplayin the formation of anarchaeologicalfaunalassemblage.Forexample,Yellen(1977)andKent(1993)haveshownthattheaveragesize of bonefragmentsdiscardedinasettlementcandiffertremendouslydependingonwhether meat andbones werepreparedforstewing in apotor roastingoveranopenfire. In asimilarvein,GiffordGonzalez(1989,1993)hasobservedthatboththeplacementandincidence of cutrnarksonbonesareheavilyinfluencedbywhetherbutcheringtookplacebeforeorafterthemeathadbeencooked.Likewise,observations by Gifford-Gonzalez(1989),Kent(1993),andJones(1993)haveshownthattheincidence of burningon "roasted" bones canvaryfrom virtually nil if meatwas baked in a pit or earth oven, to values in excess of 50% ifthecarcasswasthoroughlydismemberedandthecutsofmeatspitteddirectlyoveranopenfire.Theseexamplesmakeitabundantlyclearthatmode of cookingcanexert asignificantinfluence onthe nature and condition of bonesthatultimatelymaketheirwayintothetrash.Inthispaper,Iattempttoshowthatmode of cooking can have aprofoundeffect onthe survival of boneseven aftertheyhavebeendiscarded.Intheprocess,Ishowthattwocookingtechniques-boilingandbaking/roastingcanactuallybeidentifiedinanarchaeologicalassemblage of smallmammalremainsjustonthebasis of elementfrequencies.WhilethecaseIdescribehereisinferredfromarchaeologicaldataratherthanbasedondirect ethnographicobservation, and henceremainsfarfrom conclusive,itneverthelessunderscorestheimpactthatmode of cookingcanhaveonthenatureandcomposition of archaeologicalfaunalassemblages,andtheimportance of studyingmeatpreparationandcookingasintegralparts of taphonomicandzooarchaeologicalresearchagendas.Ibeginwithabriefdiscussion of thesmallmammal remains from an archaeologicalsite in NewMexico, and showthatthebonesareareasonablyunbiasedsample of human food remains andnot merelytaphonomic "back groundnoise."Ithenpresenttaphonomicevjdencethatsuggeststhattwospecies of rodentwerehabituallybakedorroasted,whiletwospecies of lagomorphweregenerallyboiled or stewed.Iconcludewithabriefdiscussion of thebroaderimplicationsandissuesraisedbythesefindings.THESITEANDITSFAUNATheHendersonSiteisasmall,lateprehistoricpuebloabout 17 km southwest of RoswellinsoutheasternNewMexico.Thesite,occupiedbetweenaboutA.D.1275and1350,issituatedonalowlimestoneridgethatformsthewesternmargin of thebroadlowlands of thePecosRiverValley(RocekandSpeth1986;Spethn.d.).TheHondoRiver,amajorwesterntributary of thePecos,cutsthroughtheridgejustnorth of thesiteandflowsoutacrossthefloor of thevalleytojointhePecosafewkilometerseast of Roswell. Hendersonis an "En-shaped adobe structure, covering  90 John D. Spelh ++ + ~ lJ ++ ~ + ". ++++ ". + ~ HendersonSite(LA-1549) 'i ChavesCo.,N.M. +++ ++ 1981 .. ~ 5 0 '0 L....L.-J + + + ~ ++ meters ConltllK InlfK"VaJ 25 em • Site ElevetionCA.1185m.(3890 ft.) ~ '65 .90 515 .. 0 565 590 Fig. 10.1Contourmap of HendersonSiteshowing the "E"-shapedstructureandlocation of major1980-81excavation units in CenterBar.East Bar. andEastPlaza aboutone-third of ahectare,with an estimated50ormorelarge,singlestorey,rectangularrooms(Fig. 10. I).TheBars of the "E" partlyenclosethesmallEastand WestPlazas.Elevenrooms,sixintheCenterBar,five in tbeEastBar,weresampledintwoseasons of excavation (1980-1981).Eachroomhadahearthnearitscenterandfouruprightroof-supportbeamslocatedclosetothecorners.Entryappearstohavebeenbyladderthrough an opening in theroof.OnlyRoomC-5intheCenterBarhadbeendeliberatelyfilledwithtrashafteritsabandonment;theothersapparentlyfilledgraduallyastheirroofsandwallscollapsedanddisintegrated.Theonlyothermajortrashdepositwasnearthesouthend of theEast Plaza.Here,excavationrevealedadeepashymidden, thespoilsfromahugeearthoven,filledwithmasses of fire-crackedrockandthousands of animalbones. Theexcavationssampledapproximately160 m' orroughly 6% of thesite.Thisyieldednearly12,000well preservedanimalbonesamongwhichwerebison, antelope,deer(probablymuledeer),lagomorphs(bothjackrabbitsandcottontails),prairiedogs,pocketgophers,fish(especiallycatfish),andavariety of birds(Table10.1).Inthefollowing,Ifocuson just fourspecies:thetwolagomorphs,prairiedogs,andpocketgophers.Foradetailedstudy of theentiresuite of faunalremainsseeSpeth(n.d.).Lagomorphs,representedbymorethan5,800bones(NISP),arebyfarthemostcommontaxaatHenderson. Of these,nearly1,830(31.5%),representingatleast55animals,arefromjackrabbits (Lepuscalifomicus), andnearly4,000(68.5%),representingapproximately128individuals,arefromcottontails (Sylvilagusaudubonii). Amongthejackrabbits,atleast 12 individuals(21.8%) areimmature.Theproportion of immaturecottontailsis similar(30individualsor23.4%).Onlyabout2.5% of thejackrabbitbonesand2.0% of thecottontailbonesareburned. TherodentassemblagefromHendersonisneitherlarge (totalNISP=I,301)norisitparticularlydiversetaxonomically.Themajority of bones(66.3%;NISP=877),representingatleast64individuals,arefromtheblacktailedprairiedog (Cyllomysludovicianus). Of these, 18 animals or 28.1%areimmature.Anadditional240bones(18.3%)arefromtheyellow-faced(oryellow-cheeked)  Boiling vs. bakingandroastingTable 10.1 Major/aunaltaxarecovered/rom the Henderson Site. 91 Taxon Bison (Bison bison) Antelope (Antilocapraamericana) Deer (Odocoileus sp.) Jackrabbit (Lepuscali/amicus) Cottontail (Sylvilagus Qudubonii) Prairie Dog (Cynomysludovicianus) Pocket Gopher (Pappogeomyscastallops) Birds (at least 31 taxa) Fish (letalurids) Fish (Non-Ietalurids) TOTAL NISP 20271095 66 18293975 877 240 316 1087 83 11595% 17.5 9.4 0.6 15.8 34.3 7.6 2.1 2.7 9.4 0.7 MNI 34 21 3 55 128 64 25 61 60 18 469 % 7.2 4.5 0.6 II. 7 27.3 13.6 5.3 13.0 12.83.8 pocket gopher (Pappogeomyscastanops). Theseremainsrepresentaminimum of 25animals, of whichsix(24.0%) are immature.Thirty-threespecimens(2.5%)arefrom muskrats (Ondatrazibethicus), representingaminimum of fourindividuals,two of whichareimmature.Theremainingrodentbones(12.8%;NISP=167)areallfromrelativelysmall-bodiedanimals(i.e.,smallerthanthe pocket gopher),andhavenotasyetbeenidentifiedto genus or species;these are treatedhere as asingle group ("misc. smallrodents"). Beforeweimmerse Durse! yes in thedetails of the analysis, afewcomments on the statisticalmethods used to evaluatethefaunalremains are in order.Throughout the followingdiscussion,thesignificance of thedifference between pairs of percentages is evaluatedusingt s' atest ofthe equality of twopercentagesbasedonthearcsinetransformation(seeSokaland Rohlf 1969:607-610).CorrelationsareexaminedusingSpearman'srho (rJ In all comparisons,avalue of p:5.05 isconsideredsignificant.RECOVERYBIAS In any analysis of smallmammals,threecriticalissues haveto bediscussedbeforeonecanconsidertherole of these animals in humandiet and subsistence.Thefirst is hias againstsmallertaxaandsmallerelementsintroduced by therecoverypractices(i.e.,screening)duringthe excavations.Thesecondiswhetherthesmallmammal honesareactuallyhumanfoodresidues,or just the remains of animals that died of natural causes,orwere killedby predators in burrowsthathadbeendugintothe site afterabandonment.Thirdly,wemustaddresstheissue of taphonomicbias,especiallythedifferenti.alloss or destruction of particularelements,orentiretaxa,due to thescavengingactivities of dogs.InthefollowingIconsidereach of theseinsomedetail. Beforediscussingtbeimpact of recoverybiaseson the Hendersonsmallmammalremains,afewcomments are neededon the screeningprocedures.Duringbothseasons of excavation,allsedimentnotexpresslysaved for flotationwaspassedthroughone-quarter-inchmesh screens(ca.6.4mm).Crewmemberswereinstructedto retrieveeverything of anarchaeologicalnaturefromthe screens,regardless of size(i.e., no arbitrary cut-offwas used).Tinyorfragileitems,includingbones,wereputinplasticvials.Itemsthatwereseenfallingthroughthe screenwerealsoretrieved.Thesediments at Henderson weregenerallydry,loose,andpassedquicklyandeasily throughthescreens.Therewererelativelyfewrocksin thedepositsthatwouldcausefragmentation of small bones in thescreenS.Theobviousexceptionwasinthe EastPlaza,wherethedepositscontainedmasses of firecrackedrock.However,theserockswerehandpickedfromthesedimentbeforethefillwasscreened. Lagomorphs Alllagomorphremainscaught in thescreenswerecollected.Nevertheless,thequestionremainswhether substantialnumbers of bones,especiallythosefromthemuchsmallercottontail,passedundetectedthroughthequarter-inchmesh. Swter (1991: 49-55) examinedtheeffect of differentmeshsizesandscreeningpracticeson therecovery of lagomorphremains at awiderange·of sites in southernArizona.Sheconcludedthatquarter inchscreeningrecoveredlagomorphremainsconsistently andreliably. In particular,shefoundthatquarter-inch screensrecoveredthebones of cottontailsabout as con sistentlyasthose of jackrabbitsdespitetheirsmallersize.Shaffer(1992a)conductedacontrolledexperiment in whichherepeatedlypassedtheunbrokenbones of comparativeS. audubonii and L. califamicus throughaquarterinchscreen.Hewasable to determinethelikelihood of eachskeletalelementpassingthrough.Notunexpectedly,many of theelementswhichpassedeasilythroughthe screen are thosewhicharchaeologistsseldomtabulate,such as tinycarpals,tarsals.phalanges,ribs,sesamoids,patellas, and caudalvertebrae.Mostotherelements,withafewnotableexceptions,werecaughton the screens morethan70% of thetime(precisefigureswerenotgiven).TheimportantelementsthatShafferrecoveredlessthan70% of thetimeincluded(forbothspecies)the metacarpals and metatarsals,innominate, and tibia.This is somewhatsurprising,since the unbrokenmetatarsals,innominate, and tibia are relativelylong,even in the small-bodiedcottontail,andwouldonlypassthroughthe  92 John D. Speth screen if theywereupright.This of coursemayhappenwhenthescreenisshaken,butas we will see shortlytheHendersonlagomorphdata suggest thattheseelements wererecoveredrelativelyconsistently. The loss of cottontailmetacarpalsisnotsurprising,however,astheseelementsareverysmall even whencomplete.Shaffer'sexperiment shows thattherate of recoveryformost elements,bothcranialandpostcranial, is relativelyhigh in bothlagomorphtaxa.Thisencouragingresultmirrors theconclusionsdrawnbySzuter(1991). Turning now totheHendersondata, oneway of assessingthenatureandextent of recoverybiasistocomparethecomposition of thescreeningassemblage withthat of theflotationassemblage.Duringthetwo seasons of excavation at Henderson,over 300 flotation samples(average3.9liters,totalingabout1.2 m' of sediment)wereprocessed. The flotationsamplesyielded atotal(NISP) of 118lagomorphbones. Of these, 28 (23.7%)are Lepus and90(76.3%)are Sylvilagus. Inthesite-wideassemblage(whichincludesbothscreeningandflotation),1,829(31.5%)are Lepus and3,975(68.5%) are Sylvilagus. As expected,cottontailsaresomewhat better represented than jackrabbits intheflotation samples,perhapsindicatingthat some cottontailremainshavebeenlostinscreening,butthedifferenceissmall andnotstatisticallysignificant(t,=1.88,p>.05). Amorereliablewayto assess recoveryistocompareflotation and screeningsamplesfromthesameproveni- ences.Table10.2presentstheproportions of thespecies in thetwotypes of sampleforeachmajorprovenience (samplesizesintheflotationsamplesaremuchtoosmalltowarranttheuse ofMNI values,soonlyNISPvalues are presented). Foreach provenience,theproportionof cottontails in theflotationsamplesissomewhathigher thaninthescreenedmaterials,pointingtotheprobableloss of bones of thesmallerlagomorph.However,withtheexception of theEastBar,thedifferencesareonly between 3% and 8%. None arestatisticallysignificant.Thusscreeningbiasesappeartoberelativelyminor. Table10.2alsorevealsthisinanotherway. For the screenedassemblage,theproportions of cottontailsbased onMNIvaluesarealwaysslightlyhigherthantheirproportionsbasedonNISPvalues.Severelossesshouldleadtomajordifferencesbetweenthe MNI andNISP percentages.Thetableclearly shows thisisnotthecase.Anotherwaytoassessthebiasesistocomparethe proportionalrepresentation(%MNI) of variousskeletalelements(Table10.3). If screeningbiasesaresevere,thesmallercottontailelementsshouldhavethelowest%MNlvalues.Thisisgenerally n"at thecase.Withtheobvious exception of thetinycottontailmetacarpalandradius,thepattern does not suggest biasesfromscreening.Quitethecontrary:thevaluesformandible,tibia,innominate,metatarsal,and even thetinycalcaneusarehigherinthe cottontailthan in the jackrabbit;and thevaluesfor scapula,femur and humerusareverysimilar. Among the limbelements,onlytheradiusandmetacarpal(bothsmall, linearand delicatebones) are significantly under-representedinthecottontail. The overall similarity betweenthe %MNI valuesin Table 10.3isunderscoredbythesignificantcorrelationbetweenthem(Spearman'srho,N=16,r,=.87,p<.OI). Table10.2Frequency of LepusandSylvilagusremainsbyprovenience in screened and flotation samples. NISP MNI Provenience Jackrabbit (Lepus) Cottontail (Sylvi.) Total Lago. % Sylvi. (Lago.Index I) Jackrabbit (Lepus) Cottontail (Sylvi.) Total Lago. % Sylvi. (Lago.Index 1) SdS reene amples East Bar 529 1609 21380.75 16 59 75 0.79 Center Bar 553 1208 1761 0.69 20 50 70 0.71 CombinedRooms 1082 281738990.7236 109 145 0.75 RoomC-5 only 358 649 1007 0.64 12 31 43 0.72 EastPlaza 534 834 13680.61 17 32490.65 Entire Site 1829 397558040.68 55 128 183 0.70 I2 I Olahon amoles East Bar (0.43 m3)3 24 27 0.89 ---- -- -- Center Bar (0.46 m3) 16 42 58 0.72 ---- -- -- CombinedRooms(0.89 m3) 18 66 84 0.79 -- -- -- - RoomC-5 only(0.37 m3) 14 31 45 0.69 ---- -- -- EastPlaza (0.23 m3)9 2029 0.69 -- -- -- -- EntireSite(1.17 m3) 28 90 i 18 0.76 -- -- -- -- I See Szuter (1991 :174-175) for discussionofLagomorph Index. 2Volume of sediment processed byflotation in each proveniencegiven in parentheses; total volume for"entiresite" includes 0.05 m3 of sediment processed byflotation from miscellaneousproveniences not listed in table.
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