Title

Analysis of Archaeological Faunas from Three Mesa Sites in Grant County, Washington

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom C/D

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

The Mesa Project consisted of archaeological survey and excavations in the Channeled Scablands of the Columbia Plateau, Washington. Dr. William C. Smith of Central Washington University directed the project between 1973 and 1977. Twenty-four mesas were investigated and four were excavated. Of the four excavated, animal remains from three mesas, Mesas 12, 30, and 36 had yet to be studied in-depth prior to this project. The purpose of this project is to investigate how animal remains are related to human occupation on these mesas. Three teams of two students each analyzed the entire recovered bone specimens from Mesa 30 and Mesa 36, and a one-third sample from Mesa 12, totaling 1,768 specimens. In all three sites, the bones were highly fragmented, with 81-92 percent of specimens less than 2 centimeters in maximum dimension. As a result, few bones were identified to taxon, and analysis focused on size class and taphonomy. Results indicate the majority of animal remains from the mesa sites ranged from unidentified dog to deer to bison-sized mammals; however, less than 3 percent of specimens could be identified to specific taxonomic categories consisting of Artiodactyla (e.g., deer), Reptilia (e.g., turtle), Osteichthyes (e.g., bony fish), and Rodentia (e.g., ground squirrel, vole). It is unclear whether rodent remains are culturally related or remnants of burrowing intrusions. Taphonomic analysis focused on the examination of burning, which was observed on 21-79 percent of total specimens. High fragmentation and degree of burning suggests cultural modification and a potential result of bone grease processing.

Poster Number

3

Faculty Mentor(s)

Patrick Lubinski

Additional Mentoring Department

Anthropology

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Analysis of Archaeological Faunas from Three Mesa Sites in Grant County, Washington

SURC Ballroom C/D

The Mesa Project consisted of archaeological survey and excavations in the Channeled Scablands of the Columbia Plateau, Washington. Dr. William C. Smith of Central Washington University directed the project between 1973 and 1977. Twenty-four mesas were investigated and four were excavated. Of the four excavated, animal remains from three mesas, Mesas 12, 30, and 36 had yet to be studied in-depth prior to this project. The purpose of this project is to investigate how animal remains are related to human occupation on these mesas. Three teams of two students each analyzed the entire recovered bone specimens from Mesa 30 and Mesa 36, and a one-third sample from Mesa 12, totaling 1,768 specimens. In all three sites, the bones were highly fragmented, with 81-92 percent of specimens less than 2 centimeters in maximum dimension. As a result, few bones were identified to taxon, and analysis focused on size class and taphonomy. Results indicate the majority of animal remains from the mesa sites ranged from unidentified dog to deer to bison-sized mammals; however, less than 3 percent of specimens could be identified to specific taxonomic categories consisting of Artiodactyla (e.g., deer), Reptilia (e.g., turtle), Osteichthyes (e.g., bony fish), and Rodentia (e.g., ground squirrel, vole). It is unclear whether rodent remains are culturally related or remnants of burrowing intrusions. Taphonomic analysis focused on the examination of burning, which was observed on 21-79 percent of total specimens. High fragmentation and degree of burning suggests cultural modification and a potential result of bone grease processing.