Juggling with indices: A review of the evidence and interpretations regarding Upper Palaeolithic horse skeletal part abundance
Outram, Alan K
University of Exeter
Meetings and Proceedings
[FIRST PARAGRAPH] Theodore White (1952, 1953) was amongst the first to realize that skeletal part frequencies might tell us much about past hunting and butchery strategies, and that presence or absence of particular elements might be related to particular economic decisions. It was Binford (1978), however, who first introduced a methodological mechanism for the study of bone transport decisions that made use of uniformitarian principles. Binford (ibid.) calculated economic indices for the value of different caribou elements and compared these indices in the form of scatter-graphs against actual bone transport, as carried out by Nunamiut hunters. Put at its simplest, he argued that low utility elements are left at kill-sites while high utility elements tend to be transported back to camp. If hunters could afford to leave many elements at the kill-site and transport only the choicest parts then this was a "gourmet" strategy. On the other hand, if hunters were in greater need of resources, they would transport more of the poorer elements, leaving just those of lowest utility. This is a "bulk" strategy (Binford I978).
© the individual authors, 2006
In: Olsen, S.L., Grant, S., Choyke, A.M. & Bartosiewicz, L. (eds). 2006. Horses and humans: the evolution of human-equine relationships. British Archaeological Reports. International Series; 1560. Oxford: Archaeopress. pp49-60