A bone grease processing station at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village: archaeological evidence for the exploitation of bone fats
Karr, Landon Patrick
Outram, Alan K
Environmental Archaeology: the journal of human palaeoecology
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Recent excavations at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, an Initial Middle Missouri site in Mitchell, South Dakota have revealed a large, clay-lined feature filled with fractured and fragmented bison bones. Fracture and fragmentation analysis, along with taphonomic evidence, suggests that the bones preserved within the feature represent evidence of prehistoric bone marrow and bone grease exploitation. Further, the character of the feature suggests that it served as a bone grease processing station. Bone fat exploitation is an activity that is frequently cited as a causal explanation for the nature of many fractured and fragmented bone assemblages in prehistory, and zooarchaeological assemblages have frequently been studied as evidence of bone fat exploitation. The Mitchell example provides some of the first direct, in-situ archaeological evidence of a bone grease processing feature, and this interpretation is sustained by substantial analytical evidence suggesting bone fat exploitation. This new evidence provides a clearer concept of the nature of bone fat exploitation in prehistory as well as an indication of the scale and degree to which bone grease exploitation occurred at the Mitchell site. Finally, this research demonstrates the importance of careful zooarchaeological and taphonomic analysis for the interpretation of both artifactual remains as well as archaeological features.
© Association for Environmental Archaeology 2015. Author's accepted manuscript version deposited in accordance with SHERPA RoMEO guidelines. The definitive version is available at http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/1749631414Y.0000000035.
Vol. 20, Issue 1, pp. 1 - 12