Faunal analysis of the upper units
While excavating at KTC a substantial number of faunal remains have been found. These remains are important because they provide the possibility to understand how people were using the resources found naturally in the environment. Importantly, faunal remains may also indicate processes of natural occurrence, such as animal to animal predation, or natural death. Since faunal remains at KTC have been found in the same proximity as pottery, stone artifacts, and charcoal deposits, it is possible to say that at least some of these remains were caused by humans.
Over the past few evenings I have been looking at faunal assemblages from the southwest and southeast squares of trench A. My goal is to try and map a basic picture of how the assemblage changes in subsequent excavation units over time in these two quadrants. As a side note, the sieve size at our site changed in the midst of excavating from a 3mm mesh to a 10mm mesh. This can cause a discrepancy in the assemblage because a larger mesh size will ultimately lead to smaller bones being lost. If our research goal at KTC was focused on the faunal remains, the mesh size would be a very important measure to keep constant. Since that is not our primary research goal, and since my project is only trying to understand the simple trends in the assemblage over time, this is of minor importance.
So far I have studied the faunal assemblages from the first two excavation units in ASW and ASE. This brings the depth of the units to roughly 0.1 meters below the surface, making the assemblage very recent. Still, a few interesting trends have occurred. The main type of animal represented appears to be small mammals with traces of fish and birds.
In each unit vertebral elements have occurred in high quantity and in good condition. Many cervical and caudal vertebrae appear in the assemblage, thoracic and lumbar elements have been rare but this may be due to a number of reasons. For example if people at this site were using fauna for food then the head and tail would not be portions of the body which would provide a quantity of meat. Conversely the midsection would provide the most meat and greater returns for hunters, possibly resulting in destruction of those vertebrae during or after butchery.
Another intriguing pattern in the assemblage is the high occurrence of intact phalanges. The first, second, and third phalanx have all been found in large quantity within these quadrants. A possible reason for this trend is that people were taking the limbs of various taxa to the site for consumption. Since phalanges do not provide important return rates, those portions of the limbs may be discarded, leaving many intact and undisturbed phalanx elements in the assemblage. It is also possible that the phalanges have a high bone density protecting them against taphonomic processes. We have found cut marks on a small number of bones, perhaps indicating processing prior to consumption. Whatever the case may be, these patterns provide an interesting view into the recent faunal assemblage at KTC.
This interpretation is a broad a general overview of all the elements which are found at KTC. Hopefully with further analysis a more complete picture of the faunal assemblage through time may be achieved.