Home > Uncategorized > Faunal Analysis In the Upper Layers Pt. 2

Faunal Analysis In the Upper Layers Pt. 2

So far our team’s excavation of KTC has been particularly exciting. Each day, as we dig deeper, different artifacts and features are discovered depicting an interesting overview of the history in our region. My work analyzing the faunal material has been equally exciting in the results it has already shown. As previously stated in the upper units phalanx and vertebral elements were surprisingly abundant in trench A. Now having looked over successive layers I have reached a depth of roughly 0.15 meters below the surface, providing a better overall picture of the finds. Interestingly, the findings are still providing the same overall picture.

In trench ASW excavation unit 1 there were very few finds but the phalanges and vertebrae each made up 10% of the overall faunal assemblage. Excavation unit 2 contained even more of these, with phalanges at 26% and vertebrae at 27% of the overall assemblage. For the SW quadrant, unit 3 showed a drop in the abundances of these elements with phalanges representing 12% and vertebrae 6% but they remain amongst the most frequently represented skeletal elements.

Importantly another element which seems to continually appear is turtle shell. In ASW1, 18% of the assemblage was turtle shell, this dropped in excavation unit 2 to 1% but rapidly increases in unit 3 to 20%. This may suggest that in the upper units some sort of mixing of the sediment has occurred because of the relatively slight excavation depths. Either way, in the overall understanding of the site 0.15 meters is undoubtedly full of recent deposits. With this, as we dig deeper and my anaylsis continues, a better understanding of the site dynamics may be understood.

As with ASW, the faunal assemblage in ASE has also provided some interesting information. In excavation unit 1 phalanges amount to 23% of the assemblage, while vertebrae account for 15%. Although I have not inputted the data for excavation unit 2, in ASE3 phalanges account for 8% and vertebrae for 5%. This indicates a drop in the abundances of these two elements between unit 1 and 3.  On the other hand, in ASE1 turtle shell accounts for 5%, then in unit 3 jumps to 22%. There is also an increase in cranial elements from unit 1 to 3 at 0% to 24%. In this type of situation the data provided by this simple analysis may be misleading. There is a large increase in cranial elements at ASE3 but without data for ASE2 or successive units after, it is difficult to put this information into context. Also it is important to always remember that taphonomic processes may readily fragment crania because of their low density. This type of problem is difficult to address when dealing with faunal analysis because rarely in archaeological assemblages are intact bones found. Still with this, by taking percentages from the known elements as a whole, the data still provide a rough depiction of the activity taking place at KTC.

Overall the trends in elements seem to show a general pattern over time.  Turtle bones appear to increase as mammal vertetbrae and phalanges decrease as we go back in time. Although this timeframe is short at the moment, with continued analysis a more detailed picture may be portrayed. I am beginning to also look into trench B in order to establish possible trends in the units between trenches as well as in trench B itself. The new increase in turtle shell elements shows that not only small mammals but reptiles are being found at our site. It will be interestingly to see if the increase in turtle shell continues in successive layers because this may be able to help explain how people at the site used the environment around them for resources. In all the faunal assemblage is providing exciting information about KTC.


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