ABSTRACT

Understanding bone biomechanics and their effect on bone-breakage patterns leads to a more objective interpretation of human subsistence activities. While ethnoarchaeological research has provided information regarding the structure of frozen meat caches, much less is known regarding the storage of marrow along with meat, and if bones were thawed prior to marrow extraction. This study reports the results of experiments performing hammerstone bone-breakage on frozen and thawed cattle femora and humeri with the periosteum and a thin layer of meat left intact. Results indicated that both the presence of soft tissues and the frozen or thawed state of the bone influenced the extent and type of fracture. These differences potentially allow for the objective identification of frozen and thawed marrow-cracked bones from an archaeological assemblage. This research has implications for interpreting winter subsistence activities on the North American Plains.

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