Broken Bones and Cutmarks: Taphonomic Analyses and Implications for the Peopling of North America
AuthorKrasinski, Kathryn English
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Colonization of the Americas was the last continental migration of anatomically modern <italic>Homo sapiens</italic>. Clovis technology in association with extinct Pleistocene fauna clearly identifies a New World occupation by 11,500 BP (13,410 cal BP). However, a consensus on the timing of this process has not been achieved. Older sites completely void of stone tools and reportedly containing the remains of butchered proboscideans are considered inadequate evidence for a pre-Clovis occupation by some researchers. Before utilizing modified faunal remains as proxies for a human presence in the Americas, a thorough understanding of the ways in which bone responds to natural and cultural modification processes is critical. Through neotaphonomic research, this dissertation investigates patterns in butchering, carnivore gnawing, and human-induced breakage of large mammal remains. It quantifies cutmark and tooth mark frequencies, placement, metrics, morphology, and fracture patterns to establish an integrative multivariate framework for differentiating the actors that produced bone modifications observed in the fossil record. Analysis of these specimens in conjunction with an extensive control sample provides an empirical methodology for evaluating faunal remains with cortical surface modifications. The model is systematically applied to Clovis, Clovis-era, and reported pre-Clovis age sites to evaluate hypotheses of fauna utilization by Paleoindians. A pre-Clovis occupation is not substantiated, but Clovis-era sites lacking lithic and organic tools display evidence of proboscidean butchering and bone breakage for marrow access or expedient bone tool production. Clovis sites with lithic and organic tools in association with mammoth remains exhibit the most substantial modifications, representing evidence of mammoth and mastodon utilization across the continent.