Faculty Publications


Faunal exploitation by Early Holocene hunter/gatherers on the Great Plains of North America: Evidence from the Clary Ranch sites

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Quaternary International





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Analysis of the faunal remains recovered from two penecontemporaneous Early Holocene archeological sites on the Clary Ranch in western Nebraska offers a series of functional insights on the organizational structure of Late Paleo-Indian subsistence behavior on the central Great Plains of North America. At each location, radiocarbon assays on charcoal and bone indicate occupation between 9100 and 9000 BP. The deposits appear to represent functionally divergent, although complementary, dimensions of a single, spatially differentiated settlement and subsistence system situated along a intermittent tributary of the North Platte River. The Clary Ranch site provides a view from the perspective of a late summer-early fall secondary processing area for bison carcasses derived from a nearby mass kill. The intensive character of carcass exploitation here, involving defleshing and marrow extraction, suggests that the bulk of the yield was destined for storage in anticipation of impending winter food shortages. The primary component at the partially excavated, stratified O.V. Clary site is a residential camp, with evidence for occupation during the mid-summer, mid-winter, and late winter/early spring. On-site activities there are organized around an intact hearth area, to which the carcass parts from at least six bison were transported for processing and subsequent consumption. Non-bison remains recovered from the hearth area include coyote, box turtle, raven, great horned owl, and several small, indeterminate passerines. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

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