Zooarcheology and bone technology from Arenosa shelter (41VV99), lower Pecos region, Texas

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Jurgens, Christopher James

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Research into the zooarchaeology and bone technology of the Lower Pecos cultural region provided in insight into extraction of faunal resources from the arid canyon lands of the region by its prehistoric inhabitants and how they incorporated those resources into human subsistence and technological systems. Using samples from the National Park Service held-in-trust faunal and bone artifact collections obtained from Arenosa Shelter during excavations at 1960s, the current research detailed the extensive use of faunal resources in the site and use of diverse econiches in subsistence pursuits by prehistoric inhabitants of the region. In particular, heavy reliance on resources from the rivers themselves was documented. The current research discovered specific processing methods for the many medium to large fish caught by prehistoric inhabitants. Filleting was used prehistorically in preparing fish for consumption and raises the possibility of both long-term storage and transport of food products away from the rivers and canyons themselves. Also encountered in the faunal study was a specific skinning method used prehistorically to remove whole pelts, preserving the distinctive features of the head. Presence of this method, termed caping, raises the possibility of pelt use for shamanistic purposes and may have implications for connections to the region’s prominent rock art. More typical was the documentation of fauna-related subsistence pursuits with a heavy reliance on rabbits, artiodactyls, and certain other terrestrial animals from late Pleistocene to Historic times. Detailed butchering sequences were determined from the analysis. From those pursuits, subsistence byproducts entered the technological system as input for bone technology subsystem operating in parallel to and in support of subsystems based on other raw materials. Detailed analysis of manufacturing and use wear characteristics was conducted using a large sample of the bone artifacts from Arenosa Shelter. The analysis enabled the prehistoric manufacturing process for bone implements and ornaments to be defined. The use wear component was the first of its kind in this region and documented use of implements in support of subsistence, textile, lithic, and other segments of the technological system over a significant time period.