Anthropological Science
Online ISSN : 1348-8570
Print ISSN : 0918-7960
ISSN-L : 0918-7960
A case study of cut marks on camelid bones from the El Palacio site in the northern highlands of Peru: implication of butchering activities
HIROKI SEIKESHINYA WATANABE
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JOURNAL FREE ACCESS Advance online publication

Article ID: 210429

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Abstract

South American camelids, which were domesticated in the Central Andes, have been emphasized for their secondary uses (e.g. llamas as pack animals and alpacas for their wool). In modern pastoral societies the use of mature animals for meat is not efficient. However, it is interesting that cut marks have often been found on archaeological animal bones. This study aimed to describe butchering of camelids through macroscopic observation of cut marks in the Middle Horizon period, during the Wari Empire (600–1000 CE), when the use of camelids reached its peak, and to test whether these activities are consistent with ethnoarchaeological and ethnographic findings. The materials used here are camelid bones with cut marks from El Palacio in the northern highlands of Peru. They were assigned to Middle Cajamarca Phases B and C, and a part of the Late Cajamarca Phase (800–1000 CE). In this study, cut marks on animal bones were observed by macroscopy, and analyses were focused on their distribution, frequencies, and direction. Cut marks on camelid bones from El Palacio were observed over the entire body, suggesting that these marks were caused by dismembering, skinning, and extraction of meat, fat, and marrow. The frequencies of cut marks on camelid bones at El Palacio was 1.3%, lower than that in the Formative Period. This lower frequency might have been caused by more fragmented bones in the former. Furthermore, it is possible that the use of secondary products was emphasized at El Palacio. Cut marks were concentrated on the ventral side of each bone. This can be attributed to the butchering procedure described from ethnoarchaeology and ethnography, in which animal was turned on its back for dismemberment and removal of its internal organs from the ventral side, being careful not to soil the earth for ritual considerations.

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