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A bias in favor of male heads can be caused by preferential selection of males when hunted (as suggested by Cope 1991a, 1991b), or preferential transport of male heads, horn cores and/or keratinous sheaths to camp for use as raw materials. That male horn cores were valued by Natufian foragers is clear, based on the presence of several modified pieces at Hayonim Cave, as well as a cache of at least 18 (MNE) male horn cores recovered from the Late Natufian deposits close to the east wall of the cave (see Figure 5.7). There is, however, no clear evidence that the male postcranial assemblage was also dominated by males as suggested by Cope (1991a, 1991b). It is extremely difficult to sex the gazelle's postcranial skeleton, yet plotting measurements from the archaeological population can at least indicate the overall size distribution of the culled population for any given skeletal element. A scatterplot of the breadth versus height of the distal trochlea of gazelle (G. gazella) humeri (in mm), reveals a large range of variation, extending well beyond the range for modem males and females combined (see Figure 5.8; measurements of modem gazelle populations courtesy of Guy Bar-Oz).
Regardless of whether Natufian gazelles were smaller or larger on average than modem gazelles, it is difficult to believe that the male population alone could encompass such broad variation in body size. This line of evidence agrees with MAU/sexed hom data since heads are about half as common in comparison to postcranial skeletons in the
represented in the postcranial material, hunters just didn't bring their heads home much of the time.
Figure 5.7; Sample of male gazelle hom cores recovered from Late Natufian cache at Hayonim Cave.
All specimens are burned but with varying intensities.
The season of capture may also have influenced human decisions to transport head parts. The availability of fat in Mediterranean environments fluctuates on a seasonal basis: during the winter and early spring in the Levant the fat stores of animals become depleted. Mammals store fat under their skin, in their bones, and as permanent structures in the nervous system. The first fat store to be tapped during periods of shortage is the subcutaneous layer, followed by the marrow. The nervous system requires fat for its operation and can not be metabolized, thus even animals on the brink of starvation retain fat in their central nervous system (Stiner 1991a, 1994: 228). The brains of animal provide a dependable source of fat during the lean season, and the heads of gazelles may
Figure 5.8: Measurements of gazelle distal humeri from the Natufian layer at Hayonim Cave, and modem gazelles of known sex from the faunal collection in the Department of E.
S.E. at the Hebrew University.
Modem gazelle measurements are courtesy of Guy Bar-Oz.
In summary, the gazelles transported to Hayonim Cave arrived as essentially complete carcasses, with the exception of the heads in nearly half the cases, most of them female. Perhaps, the heads of females were removed and eaten at kill sites, since they were not needed for secondary materials (e.g., horn cores). Female heads may have been roasted and brains eaten prior to transport as suggested by modem studies of huntergatherers who tend to snack on easily prepared parts between the time of the kill and the return to camp (e.g., Binford 1978; Bunn et al. 1991; O'Cormell et al. 1988).
Transport and Curation of Certain Skeletal Elements as Raw Materials
Cave are marked by inflated proportions of a just a few skeletal elements that served distinct secondary functions as raw materials for tool and ornament manufacture at Hayonim Cave (see also Campana 1989,1991). Cervid antlers, gazelle metapodials, partridge tibiotarsi, and terminal raptor phalanges are among the most common elements for their taxon. Fallow deer and red deer are uncommon in the Natufian assemblages, yet antler fragments are abundant (21.8% ofNISP). The metapodials of gazelles (MAU = 36), the most common raw material for the manufacture of bone awls, beads and other tools at Hayonim Cave, are the second most abundant element in the gazelle assemblage (MAU = 36). Also, as mentioned above, though gazelle heads are underrepresented at Hayonim, those that were transported belong nearly exclusively to males possessing large horns.
The bias toward raw materials is even more pronounced in the body part profiles of avian species. Partridge tibiotarsi (MNE = 229) are nearly three times more common than the second most frequent element (the coracoid, MNE = 82), and the third phalanx (the claw) of all raptor species are the most abundant in the Falconiforme assemblage by a factor of two.
The caches at Hayonim Cave, one of gazelle horn cores and another of large ungulate ribs (some modified, but most unworked), attest to the perceived value of certain bones by the Natufians, who stockpiled them for later use. The Natufian inhabitants of Hayonim Cave unquestionably recognized the value of these elements as raw materials and made a concerted effort to transport and curate them, even when their abundance
Animal carcasses provide high-quality edible products such as meat, marrow, and bone grease, and contain most or all of the nutrients essential for human survival and nutrition. Animals also provide secondary resources in the form of skin, feathers, sinew, and bone, staples for the production of clothing, shelter, tools, and ornaments. The activities undertaken to extract these products are collectively known as carcass processing and include skinning, dismembering, defleshing, marrow and grease extraction, and cooking.
Butchering methods and other forms of processing often leave traces on skeletal materials in the form of cut marks, fractures, burning, and fragmentation, and provide a basis for the reconstruction of the history of faunal remains. Processing techniques often vary by taxa, thus a species-specific reconstruction of the butchery sequence is undertaken to identify the relative value of prey taxa in Natufian society. This step is important for upcoming interpretations of prey abundance. How did Natufians render prey carcasses into useable products. Of principle interest are activities aimed at the isolation of meat, grease, and marrow. The discussion therefore focuses on three major carcass processing activities; (1) the initial stages of butchering including skinning, dismembering, and defleshing the carcass to isolate the tissues into usable components such as meat, viscera, blood, bone, skin, and sinew; (2) the breakage of bones to extract marrow housed in the cavities of long bone shafts, and bone grease from the bone's
and preparation as food. The bulk of the discussion is directed at ungulate species, especially gazelle, which outstrip all other animal taxa as sources of animal protein and raw materials at Hayonim Cave and Hilazon Tachtit. Despite smaller body sizes, other prey species certainly made important contributions to the Natufian economy (e.g., carnivores, hares, partridges, Falconiformes and tortoises) follows the more detailed analysis of gazelles below.
Skinning, Dismembering and Defleshing In the Natufian period the separation and removal of soft tissues were most probably undertaken with the aid of sharp flint tools used to cut skin, tendons, ligaments, and flesh, and to separate the carcass into manageable portions. Skinning, disarticulation, and defleshing are thus expected to occasionally leave cut marks on skeletal elements during the removal of soft tissues close to the bone. Each of the three butchering activities should leave distinct patterns of cut marks on the prey skeleton, with minimal overlap between activities (see Binford 1981).
The removal of the skin and associated fur or feathers ft'om a prey carcass can be performed neatly with minimal damage to the skeleton. Animal skins are removed essentially by turning the skin inside out. The skin peels away easily from the animal's flesh and requires cutting only in areas where if adheres tightly to the bone, such as the distal limbs, the mandible, and the cranium, particularly around the eyes and ears.
Skinning is thus expected to leave cut marks on the skull, the base of the mandible, the distal half of the metapodials, the astragalus, calcaneum, and in some cases the toe
by skeletal dismemberment only on the distal limbs.
Dismemberment of the carcass into manageable portions for transport, cooking or the extraction of raw materials tends to affect areas of the skeleton connected by networks of ligaments, tendons, and muscles. These must be severed to separate the body into parts. Some joints, such as the ankle and hip, are more tightly articulated than others and may be more difficult to separate, thus require more intensive butchering and transverse breaks through the bone. Frequent disarticulation of these parts are more likely to leave cut marks than other joints (Lyman 1994). Dismemberment therefore is expected to leave cut marks close to major joints, in particular the proximal and distal epiphyses of long bones and the junction between the crania and neck, depending on the disarticulation method.
Defleshing or removing meat from the skeleton involves cutting muscle insertions and other direct attachments to bone visible on the bone's surface as roughened or raised areas. Cut marks created during defleshing activities are expected to occur at these muscle attachments, such as on the shafts of long bones and on the elements of the postcranial axial skeleton. Cut marks created by defleshing are expected to occur frequently on the shafts of bones associated with rich meat sources (e.g., ribs, vertebrae, scapula, pelvis, humerus, femur), and less often on those that are not (e.g., metapodials, tarsals, carpals, phalanges, crania, mandibles).
Results for Skinning, Disarticulation and Defleshing Activities The proportion of cut marked specimens by taxa or group from Hayonim Cave
with body size. Large animals are difficult to dismember by hand because attachments are stronger. Prey are much easier to manage once divided into smaller anatomical units.
Still, regardless of body size, cut marks are extremely rare in both Natufian assemblages (0.1% at Hayonim Cave and 0.1% at Hilazon Tachtit). The only taxa for which cut marks occur on more than 2.0% of the elements, are large taxa or those that are rare in the assemblage, and thus most likely inflated by small sample sizes. Cut marks are sufficiently abundant only in the case of the Hayonim gazelles to warrant further analysis.
Table 5.13: Proportion of cut marks on select ta.
\a from Hayonim Cave and Hilazon Tachtit. Only ta.\a bearing cut marks are listed. Cut marks on bone tools are not included. Numbers outside of parentheses are NISPs of cut marked specimens. The number in parentheses represents the proportion of cut specimens for that ta.\a. n/a means that no specimens for that taxon bore cut marks.
Table 5.14 shows the distribution and frequency of cut marks on gazelle elements from Hayonim Cave.
Each cut mark is attributed either to processes of skinning,
Though evidence for each of the three butchering processes exists, cut marks are infrequent and distributed almost randomly over a wide range of skeletal elements and portions. Though the Natufians undoubtedly skinned, disarticulated, and defleshed much of their prey, the intensity of these behaviors cannot be addressed using cut marks alone, as their butchering techniques rarely left evidence on the prey carcasses.
Table 5.14: Location and frequency of cut marks most likely created during the skinning, defleshing, and disarticulation of ungulate taxa from the Natufian layer at Hayonim Cave (following Binford 1978).
Numbers in parentheses represents the NISP of cut marked specimens.
Marrow Extraction Yellow marrow is a rich, fatty substance stored primarily within the hollow interiors of mammalian long bones, mandibles, and phalanges (Currey 1984). Marrow storage in adult skeletons may compensate for boom/bust cycles in resource availability;
it is stored in mammalian long bone cavities during rich seasons and metabolized by the animal when dietary fat is scarce (Speth 1987; Stiner 1994: 226-227). Thus, in most
using cold-processing techniques including simple technologies such as hammerstones and anvils. Once bones are broken to breach the interior cavity, concentrated (medullary) marrow stores can be pushed out using a stone tool or stick. Cold marrow extraction involving the fracture and breakage of compact bone can be detected in the archaeological record by the presence of cone fractures, green breaks, and fragmentation rates. Medullary marrow content varies significantly from bone to bone and is expected to correlate positively with the incidence of cone fracture and bone fragmentation.
Cancellous marrow on the other hand is stored within the airy matrix of spongy bones, and is more difficult to process using cold techniques. Though, like bone grease, cancellous marrow can be consumed by pounding the bone into a pulp, it is more easily extracted using hot processing techniques, namely boiling. Because cancellous bone requires the same processing techniques as bone grease and its extraction leaves the same signature on bone, it is included within the discussion on bone grease that follows.
The marrow content of various skeletal elements has been measured for a few ungulate species (e.g., sheep, bison, caribou; Binford 1978; Brink and Dawe 1979).
Though gazelle is not among them, relative rankings of marrow rich bones in other small bovids provide suitable analogues. Here Binford's marrow utility index for domestic sheep is used as a model for gazelle, owing to similarities in body size and relatively close taxonomic affiliation.
Five tests are performed in search of evidence for marrow extraction practices during the Natufian period at Hayonim Cave and, where possible, at Hilazon Tachtit.