Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Views to the past: Faunal and geophysical analysis of the open-air Upper Paleolithic site of Verberie
by Thompson, Jason Randall, Ph.D., The University of Iowa, 2011, 366; 3461422
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation builds upon previous Magdalenian research to reframe a logistical subsistence posture as an active risk-mitigation structure premised upon ensuring predictable surplus economic production at the French Upper Paleolithic site of Verberie le Buisson Campin (hereinafter VBC). Using a detailed faunal and statistical analysis of two faunal datasets to assess taphonomically the role of bone density-mediated vs. anthropogenic taphonomic agencies, this research also correlates bone survivorship with both limb element marrow cavity volume and the meat drying index. A limited program of bone refits attempted to provide evidence for the distribution of meat at the site. Age profiles generated from dental crown height measurements provide strong evidence that younger, perhaps more nutritious and valuable, carcasses were treated quite differently than were geriatric carcasses. There also appears to be a spatial component to the differential age-mediated treatment of reindeer carcasses at VBC. In essence, it appears that seasonal reindeer hunts at VBC were concerned with two eventualities: 1) the attainment of predictable and adequate nutrition for provisioning over winter, and 2) seeking to balance adequate nutrition with future reindeer herd viability. It appears that Magdalenian hunters essentially held young/prime prey targets as an independent variable, and treated the presence of geriatric, elder reindeer herd members as a dependent variable in meeting subsistence needs. Perhaps lower numbers of more nutritious (i.e., containing more and better quality fat reserves in meat and marrow) young/prime animals resulted in taking greater numbers of elderly reindeer to offset potential shortfall; in more abundant times, so long as herd viability could be maintained, greater numbers of more valuable young/prime would be taken along with lower numbers of geriatric reindeer. The fulcrum point of this subsistence balance appears to have been a very active, real-time process of prey item evaluation. Not all animals are equal in nutritional terms hence not all carcasses are evaluated equally. A Ground-penetrating radar study is also included to answer two substantive questions: 1) How representative of the entire site assemblage is the currently excavated sample?; and 2) Are there data visible that are indicative of multiple, interacting "households" as at Pincevent, or does the material scale, configuration, and distribution appear limited to a single household? GPR has proven to be a highly informative and productive near-surface geophysical technique for investigating many archaeological sites, and this research details one of the earliest such applications in a Paleolithic open-air context. At VBC, GPR was highly effective in locating anthropogenic accumulations of unexcavated archaeological materials which were field-tested through excavations during the 2009 field season.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Enloe, James G.
Commitee: Beck, Margaret, Bettis, E. Arthur, III, Hill, Matthew, Storey, Glenn
School: The University of Iowa
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Iowa
Source: DAI-A 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Archaeology, Geophysics, European Studies
Keywords: Geophysics, Magdalenian, Risk mitigation, Spatial analysis, Subsistence, Verberie
Publication Number: 3461422
ISBN: 9781124746753
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