Taphonomy and Zooarchaeology of Faunal Assemblages from Archaeological Sites along the Upper Susitna River, Alaska
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Reported here is a zooarchaeological and taphonomic analysis of faunal material from the archaeological sites HEA-455 and HEA-499, located in the upper Susitna River basin in the central Alaska Range. The bones are highly fragmented, yet indications of human activities and behaviors related to subsistence and site maintenance can still be inferred. The goal of the study was to determine what kind of information can be gleaned from highly fragmentary burned faunal assemblages typical of prehistoric sites in Alaska. The faunal assemblages used in this study were zooarchaeologically and taphonomically analyzed by identifying any preserved skeletal elements using reference collections, sorted based on fragment sizes and degree of burning evident on the bone fragments, and by assessing the relationship between bone fragment size and degree of burning intensity within and between sites. The bone fragments from these two archaeological sites appear to be burned directly from human activities. Results provide insight into prehistoric subsistence and site activities related to intensive burning of hunted faunal remains in the mountainous Alaska Range during the middle Holocene, as well as a better understanding of taphonomic processes in play in northern, subarctic environments.
Mueller, Melissa A (2015). Taphonomy and Zooarchaeology of Faunal Assemblages from Archaeological Sites along the Upper Susitna River, Alaska. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from