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New Directions in Zooarchaeology

In the past, zooarchaeological investigations in New England have, more often than not, been limited in their scope and interpretation of the faunal assemblages recovered and analyzed. Most zooarchaeological studies conducted in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries are the result of cultural resource management projects and as a result there is only a limited amount of time that can be expended on them. This has resulted in a situation where, although there are notable exceptions, the faunal analysts’ final product is still nothing more than a laundry list of species present and some general conclusions concerning seasonality or relative contribution of species to the overall diet. But, with the rich ethnohistorical documents that New England is blessed with relating to the Native people of New England and the oral history of the people themselves a much deeper understanding of pre-contact faunal utilization can be grasped. Using three archaeological sites, it is proposed that even within the budgetary constraints of cultural resource management projects, faunal analysis, when combined with historical, ethnohistorical and oral history, can provide deeper insights into archaeological assemblages than has been previously accomplished.

In the past, most zooarchaeological investigations in New England have, more often than not, been limited in their scope and interpretation of the faunal assemblages recovered. Most zooarchaeological studies conducted in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries are the result of cultural resource management projects and, as a result, there is only a limited amount of time and money that can be expended on them. This has resulted in a situation where, although there are notable exceptions, the faunal analyst’s final product continues to oftentimes be nothing more than a laundry list of species present. In rare cases some general conclusions concerning seasonality or the relative contributions of the species to the overall diet are also included. But, with the rich ethnohistorical, oral history and historical documents that New England is blessed with relating to the Native people of New England and their seventeenth-century English counterparts, a much deeper understanding of pre-contact and early colonial faunal utilization can be achieved. Using two archaeological assemblages, it is proposed that even within the budgetary constraints of CRM, faunal analysis, when combined with historical, ethnohistorical and oral histories, can provide deeper insights into the interpretation of archaeological assemblages than has been previously accomplished. This, I think, is the new direction that zooarchaeology in New England can take, quality comprehensive analysis based on standardized recording and presentation techniques that are informative and questioning of the faunal assemblages, all within a CRM budgetary framework.

Faunal analysis in New England has a long history extending back at least to 1898 when G.F. Eaton excavated and analyzed the faunal remains from a number of shell middens on Block Island (Carlson 1999:172). Eaton investigated several issues relating to the assemblage and the information that he felt they were able to provide. These included the age of the deposit, the presence of extinct and rare species, the distribution of common fauna, climate changes, seasonality of the fauna, geological environment and bone technology (Carlson 1999:173). Unfortunately, since the time of Eaton, the issues concerning the faunal assemblage and the presentation of the data resulting from the analysis has changed little. What does this say about the state of zooarchaeology when we have really not been able to build upon work accomplished over 100 years ago?

The reason for this has to do with the general lack of enthusiasm prior to the 1970s that was shown towards the potential of faunal assemblages. Before this time, bones were rarely kept during the course of excavation and the potential of the faunal assemblage, with the notable exception of Ritchie’s work on Martha’s Vinyard, was rarely realized. The reason for this is due to the specialized nature of the analysis and the need for extensive and accessible faunal type collections. Dincauze succinctly stated the drawbacks of faunal analysis when she said "…it is an expensive undertaking, requiring much staff time and extensive laboratory facilities." (Dincauze 1981:52). But, I think, we can all state, as Dincauze did, that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and for this reason, quality comprehensive faunal studies must be a part of any archaeological study where faunal remains are present.

Where does this leave us today? The main themes of modern zooarchaeological research have been summarized by Carlson as being prehistoric subsistence patterns and their changes over time; faunal extinctions and range changes; seasonality and growth ring analysis; settlement pattern comparisons; subsistence diversification; sampling, identification and taphonomy; wild versus domestic foodstuffs; prehistoric and historic social organization; and historical zooarchaeology (Carlson 1999). She correctly points out as well that today, the bulk of the most recent faunal work is located in the so called "gray literature" of contract archaeology reports and the bulk of the best and most comprehensive studies have been the result of university or other non-contract sponsored excavations. A notable exception to this is Bowen and Cheek’s faunal analysis and investigation into victualizing Boston that was the result of the Timelines, Incorporated’s work on the Central Artery "Big Dig" project (Bowen 1998; Cheek 1998).

The more common reports, for the most part, still contain nothing more than a laundry list of species present, a count of the bone fragments either in total or broken down by species, sometimes a determination of the minimum number of individuals present and possibly a discussion of butchery evidence present. Rarely are the habits and habitats of the species present discussed and even more rarely are the ethnohistorical, historical and oral historical sources consulted. This is most often the fault of the budget for the project and not the analyst or project archaeologist. I don’t believe that anyone can disagree that cultural resource management is necessary and has the potential to provide everyone, professional and lay person alike, with important information about our shared past. But, CRM is a business venture and as a result depends on the ability of trained professionals to operate within project budgets that, at times, can be on the verge of ludicrous. Ultimately though, with quality analysis, reports and wide distribution of findings via the Internet, there is no reason why CRM can not come to the fore and lead the field of archaeology.

Within a CRM framework, high quality zooarchaeology, as well as many other specialist fields such as paleobotany, palynology and lithic analysis, based on standardized recording and presentation techniques that are informative and questioning of the faunal assemblages, can be accomplished. As CRM seems to be the future of the bulk of the archaeology projects in the United States, zooarchaeology must be able to fit itself into this future.

Two CRM projects conducted within the past six years can be used as examples of the potential of CRM zooarchaeology. The assemblages discussed were recovered from two Eastern Massachusetts sites dating from the Middle Woodland to the early seventeenth-century. The sites are Den Rock II in Lawrence and the Tura site in Kingston.

The assemblages were collected during CRM projects at the locations. The Den Rock II fauna was analyzed as part of the final report on the project while the Tura site fauna was analyzed independently because no analysis was done when the collection was first catalogued.

The oldest of the assemblages came from the Den Rock II site and is composed of four separate sub-assemblages recovered from subsequent occupations of the site over at least an 1900 year period. Den Rock II was a data recovery project in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The site is located on an almost flat area between a stream and Den Rock, a large Muscovite granite gneiss. Initially identified on the basis of an 1820 +/-80 years before present radiocarbon date as being Middle Woodland, subsequent excavations at the site revealed multiple occupation between this date and 480 +/- 145 years before present (Decima 1997:6). This site has been identified as a possible short-term camp where food production and consumption occurred along with lithic tool kit maintenance and pottery manufacture took place.

The most interesting site in terms of the fauna present is the Tura site located in Kingston, Massachusetts. This site, dating to the Late Woodland to Contact Periods, was found as the result of testing for a wastewater pipeline project (Dudek 1998:1). This site is located on level area at the confluence of a small stream and a brook. Important finds from the testing at this site included blue glass trade beads dating to the early seventeenth century and over 100 fragments of calcined and unburned animal bone from sealed contexts. Site examination following the intensive survey roughly delineated the boundaries of the Tura site and uncovered seventeen features and 565 bone fragments.

The two sites presented represent different time periods in New England prehistory and history, but it will be shown that even though they were analyzed during CRM surveys, their assemblages, when combined with historical and ethnohistorical records can provide us with significant information.

The faunal remains from the Den Rock II site was composed of 1623 fragments of calcined bone ranging in size from 2 mm. to 2 cm. in length. Due to the calcined and fragmented nature of the assemblage 92.2% could not be identified beyond the level of mammal, small mammal, medium mammal or bird. The remaining 7.76% was identified as white tailed deer and domestic dog.

Four concentrations of faunal remains dating tow four distinct occupations were found during the course of excavation. Four the purpose of analysis they are designated Area 1 through 4. Excavation of area 1 resulted in the recovery of European bottle glass and flint as well as a radiocarbon date of 480 +/- 145 years before present. 166 fragments of bone were recovered from this area.

Area 2, located on the eastern edge of the project area yielded a Jack’s Reef projectile point and a radiocarbon date of 1820 +/- 80 years before present. 112 fragments of bone were recovered from this area.

Area 3, located on the southern edge of the site yielded a radiocarbon date of 610 +/- 60 years before present and the largest assemblage of faunal remains, 1363 fragments.

Area 4 was located on the northern edge of the site and was dated to the xxxx period through the use of associated lithic material. 25 fragments of calcined bone were recovered from this area.

As can be seen in Table 1 and Figure 1, unidentified medium mammal made up the largest portion of the assemblage with deer the next most common. The only other animal identified to species was the domestic dog recovered from Area 3.

The high percentage of unidentified medium mammal bone fragments from the site is probably the result of several cultural and taphonomic processes. Culturally it is known that Native people would process moose and probably deer bones in such a way that the result was a collection of fragments. Nicholas Denys who lived among the Micmac in 1672 noted that

"…they collected all the bones of the moose, pounded them with rocks upon another of larger size, reduced them to a powder; then they placed them in their kettle, and made them boil well. This brought out a grease which rose to the top of the water, and they collected it with a wooden spoon. They kept the bones boiling until they yielded nothing more, and with such success that from the bones of one moose, without counting the marrow, they obtained 5-6 pounds of grease as white as snow, and firm as wax. It was this they used as their entire provision for living when they went hunting. We call it Moose butter..." (Denys 1672:118).

Taphonomically, trampling and rodent activity, excavation, processing and handling may have further increased the number of fragments. A combination of these tow processes may account for the small and fragmentary state of the faunal remains from the site.

White-tail deer can reach a maximum length of 206 centimeters long and a maximum weight of 135 kilograms (Whitaker 1988: 654). They prefer farmlands and brushy wooded areas. Deer were the most common animal that was hunted by Native people in the northeast and as a result their bones are fairly ubiquitous at Native occupied sites.

The deer provided the Natives with many raw materials for producing a vast array of their material culture. The meat was eaten of course, the marrow was eaten and used for grease, the hide was tanned with the hair on or off for clothing, the antlers and bone were used as a raw material for tools such as arrow heads and fishhooks, the sinews were used for sewing, the hooves were used for glue and the bladders were used to contain oil.

Deer were hunted either by single hunters or by bands of hunters. When hunting singly, deer may have been stalked a by the hunter much as hunters do today. By observing their habits throughout the year, the hunters would know what locations the deer favored (Williams 1971:224). He would then either hunt the deer with his bow or would set snares and return to check them every day or two. The second way in which deer were hunted was communally. This could be done either by stalking or by setting snares as well. These would be large parties who went out to do this. Williams stated that 20 to 300 men might go out to pursue the deer on foot. During the trap hunting the men would bring their wives and children if they did not need to travel far and build a small impermanent house which was their hunting lodge. They would then stake out their bounds for their family that might be 2-4 miles and would set 30-50 traps and check these every few days (Williams 1971:224).

The importance of the deer to the people can be seen in the number of names that they used to describe them. The general name for deer was ‘autuk’ but the people further differentiated between ages and sexes. A ‘paucottauwat’ was a buck while a ‘wawunnes’ was a young buck. A ‘qunneke’ was a doe and a ‘moosqin’ was a fawn (Williams 1971:224). Distinctions were made for a number of reasons. One may have had to do with different qualities of the meat of the deer. Josselyn stated that the flesh of the fawns was considered the best (Josselyn 1672:99). It also may have had to do with the spiritual connection that the people felt they shared with the deer. Unfortunately this was not explicitly stated by any of the seventeenth century authors, merely hinted at. For example, Williams wrote that the Natives were "…very tender of their traps and where they lie, and what comes at them; for they say, the deer (whom they conceive has a divine power in them) will soon smell and be gone." (Williams 1971:224). Deer skins were also used as tribute to the sachems of the communities. The sachems had the right to the skin of any deer that was killed either by the hunter or by wolves in water (Williams 1971:224).

Josselyn gives a good description of the hunting done by the Natives to the north of Boston. These people often hunted moose in this area, but the description of their hunting practices was probably much the same for deer. He stated that "They go 30-40 miles up into the country and run down a moose. When he has tired, they cut his throat and skin him, the women take out the heart, cut off the left rear foot and draw the sinews out, and cut out his tongue and as much venison as will deserve to satiate them. At the same time the men pitch camp near a spring and scrape the snow to the bare earth. In the middle they make a fire near a tree and hang their kettle from one of the branches of the tree and boil the venison...They do not trouble themselves with the horns of the moose or the deer because they are weighty and cumbersome. They leave the carcass out there for the wolverines." (Josselyn 1672:99). This was probably much the same way that the Natives in southeastern Massachusetts hunted deer during the large drives in the fall. They would slay a large number of deer, take the meat and other parts they wanted and leave the rest. In fact, the Pilgrims found a deer near Plymouth in 1621 that had its horns cut off and nothing else (Young 1974: 164).

Table 2 and figure 2 show that while there was a high percentage of deer present in the assemblages, not all elements were equally represented. Area 2 and Area 4, neither of which contained any bird bone, also had the least variety of deer elements present. Chiefly those elements present were either cranial of phalanges. The deer remains from Area 1 and three showed more of a variety, but fragments of every element of the deer still are not present.

The reasons for the differences in the elements present are the result of several factors, including the fragmentary condition of the remains. Other facts may be cultural such as the fact that hunters traveling a great distance from their homes will not return with the entire carcass a large mammal. Usually it can be safely assumed that when all of the elements of skeleton are present at a site, then the entire animal was brought to the site and butchered. This will hold true if considerations such as the taphonomic affects on bone, the site of the sample and the distribution of the elements on a site are kept in mind (White 1952:337). When only certain elements are present then it is possible to assume that the hunter butchered the animal in the field and returned with certain, probably the meatiest, elements (Metcalf e and Jones 1988:486).

While most of the Areas did not contain a wide variety of elements, Area 3 was the only one to contain rib fragments, possibly leading us to conclude that more of the deer was returned to the site during this occupation, circa 1481 than during the other occupations. This area is also unique in the quantity of bone present and the presence of domestic dog remains. The more complete assemblage of deer elements and presence of domestic dog hint at the possibility of either a feast occurring at this time, or a famine.

Feast and famine times may have caused the inhabitants to bring a complete deer carcass to the site so that as much of it as possible could be consumed. The dog remains also support either of these conclusions. While serving as companions and hunting partners, dogs were also eaten by Native people in pre and post-contact times. Eva Butler and Wendell Hadlock, in their extensive study of ethnohistorical sources pertaining to dogs in New England, concluded that the Native people in southern New England did not generally use dogs as food (Butler and Hadlock 1994:15). Wolley, in 1678 stated that when they were very hungry, the Natives in New York would eat their dogs (Wolley 1860:45). The eating of dogs in time of famine appears very common in all societies where domestic dogs live with people.

The other time when dogs were eaten were ceremonial feast occasions such as greeting times for important visitors, preparations for war of ceremonies to ward off misfortune or sickness. When Henry Hudson voyaged down the Hudson River he was treated to a feast where a fat dog was cooked for him (Laet 1906:49). The custom of feasting on dogs before going to war appears to have been fairly widespread in the northeastern woodlands (Butler and Hadlock 1994:18). Among some nations such as the Iroquois, curing feasts lasting three days and three nights involved the roasting and consumption of a dog as an important element of the cure (Butler and Hadlock 1994: 18). Among the New England Native people, feasts, called Nickommo, were held during times of sickness, death, war, famine, after harvest, after hunting, to celebrate peaceful and prosperous times and during the winter (Williams 1971: 191).

The special significance given to the consumption of dog meat in such a wide variety of circumstances may be due to the supernatural powers attributed to them and their position in the mytho and oral histories of the people. Among the Iroquois, dog sinews were considered important items in a healer’s repertoire of power items and the dogs themselves were believed to have societies very similar to human societies with rulers etc. (Butler and Hadlock 1994:21). The importance and respect given to dogs is also visible in the numerous dog burials that have been encountered in the northeast.

The next step in the analysis of the Areas at Den Rock II will be the comparison of the artifactual assemblages between the areas to determine if Area 3 differs significantly from the others in terms of quantity or quality of artifacts. Perhaps, if less lithic maintenance flakes and more tools were recovered here, then it may mean that this area was used for more ceremonial as opposed to utilitarian purposes.

The Tura site is the second site that can be used as example of the potential that CRM faunal analysis can have for zooarchaeological studies.

A total of 511 Contact period or prehistoric bone fragments were recovered from the excavations at the Tura site (Table 3 and Figure 3). These remains were unevenly distributed across the site with the majority of them being concentrated in test pit E-8 of the intensive survey and EU 1 of the site examination. The bulk of the faunal remains from this area were recovered from Feature 8 in Excavation unit 1. This feature was a circular hearth with a diameter of approximately 70 cm.. The features encountered within test pit E-8 are interpreted as possible post molds for a structure, possibly a house, within which 142 pieces of bone were recovered. Preservation at the site was very good with unburned fragments of several of the species being recovered. Prior to the examination of the faunal remains from this area the large circular feature and associated postmolds were interpreted as possibly being the remains of a smoking complex for fish and shellfish. The occurrence of so much bone within the circular stain indicates that this feature probably served a more generalized function as a cooking hearth. If this feature had been a smoking hearth, one would expect to find less faunal remains than would be associated with a cooking hearth, in much the same way that Barber found at the Wheeler site’s smoking complexes (Barber 1983:)

Excavation Unit 2 was located in the middle of a field where a possible feature had been encountered in a test pit. This feature was found to be natural and the calcined deer bone fragment was recovered from a mixed context.

Excavation Unit 3 was located in an area where a possible feature had been located during the intensive survey. When the excavation had proceeded to the A/B transitional layer, several stains were discernible.

Feature 15, which was the only feature containing bone in this area, appears to be a large possibly circular pit excavated at least 25 cm. into the subsoil. The only artifacts recovered were lithic debitage and shell tempered pottery fragments. In the northwestern corner of the feature a circular area of darker soil was encountered below mottled transition soil. It was within this undisturbed sub feature that the faunal remains were recovered.

The faunal remains from across the site represent the utilization of several species from a variety of habitats which is in fairly sharp contrast to the limited range of species identified from the Den Rock II site. The wider variety of species present at the Tura site may be explained best as probably being a combination of taphonomic processes such as mode of disposal of bones, the presence or absence of animals that commonly eat bones, such as dogs or mice, the duration and reason for occupation and the environmental setting of the site. The Tura site is located close to both a larger waterway that may have been a more favorable location for muskrat and beaver to caught from and the ocean from which the fish and possibly the bird may have come from.

The distribution of deer elements from test pit E-8 and Excavation Unit 1 follows a pattern similar to those from Area 3 at the Den Rock II site (Table 4 and Figure 4). The presence of a wide variety of elements may indicate a higher likelihood of complete deer being returned to the site for processing. The variety and number of features, combined with the variety of species represented and the occurrence of deer elements may indicate that this site was occupied for a longer period than the Den Rock II Areas.

The faunal remains recovered from Excavation Unit 3, while being a relatively meager assemblage, proved to be the most interesting. Within a small, discrete circular stain located on the edge of the larger feature 15, a distinct concentration of at least semi-articulated remains of an adult specimen of a male Gallus gallus, the domestic rooster was encountered. No other faunal remains were recovered from any of the rest of the feature or surrounding soils. The feature containing the bones was a contained entity bearing no evidence of being a recent historical intrusion into a prehistoric or Contact period Native feature. Not a single artifact of European origin, aside form the rooster, was recovered from this feature, only Native made lithics and pottery.

The Tura site is located to the immediate north of the English colonists 1620 settlement at Plymouth and appears, from the presence of this find to have been inhabited at the same time. Early explorers to New England prior to the Plymouth colonists are not noted to have carried chickens or roosters with them on board their ships and there is the strong probability that this bird was a rooster of the Pilgrims. But what was it doing buried here, alone and semi-articulated at this site?

As early as 1623, the Plymouth colonists described giving chickens to the Pokanoket Sachem Massasoit when the later was sick and expected to die. Edward Winslow arrived at the Sachem’s house and saw the condition he was in. He then sent a messenger back to Plymouth to get a bottle of drink and "also for some chickens to make him broth…" But when the messenger returned with the chickens "…he would not have the chickens killed, but kept them for breed." (Winslow 1623: 34).

Chickens and roosters became part of what the Natives eventually called Netasuaog, or the ones that are house fed (Trumbull 1908:84). Roger Williams stated in 1643 that "This name the Indians give to tame beasts, yea, and birds also which they keep tame about their houses." (Williams 1971: 173). It would appear that by 1643 at the latest, European domestic animals were fairly common around Native homesites. Chickens and roosters were variously referred to as either Chicks or Monish, which means the spotted or dark colored ones (Williams 1971: 127; Trumbull 1908: 64). In fact the Native name of the Pleides constellation is Chippapuock, meaning the brood hen or literally the one that seperates herself, which may refer to Eurropean nesting hens and probably any nesting bird.

There is no reason why chickens and roosters, which were probably fairly numerous in Plymouth early on, would not be given or traded to Natives friendly to the colony.

Roosters and hens in the seventeenth century were described by various contemporary agricultural authors as "…the most manliest, stately and majesticall, very tame and familiar with the Man, and naturally inclined to live and prosper in habitable houses.." (Markham 1614:110). The ideal hen or rooster was described Markham as being "..large and well sised bodie, long from the head to the rumpe, and thicke in the garth…feathers would be very long, bright, and shining, covering from head to shoulders, his legs strait, and of strong beame, with large longe spurres, sharpe and a little bending.. and for the generall colour of the dung hill cocke, it would be red, for that is medicinall, and oft used in Cullisses and restoratives…" (Markham 1614:110-111). Markham also stated that the colours of the roosters head and neck should match the color of the eyes such as gray with gray, red with red or yellow with yellow. The colors of the most common type of fowl, the dung hill fowl that is often seen in probate records in Plymouth colony, are generally red in the body with the heads and necks of the roosters being gray, red or yellow. Googe further elaborated on this by stating that …" the best to be bought for broode, are the dunne, the redde, the yellow and the blacke, the white are not to be meddled with, because they are commonly tender, and prosper not, neither are they beside fruitfull, and are alwayes the fairest marke in the Hawke, or a Buzzards eye…The best kinde are such as have five clawes, so that they be free from spurres.." (Googe 1614:149).

Because chickens are relatively easy to keep and are prodigious breeders, they made the ideal first domestic animal to be brought to New England by the Plymouth colonists. These factors also made them ideal domestic animals to be introduced and given to the Natives; they were plentiful, cheap, easy to keep and versatile. Added to this value was the color of the birds from the Native perspective. If the poultry that was kept by the Plymouth colonists were in fact red dung hill fowl, as it appears that they were, then their red color coupled with the fact that they originated from the English would have made them doubly attractive to them.

The color red, as well as white, black or dark blue, and yellow, was one of the colors that held ceremonial and religious import in Native life. Redness in an object is reflective of the light of a fire and by associate with like itself. Red also has the association with the qualities of blood, ochre, copper, certain fruit s and berries and red cedars. Redness connotes the animate and emotive aspect of Life and is combined and associated with white and black in a cognitive system of the colors of life (Hamell 1983:7). Objects from the Europeans that were of these colors, such as copper kettles, white and dark blue or black beads and colored cloth were believed to carry the spiritual power of the Europeans as well as power associated with these colors in Native society. When the Sachem Massasoit was cured by Edward Winslow in 1623, he decided to keep the chickens brought to him so that he could raise them. At the same time he may have felt that at this time when he had just been saved from death by the English, that by keeping these birds, which he knew were often made into a curative soup by the English at times of illness, then perhaps he too could control the power to cure some of the illnesses that were affecting his people following the first contact with Europeans and the pandemic of 1616-1619 that followed. The use of these birds during curing ceremonies and their color fit in with his belief system quite well.

Based on the context within which the remains were recovered, the chicken remains appear to have been purposefully buried in this separate pit feature. The bird may have been killed and eaten as part of a curing ceremony similar to that described by the Jesuits among the Iroquois called a tabagie. At these tabagie, or solemn feasts, the sick person could request things that he or she felt would make them better and often times dogs were desired, killed and eaten at the feast (Butler and Hadlock 1994:17). This chicken may have been eaten seperate from other foods and the bones ceremonially placed in this separate distinct feature.

Alternately, the chicken may have been acquired from the English or from other Natives who had gotten them from the English and then the owner killed the bird and skinned it to make a bag. If this was the case, it may explain the missing wing and cranial bones. As had been found out by personal experience, when making a bag of bird skin, the outer bones of the wings, the carpometacarpus and phalanges are left to dry with the skin and the head can be removed, cleaned and replaced in the head skin to fill it out. It is known that the New England and the North Carolina Natives would dry whole birds out and important people such as Sachems and medicine people would wear them. William Wood, in 1643, described a well-dressed Sachem as having eagle feathers in his hair and a hummingbird dangling from his ear (Wood 1977:85). The red skin of an animal that both the English and the Natives may have considered a medicinal bird, made into a personal bag, can be concluded to have been a very handsome, respectable and powerful item for a Native person.

The rooster remains recovered from the Tura site probably represents something more than just the remains of someone’s chicken dinner. The context within which the bones were found, a separate discrete deposit of only the rooster bones and a few possibly accidental artifacts deposited from the backfilling of the pit, not a shell midden or refuse pit containing a mixture of discarded artifacts and food remains, leads one to speculate that this feature had a special meaning to its creator. Distinct deposits of articulated or semi-articulated animal remains are known from various archaeological sites and usually take the form of dog burials. Unfortunately, during excavation, the bones were not recognized as possibly being something more than a food waste deposit and as a result they were excavated in the field with only limited plotting of their original positions being done. Articulations of at least one set of bones was noted though and it is possible that the bones, which were in the usual spongy condition associated with buried unburned bone in New England, were more articulated than determined in the field, as some of the bones may have been less well preserved and were missing.

The analysis of the faunal remains from two sites excavated as a result of cultural resource management work in Eastern Massachusetts illustrate the potential that is contained in the faunal analysis of faunal material derived from a CRM context. The future direction of zooarchaeology, and of many other specialized analytical fields in archaeology in New England follows hand with the increasing need for CRM work. The limited budgets of CRM projects does not immediately mean that the analysis of the faunal remains that are excavated can not be done to their full potential. Because zooarchaeology has the potential to contribute so much to our understanding of the past, it must be incorporated within archaeological projects. At the same time, zooarchaeologists must learn how to do high quality work within the tight budgets of CRM projects. This can only be done through the use of standardized ways of presenting data in reports and a close association of the New England zooarchaeologist with the primary documents and oral histories of the people that they are learning about. Only then can zooarchaeology continue grow and contribute to our understanding of New England’s Native and European peoples.



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