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On Bonfire Shelter (Texas) as a Paleoindian Bison Jump: An Assessment Using GIS and Zooarchaeology

  • Ryan M. Byerly (a1), Judith R. Cooper (a1), David J. Meltzer (a1), Matthew E. Hill (a2) and Jason M. LaBelle (a3)...

Abstract

The Plainview/Folsom-aged bison Bonebed 2 at Bonfire Shelter, originally excavated in the 1960s, is argued to be the earliest North American bison jump (Dibble 1970; Dibble and Lorrain 1968). Yet, it is far older than all other known jumps, and well south of where the great majority of these sites are found. Dibble (1970) reasonably argued that its age and location was not compelling evidence against it being a bison jump. However, Binford (1978) observed that the skeletal composition of Bonebed 2 did not resemble a kill. To assess whether Bonfire Shelter could have been utilized as a jump and whether it was, we explore two lines of evidence bearing on the issue, a GIS analysis of the site and upland topography, and zooarchaeological analysis of the recovered bison remains. Although our GIS analysis indicates that Bonfire Shelter meets many of the criteria of a jump locality, our reanalysis of the faunal remains suggests this was not the primary kill locus, but instead a processing area to which high-utility portions of at least 24 bison were transported and butchered. Where the bison were killed, and how, is not known.

Résumé

Se ha planteado que el Nivel de Huesos 2 del sitio de Bonfire Shelter, que es de la época de Plainview/Folsom, es el sitio norteamericano más antiguo donde se llevó a cabo el método de caída para la matanza de bisontes (Dibble 1970; Dibble y Lorrain 1968). Sin embargo, es mucho más antiguo que todos los otros sitios de caída que se conocen hasta la fecha, y está ubicado muy al sur de donde se encuentra la gran mayoría de tales sitios. Dibble (1970) planteó razonablemente que su antigüedad y ubicación no forman evidencia convincente de que no fuera una caída de bisontes. A pesar de esto, Binford (1978) observó que la composición esquelética del Nivel de Huesos 2 no parece ser de una matanza. Para investigar si Bonfire Shelter pudo haberse usado como sitio de caída, exploramos en el presente informe dos tipos de evidencia que tienen que ver con el problema: un análisis GIS del sitio y la topografía de terreno elevado, y un análisis zooarqueológico de los restos recuperados de los bisontes. A pesar de que nuestro análisis abarca muchos de los criterios para una localidad de caída, nuestro reanálisis de los restos de la fauna sugiere que ésta no fue la localidad primaria de la matanza, sino quefue una área de procesamiento a la cual se trasladaron y destazaron las porciones de alta utilidad de los 24 bisontes. No se sabe dónde y cómo se mataron los bisontes.

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