Chapter 5

Faunal Remains

by Robert J. Muir



In this chapter, results of the analysis of faunal remains collected at Sand Canyon Pueblo (Site 5MT765, Database Map 4001) are presented and discussed with respect to interpretation of the abundance, taphonomic history, and spatial distribution of the remains of the major taxonomic groups represented at the site. This assemblage includes nonhuman bones and teeth, antler, eggshell, and ossified cartilage. Numerous researchers (Brand 1991*1; Driver 1996*1; Driver et al. 1999*1; Munro 1994*1; Neusius 1985*4; Walker 1990*1) have conducted previous investigations on various portions of the faunal remains assemblage from Sand Canyon Pueblo. To minimize possible inconsistencies between analysts, the entire assemblage was reanalyzed by Muir (1999*2); the data presented here result from this reanalysis.


This chapter begins with a brief discussion of the methods used to identify, catalog, and quantify the faunal remains. Readers interested in a more detailed description of these procedures should consult additional sources (Driver 1992*1, 1992*2; Driver et al. 1999*1; Muir 1999*2). The discussion of methods is followed by a presentation of basic quantitative data. Taphonomic processes that influenced the composition of the assemblage are then discussed, including a brief analysis of the skeletal representation of each major taxon, particularly Artiodactyla. In the final portion of the chapter, a summary of detailed spatial analyses of the faunal remains is presented. This section focuses on the major spatial patterns identified through contingency and cluster analyses.

Faunal Identification, Recording, and Quantification


The faunal remains recovered from Sand Canyon Pueblo were analyzed using a standardized identification and recording system developed by Jon Driver for the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (Driver 1992*2). Using this system, the following information was recorded for each specimen: taxon, element, part of element, side, state of epiphyseal fusion, breakage types, modifications, length of fragment, and cortical thickness. Specific standards, categories, and codes used to describe each of these attributes can be found elsewhere (Driver 1992*2; Driver et al. 1999*1). General element categories such as "long bone" or "axial" were not used. A specimen was considered taxonomically "identifiable" only if the skeletal element could be determined; all specimens that could not be thus identified were classified taxonomically as "unidentifiable." This method ensures that analyses are not biased by the intuition and guesswork of individual analysts (Driver 1992*1).


The remains were identified with the aid of comparative collections at Simon Fraser University, at the University of Puget Sound (primarily for rodents and small carnivores), and at the Burke Museum, University of Washington (for birds). To assist in the sorting and preliminary identification of some remains, several osteological keys were also used (e.g., Cook 1984*1; Gilbert et al. 1981*1; Lawrence 1951*1; Olsen 1964*1, 1968*2; Schmid 1972*1). Before identifying and cataloging the remains, I attempted to conjoin elements that had been broken recently (i.e., during or after excavation). Because I wished to study the frequency of various culturally significant and natural fracture types, I did not attempt to conjoin elements that displayed "old" breaks, although fragments that were obviously parts of the same bone were noted as such in the catalog. During quantification of the remains, each fragment or recently broken, conjoined element was treated as a distinct, individual specimen. This allowed the assemblage to be quantified as it existed just before excavation.


All identifiable specimens were assigned to the most specific taxonomic category that was possible within the limitations of the available reference collections and observable morphological variation. Identifications of specimens to the species level were made only by direct comparisons with modern skeletons. Osteological keys were valuable aids for identifying specimens to the family or genus level, but these illustrations were neither detailed enough nor accurate enough to allow bones to be confidently identified at the species level. Bones were assigned to a particular species or genus only when all other possible species and genera had been ruled out on the basis of morphology and size; consequently, many specimens were assigned to the more general taxonomic categories defined by Driver (1992*2).


Frequency data for the faunal remains from Sand Canyon Pueblo are provided as "number of identified specimens," or NISP, counts (Grayson 1979*1). NISP counts represent the total number of specimens recovered from a site that can be positively identified as belonging to a particular taxon. There are several potential problems with this method of quantification (for a thorough discussion, see Grayson [1979*1]). In particular, NISP data overrepresent taxa with greater numbers of elements (Klein and Cruz-Uribe 1984*1; Payne 1972*1), greater degrees of fragmentation (Grayson 1973*1, 1979*1; Thomas 1969*1; Watson 1979*1), or higher rates of recovery (Thomas 1969*1; Watson 1972*1). NISP data have been used here to allow direct comparison between the Sand Canyon data and the faunal data produced by other researchers, but these counts are not accurate estimates of the relative frequencies of different taxa.

Quantitative Data


Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, and Table 4 present basic quantitative data for the Sand Canyon Pueblo faunal assemblage. These data are based on NISP calculations of all collected specimens, including those that have been culturally modified. A total of 17,628 specimens, including bone, teeth, antler, eggshell, and ossified cartilage, were collected from the site. Of these, 10,851 bones and one snail shell (61.6 percent of the faunal assemblage) could be identified to element and thus assigned to a specific taxonomic category. The remaining 6,776 specimens were cataloged as unidentified bone fragments or belonged to one of the other categories of faunal remains; these are excluded from further consideration in this chapter.


As indicated in Table 1, mammal remains dominate the assemblage, accounting for more than 63 percent of the identified specimens. Birds are represented by approximately one-third (33.8 percent) of the identified remains, and small quantities of amphibian, reptile, and gastropod remains make up the remainder of the assemblage. No fish remains were identified in this assemblage. The frequencies of individual mammalian and bird remains are presented in Table 2 and Table 3, respectively. Table 4 presents the frequencies of the remains of amphibian, reptile, and gastropod taxa.


The identified specimens, including at least 25 mammals, 12 birds, one amphibian, two reptiles, and one gastropod, represent a minimum of 41 discrete taxonomic groups. Many more taxonomic categories may be represented by the remains, because a considerable number of specimens have been assigned to general categories such as "medium carnivore," "large sciurid," and "large bird"; however, the majority of these remains probably belong to taxa already identified in the assemblage. For example, most specimens identified only as "large bird" (birds larger than mallard) are probably the remains of turkey (Meleagris sp.) or of one of the other large bird species identified in the assemblage. Similarly, remains identified as "large sciurid" are probably those of prairie dog (Cynomys) or ground squirrel (Spermophilus). However, the "small bird" and Passeriformes categories probably contain remains from several species not listed among those identified. Elements from small birds are difficult to identify further, partly because of the extremely large number of species and partly because many of the subtle physical differences between them are undetectable osteologically. Similarly, it is difficult to discriminate osteologically between the numerous varieties of Sciuridae species, and it is possible that unspecified species are represented in the remains.



The mammal remains from Sand Canyon Pueblo represent a wide variety of taxa, although many taxa are represented by only a few specimens (Table 2). The order Insectivora, for instance, is represented by a single shrew mandible.


Lagomorph remains are the most abundant, representing more than 42 percent of the mammalian subassemblage. Within this group, cottontail (Sylvilagus spp.) remains are abundant; jackrabbit (Lepus spp.) remains are present in much smaller quantities. Two species of cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii and Sylvilagus nutallii) may be represented. The results of an attempt to distinguish between these species using the metric criteria of Neusius and Flint (1985*1) were inconclusive. In an earlier investigation, Brand (1991*1) suggested that the remains of both species were present in the faunal assemblage from this site. Similarly, the Lepus (jackrabbit and hare) remains could not be identified at the species level, although snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) can be ruled out on the basis of size. No pika (Ochotona sp.) remains were identified, and none of the remains identified only as "Lagomorpha" appeared to be small enough to represent this species. Thus, it is probably safe to conclude that pikas are not represented in this assemblage.


A considerable quantity of rodent remains, which composed approximately 34 percent of the mammalian specimens, was recovered from the site. Most of the bones identified to genus and species were mandibles, crania, innominates, and major long bones. Other elements were identified only to the family level. The remains of small rodents, including mice and voles (Muridae), woodrats (Neotoma spp.), and gophers (Geomyidae), are abundant and, because of the potential for these tiny bones to be lost or overlooked during excavation, are probably underrepresented even so. The larger rodents that are represented include primarily ground squirrels—particularly rock squirrels (Spermophilus variegatus)—and prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.). Small quantities of porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) and chipmunk (Eutamias spp.) elements compose the remainder of the rodent remains.


Remains of Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates) account for less than 10 percent of the mammalian assemblage but, because of the large size of these animals, the presence of these remains is as significant as the presence of the remains of other taxa. At least three species of artiodactyl are represented: mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), and bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis). The majority of the artiodactyl remains were identified simply as "medium artiodactyl"; the artiodactyl remains that were identified more precisely are predominantly of deer (Odocoileus spp.). No extremely robust specimens suggestive of large artiodactyls such as elk or bison were identified among the remains.


The order Carnivora is represented by specimens from a wide variety of taxa, although only a few bones were assigned to each taxon. Canis (dog, coyote, wolf) is by far the most abundantly represented taxon; the remains of both domestic dog (C. familiaris) and coyote (C. latrans) were identified. Lynx is also well represented; these remains may be of bobcat (L. rufus) or Canada lynx (L. canadensis), although the latter is less probable because this species prefers heavily forested environments and northern latitudes (Wooding 1982*1:130–132). Small quantities of fox, ringtail cat, weasel, skunk, and badger elements are also present among the carnivore remains.



Two categories dominate the bird subassemblage—turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) and "large bird"; together these compose nearly 93 percent of the bird remains and more than 31 percent of the entire identified faunal assemblage (Table 3). Almost 40 percent of the bird remains are identifiable as turkey, and many of the "large bird" bones are probably turkey as well. The abundance of these bones in the Sand Canyon assemblage is believed to be representative of the frequency of turkey bones at the site as a whole. Other birds, such as geese and cranes, may also be represented by bones in the "large bird" category, although the proportions of bones from these taxa are likely to be very small. Small quantities of the remains of other Galliformes, such as quail and grouse, were also identified. No attempt was made to distinguish between the remains of domestic and wild turkeys. Munro (1994*1) presents a more detailed analysis and discussion of the turkey remains from Sand Canyon Pueblo.


The remains of passerine birds compose less than 2 percent of the bird subassemblage. Raven (Corvus spp.) remains were identified easily because of their relatively large size. These remains probably represent the common raven (C. corax), which is native to the area. However, because comparative specimens were limited, it is possible that the smaller Chihuahuan raven (C. cryptoleucus) is represented. The remains of several smaller passerines could not be identified to species.


Birds of prey, including members of Falconiformes and Strigiformes, are also represented and compose approximately 1.4 percent of the bird remains. Among these, the frequency of American kestrel (Falco sparverius) remains is particularly high. Specimens from large hawks (Buteo sp.), turkey vultures (Cathartes aura), and great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) are also present.


Columbiformes are represented only by 12 elements from the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), which compose 0.3 percent of the bird subassemblage. The presence of specimens from only this single species is not surprising, given that it is the only species of dove native to the Four Corners area. All other bird taxa present are represented by small quantities of bones, many by only a single specimen. A considerable number of specimens representing medium-size and small birds were identified but could not be assigned to more-specific taxonomic categories.

Amphibians, Reptiles, and Gastropods


The frequencies of amphibian, reptile, and gastropod remains recovered from Sand Canyon Pueblo are presented in Table 4. Among the amphibian remains, numerous specimens were positively identified as representing spadefoot toads (Pelobatidae). Both lizard and snake remains were also identified in the reptile subassemblage. A single gastropod specimen was present; no turtle remains, which are usually fairly distinctive, were positively identified in this assemblage.



Taphonomy is the study of the natural and cultural processes that affect the deposition and preservation of organic materials. Cultural behavior associated with artifact manufacture, food preparation, and refuse disposal will influence the distribution and composition of archaeological assemblages. After being deposited on the ground, objects may be moved by natural mechanical forces such as wind, water, or burrowing animals. Other natural agents such as moisture, sunlight, and bacteria may erode or destroy materials. Soil chemistry also affects preservation. Bones and other organic materials are especially vulnerable to alteration, damage, or destruction as the result of these factors. In this section, I examine evidence of taphonomic processes that have affected the composition and condition of the faunal assemblage from Sand Canyon Pueblo.



Weathering, or exposure to moisture, wind, and sun, can result in damage to, or even destruction of, animal bones and thus can have extreme effects on the composition of a faunal assemblage. The primary variable affecting the degree of bone weathering is the rate of burial; bones that become buried more quickly will be less damaged by the natural elements. In addition, the remains of various species may differ in their susceptibility to the destructive effects of weathering because of various inherent attributes—including density, size, and grease content—and because of cultural factors such as processing, cooking, and disposal practices. These inherent attributes and cultural influences may affect the relative frequency with which remains of different species are recovered and identified archaeologically. Table 5 lists, by taxonomic group, the frequencies of weathered bone in the Sand Canyon Pueblo faunal assemblage.


It is evident that the remains of some taxa were more severely affected by weathering than others. In particular, one-quarter of the artiodactyl remains were damaged by weathering. Other mammalian taxa, including "medium mammal" and several categories of carnivore, also contain considerable numbers of weathered specimens. However, a comparatively small percentage of the "large bird" and turkey (M. gallopavo) remains is weathered. Of the few "small bird" specimens present, two are weathered. Little weathering is apparent on the bones of small mammals (jackrabbit-size and smaller). That some bones are heavily weathered is an indicator that there are probably entire elements that have been completely destroyed due to weathering (or damaged to the point that they can no longer be identified). Thus, taxa that display a greater amount and greater degree of weathering among the remains that are recovered are more likely to have been severely depleted in abundance, compared with taxa that display little or no weathering. As discussed above, the degree of weathering can be influenced by the rate of burial and by both cultural and natural processes. It may be that the artiodactyl remains are more heavily weathered because of their slow rate of burial, which might have been a consequence of unique disposal practices.

Cultural vs. Natural Bone Accumulations


Although the presence of most animal bones on a site results from cultural activity, it should not be assumed that all animal remains recovered from Sand Canyon Pueblo entered the archaeological record as result of human activity. Nonhuman factors may have contributed to the presence of particular specimens or to the occurrence of certain species. In general, animal remains are introduced into archaeological sites as the result of one of four processes: (1) the death of domesticated animals, (2) the transport to the site of carcasses (whole or partial) of wild animals trapped or hunted by humans, (3) the natural death of wild animals that lived at the site; or (4) the transport of animal carcasses to the site by nonhuman predators or scavengers. The first two processes relate directly to the human occupation of the site. The latter two processes may be independent of human occupation and thus unrelated to cultural activities at the site; as such, they might have occurred before, during, or after occupation of the site.


Considerable attention has been paid to the identification of natural-death assemblages of medium and large mammals, particularly ungulates (Binford 1981*2; Blumenschine 1986*1; Brain 1980*1, 1981*1; D'Andrea and Gotthardt 1984*1; Haynes 1982*1), and there is an increasing body of literature regarding the taphonomic origin of smaller animals such as rodents, birds, snakes, and lizards (Andrews 1990*1; Dodson and Wexlar 1979*1; Kusmer 1986*1; Shaffer 1992*1). These studies have focused primarily on the identification of bone damage caused by carnivore and raptor predation and on the effect of such predation on element frequencies. Evidence that particular medium and large mammals were subjected to human use includes such physical indications as cut marks and specific breakage patterns. However, the means of introduction of the remains of smaller animals into the archaeological record are more difficult to determine; the decision of whether to include the bones of such animals in faunal interpretations is usually based on observed ethnographic practices. A potential danger in this use of ethnographic analogy is that it could lead to erroneous interpretations of archaeological data. Despite the relatively small amount of literature devoted to the identification of cultural modification on the remains of small animals, it should be possible to delineate some characteristics that are indicative of natural taphonomic processes and some that are likely to have resulted from cultural actions. Definite indications of human procurement will not be evident on the remains of all taxa, and it is impossible to determine the taphonomic history of each individual specimen. However, a determination of whether specific types of modifications were produced naturally or culturally should provide a basis for assessing which of the four processes listed above is most likely to have resulted in the introduction of the remains of each taxon into the archaeological record.

Culturally Modified Bone


Butchery and processing of animals can produce diagnostic modifications, including cut marks, saw marks, and cut edges. Use of animal bones as tools may also produce modifications such as grinding and polishing. The presence of such characteristics is indicative of human use of the taxa on whose bones the characteristics are found, although such markings are not likely to be present on all, or even a majority of, culturally introduced specimens. Evidence of burning, such as carbonization or calcinization, may be more common on the remains of culturally used taxa, although bones that arrive on a site naturally may become charred as the result of wildfires or accidental house fires (Grayson 1988*1; Lyman 1988*1). Spiral (or green-bone) fractures are considered by many researchers to be indicative of human activity; however, these fractures can be produced by any of several natural agents, including carnivores (Binford 1981*2), traumatic injury (Lyman 1984*1), or trampling (Haynes 1983*1). Human procurement can also result in extreme damage to bone. For example, ethnographic sources describe a Pueblo practice of grinding the carcasses of small animals such as rabbits to a fine pulp during food preparation (Tyler 1964*1). It is unlikely that archaeologists will recognize this type of practice, because such bones would be ground into small fragments which, even if recovered, would probably be unidentifiable.


The presence of cultural modification on some of the remains in the faunal assemblage from Sand Canyon Pueblo (Table 6) indicates that those remains entered the archaeological record through one of the two culturally associated processes listed above. Evidence of cultural modification in the form of grinding, polishing, and cut marks is present on multiple specimens from six taxonomic groups—bobcat or lynx (Lynx spp.); turkey (M. gallopavo); artiodactyls; dog, wolf, or coyote (Canis spp.); jackrabbit or hare (Lepus spp.); and cottontail (Sylvilagus spp.). For the bones in some taxonomic categories, such modification is extremely common. This is particularly true of Lynx bones, of which 19 percent have been made into tools or other artifacts. Also included in the remains of these six taxonomic groups are numerous specimens that display burning and spiral fractures. Additional evidence of cultural modification consists of grinding and/or polishing on an owl (Strigiformes) bone and cut marks on a sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) bone. These two taxonomic groups are represented by few specimens; thus, it is not surprising that so few bones exhibit cultural modification.


The bones from the remaining taxa in the faunal assemblage display no definite evidence of cultural modification; therefore, it is not clear whether they entered the archaeological record as a result of natural processes or cultural processes. Multiple specimens from four taxonomic groups—"small bird"; jays, crows, and ravens (Corvidae); squirrels (Sciuridae); and woodrat (Neotoma spp.)—display burning and spiral fractures, although the incidence of these modifications in the last two groups is extremely low (from 0.5 to 1.1 percent of specimens). Single specimens of mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), pocket gopher (Geomyidae), and iguanid (Iguanidae) are also burned. Small numbers of deer mouse or vole (Muridae) and grouse (Tetraonidae) bones have spiral fractures. No evidence of cultural modification is present on the remains of falconiforms (vultures, hawks, falcons, and eagles; NISP = 46), snakes (NISP = 105), or amphibians (NISP = 122), despite their abundance in the assemblage. The remains of animals in numerous taxonomic groups that were sparsely represented (i.e., NISP < 10), such as waterfowl (Anseriformes), fox, skunks and weasels (mustelids), and shrews (Soricidae), also do not display evidence of cultural modification, although, given their small numbers, this is of little significance.

Naturally Modified Bone


Bones that entered the archaeological record as the result of the killing or consumption of animals by predators or scavengers may display one or more of several distinctive modifications. Most obvious are tooth marks from mammalian carnivore activity (Binford 1981*2), although the bones of very small animals may be completely consumed, without extensive modification, by predators such as owls (Andrews 1990*1; Dodson and Wexlar 1979*1; Kusmer 1986*1). Bones may also display spiral fractures (Binford 1981*2) or be extensively macerated (Korth 1979*1) as the result of carnivore predation. Carnivores often gnaw the ends of long bones and also split diaphyses to obtain marrow. Licking of the ends of long bones by carnivores and other animals may result in smooth, polished surfaces that closely resemble cultural modifications (Binford 1981*2; Haynes 1980*1). In such cases, crushing and tooth marks may be evident elsewhere on the specimen. Fragments of cortical bone that have passed through the digestive tract of a carnivore may have become etched by acids (Andrews 1990*1:30). Identifying which taxonomic remains were introduced to Sand Canyon Pueblo by carnivores is complicated by the fact that domestic dogs probably had access to discarded animal remains and could have produced modifications indistinguishable from those made by wild carnivores.


Table 7 presents the frequencies of carnivore modifications on the faunal remains from Sand Canyon Pueblo. Carnivore modification is evident on the bones of animals belonging to eight taxonomic groups. It is significant that carnivore modification is relatively common on the remains of two taxa—Artiodactyla and turkey (Meleagris)—that were almost certainly introduced into the archaeological record as a result of cultural activity. Unfortunately, the data do little to clarify the origins of the other taxa.


Unmodified, predominantly complete bones should result from the natural deaths of animals living on a site (Driver 1985*1:18). Burrowing animals that are not killed by predators commonly die in their burrows, and their remains should display little weathering or damage from trampling. Animals that are killed by humans and then are processed for food or raw materials are more likely to be represented by fractured specimens, particularly long bones, which are commonly broken for the extraction of marrow. Table 8 presents a comparison of complete and fragmented long bones of animals that might have inhabited Sand Canyon Pueblo and died naturally there in burrows or dens. To mitigate biases due to element size, recovery rates, and identifiability, only major long bones are considered here. The humerus, femur, and tibia have been selected for consideration because of their relatively large size and taxonomically diagnostic characteristics. Taxa that are represented by fewer than 10 long-bone specimens (i.e., fox, Lynx spp., and amphibians) are not included in the analysis. It should be noted that differences in the sizes of the bones of different taxa may introduce some bias into the comparisons presented. In particular, complete long bones from very small animals such as mice and voles (Muridae) are more likely to have been recovered than are fragmented specimens.


The data presented in Table 8 indicate two distinct patterns that are more clearly illustrated by Figure 1. The jackrabbit or hare (Lepus) and cottontail (Sylvilagus) long-bone remains are predominantly fragmented specimens, whereas the bones of the other taxa (all rodents) are mostly complete elements. As mentioned above, the frequencies may reflect, in part, the influence of bone size on recovery rate, particularly for the smaller rodents. However, the differences between the remains of squirrels (Sciuridae) and cottontails (Sylvilagus), animals similarly proportioned, are unlikely to have resulted from factors associated with recovery rates or identifiability. The fragmentation data support the argument that the taphonomic history of the remains of lagomorphs differs from that of rodents. Specifically, the large proportion of rodent long bones that are complete is consistent with the theory that these remains primarily represent animals that died naturally in their burrows. Conversely, the high frequency of fragmentation among the lagomorph long bones supports the inference, also suggested by the cultural modification data presented above, that the breakage of these specimens was primarily a result of cultural activity.

Taphonomic Origins of the Faunal Remains


On the basis of the analytic results and discussion presented above, I can draw some conclusions regarding the taphonomic origins of the faunal remains from Sand Canyon Pueblo. The presence of the remains of animals from several different taxa can be confidently assessed as being, at least in part, the result of human activities: some of the bones of each of these taxa display cultural modifications (i.e., cut marks, polishing, or grinding). This group of taxa is as follows: bobcat or lynx (Lynx); turkey (Meleagris); artiodactyls; dog, wolf, or coyote (Canis); jackrabbit or hare (Lepus); cottontail (Sylvilagus); owl (Strigiformes); and sandhill crane (Grus canadensis). It is also possible that a significant quantity of specimens of taxa such as cottontail (Sylvilagus), on which cultural modifications were found only rarely, entered the assemblage naturally. However, it is not currently feasible to determine the taphonomic history of individual specimens.


The remains in a second group, consisting of all the major rodent taxa represented in the assemblage, display characteristics suggesting that they were introduced to the site naturally. It should be noted that, although it has been reported ethnographically that numerous rodent species have been trapped and eaten by Pueblo peoples (Gnabasik 1981*1), no evidence of butchering or processing is evident on any of the rodent bones collected at Sand Canyon Pueblo. Instead, these remains are primarily complete, unmodified specimens, which is consistent with the interpretation that most represent animals that died naturally in their burrows.


The taphonomic origins of the remains of the other taxa represented in the Sand Canyon assemblage are not known. Most of these taxa are represented by few specimens, and there is little evidence of their taphonomic histories. Those taxonomic groups that are represented by greater numbers of specimens include the vultures, hawks, falcons, and eagles (Falconiformes); perching birds (Passeriformes); snakes; and amphibians (Table 3 and Table 4). These remains display no definite evidence of cultural modification or carnivore predation. The best evidence of the origins of these specimens may be the specific context in which each was discovered.

Element Frequencies


Cultural or natural processes, or both, may affect the relative frequencies of particular skeletal regions, elements, or element parts. For example, large game may be represented at a habitation site by only those elements carried there by hunters or, conversely, represented at a kill site by only those elements that are left behind (Perkins and Daly 1968*1; White 1953*1). The remains of smaller animals are less likely to be affected by such differential transport of parts, but they may become disarticulated and distributed throughout a site as a result of butchering and processing. Consistent and repeated cultural practices may cause specific skeletal parts from some taxa to be selectively preserved, destroyed, or removed from the archaeological record.


Natural agents can have similar effects on the representation of particular skeletal parts. Carnivores may selectively remove or destroy specific elements of some species, thereby creating assemblages that contain incongruent element compositions (Binford 1981*2:214–216; Marean et al. 1992*1). Rodents may collect elements within a particular size range or of a particular density, resulting in the removal of those elements from a site or in their preservation within a burrow (Hoffman and Hays 1987*1). Natural mechanical-dispersal mechanisms such as colluvial and fluvial forces may also affect skeletal-part frequencies. For example, vigorous fluvial action will separate elements that float easily from those that do not (Voorhies 1969*1). By analyzing skeletal-part frequencies, one can assess the degree to which the remains of individual taxa have been affected by such factors. Although it is seldom possible to determine the precise cause of unnatural element frequencies, it may be possible to identify the most probable or predominant factors.


Following is a description and discussion of the skeletal composition of remains from major taxonomic groups represented in the faunal assemblage from Sand Canyon Pueblo. Table 9 provides a breakdown of remains, by skeletal region, for each taxonomic group. Seven general regions are presented: cranial, axial, pectoral girdle, forelimb, pelvic girdle, hind limb, and phalanges. It should be noted that some specimens could not be assigned to a specific region, primarily those identified simply as "metapodial" or "sesamoid." Several patterns are apparent in these data. Predictably, regions with fewer skeletal components (e.g., the pectoral and pelvic girdles) are represented least frequently. Otherwise, most taxa with substantial quantities of identified specimens (i.e., more than 100) are well represented in all skeletal regions. The remains of small rodents are an exception to this pattern, because no phalanges were identified for any of these taxa. The absence of phalanges among the remains of small rodents is unquestionably due to recovery and identification biases. These small elements are unlikely to be recovered consistently during excavation, and, because of morphological similarities across different families, little effort was made during analysis to precisely identify phalanges of small mammals.

Non-Artiodactyla Skeletal Representation


Pocket gopher (Geomyidae) is the only well-represented taxon for which the element distribution is clearly unrepresentative. Elements of the cranial region far outnumber those of all other skeletal regions for this taxon. This phenomenon has been observed by other researchers in the Southwest, who have argued that it is evidence of human procurement of these animals (e.g., Shaffer 1992*1). Although this is possible, it seems more probable that the abundance is a result of recovery and identification biases. The skeletal elements of a pocket gopher that are most likely to be collected consistently are the crania and perhaps the complete specimens of the larger long bones (humerus, tibia, and femur) and the pelvic girdle, although any but the crania can fall through ¼-inch mesh. Axial elements and phalanges, if recovered, are unlikely to be identified precisely and, consequently, will most often be classified as small mammal or small rodent. This phenomenon is also evident to a lesser extent among the slightly larger woodrat (Neotoma spp.) remains, in which cranial and hind-limb elements predominate. One would also expect a predominance of cranial elements among the remains of mice and voles; however, these remains display a fairly uniform element distribution. This is probably because these very small specimens tend to be recovered as articulated skeletons; disarticulated mice and vole remains are so small they are rarely detected during excavation and screening.


Taxa with few identified specimens display more-irregular distributions of skeletal regions. One exception is bobcat or lynx (Lynx spp.), which is represented by all regions of the skeleton except the shoulder; given the small number of Lynx specimens, the uniformity of this distribution is remarkable. Less-uniform distributions are observed among the remains of the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) and the perching birds (Passeriformes); no cranial elements are present for either of these taxa. Wing elements are particularly prevalent among the passeriform subassemblage. Because of the small sample sizes, it is difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions from these patterns.

Artiodactyla Skeletal Representation


As mentioned above, all skeletal regions of artiodactyls are represented in the assemblage from Sand Canyon Pueblo (Table 9). The presence of artiodactyl elements from a wide variety of skeletal regions suggests that the animals were brought to the site whole. A detailed breakdown of skeletal-part frequencies for these remains is presented in Figure 2 using, as a basis for comparison, the NISP values divided by the "natural element frequency" (NEF) for each individual element or element portion. NEF values represent the number of times an element occurs naturally in the skeleton of a given species (in this instance, mule deer, or Odocoileus hemionus, was used). For example, the NEF value for the femur (or any other paired bone) is two. As indicated in Figure 2, the axial skeleton, particularly the rib cage, is more poorly represented than other skeletal regions. The cranial region is represented by more specimens, and limb bones are most common. Most elements of both the forelimbs and hind limbs are well represented; however, some elements from these regions, particularly the femur, distal tibia, and proximal humerus, are scarce. It is difficult to explain these frequencies in terms of butchering patterns, because bones that would co-occur in common butchery units or meat joints are not present in equal quantities. For example, the high frequency of scapulae in relation to the low frequency of proximal humeri is inconsistent with butchering patterns.


To investigate the possible relationship between element frequencies and butchering practices, the element frequencies in the Sand Canyon assemblage have been compared, using Binford's (1978*1) modified general utility index (MGUI) for caribou, to the quantity of meat, fat, and marrow with which the various elements would have been associated. Figure 3 plots MGUI values for each element or element portion against the element frequencies from the Sand Canyon Pueblo assemblage.


No clear relationship is evident between the two variables r = -0.19; p > 0.10), and the scattergram does not display any of the utilization patterns postulated by Binford (1978*1). As mentioned above, the artiodactyl remains display a relatively high degree of weathering, and it is likely that this subassemblage has been heavily depleted by the destruction of specimens. In addition to weathering, a number of other factors are likely to have contributed to attrition of artiodactyl remains. These factors include destruction and removal of specimens by rodents and carnivores (see Lyman 1994*1:193–216). The amount of carnivore modification on artiodactyl remains (Table 7) suggests that these remains were particularly prone to scavenging.


Indeed, when element frequencies are compared with bone mineral density (Figure 4), a positive, statistically significant (p < 0.01) correlation results, with relatively dense elements being more common than less-dense ones. This suggests that the variability in element frequencies results more from natural destruction than from cultural selection.

Spatial Distribution


A detailed spatial analysis of the faunal assemblage from Sand Canyon Pueblo was undertaken (Muir 1999*2) using three analytical techniques (contingency, diversity, and cluster analyses) and was conducted at three scales—site wide, major sampling units (i.e., roomblocks, kivas, middens, courtyards, great kiva, and Architectural Block 1500 [the D-shaped building; see Database Map 4001]), and specific contexts (individual feature, floor, roof, and midden deposits). Using multiple analytic methods at various scales allows major spatial/contextual trends, as well as more subtle patterns, to be identified and evaluated. The details of the spatial analyses can be found elsewhere (Muir 1999*2); the most substantive results are summarized and discussed below.


The results of the spatial analyses clearly and consistently indicate that the distribution of the remains of specific taxa at Sand Canyon Pueblo is not random or uniform but, rather, is patterned. The results of contingency analyses indicate significant variation in the distribution of remains when the remains are grouped by architectural block or structure type. Patterns of distribution were further clarified by cluster analysis, which indicates that the remains of some taxa are distributed broadly throughout the site, whereas others are concentrated in specific locations. Together, the results of these analyses enabled me to identify several significant and provocative spatial patterns in the distribution of the faunal remains at Sand Canyon Pueblo.


Some significant patterns appear to be associated with D-shaped towers and the excavated portions of the architectural blocks in which these structures are located. D-shaped towers are towers that are abutted to the exterior face of the site-enclosing wall. Two such towers were excavated—one in Architectural Block 100 (Tower 101; see Database Map 4001 and Database Map 4021) and one in Block 1000 (Tower 1019/1008); the latter is inferred to have been a two-story structure (see Database Map 4121). Rubble that might indicate the presence of a third D-shaped tower is located near the south end of Block 200, and although this possible structure was not excavated, I refer to Block 200, like Blocks 100 and 1000, as a "tower block."


In approximate order of intensity, the following are the predominant spatial-distribution patterns identified in the Sand Canyon assemblage (each bulleted point is discussed further under separate headings following the list):

  • Concentrations of artiodactyl remains were found in several locations—specifically, in kivas and towers within the two architectural blocks containing D-shaped towers that were excavated (Blocks 100 and 1000). Particularly high concentrations of artiodactyl remains were found in the roof-fall deposits of the two excavated D-shaped towers (Towers 101 and 1019/1008). In addition, the excavated portion of Block 200 (Database Map 4055) contained a greater quantity of artiodactyl remains than did the site in general; this block might also contain a D-shaped tower (Figure 5).

  • There is marked consistency in the taxonomic composition of faunal assemblages from midden deposits throughout the site and markedly less taxonomic diversity in midden assemblages than in assemblages from all other contexts.

  • Lagomorph remains are consistently and evenly distributed across the site.

  • Remains of Galliformes and "large birds" (presumably primarily turkey) are concentrated within midden and other extramural deposits across the site.

  • An abundance of "other bird" remains was found in a variety of contexts in the D-shaped block (see Figure 5 and Database Map 4196).

  • There is a localized concentration of the remains of Lynx and birds of prey in Block 1000 (see Figure 5 and Database Map 4121).

Artiodactyla Distributions


The excavated portions of two architectural blocks containing excavated D-shaped towers (Blocks 100 and 1000) and the excavated portion of a block that appears to contain a D-shaped tower (Block 200) all contained a relative abundance of artiodactyl remains. The high frequency of artiodactyl remains associated with the D-shaped towers was apparent in the contingency analysis; however, the cluster analysis further clarified the nature of this pattern. Comparatively high concentrations of artiodactyl remains were found in the roof-fall deposits of both D-shaped towers that were investigated (Towers 101 and 1019/1008); however, few such remains were found on the floors of these structures. It is notable that the remains of such artiodactyls as deer (Odocoileus), pronghorn (Antilocapra), and sheep (Ovis) were present in both structures. Artiodactyl concentrations were also found below wall fall and roof fall within kivas in the tower blocks—Kivas 102 and 108 (Database Map 4021) and Kiva 1004 (Database Map 4121). Collectively, this information indicates that the pattern is not simply a result of the chance deposition, of one animal from each of these three taxa, on the surface of the site after abandonment. Instead, these concentrations of remains clearly resulted from human actions and are by far the most prominent and intriguing of the identified spatial patterns.


The spatial distribution of artiodactyl remains suggests that excavated portions of the "tower blocks" were associated with communal hunting and feasting activities (see Kuckelman [2007*1] and Chapter 9, this volume, paragraphs 26–27, and for an alternative interpretation). Perhaps these blocks contained hunting or war-society houses or offices. According to ethnographic accounts, specific individuals or societies usually controlled the apportionment of game obtained during communal hunts (Parsons 1977*1:70; White 1974*1:303); ritual specialists and society heads received specific portions or a prescribed number of animals. Also, society "offices" were used to store meat that was obtained during these hunts. If this system existed at Sand Canyon Pueblo, it seems likely that a disproportionate quantity of specimens from game animals such as that identified in the "tower blocks" could indicate the locations of the "offices" or homes of such societies or specialists. It may be that the towers themselves acted as society offices or storage areas.


There are numerous ethnographic examples of ways in which large-game disposal practices would account for the concentration and preservation of artiodactyl remains in Blocks 100 and 1000. For example, among the Papago of southern Arizona, Underhill (1946*1:105) has observed ritualized "quarantine" of deer remains:

After the meat was eaten, no bones might be thrown on the ground lest a dog should carry them to a house where there was a menstruating woman. If this should happen, no more deer could be caught. All bones must be placed on top of the ceremonial house, where they remained for a year. Even those who took meat home to other members of the family must first remove the bones.

Figure 6 illustrates the relative proportions of elements found in the collapsed roofing material in Towers 101 and 1019/1008. All skeletal regions are represented, and it thus appears that whole animals are represented by the remains.


The apportionment of animals as described ethnographically could produce distinctive skeletal-element distributions. Although, historically, ritual specialists and society heads received specific allotments, hunters were also frequently entitled to a share of the animals they killed, and presumably other members of the community would have had limited access to some (perhaps less-desirable) portions of the game (Parsons 1970*1:19; White 1974*1:303). If this were the practice at Sand Canyon Pueblo, it would have resulted in unnatural and disproportionate distributions of skeletal elements throughout the site. Specifically, if D-shaped towers were focal points for the distribution of artiodactyl parts within the pueblo, then the frequencies of different elements in these structures, in their associated kiva suites, and perhaps in the entire architectural blocks should be notably different from the frequencies of elements in other areas of the site. However, as Figure 7 indicates, element frequencies actually differ little between the blocks that contain these towers (Blocks 100, 1000, and possibly 200) and the rest of Sand Canyon Pueblo. The only notable difference in frequency is the abundance of thoracic vertebrae and ribs found in the tower blocks and the higher frequency of lower-limb bones (tibia, radius, ulna, astragalus, calcaneus, carpals, tarsals, metatarsals, metacarpals, and phalanges), particularly tarsals and metatarsals, found in the remainder of the site. The somewhat disproportionately high incidence of lower-limb bones, particularly metapodials (metatarsals and metacarpals), among the "other blocks" is interesting because these elements would have been valuable raw materials for bone tools such as awls. However, in terms of meat value, the patterns indicate only minor differences in apportionment of artiodactyls. This is illustrated by Figure 7 and Figure 8; the latter groups elements by common butchering units and orders them according to associated meat values.


Figure 9 indicates that all butchering units are represented among the four subassemblages consisting of Blocks 100, 200, and 1000 and "all other areas" (Database Map 4001). The thorough skeletal representation is remarkable, given the relatively small quantities of specimens in each subassemblage. Variability among subassemblages is minimal, although several minor differences are apparent. Blocks 100 and 1000 display strikingly similar assemblage structures; however, the frequencies of different butchering units in the subassemblage from Block 200 more closely resemble the frequencies for "all other areas." Differences between these four subassemblages are primarily limited to an abundance of lower-hind-limb remains in the subassemblages from Block 200 and "all other areas." In contrast, the remains from Blocks 100 and 1000 display relatively few lower-hind-limb elements and more rib-cage elements. Overall, the composition of the artiodactyl subassemblages appears to differ little between the "tower blocks" and other areas of the site (Figure 9), and it does not appear to represent consistent and repeated patterns of behavior. If, indeed, the excavated portions of the tower blocks did serve as society offices where game was processed and the parts then distributed, it appears that the animals were apportioned relatively equally throughout the pueblo.

Midden Deposits


There is remarkable consistency in the taxa represented in the various midden deposits that were sampled at Sand Canyon Pueblo. The faunal subassemblages from all sampled midden deposits are clearly and consistently dominated by the remains of galliforms, but they also contain significant quantities of lagomorphs. Other taxa are present in relatively low concentrations, particularly those taxa that were probably not commonly consumed as food (i.e., "other birds," birds of prey, and wild carnivores). Another important finding of this study is the low taxonomic diversity of the faunal assemblages from the middens. Figure 10 illustrates the low taxonomic richness of midden assemblages as compared with the richness of all other contexts at Sand Canyon Pueblo. The richness value for the pooled midden deposits falls below expected values (90 percent confidence interval) for Sand Canyon Pueblo as a whole in relation to sample size. This indicates that, in relation to assemblage size, fewer than the expected number of species are represented among the midden deposits. Similarly, the midden deposits display a lower-than-expected evenness value (Figure 11), given the quantity of identified specimens, indicating that these deposits are dominated by the remains of a small number of taxa. This may be a result of the abundance of turkey and lagomorph remains among the midden deposits.


The midden deposits contain refuse that accumulated over long periods of time, not just refuse deposited at the end of the occupation of a block or the village. The sampled middens are in different types of locations throughout the site (e.g., the plaza, adjacent to roomblocks, outside the site-enclosing wall, and on the lower slopes of the central drainage). Therefore, the midden deposits contain refuse from multiple activity areas in several different parts of the site. Despite the fact that different middens were sampled and that the middens represent multiple activity areas in different parts of the site, the faunal assemblages from these areas are similar in taxonomic composition. The consistency among the midden deposits does not appear to be a product of sample size or statistical manipulation. Therefore, the evidence suggests that, during the time that refuse was accumulating in the middens, the same species of animals were being used by the inhabitants of Sand Canyon Pueblo, regardless of location within the village.

Lagomorph, Galliform, and "Large Bird" Distributions


Unlike the remains of other taxa, the remains of lagomorphs, galliforms, and "large birds" were distributed broadly across the excavated areas of the site. The results of both contingency and cluster analyses indicate that lagomorph remains were found in relatively uniform frequencies in all types of contexts. The remains of galliforms and "large birds" were also broadly distributed, but were particularly abundant in midden deposits. High concentrations of galliforms and "large bird" remains were also common in some roof-fall deposits, which probably represent rooftop activity areas or refuse deposits. However, no significant concentrations of the remains of galliforms and "large birds" were associated with the D-shaped towers (Towers 101 and 1019/1008) or the D-shaped block (Block 1500). Although the remains of galliforms and "large birds" were found in varying quantities throughout the site, the D-shaped towers and the D-shaped block are the only buildings that contained significantly lower-than-average quantities of these types of remains and are the only structures that did not contain one or more deposits dominated by the remains of galliforms and "large birds."


Thus, the remains of both lagomorphs and galliforms are distributed broadly across the site and dominate faunal assemblages from refuse, which suggest that these animals were used widely and commonly throughout the site by virtually all inhabitants. It has been argued that these distributions are consistent with what would be expected of remains that were used in domestic activities on a regular basis, whereas a more uneven distribution would be expected of remains that were used less frequently—for example, for special events or ceremonies (Muir 1999*2:110). Both lagomorphs and turkeys were primary sources of meat among many historic Pueblos (Gnabasik 1981*1), and the distribution of the remains of these taxa within Sand Canyon Pueblo appears to be consistent with that of household refuse.


However, anomalies in the distributions of these taxa warrant discussion. As mentioned above, the lagomorph remains were as prevalent in structural deposits as they were in middens. In contrast, the remains of galliforms and "large birds" were less abundant in structural contexts than in middens. These patterns may reflect differences in where remains were located, stored, processed, or disposed of, or they might be the result of taphonomic factors. A wide range of possible explanations exists, including consequences of gender roles, value, status, spiritual associations, or domesticity; two explanations, however, stand out as particularly probable. The first relates to differences in the processing and storage of the remains of these taxa. Lagomorphs are documented ethnographically as having been stored whole (complete with bones) within room blocks, whereas this does not appear to have been the practice for turkeys (Gnabasik 1981*1). Because they are relatively small, lagomorphs can be cooked, smoked, or dried while relatively whole. In contrast, due to the bulk of the animal, a turkey carcass requires butchering before it is cooked. Thus, the processing and storage of these animals probably differed accordingly. This may explain the relatively greater abundance of lagomorph remains within structures at Sand Canyon Pueblo, although other cultural factors might also have affected the treatment of these remains. It is also possible that the abundance of lagomorph remains in structural contexts might have occurred naturally; that is, cottontails and jackrabbits might have found the crevices and shelters provided by collapsed stone masonry to be ideal locations for dens and burrows. Although efforts were made both during and after excavation to differentiate animal remains that were deposited intentionally from those deposited naturally, it is possible that considerable "contamination" of the structural assemblages occurred.

"Other Bird" Remains in the D-Shaped Block


The subassemblage of faunal remains from the D-shaped block (Block 1500; see Database Map 4196) is particularly distinct. The contingency analyses indicate that an abundance of wild birds (identified only as "other birds") clearly distinguishes the faunal remains from the D-shaped block from those found in all other excavated areas of the site. The assemblage from this block is also characterized by remarkably low numbers of galliform specimens. Differences between the remains from the D-shaped block and remains from other contexts at the site were less apparent in the results of the cluster analysis, largely because of the relatively small samples recovered from most of the rooms in the D-shaped block.


Table 10 lists the "other bird" taxa identified in the subassemblage from the D-shaped block and the contexts in which the specimens were found. The remains represent at least eight species, and potentially many more are represented in the general categories "jay, crow, and raven," "small Passeriformes," "small bird," and "falconid." These remains were found in all major types of contexts, although most were found in roof fall and midden deposits. Several species of birds of prey are included in this list. Although the remains of these birds did not appear to be significantly abundant during the contingency analyses, they were grouped with the "other bird" remains during cluster analysis, the results of which indicate that at least two moderate concentrations of such remains were located in the D-shaped block.


Historically, the feathers of many types of birds were commonly used in ceremonial costumes and paraphernalia (Gnabasik 1981*1; Tyler 1979*1). Given the distinctive architectural design of the D-shaped block, it would not be surprising if this building served as a focal point for village-wide or community ceremonies. The abundance of "other bird" remains might have resulted from the use of this block for the preparation and storage of costumes, masks, prayer sticks, prayer bundles, and other similar items. Although the ethnographic data suggest that feathers were the primary bird parts incorporated into such articles, entire wings were sometimes used (Gnabasik 1981*1; Ladd 1963*1), and the skeletal remains of birds obtained for their feathers are likely to be found within or near locations where ritual paraphernalia were prepared and stored.


Although it is probably not possible to determine the ritual significance, if any, of the bird remains found in the D-shaped block at Sand Canyon Pueblo, the ethnographic record provides a basis for speculation. Many of the avian taxa whose remains were found in this block have had specific spiritual associations in historic Pueblos (Gnabasik 1981*1; Tyler 1979*1). Several of the taxa have been associated with water, specifically rain, including mourning dove, sandhill crane, raven, and owl. Of these, the relationship between the mourning dove and rain is most abundantly documented. Tyler (1979*1:105–112) cites traditional Pueblo stories in which doves, particularly mourning doves, invoke rain or are indicators of rain pools and springs. Similarly, the sandhill crane is associated with the "rain bird" kachina (kwapiye ohuwah), which is described as "a bird that comes only with continuous rain" (Henderson and Harrington 1914*1:46, as cited in Tyler 1979*1:129). Flocks of ravens and crows are associated with rain clouds, which, in turn, are associated with kachina spirits "passing over the villages occasionally to bring rain" (Tyler 1979*1:173). Finally, owls have a fairly tenuous association with rain, indicated only by a rain-making game involving the use of owl feathers (Parsons 1939*1:774, as cited in Tyler 1979*1:164).


These four taxa also have spiritual links to agriculture. According to Tyler (1979*1:106), doves, because of their seed-eating habits, are associated with the winnowing of grain. The sandhill crane is a guardian of harvested corn and a bringer of seeds (Tyler 1979*1:128–129). Because of their habit of "joining in on the harvest," crows and ravens are also associated with agriculture (Tyler 1979*1:173), and owls (particularly great horned owls) are associated with the bringing of hot weather for the ripening of corn and other crops (Tyler 1979*1:165).


Numerous species of birds, including most birds of prey, are associated with war and hunting. The hawk has a particularly strong association, though the smaller falconids (specifically, the kestrel) also have lesser "spiritual roles" in such activities (Tyler 1979*1). Crows and ravens are associated with war and death, probably because they eat carrion (Tyler 1979*1:181–182). The turkey vulture also eats carrion and is specifically associated with the recovery of war-dead and with purification after battle (Tyler 1979*1:225–229). The theme of death extends to sandhill cranes and owls. Sandhill cranes are considered guardians of corn, clowns, kachina dancers, and the dead (Tyler 1979*1:129). Owls, particularly the burrowing owl, are associated with night, the underworld, and the god of death (Tyler 1979*1:164). These are the major spiritual themes that have been represented in historic times by the species of birds identified in the faunal assemblage from the D-shaped block.


However, contradictory associations are not uncommon and reflect the variety of symbolic roles that birds played among the different Pueblo communities historically. For example, although crows and ravens are associated with rain, they are also an omen of drought (Tyler 1979*1:180). Clearly, birds are not all linked to a single theme, such as agriculture, hunting, or war, but represent at least two or three different activities. The presence of a variety of bird remains in the D-shaped block at Sand Canyon Pueblo suggests that this building might have been a multipurpose ceremonial facility for the pueblo as whole, rather than the "house" or "office" of a single (e.g., war or hunting) society. Although speculative, this theory is consistent with both the distinctive architecture of the D-shaped block and the central location of this block within Sand Canyon Pueblo.

Birds of Prey and Lynx Distributions


The final pattern identified during the spatial analyses consists of a concentration of "birds of prey" and Lynx spp. remains in Block 1000. Closer examination revealed these to be the remains of a single American kestrel (Falco sparverius) and a single Lynx spp., probably bobcat. These remains were found in late midden deposits and structural collapse (Arbitrary Unit 1014) on the surface of Courtyard 1000. Much like the concentration of "other bird" remains associated with the D-shaped block, this pattern is not likely to have been the result of disposal or storage of common food animals. However, the significance of this pattern is unclear—in fact, it may be more accurately described as an anomaly—because the remains do not represent repeated and consistent use of space. It is notable that, historically, both the bobcat and the kestrel have been spiritually associated with hunting and war (Tyler 1975*1, 1979*1). That the concentration occurs in the excavated portion of Block 1000 (a tower block) is particularly intriguing, given the evidence in this block for communal hunting of artiodactyls, as discussed above. Ethnographically, both war and hunting societies have been principally responsible for the organization of communal hunts of deer and other large game. The presence of Lynx and kestrel remains is consistent with the interpretation that the excavated portion of Block 1000 functioned as a war or hunting-society house or office. The occurrence of relatively complete animal skeletons, particularly birds, is also consistent with the storage of ritual paraphernalia (Gnabasik 1981*1:263).

Summary and Conclusions


The distributions of faunal remains at Sand Canyon Pueblo are consistent with ethnographically documented faunal utilization. The remains of lagomorphs do not appear to be strongly associated with any particular type of structure but, rather, were found distributed widely throughout the site. Turkey remains were also broadly distributed but were especially common in midden deposits. These distributions are consistent with what one would expect for the remains of animals that were used for domestic purposes on a regular basis. Ethnographic data indicate that turkeys might have been ritually important in pueblo society historically. Previous faunal analyses suggest that the same might have been true in ancient times (Munro 1994*1). Some researchers (e.g., Hayden 1995*1) have argued that domesticated animals such as turkeys might have been viewed as "prestige" resources appropriate for use during ritual activities such as communal feasts. However, Munro (1994*1) found no conclusive evidence that turkeys were used in ritual activities during the Pueblo III period in the Sand Canyon locality. Neither do the faunal data for Sand Canyon Pueblo presented here support the interpretation that turkeys were ritually significant during that time. Although turkey feathers might have been used for ritual paraphernalia, there is no evidence that turkeys were procured, consumed, or disposed of in a ritualized manner. The distribution of the remains of galliforms and "large birds" within the pueblo is consistent with the interpretation that these animals were used regularly during domestic subsistence activities and that these activities occurred in most parts of the site. A strong argument can be made that turkeys were the primary source of meat on a regular basis, whereas large wild game was associated with ritual procurement and consumption.


The distributions of the remains of other taxa suggest that some structures within Sand Canyon Pueblo were focal points for specific nondomestic activities. Portions of Architectural Blocks 100, 1000, and perhaps 200 appear to have been associated with the organization of communal hunting activities. The concentration of artiodactyl remains within the kivas and in the collapsed roofing material of towers in Blocks 100 and 1000 is particularly suggestive that these structures were focal points for the processing, storage, and perhaps distribution of large-game parts (see Kuckelman [2007*1] and Chapter 9, this volume, paragraphs 26–27, for an alternative interpretation). The presence of kestrel and Lynx spp. (probably bobcat) remains in Courtyard 1000 further supports this argument, as these animals are spiritually associated with hunting. It is also notable that artiodactyl remains are found in lesser quantities in other areas of the pueblo. This may indicate differential access, by different individuals or groups within the village, to the meat and other by-products of these animals, although the skeletal representation of these remains suggests that there was little variation in terms of access to high-quality meat.


The abundance and variety of wild-bird remains in the D-shaped block could indicate that these birds enjoyed a wide range of spiritual associations. The use of parts of such birds, particularly the feathers, in ritual costumes and other paraphernalia is well documented ethnographically. The concentration of these remains in the D-shaped block suggests that the block functioned as a multifaceted center for ritual activities. The D-shaped block conforms to what might be expected of a structure used for large gatherings of people. However, the structures that were excavated in Blocks 100 and 1000, which also contain anomalous remains, appear to be too small to have accommodated large gatherings. It seems likely that ritual activities that might have occurred in the latter structures would have been limited to small groups, perhaps ritual elites, analogous to the cacique and hunting or war-society members observed ethnographically (Parsons 1977*1:70; White 1974*1:301–302). Although this would seem to support an argument for economic power and special status among specific members of the community, there is no evidence of this type of differential status at Sand Canyon Pueblo.


This research was conducted with the cooperation and assistance of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center researchers and staff. I would like to thank all of the individuals who have been involved in the Sand Canyon Archaeological Project, particularly Bruce Bradley, Mark Varien, Melita Romasco, Sandy Thompson, Richard Wilshusen, and Melissa Churchill. Thanks are also owed to the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University, which provided facilities and support. I would especially like to thank Jon Driver, Cathy D'Andrea, Mike Brand, Natalie Munro, Lianne Lester, and Terry Brennan for their assistance and contributions. This research has been funded in part by a grant to Dr. Jon Driver from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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