Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Martin D. Gallivan
This study was originally conceived as an experimental investigation of the relationship between different methods of cooking and various aspects of breakage in mammal bone, and considers the question of whether it is possible to identify cooking techniques based on taphonomic attributes. Numerous medium- to large-sized mammal limb bones were acquired, and groups of them underwent various cooking techniques before all were broken in a similar fashion. During this process I controlled as many variables as was logistically feasible. The most salient data about each break was subsequently collected, and an attempt was made to correlate patterns across the bones under study with cooking method, or with other variables that could not be controlled. Data was investigated using simple qualitative assessment, then with the aid of simple graphical analysis, and finally using more complex multivariate statistical modeling, all with the aim of characterizing the observed trends in meaningful ways. The unclear nature of the relationship observed appears to be largely the result of the "noisiness" of the data set under investigation and particularly, it is believed, the result of the freezing of most bones in the study. A variety of other factors which influence breakage pattern are also addressed, with the ultimate conclusion being reached that bone breakage is an immensely complicated process influenced by a huge number of factors, of which cooking is one. The results of this study speak to the value, as well as the limitations, of experimental archaeology in contributing to the greater archaeological discourse and in helping investigators to understand the various processes that might have influenced material they recover.
Callaway, Graham, "Bone Breakage and the Taphonomy of Cooking: An Actualistic Study" (2008). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 801.
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