Integrating taphonomy into the practice of zooarchaeology in China

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Integrating taphonomy into the practice of zooarchaeology in China

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Title: Integrating taphonomy into the practice of zooarchaeology in China
Author: Lam, Y. M.; Brunson, Katherine; Meadow, Richard Henry; Yuan, Jing

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Citation: Lam, Y.M., Katherine Brunson, Richard Meadow, and Jing Yuan. 2010. “Integrating Taphonomy into the Practice of Zooarchaeology in China.” Quaternary International 211 (1-2) (January): 86–90. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2009.01.014.
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Abstract: With the study of faunal remains (zooarchaeology) emerging as an increasingly prominent component of archaeological studies in China, the importance of studying processes of assemblage formation and preservation (taphonomy) is becoming evident. Remains of animals recovered from an archaeological site are a biased sample of the assemblage that was originally deposited because certain animal parts preserve better than others. Important characteristics of faunal assemblages, such as skeletal element representation and age profiles, can be affected by differential preservation caused by taphonomic agents, both cultural or natural. One primary goal of taphonomic studies is to provide an understanding of differential preservation of bone elements, allowing archaeologists to make more accurate assessments concerning the exploitation of different animal species by past peoples. Recent studies of the faunal assemblages from the Early Paleolithic site of Xujiayao and the Neolithic site of Taosi, both in Shanxi Province, provide examples of the effects that differential preservation can have on archaeological interpretations of skeletal element representation and age profiles, respectively. These examples illustrate how an understanding of taphonomy is critical to the future practice of zooarchaeology in China.
Published Version: doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2009.01.014
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