Zooarchaeological analysis of material excavated in 2009 from the 76 draw site (la 156980), Luna County, New Mexico
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The 76 Draw site is located in southwestern New Mexico, several kilometers south of Deming. Evidence such as thick abode walls oriented on a North-South axis, Ramos polychrome ceramic sherds and El Paso sherds, suggests that the site is associated with the Casas Grandes culture to the south as well as the Jornada-Mogollon culture to the north. The site is an Animas Phase settlement, occupied during 1200-1450 AD and is generally considered a borderlands site between the two cultures because it contains artifacts and adobe architecture associated with both the Casas Grandes and Jornada-Mogollon cultures. Faunal materials from the 2009 field school excavation season were analyzed to answer the following questions: 1) Was the assemblage created by anthropogenic or natural processes? 2) What were the prehistoric environmental conditions, how do they compare to the modern setting, and how were prehistoric people interacting with their environment? and, 3) If male and female jackrabbits can be differentiated from archaeological materials, does this further our understanding of ethnographically recorded rabbit drives? To understand the accumulation processes of the assemblage, taphonomic characteristics such as burning, butchery marks, worked bone, spiral fractures, and general weathering of the remains were recorded. Several fragments were cut and a single element was worked by humans. As much as 40% of the fragments were charred or calcined and about 10% of the remains were spiral fractured. These taphonomic modifications are considered to be caused by anthropogenic factors, and the taxa identified with these modifications were assumed to be consumed by humans. Weathering of the exterior surface of the bone, root etching, and gnaw marks from rodents and carnivores are evidence of natural processes. The lagomorph and artiodactyl indices were used to estimate past environmental conditions and hunting behaviors. The human behavioral ecology (HBE) theoretical paradigm used here makes the Prey choice and Central-place foraging models central to the discussion. Prey choice was utilized to estimate which prey item would be taken if the hunter was behaving efficiently. The central place foraging model put the prey choices and the location of the site into context. In conjunction with the HBE models, two abundance indices were calculated. The lagomorph index calculates the proportion of cottontails to all of the identified leporid remains, which can be used to estimate the general vegetation coverage and prehistoric environment. Jackrabbits were significantly more abundant than cottontails, indicating local vegetation was sparse and similar to the modern day. The artiodactyl index measures the proportion of large mammals (such as deer) among the abundance of large plus small mammals (such as rabbits). Large bodied mammals were sparse in the assemblage, indicating the inhabitants of the site may be exploiting the local environment and not traveling long distances to procure large mammals in nearby mountain ranges. To determine the sex of jackrabbit remains from the 76 Draw site, a variety of measurements were taken from known sex individuals from the American Southwest and northern Mexico region. No statistically significant differences in the measurements taken from males and females were detected. Based on the skeletal material examined, the sex of Southwestern jackrabbits cannot be determined. Thus whether or not occupants of the 76 Draw site drove jackrabbits cannot be determined based on sex demography of the remains.