Animals from the Wall Site

The analysis of the faunal remains from the 1983-1984 excavations at the late prehistoric Wall site concentrated on the bone from four 10´10-ft squares of undisturbed midden located just inside the outermost palisade surrounding the village. Although several burials were excavated at this site in 1983, the fill of only one contained more than a few poorly preserved fragments of bone. The remains from the fill of this one burial were also included in the analysis. As previously mentioned, all fill from the midden and the one burial was waterscreened through a sequence of three sized screens. A total of 30,257 fragments was examined from the 1983-1984 excavations. This total consists of 6,040 fragments from the 1/2-inch screen, 19,688 fragments from the 1/4-inch screen, and 4,529 fragments from the 1/16-inch screen. Approximately 42% of the collection (12,714 fragments) could not be identified. The majority of these fragments seem to be pieces of long bones of large mammals (probably deer).

A complete account of the faunal remains recovered in the 1983-1984 excavations is provided in Table 9. Burial 1 had two zones of fill containing a total of 1,340 bone fragments. The only passenger pigeon remains represented in the 1983-1984 assemblage were recovered in the fill of this burial. As there were no other obvious qualitative differences between the bones recovered from the burial and those recovered from the midden, the assemblage will be treated in the following discussions as though it were retrieved from a single context.

The first excavations at the Wall site were carried out between 1938 and 1941 (Coe 1952, 1964). Analysis of the faunal remains from these excavations was performed by Jeanette Runquist (1979). The majority of the remains that Runquist examined were recovered from a zone of undisturbed midden that was sifted through 1/4-inch screen. A sample of the midden from each 10´10-ft square was waterscreened, as was the fill from the few burials and features included in Runquist's sample. Her total assemblage consisted of 6,000 bones and bone fragments. Runquist's findings are occasionally included in this discussion of the results of analysis in order to provide the most complete description possible of the animals originally represented at the Wall site.

A total of 856 fish bones representing 190 individuals (66.0% of the total number of individuals for the assemblage) were identified. The majority of these individuals were catfish. Other fish identified were sucker, sunfish, and gar.

Amphibians accounted for a minimum of 13 individuals (4.5% of the total number of individuals), identified from 107 fragments. Reptiles accounted for 16.78% of the identified bone and 3.1% of the number of individuals identified. Remains of box turtle formed a significant portion of the assemblage, as this species was second only to white-tailed deer in percent of fragments identified to species. Snake bones accounted for 2.2% of the fragments recovered and less than 1% of the individuals.

With the exception of the wild turkey, birds do not seem to have been used frequently by the inhabitants of the Wall site. Three individuals (turkeys), representing 1.0% of the total number of individuals, were identified in the present analysis. From a count of spurs, Runquist determined that three of the eight individuals in the 1938-1941 assemblage were males, whereas one of the three individuals in the 1983-1984 sample was male. In both cases, the proportions of males to females are somewhat higher than one might expect. In a study of over 6,000 turkeys harvested over a five-year period in Virginia, for example, only 18.9% of the turkeys captured were adult males (Gwynn 1964). The combined totals from the two Wall site samples indicate that four of the eleven individuals identified are male. This is a considerably higher percentage (36.4% versus 18.9%) than Gwynn's (1964) studies indicate would occur in the same general area today.

Other than turkey, birds identified in the 1983-1984 assemblage from the Wall site consist of bobwhite quail, bluejay, great horned owl, and passenger pigeon. Passenger pigeon is represented by a single individual in the 1983-1984 assemblage. The bluejay, great horned owl, and bobwhite quail also are represented by only a single individual.

A total of 13,010 bones, representing a minimum of 69 mammals, was identified in the 1983-1984 assemblage. With the exception of the white-tailed deer (MNI=36), squirrel (MNI=10), raccoon (MNI=4), and rabbit (MNI=4), none of the mammals in the assemblage accounted for more than two individuals (0.7% of the total number of individuals).

White-tailed deer comprised 36 individuals (12.5% of the total number of individuals), determined from 4,732 fragments. Because of the small number and fragmentary nature of the deer mandibles in this assemblage, it was not possible to determine the age distribution of all of the deer represented. Of the six mandibles that could be aged, using the method described by Severinghaus (1949), one was approximately 13-17 months old, one was approximately 2-1/2 years old, one was approximately 5-1/2 years old, and three (two lefts and one right) were approximately 7-1/2 years old.

Additional information about the ages of deer hunted by the inhabitants of the Wall site was obtained by examining the epiphyses of the long bones. A minimum of six individuals in the population had open epiphyses (distal femur). This adds another five deer between the ages of 2-1/2 and 4-1/2 years (Lewall and Cowan 1963:635). Using the criteria of pelvic suture closure (Edwards et al. 1982) it was determined that five individuals were less than one year old. Assuming that none of the long bones or pelves represented the same deer as the mandibles, it was possible to determine the ages of a maximum of 17 individuals. A more cautious approach assumes that a long bone, mandible, and/or pelvis falling in the same age category belonged to the same individual. Using this approach, a minimum of 15 individuals could be aged. Of these 15 individuals, 33.3% were less than 1-1/2 years old, 46.7% were between 1-1/2 and 5-1/2 years old, and 20% were approximately 7-1/2 years old. This sample is clearly too small to provide an accurate indication of the age distribution of the exploited population.

The sample studied by Runquist included 145 individuals (46.0% of the total), 144 of which could be aged. Of these individuals, 17% were fawns, 63% were between 1-1/2 and 7-1/2 years old, and 20% were 7-1/2 years old or older (Runquist 1979:229).

One method of determining the sex ratio of the deer represented by a faunal assemblage is through an examination of frontal bones for the presence of antlers, antler pedicles, or the denser bone that distinguishes males from females. This method was not useful for the 1983-1984 assemblage from the Wall site because very few deer skull fragments were recovered, and because the few antler fragments that were recovered were very small. However, it was possible to employ a technique developed by Edwards et al. (1982) which uses characteristics of the pelvic girdle to distinguish male from female deer. For deer in which the sutures between the ilium, ischium, and pubis are fully ossified (deer one year old or older), the shape and position of the ilio-pectilineal eminence are different in males and females. Fourteen right and thirteen left innominate bones complete enough to display the ilio-pectilineal eminence were recovered in the 1983-1984 assemblage. Of these, five right and four left represented individuals below the age of one year and thus could not be used. On one left and one right innominate bone the characteristics of the ilio-pectilineal eminence were neither clearly male nor clearly female. Finally, however, it was possible to determine that five right and five left innominates represented males, and that three left and three right represented females.

An attempt was made to determine the ages of individuals of several species other than deer that were represented in the assemblage. Marks and Erickson (1966) developed criteria for determining ages of black bear based on skull morphology, canine cementum layers, tooth replacement and wear, epiphyseal suture closure, and baculum growth and maturation. As the only element identified as black bear in the Wall site assemblage was a single fragment of thoracic vertebra, it was not possible to determine the age of this individual. Although the age of raccoons can be determined using tooth wear criteria (Grau et al. 1970), this technique could not be applied successfully to the 1983-1984 faunal remains because no intact raccoon mandibles with enough teeth to permit aging were preserved in the assemblage. Age determination in fox and gray squirrels and in cottontail rabbits is based upon the degree of epiphyseal closure. The distal radius and ulna were utilized by Carson (1961) to develop age classes for squirrels. Of the 332 fragments identified as squirrel, only one was a distal radius and no distal ulnae were preserved. The epiphysis of the single distal radius was closed and thus indicated the presence of an individual at least 33 weeks old (Carson 1961:91). Hale's (1949) technique for aging cottontail rabbits is based on the degree of epiphyseal closure in the humerus. Four individuals from the present sample were represented by distal humeri, the epiphyses of which were all closed, indicating that these individuals were at least nine months old (Hale 1949:222).

No butchering marks were observed on any of the bones identified from the 1983-1984 Wall site assemblage. Guilday et al. (1962:64) indicate that it is possible to butcher an animal without leaving any marks on the bones, and that the probability that a bone will be cut in some way is greater if the person butchering the animal is unskilled, careless, or in a hurry. The absence of butchering marks on bones in the Wall site assemblage, thus, may indicate that the animals represented by the assemblage were dismembered by skillful and unhurried butchers. Although the majority of the bone from the Wall site was well preserved, the outer surface of most of the bones was somewhat eroded. It is possible, therefore, that if the original butchering did not leave deeply cut marks, those marks could have become worn away with the passage of time.

The only bone tools found in the 1983-1984 assemblage were one deer metatarsal beamer, one complete turkey tarsometatarsus awl, and fragments of three more awls. Three small pieces of worked antler and one cut bird bone that might have been a bead were also found. In sum, analysis of the faunal remains from the 1983-1984 excavations at the Wall site identified a total of 288 individuals representing 32 species. The five most important species in terms of percent of MNI were catfish (64.93%), deer (12.50%), squirrel (3.47%), frog (2.78%), and box turtle (1.74%).