M.A. Theses: Claudine Vallieres, 2004

The Paleoindian Bison Assemblage from Charlie Lake Cave

The goal of this research is to investigate the subsistence activity – or activities – represented in the bison assemblage of the Paleoindian strata at Charlie Lake Cave. To achieve this goal, standard zooarchaeological methods are used, including quantification of skeletal element frequency, identification of bone modifiers, and reassembly of specimens. It is demonstrated that the assemblage was not affected to a significant extent by weathering, density –mediated attrition, or carnivore damage. Instead, the skeletal element frequency recognized in the assemblage is predominantly the result of human action. The patterns observed in the bison assemblage reveal an emphasis on limb bone elements, and an absence of axial elements. It is argued that an emphasis on limb elements would be advantageous for their transportability coupled with high marrow content. Comparisons with neighbouring sites and site-function models demonstrate that Charlie Lake Cave was not a kill site nor a campsite, although its use as a campsite midden could not be ruled out. Outside of the kill site/camp site dichotomy common in Paleoindian archaeology, the assemblage is compared to a number of other site-function models, including hunting party monitoring station, storage facility and ritual location. A combination of those hypotheses, with an emphasis on storage, is put forward as the probable subsistence activities represented in the Paleoindian strata of Charlie Lake Cave.