Friday, July 07, 2006

Overkill update Tackling 10,000-year-old mystery
Students in the CU archaeology summer field school were at ground zero in the rancorous, protracted debate over who or what killed the Hudson-Meng bison. The bones were discovered in 1954, and the dispute still rages.

For the CU undergraduates, the dig provided a rare glimpse beyond the black-and-white of textbook narratives, into the often-murkier realm of real-world science.

"In the classroom, things are presented as 'This is how it happened,' " said Kirsten Smith, a junior anthropology major.

"But out here we see the process in action, the process of gathering information to support different interpretations," Smith said.

Very good article, though not particularly "overkill" related. It does, however, point to the many difficulties of determining what an actual "kill site" is. This one seemed obvious at the time, what with spear points in direct association with some of the bones. Or were they? Once again, the totality of the site stratigraphy, chronology, and in this case taphonomy needs to be considered. The taphonomy -- the processes affecting the bones after death -- will probably be crucial. If it really was a jump site, one would expect that many of the good cuts of meat will be missing from some of the animals. Read the whole thing.