Project Chicken

The Project Chicken actualistic study focuses on modeling avian skeletal part disaggregation resulting from various cooking and consumption strategies. The work was influenced by a series of articles about northern North American, northern European, and South Pacific Islands bird assemblages. We felt that a systematic approach to understanding influences on avifauna carcass disaggregation would improve our understanding of archaeological skeletal part distributions.

Article published in Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 2016(5)383-391): free download until Feb 9, 2016!

Update: August 31, 2015. We submitted the draft article about our Project Chicken study to the brand new Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports on Monday August 17th.

Update: October 16, 2015. Reviews are back – we’ll resubmit for publication pending edits.

Update December 16, 2015. We just submitted the final corrected proofs for publication.

Presentation slide slow video:

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Abstract: Few actualistic studies of the patterns resulting from human preparation and consumption of birds inform the problems of interpreting archaeological avifauna assemblages. This study is focused on developing new and adding to existing interpretive models. We examine differences in bone modifications produced by a culturally homogeneous group of eaters consuming medium-sized birds cooked using three cross-culturally common methods. We use the analytical concept of discard packages to capture variability in how groups of skeletal elements might be deposited into the archaeological record. We also examine chop/cut marks, burn marks, and chew marks as these area variables that archaeologists frequently use to identify and interpret anthropogenic avifaunal assemblages. We find that the creation of discard packages appears to be culturally motivated and varies little within our group of eaters, but the degree to which the associated elements are disaggregated during consumption is highly variable and depends on individual preference. Additionally, we find that while the presence and locations of chop marks are consistent across cooking methods and individual consumption preferences, the presence and locations of cut marks, burn marks, and chew marks are affected by cooking methods, individual preferences, or both.

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Experiement 1: Boiling – Sample is from Chicken 1, consumed by D.P., using hands and teeth.