restricted access Chapter 16: Household and Community Animal Use at Cer
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chapter 16 Household and Community Animal Use at Cerén Linda A. Brown Animals were among the resources exploited by Cerén inhabitants. Their utilization in household and community life was elucidated through a study of all modified and unmodified animal remains recovered from cultural contexts in excavations between 1978 and 1996 (Brown 1996). Not included in this study were animals incidentally caught in the eruption, such as mice in roofing thatch, toads in gardens, and birds asphyxiated by tephra. Although the Cerén faunal assemblage is small (N = 96), the rich contextual data from this ancient village demonstrate that animal resources played a critical role in the domestic and ceremonial affairs of rural agriculturists. As will be discussed below, in addition to serving as a food source, animals provided a raw material source for tools, were used for personal adornment, and functioned in village ritual contexts. Taxonomic Identifications A total of ninety-six bone, antler, turtle-shell, snail, and marine-shell artifacts have been recovered from cultural contexts at the Cerén site to date (Table 16.1).1 Vertebrate species identified from remains that reflect cultural processes include whitetailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), domesticated dog (Canis familiaris), peccary (Tayassu sp.), duck (Anatidae), freshwater snail (Pachychilus sp.), mud turtle (Kinosternon sp.) and rodent (Rodentia). In addition to utilizing nearby animal resources, Cerén residents obtained marine shells, including spondylus (Spondylus calcifer), cowry (Cypraea cervinetta ), and olive shell (Oliva spicata and Oliva sp.), from trade networks that extended to the Paci fic Coast. Distribution of Identified Species deer The majority of faunal material recovered from Cerén are white-tailed deer. According to maximal and minimal methods2 for calculating the minimum number of individuals (MNI) (Table 16.2), white-tailed deer constitute 50–55% of the animals identified. Additionally, white-tailed deer account for up to 28% of the total number of individual specimens preserved (NISP) at the site (Tables 16.3, 16.4). The most common deer element present was antler (N = 3). All antlers showed evidence of modi- fication or use, or both. Two naturally shed antlers, one recovered from Structure 4, a domestic storeroom , and the other recovered from the kitchen area of Structure 10, were highly polished. Preliminary interpretation based on artifact form, the location of use wear, and ethnographic analogy (e.g., Hayden and Cannon 1984; Vogt 1969) suggests that the antler stored in Structure 10 was probably a corn husker (tapiscador), while the pointed tool in Household 4 may have been used as an awl. The third antler, which was stored in a niche in Structure 12 and recovered in a ceremonial context (see Chapter 12), was not naturally shed, as portions of the cranial bone were still attached to the base.This piece consists of the left antler of an adult stag, and it was found associated with other unusual artifacts Tseng 2002.3.21 12:14 6272 Sheets / BEFORE THE VOLCANO ERUPTED / sheet 163 of 238 152 linda a. brown table 16.1. Frequency of Animal Remains Associated with Nondomestic Contexts, Households, and the Midden Nondomestic Structures Domestic Structures Midden Str. 10 Str. 12 Str. 3 Str. 13 Hh. 1 Hh. 2 Hh. 4 Mammals White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)     Domesticated dog (Canis familiaris)    Peccary (Tayassu sp.).  Deer or peccary (Artiodactyla)  Rodent (unidentified)  Unidentified mammal   +   + Total mammals        Reptiles Mud turtle (Kinosternon sp.)  Total reptiles  Birds Duck (Anatidae)  Unidentified bird   + Total birds    Mollusks Freshwater Pachychilus sp.  Marine Spondylus calcifer  Spondylus sp. + Oliva spicata + Oliva sp.  Cypraea cervinetta  Unidentified  + + Total mollusks    + Includes additional small fragments thought to be either recent breaks or fragments of a counted piece. table 16.2. Vertebrate Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI) at the Cerén Site Maximal Minimal Method Method Species N % N % Anatidae (duck)     Canis familiaris (domesticated dog)     Kinosternon sp. (mud turtle)     Odocoileus virginianus (white-tailed deer)    Rodentia (large rodent)     Tayassu sp. (peccary)     Total vertebrates   table 16.3. Total Number of Individual Specimens Preserved (NISP) for Vertebrates at the Cerén Site (Including Unidentified Mammal Remains) Taxon N % Anatidae (duck) * . Artiodactyla (deer or peccary) + . Aves (birds) + . Canis familiaris (domesticated dog)  . Kinosternon sp. (mud turtle)  . Mammal (medium-sized) + . Mammal (large-sized) + . Mammal (unknown size) + . Odocoileus virginianus (white-tailed deer)  . Rodentia  . Tayassu sp. (peccary)  . Total vertebrates  * Complete articulated skeleton. + Plus small fragments thought to join with a counted piece. Tseng 2002.3.21 12:14 6272 Sheets / BEFORE THE VOLCANO ERUPTED / sheet 164 of 238 household and...


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Subject Headings

  • Volcanic ash, tuff, etc. -- El Salvador -- Zapotitán Valley.
  • Zapotitán Valley (El Salvador) -- Antiquities.
  • Mayas -- Antiquities.
  • Plant remains (Archaeology) -- El Salvador -- Zapotitán Valley.
  • Ceren Site (El Salvador).
  • Mayas -- Urban residence -- El Salvador -- Zapotitán Valley.
  • Animal remains (Archaeology) -- El Salvador -- Zapotitán Valley.
  • Social archaeology -- El Salvador -- Zapotitán Valley.
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