Voices from the Field (2017-07-11)

Detailed Tasks: Sorting Bones in the Heavy Residue Fraction

Francesca Slim

Heavy residue analysis begins! This year the faunal team grew, and we have a wonderful workforce to get some work done this study season: Dr. C. Çakırlar, Francesca Slim, Jildou Kooistra, Madison Blumer, Conor Mead, and Elif Özsöy.

A large workforce to handle a lot of small bones: Jildou, Elif, Conor, and Madison.

This year the faunal team has begun the analysis of the heavy residues retrieved during flotation. After a long workflow involving collection of sediment samples by excavators and flotation, heavy residue collection, and sorting by the archaeobotany team, the bone material within the heavy residue samples ended up with the faunal team. Using a variety of tools, the heavy residue samples are laid out on trays, meticulously examined in bright daylight, and sorted into categories with small brushes and dental tools. We have been finding various taxa of not just the common domesticates, but also bones from amphibians, birds, fish, molluscs, and small mammals such as mice.

Francesca doing detailed analysis on the identifiable mammal bones from the heavy residue samples.

In these heavy residue samples, we find bones that do not usually appear in the hand-selected and dry-sieved samples. In addition to finding small animals, here and there we find small bones from very young animals, showing that even very young baby animals were kept at Kaymakçı. This means that the heavy residue samples are very complementary to the dataset, as a whole, and give us better insight into the full spectrum of domestic, wild, and commensal animals present at Kaymakçı in the past.

When we do the sorting, we also keep our eyes out for some specific bones that may be used for other types of analysis. For instance, we are hoping to find fish otoliths (a type of ear bone), which can be used in future isotope analysis. In this way, we collaborate not just between specialists, but also across many years of the project!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!