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Recreating and rethinking pot polish: an experimental analysis and zooarchaeological approach to the taphonomy of cooking fauna

Gruntorad, Kelsey Ann (2021) Recreating and rethinking pot polish: an experimental analysis and zooarchaeological approach to the taphonomy of cooking fauna. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Archaeologically, the term pot polish refers to wear on skeletal elements resulting from cooking in a ceramic vessel. The active mixing, stirring, and rubbing of the materials within and against the vessel's abrasive interior leads to a polishing on butchered bone fragments. Unfortunately, limited experiments have been conducted on pot polish taphonomy and continues to be poorly understood. Those limited experiments, however, serve as the baseline for further exploring pot polish. Despite natural taphonomic processes producing similar polishing modifications, archaeologists use these cultural and natural attributes interchangeably. Given this lack of knowledge, investigations herein evaluate whether pot polish is in fact created by boiling bone in pottery used for cooking. Using zooarchaeology, ethnographic analogy, and experimental archaeology, this research tests and analyzes for sheen, smoothing, and beveling, all attributes ascribed to pot polish, on the bone surfaces after boiling in a coarse quartz sand ceramic vessel for three hours. This research is intended to demonstrate the extent to which pot polish, identifiable through a hand lens, is human produced. With all 453 specimens, 85 percent exhibit sheen, 72 percent exhibit smoothing, and 67 percent exhibit beveling on the broken tips or along the edges. Pot polish, therefore, is best defined as a cultural taphonomic effect when separated and viewed independently by each key attribute. Not only do the outcomes of these experiments contribute to current understandings of taphonomy this project uses a decolonizing position to challenge traditionally assumed archaeological narratives through zooarchaeological and experimental methods.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Archaeology; Decolonization; Experimental archaeology; Pot Polish; Southwest; Zooarchaeology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Anthropology
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2022 20:56
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2022 20:56
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5766

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