Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 420-447

First online:

The Taphonomy of Resource Intensification: Zooarchaeological Implications of Resource Scarcity Among Bofi and Aka Forest Foragers

  • Karen D. LupoAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University Email author 
  • , Jason M. FancherAffiliated withMt. Hood Community College, Social Science
  • , Dave N. SchmittAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Southern Methodist UniversityDesert Research Institute

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Zooarchaeological analyses often rely on bone fragmentation, cut marks, and other taphonomic indicators to bolster interpretations of resource intensification that are based on observed changes in prey types and frequencies. While these taphonomic indicators are assumed to be good proxy measures of processing effort, this assumption is based on inadequate actualistic data and analysts often conflate one or more taphonomic indicators as manifestations of the same process. In this paper, we present zooarchaeological data from two villages occupied by Central African forest foragers with very different foraging efficiencies. These data provide the first case where known disparities in diet breadth and foraging efficiency are matched with prey assemblages and taphonomic attributes. Observational and quantitative data show differences between the villages in diet breadth and access to high-ranked prey, but specific taphonomic indicators such as cut mark distribution and intensity do not match predictions generated from models of resource intensification. We propose that linking different taphonomic processes to resource scarcity and intensification can provide powerful adjunctive information. However, because different processing outcomes may be associated with different kinds of resource intensification in response to different kinds of scarcity, we need to strengthen the validity of purported taphonomic indicators with more rigorous independent studies.


Taphonomy Foraging models Resource intensification Ethnoarchaeology Central Africa