Calibrating Nutritionally Driven Selective Transport

  • Diane Gifford-Gonzalez


This chapter recounts zooarchaeologists’ efforts to more closely specify and standardize the variable nutritional values of different sections of animal bodies, as noted in Chap.  5. Their primary motivation was to understand the logic of human selectivity behind the element frequency structure in archaeofaunas. The chapter outlines Binford’s development of utility indices to calibrate the relative nutritional yields of different carcass segments, and his linkage of utilities with archaeofaunal elements frequencies through utility curves. It reviews species for which utility indices were developed, as well as early archaeofaunal analyses using these indices. The chapter describes a later simplification of Binford’s original calculations, the Food Utility Index (FUI) and discusses whether and how consideration of marrow, meat drying , and other utilities may be used to elucidate the choices behind archaeofaunal element frequencies.


Butchery Hominin transport Selective transport Utility index MGUI FUI Return rate Drying index 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane Gifford-Gonzalez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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