Most People seem to agree that we cannot and do not want to go back to the past, but the reason given is often wrong; that time has moved on and what was can never be again. The truth is that we cannot go back to what we never left. Our home is the earth, our time the Pleistocene Ice Ages. The past is the formula for our being.
(Paul Shepard)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Hunting strategies with the spearthrower


I'm trying to workout how to combine my modern-Paleo life blog with the spearthrower blog. I'm not much of a writer and can't really spread myself over two blogs. I kinda think that we should be aiming for a unity anyway. I can't workout how to do it but here is something that reaches across.
H/G prey selection, the spearthrower is effective enough that prey can be left uneaten if it does not meet H/G nutritional requirements. Australian aborigines on killing kangaroos inspect the abdomen for visceral fat. If the animal does not have a high enough fat content it is left.
I can't find the source which is not so good but it's from Melissa Mcewan's blog here which is well worth a look round
http://huntgatherlove.com/front-page?page=4
To me this suggests that even in as hard an environment as Australia the spearthrower gives enough reliability in hunting to discard sub-standard food sources.
The main item of interest is this extract
http://www.uiowa.edu/~zooarch/1991sub.pdf
it details some interpretations of Magdalenian (spearthrowers all) kill and butchery sites. Interesting to note that they could and did target specific animals. I seem to remember the same of the stellmoor kill site with interpretation of hits suggesting no wild haphazard shooting but a deliberating aiming to kill with every shot.
It is tempting to interpret the results as showing larger social groups separating during the summer to follow the herds (as the cresswell crags site is interpreted) before meeting up for larger communal kills which can then very happily be cached in the frozen ground or snowbanks. Fatty animals would be essential for winter survival in the ice age to prevent rabbit starvation.
I'm not sure about the vegetable requirements cited in the paper. I would expect some processing remains (stones etc) if they were eating grass seeds. Berries of course would be most welcome. It is odd that there is this "need" for ice age Europeans to have eaten some vegetable matter, if there's no evidence of it then quite frankly it doesn't need to be talked about. I suspect that they ate some amount of vegetable matter in summer/autumn but with all that fatty meat it is doubtful that they would have"needed" to.The chart above shows the fat content of reindeer through the year.
It was interesting to see some of the other animals (presumably) hunted by spearthrower including bear, BEAR! someone had rocks!

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