This analysis of faunal bones from Wolf Village focuses on large game and its utility, as evidenced by what is known as the modified general utility index (MGUI). The MGUI proposes that bones at sites reflect transportation and butchering choices made by hunters at kill-butchering sites. According to the assumptions associated with the MGUI, hunters should select animal portions with high food value. The MGUI has been used in Fremont archaeology to provide a rough measure of site function. The expectation is that faunal bones would accompany the prized cuts of large game meat at habitation sites – and the animal parts with little food value would remain at kill-butchering sites because they are not worth the cost to carry them to the village. My analysis of large game animal bones found in excavations at Wolf Village counter these expectations. Fremont hunters at Wolf Village were returning to the site with low-caloric portions of large game, at least part of the time. Results from strontium isotope analysis suggest that many of the large game individuals hunted by the Fremont were not local to the immediate area. This suggests that hunters saw utility in low-caloric elements not related only to food value. Some low-caloric skeletal elements were used by the Fremont to construct bone tools and other objects, and as possible symbolic objects used in abandonment rituals. The results of this research suggests that the MGUI is not appropriate for measuring the utility of animal portions to the Fremont. Only when considering the social and non-caloric economic reasons for transporting low caloric elements, can archaeologists discover the true utility of large game animal parts to Fremont hunters.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Anthropology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Fremont, Wolf Village, Lewis Binford, faunal bone, utility index, strontium isotopes, trade, ritual, worked bone



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Anthropology Commons