Determining Season of Death of Archaeological Fauna by Analysis of Teeth


  • Arthur Spiess



Copper Eskimos


Seasonality of site occupation is a common concern in northern archaeology, and any faunal remains recovered should be analysed in an attempt to provide data useful for its determination. Conclusions reached in the past on the subject of seasonality have been based on data concerning composition of species, age composition of mammalian remains based on tooth eruption or epiphyseal closure ages, or traits such as antler retention or loss in cervids. The present paper constitutes a report on the successful adaptation to archaeological samples of an ageing technique widely applied in wildlife management: the "reading" of annual growth layers in mammalian teeth. Since teeth are often the most common, and usually the most identifiable, faunal remains from archaeological sites, the information resulting from a judicial use of the technique should supplement data concerning seasonality gathered by other methods and act as an independent check against them.