Faunal analysis of the Sanderson site (DhMs-12), block seven west
Magee, Michael J.
The Sanderson site (DhMs-12) is a Mortlach phase faunal processing area located on the Souris River in southeastern Saskatchewan. The site is composed of two occupation levels separated by a sterile layer. The upper level of the site is dated to approximately 250 years ago. The site is located within a riverine ecotone, similar in location to other Mortlach sites from Saskatchewan, North Dakota, and Montana. Excavations were carried out by the Saskatchewan Research Council in order to salvage the site as part of the Rafferty Hydroelectric Dam mitigation project. The excavation area labeled as Block seven west was used as a sample for the faunal analysis of the site and yielded material with excellent preservation but high levels of fragmentation. There were a number of different animal species represented at the site although bison were predominant. A detailed faunal analysis was undertaken to determine the composition of the bison herd and canid species identification. The faunal material was also analyzed in order to determine the seasonality and taphonomic history of the site. An actualistic study was designed to determine the effects of freezing on bone breakage. This was done to examine the effects of seasonality on butchering practices. The study indicated that the biomechanical nature of the bone was altered by freezing resulting in a visibly different breakage pattern. The Sanderson site represents a Late Prehistoric Period and the level of bone destruction is typical of the heavy processing of bone for grease that occurred during this time period. The extreme level of this destruction is typical and may indicate a butchery activity that occurred during the colder winter months.