Take One More Step
This summer Anna Arnn ’17, an archaeology concentrator, took her research from last year a step further. Under the advisement of Associate Professor of Anthropology Nathan Goodale, Arnn studied faunal remains and animal bones that were collected during a previous field trip.
Last summer Arnn participated in the Slocan Narrows Archaeological Project (SNAP), led by Goodale, and took part in a field trip to Slocan Narrows Pithouse Village in British Columbia. The village is a settlement that the Sinixt people occupied for thousands of years. Last summer, the team excavated three houses and collected over 200 fragments of bones from various animals.
This summer Arnn identified and analyzed the faunal remains and animal bones from the field school excavations in order to understand what animals people likely used.
“It’s definitely the goal to identify as much about a bone as possible because then you have more data to work with,” she explained, “but that’s not always reasonable, especially when we find the bones as fragmented as we do.”
Arnn found that one house had a lot of bird bones in it. Two of the bird bones are toe bones that most likely come from ducks. “This was exciting because we can’t often confidently identify the bones to the species level, and bird bones are relatively rare too.” She added, “Most of the bones in the assemblage are so burnt that they could only have been burnt in a manmade fire, which means that we know for certain that people interacted with the bones at the site.”
Arnn is grateful for the opportunity to conduct this research. “While it’s fascinating to think about physical features of a bone, the most incredible thing is when you can take a step back from what’s immediately in front of you and realize that Sinixt ancestors 2,000 years ago might have looked at that same bone as it was burning in the hearth,” she said. Arnn also feels honored to contribute to the project as well as the understanding of Sinixt history.
As an animal lover, she is interested in both archaeology and veterinary medicine. Arnn concluded, “Fortunately, I believe that whichever path I take, my experience here studying bones will be helpful.”