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Nathanael Joshua Balete (2014-32518)

Archaeo 2

Article: Prey choice, mass collecting, and the wild European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
(Emily Lena Jones) Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25 (2006) 275-289
In this paper, the researcher uses zooarchaeology to analyze the hunting techniques of prehistoric
(Pleistocene-Holocene) people living in the region of Dordogne, France on one of their prey:
Oryctolagus cuniculus. There are two main techniques for capturing rabbits. The first employs
mass collection, by surrounding rabbit warrens with fences. The second involves individual hunting of rabbits. One can infer the type of hunting prehistoric people have done by assessing the
age and sex of the rabbits. The rabbits that live in warrens are demographically mostly grown
females or young rabbits. Thus, one can infer that prehistoric people captured the rabbits by
means of mass warren collection if specimens of Oryctolagus cuniculus are assessed to be mostly female or juvenile, and individual hunting otherwise (277).
The researcher first searched for osteological features that are easily observable in specimens,
and have a good correlation with age or sex of the specimen. Epiphyseal fusion of bones, specifically the humerus, the femur, and tibia, and eruption of teeth are the two main identifiers for age,
which is generally consistent among mammals. For identification of sex, the researcher compared measurements between the length and depth of the mandible, and between the distal and
trochlear breadth of the humerus (279-80).
There were two locations where the researcher analyzed rabbit specimens: Moulin du Roc, and
Pont dAmbon. At Moulin du Roc, there were 64 rabbit remains in couche jaune (yellow layer of
soil), 6,596 in brune (brown), and 230 in bigare (multi-colored). The researcher was able to determine the rabbit demography in this area: juveniles in all three layers are consistently
and females

0.1%,

0.2% of the total population. This suggested that rabbits here were taken individu-

ally (282-283). At Pont dAmbon, a total of 19,513 rabbit remains in 5 soil layers were used for
analysis, which showed that juveniles consist about 10 to 50% of the population, while females
consist 45 to 90%, which can be used to show that mass collection may be the technique used
(284-285).
From these information, the researcher concluded that current hypotheses that other ungulates
have higher energetic value might have to be reassessed since one of the places in the investigation proved that mass collection took place.

I believe that the stark comparison of the number of specimens in the layers of Moulin du Roc
(64; 230; 6,596 rabbits) might cause some inaccuracies, since these remains might be underrepresented. Also, the researcher failed to explain why prehistoric people in two places less
than 100 kilometers apart would use a completely different way of hunting. The researcher even
noted that Moulin du Roc is less popular than Pont dAmbon; therefore, it is highly likely that
fewer investigations might have taken place in Moulin du Roc, and more information about this
area might be necessary. Apart from these potential issues, I believe that the research and methodology was well-organized, and can be used for further investigation.