|dc.description.abstract||It is often assumed that all avifaunal remains recovered from archaeological contexts have been deposited as a result of cultural activity. Increasingly, however, it is recognized that bird bones can accumulate within archaeological deposits as a result of natural (i.e. non-cultural) events and processes.
The problem of determining the origin of avifaunal remains has long been recognized by New Zealand archaeologists, but not systematically addressed. If cultural interpretations are based on excavated avifaunal assemblages, however, we must be reasonably confident of the cultural origin of the remains recovered, or our conclusions may be based on false assumptions.
This thesis proposes, tests and assesses a model designated “SPIT=O”, which was constructed as a tool to distinguish between the cultural or natural origins of avifaunal remains recovered during archaeological excavation in New Zealand. Following SPIT=O, the physical nature of a site (S) and the palaeoecological details of New Zealand’s predators (P) are considered, to establish all the potential agents and processes of deposition for avian remains at that site. The species identified in the recovered avian assemblage (I) and the taphonomic features and patterns exhibited by the specimens (T), are compared to taphonomic traces considered typical of potential predators and other taphonomic processes, to draw conclusions regarding their most likely origin (=O).
To test SPIT=O, the model is applied to an assemblage of small-bird remains (i.e. birds other than moa, Dinornithiformes) recovered during an archaeological excavation at Watsons Beach, South Otago (New Zealand Archaeological Association (NZAA) site number H45/10). Following the model, it is determined that the sample of avifaunal remains to which SPIT=O is applied are, for the most part, cultural in origin.
Although developed to address the question of origin for avifaunal remains in New Zealand archaeological deposits, the methods applied in SPIT=O could be applied in the analysis of any avifaunal deposit, palaeontological or archaeological, within New Zealand or elsewhere.||