For future archaeologists: bone burial

On April 20, 2023, our class burned 6 beef femurs and 5 tails in a single ritual event on Mai Fête Island. 5 of the femurs were fully wrapped in omentum (belly fat), while the sixth was left unwrapped as a control. All 6, however, fully broke apart in the middle, leaving the shaft of the femur in many small shards while the heads were mostly intact. The tails all lacked a sacrum bone but contained several of the caudal vertebrae.

We collected the remains of our sacrifice the next morning and picked out the larger pieces to bury. We counted 32 vertebrae, ranging from larger bones to very small ones, 66 fragments from the femur shafts, and 15 pieces from the 12 femur heads. 8 of the femur heads were mostly complete. In all, the bones weighed 281.3 ounces.

Most of the bones we recovered showed marks of burning and many showed ‘blueing’ from the intense heat produced by the burning fat. The pictures below show the appearance of our bones in the lab.

We have a number of questions for the future excavators (you guys!). How many of the bones survived? Were there certain types that had a better survival rate than others? In particular, we noticed that the heads of the femur bones appeared very crumbly; we expect them to decay quickly. Secondly, how is the color of the bones affected by burial/decomposition? Is the blue/black color preserved? We hope you enjoy our bones 🙂

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