Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 3187–3199 | Cite as

Striped hyenas as bone modifiers in dual human-to-carnivore experimental models

  • Mari Carmen ArriazaEmail author
  • Elia Organista
  • José Yravedra
  • Manuel Santonja
  • Enrique Baquedano
  • Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo
Original Paper


Taphonomic studies, along with modern analogs arisen from experimentation, have been developed to discern the agents responsible for bone accumulations. A special focus has been given to carnivores, which may produce bone accumulations or interact with hominins by ravaging bones from archaeological sites. Although a great effort has been made to study several carnivore species (namely, felids, hyenids and canids), a limited knowledge concerning some scavenging species such as the striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) remains. The present study shows the results of an experiment carried out at Olduvai Gorge (Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania) which aimed at assessing the impact of striped hyenas on a goat carcass. After human butchering, the goat carcass was deposited in an area near the FLK North site, where nocturnal carnivores are very active. The orientation and arrangement of the bone assemblage were documented daily and recorded with the aid of photogrammetric techniques. The behaviour of the carnivores acting on the carcasses was recorded by a motion camera picture. The only carnivore involved in the modification of the bone assemblage was the striped hyena. The results show that the post-ravaging behaviour of this species is similar to that previously documented for the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Oddly, after one night of carnivore ravaging, the experimental sample showed anisotropy. The carnivore ravaging carried out by the striped hyena modified the orientation pattern of the simulated archaeological site. Thus, carnivore ravaging may also impact the spatial orientation pattern of archaeological sites.


Striped hyena Post-ravaging Orientation Olduvai Bed I 



We wish to thank the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authorities, COSTECH and the antiquities unit for permits to conduct research at Olduvai and Museo Arqueológico Regional de la Comunidad de Madrid. The support of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences (CoE-Pal) towards this research is hereby acknowledged. Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at are those of the author and are not necessarily to be attributed to the CoE. We would like to express our appreciation and acknowledgement to the following: Julius Sulley, Lazaro Sarwatt, Yacob Matle, Yona Thomas, Thomas Madangi, Nicolaus Dohho, Caroli Maole, Francis Fabiano, Sangau Letuma, Nicodemus Burra, Ibrahim Mathias and Shabany Bakari. MCA is thankful to Julia Aramendi and Dominic Stratford for their help in editing this paper.

Funding information

This work received major funding provided by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation through the European project I + D HAR2013-45246-C3-1P and the Spanish Ministry of Culture through the Heritage Institute and the Program of Funding for Archaeological Projects Abroad.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mari Carmen Arriaza
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Elia Organista
    • 3
  • José Yravedra
    • 3
    • 4
  • Manuel Santonja
    • 5
  • Enrique Baquedano
    • 3
    • 6
  • Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo
    • 3
    • 4
    • 7
  1. 1.School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental StudiesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Centre of Excellence in PalaeosciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Institute of Evolution in Africa (IDEA)MadridSpain
  4. 4.Department of PrehistoryComplutense UniversityMadridSpain
  5. 5.CENIEH (Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana)BurgosSpain
  6. 6.Museo Arqueológico RegionalMadridSpain
  7. 7.Real Colegio Complutense at HarvardCambridgeUSA

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