Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 420–447 | Cite as

The Taphonomy of Resource Intensification: Zooarchaeological Implications of Resource Scarcity Among Bofi and Aka Forest Foragers

  • Karen D. Lupo
  • Jason M. Fancher
  • Dave N. Schmitt


Zooarchaeological analyses often rely on bone fragmentation, cut marks, and other taphonomic indicators to bolster interpretations of resource intensification that are based on observed changes in prey types and frequencies. While these taphonomic indicators are assumed to be good proxy measures of processing effort, this assumption is based on inadequate actualistic data and analysts often conflate one or more taphonomic indicators as manifestations of the same process. In this paper, we present zooarchaeological data from two villages occupied by Central African forest foragers with very different foraging efficiencies. These data provide the first case where known disparities in diet breadth and foraging efficiency are matched with prey assemblages and taphonomic attributes. Observational and quantitative data show differences between the villages in diet breadth and access to high-ranked prey, but specific taphonomic indicators such as cut mark distribution and intensity do not match predictions generated from models of resource intensification. We propose that linking different taphonomic processes to resource scarcity and intensification can provide powerful adjunctive information. However, because different processing outcomes may be associated with different kinds of resource intensification in response to different kinds of scarcity, we need to strengthen the validity of purported taphonomic indicators with more rigorous independent studies.


Taphonomy Foraging models Resource intensification Ethnoarchaeology Central Africa 



The research presented here was supported by grants from the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation and the National Science Foundation (BCS-0003988). Many people contributed to the success of this research. We especially thank Barry Hewlett, Hillary Fouts, George Ngasse, Alain Kolet Guy, Eduard Mboula, Timothee Tikouzou, Gabi Mbera, Alain Peneloin, Chef Mbokoma Toma, the Makenzi clan, the late and great Chef Doko Molli, and the folks at Hotel Levy’s. We also thank the Office of Scientific and Technological Research and the government of the Central African Republic for granting permission to conduct this research. Dave and Kathy Johnson, C.T. Hall, and Matt Landt assisted in collecting the data used in these analyses. Above all, this research would not be possible without the kindness and patience of the Aka and Bofi people of Grima and Ndele who generously allowed us to work with them. The villagers of Grima and Ndele tolerated our work with good humor and treated us like family. We thank Virginia Butler, Christine Darwent, and Michael O’Brien for putting this volume together and including our research. This paper is dedicated to R. Lee Lyman, a true scientist and zooarchaeological guru who continues to inspire and influence generations of researchers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen D. Lupo
    • 1
  • Jason M. Fancher
    • 2
  • Dave N. Schmitt
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA
  2. 2.Mt. Hood Community College, Social ScienceGreshamUSA
  3. 3.Desert Research InstituteRenoUSA

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