Complementary approaches to the identification of bison processing for storage at the Kutoyis complex, Montana

Brandi Bethke, María Nieves Zedeño, Geoffrey Jones, Matthew Pailes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Identifying sources of variability in carcass processing activities is central to the construction of inferences about primary consumption as well as production of storable and transportable by-products. In the northwestern Plains of North America, bison harvesting and processing underwent important changes in scale and intensity in the millennium before European contact. Recent studies of surface stone architecture dating to this time period point to band- and supra-band investment in the planning and construction of elaborate hunting facilities. Site-scale butchering and carcass processing, on the other hand, are good indicators of the degree to which hunting families foresaw the need to secure foodstuffs for future consumption and trade. This report discusses the results of a magnetic survey, excavations, and faunal analysis undertaken at the Kutoyis Site (24GL366), a Late Prehistoric-period hunting complex located in Montana, to characterize processing activities associated with large-scale communal bison hunting. Positive magnetic readings across the site's floodplain, discovery of processing features, and patterned bone fragmentation across the site suggest an investment in the production of storable and transportable by-products such as pemmican, and support architectural and environmental evidence of economic intensification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-894
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Bison hunting
  • Bone grease processing
  • Magnetometry
  • Plains
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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