Gazelle bone marrow yields and Epipalaeolithic carcass exploitation strategies in the southern Levant

Guy Bar-Oz, Natalie D. Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We measure the bone marrow yields of mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella) carcasses to reconstruct gazelle exploitation strategies during the Epipalaeolithic periods in the southern Levant. We present experimentally derived data on the bone marrow content of seven fresh gazelle carcasses, determine the range of marrow yields among individuals of different sexes and seasons of death, and compare the new data to gazelle skeletal element abundances from five Epipalaeolithic assemblages from Israel. We found extensive variation in marrow fat content among individual gazelles. Animals with the highest marrow yields were killed in the spring while animals killed in the early autumn had lower fat contents. Nevertheless, our results suggest that gazelle marrow provided a reliable, albeit small fat resource for prehistoric foragers in all seasons. Strong relationships between bone fragmentation and marrow content demonstrate that Epipalaeolithic people preferentially processed bones with high marrow yields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-956
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Roni King from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority for collecting the fresh gazelle carcasses, and Itzhak Choshniak and Moshe Meir from the physiological laboratory at the Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University for the bomb calorimeter analyses. Gabriel Hallun, Roee Shafir, Reuven Yeshurun and Chad Hill provided valuable assistance in transporting, butchering, cleaning and extracting marrow from the gazelle carcasses. Finally, we thank Daniel Kaufman, Chad Hill and two anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier draft of the paper. This research was funded in part by a grant to Bar-Oz from the Israel Science Foundation (grant 147/04) and to Munro from the University of Connecticut Research Foundation.


  • Bone marrow
  • Epipalaeolithic
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Fat
  • Gazelle
  • Levant
  • Taphonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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