Bone – Worked Animal – A Bead in the Making?
Sometimes animal remains reveal tantalizing clues about life in the past even when we don't know all the details. This worked bone fragment was the only precontact animal bone found during excavations at a Woodland tradition site in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, in 2009. Acidic soils might have affected preservation of animal remains and contributed to the lack of other bones. This mid-shaft fragment of a mammal long bone had been grooved and snapped on both ends. While the ends show some polish or rounding, the bone does not appear polished from use. It might have been a bead blank, from which a more finished bead could have been made. The medullary cavity of the bone is narrow, so only a thin sinew "thread" would likely fit through. This type of modified small mammal bone is rare, as are bone beads, so perhaps the maker had a unique creation in mind. The fragment lacks landmarks that would help identify it to species, but from its size and shape, it looks like a long bone from the front leg of a raccoon. Raccoons would have been readily available in habitats near the site.