Additional Comments on Blood Residue and Analysis in Archaeology
Leach, Jeff D., Mauldin, Raymond P., Antiquity
In the March Antiquity, Eisele et al. (1995) presented immunological results from prehistoric sites, and from simulated archaeological contexts, which suggest that residues will not survive on prehistoric stone tools. Over the last several years, we have submitted over 200 archaeological items to a commercial laboratory for immunological residue analysis. In an effort to evaluate the reliability of these archaeological results, we initiated an actualistic test using experimentally generated artefacts coated with blood of known animals. Here, we present results for n of these experimental samples. Our results also suggest that archaeologists should view immunological results with caution.
The 54 experimental samples reflect a variety of artefact types and materials encountered archaeologically. Using 10 species of animals collected from recent road kills and commercial butchers, we coated freshly knapped artefacts with blood by cutting and scrapping a specimen for several minutes. After allowing the artefacts to dry, we removed visible hairs from several of the specimens by wiping them with a cotton cloth or lightly rubbing them with sand. However, in almost all cases blood was still visible macroscopically, and it is our opinion that this procedure did not remove the blood from any specimens. Several `blank' lithic tools and sediment samples, along with sediment and fire-cracked rock (FCR) samples from an experimental hearth used to cook a rabbit, were also submitted for analysis.
All experimental samples were sent to a commercial laboratory that uses a gel immunoelectrophoresis technique, crossover immunoelectrophoresis (CIEP). Complete details of this technique, and its application to archaeological materials, are presented by Newman & Julig (1989). The experimental samples were tested against a series of polyclonal antiserum, including those for bovine, chicken, deer, dog, elk, guinea-pig, human, pronghorn, rabbit, rat, turkey, beans, corn, mesquite, pinyon, squash and yucca.
Results, reported by the laboratory (Table 1) fall into five groups: * the laboratory correctly identified the blood of the animal, or did not report any blood on a blank sample., * the laboratory correctly identified the blood of the primary animal, but also noted the blood of other animals., * the animal was correctly identified, but not as the primary blood on the item., the laboratory reported the blood of the wrong animal; * no blood was detected though blood was present.
Table 1. Experimental animals and results. artefact experimental laboratory type residue results 1 lithic tool human human 2 lithic tool elk deer, elk, human 3 lithic tool elk deer, elk 4 lithic tool elk deer, elk, human 5 lithic tool elk human, deer, elk 6 lithic tool squirrel negative 7 lithic tool squirrel negative 8 lithic tool mouse deer, elk 9 lithic tool mouse human 10 lithic tool coyote negative 11 lithic tool coyote negative 12 lithic tool bobcat negative 13 lithic tool bobcat negative 14 lithic tool bobcat negative 15 lithic tool deer deer, elk 16 lithic tool deer deer, elk, human 17 lithic tool deer deer, elk 18 lithic tool blank negative 19 lithic tool blank negative 20 lithic tool lank human 21 lithic tool blank negative 22 lithic tool blank negative 23 lithic tool blank negative 24 lithic tool blank negative 25 lithic tool cow bovine, elk 26 lithic tool cow bovine 27 lithic tool turkey negative 28 lithic tool turkey chicken 29 lithic tool turkey chicken 30 lithic tool rabbit human, rabbit 31 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 32 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 33 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 34 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 35 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 36 lithic tool rabbit rabbit, mouse 37 lithic tool rabbit turkey 38 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 39 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 40 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 41 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 42 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 43 lithic tool rabbit rabbit 44 lithic tool(1) rabbit negative 45 lithic tool(2) rabbit negative 46 lithic tool(2) rabbit negative 47 lithic tool(2) rabbit negative 48 lithic tool(2) rabbit negative 49 sediment blank negative 50 sediment(3) rabbit negative 51 sediment(3) rabbit negative 52 sediment(3) rabbit negative 53 fire-cracked rabbit negative rock(3) 54 fire-cracked rabbit negative rock(3) 1 Artefact heated to 250 [degrees]C for 30 minutes. …