Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Walter E. Klippel

Committee Members

Kandace R. Hollenbach, Jan F. Simek


Faunal remains are typically interpreted with a focus on utilitarian activity. However, animals were used for a variety of purposes, with some species having special cultural associations. This thesis explores the potential for a faunal assemblage to enhance the belief that Griffin Rockshelter (40FR151), a relatively small sandstone rockshelter, was a space where ritual activity occurred.

This project makes use of a comprehensive analysis of the archaeofauna recovered from Griffin, with data from previous analyses of the lithics and pottery, along with the petroglyphs that cover the shelter’s back wall. To further demonstrate the uniqueness of the material, the faunal assemblage is compared with five other sites on the Cumberland Plateau. The potential for ritual activity is contextualized with a discussion about the difficulties of interpreting ritual activity archaeologically.

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