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ZOOARCH  February 2010

ZOOARCH February 2010

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Subject:

Re: hyoids and throat cutting

From:

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Reply-To:

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Date:

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 19:44:16 -0700

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I'm interested in this from a little different angle, folks, and would
love to have your help and commentary on the question not of cut marks but
of fractures to the hyoids. From Vindolanda I've got a couple of dozen cow
and four or five sheep/goat hyoids, and lots of atlas and axis from both,
and there's not a-one with any cut mark -- I think because the practice
there was to kill or at least stun the cow by braining him with a poleax
rather than by slitting his throat.

Like Ruth, I regularly dissect the hyoid apparatus -- in context of my
equine dental anatomy classes. I agree with the consensus here, that
throat-cutting, even with a dull knife, is unlikely to affect the hyoids
which are tucked up between the rami of the mandible. To demonstrate the
relationships between pharynx, larynx, windpipe, esophagus, jugular and
carotids, I first loosen the tongue by cutting along the inner sides of
the rami of the mandible; then palpate the branches of the basihyoid which
enwraps the fore part of the larynx like a clip-on spur goes onto the heel
of a boot. Then insert the blade between the basihyoid and the outer wall
of the larynx on each side to cut the little velcro-dot of ligaments that
bind them together. Finally cut just so much of the base of the tongue and
the wall of the pharynx as will permit me to evert the larynx (and not cut
any notches out of the epiglottis). This is a classic demonstration -- so
classic that it is the cause for one of the few errors in Sisson and
Grossmann's Anatomy of the Domestic Animals, which reproduces the anterior
aspect of the larynx upside-down, because that's how vet students have
seen it in dissection lab since time immemorial.

Obviously not only the hyoids, but the whole pharynx/larynx/windpipe
complex lies well anterior to and below the chain of cervical vertebrae.
So for there to be cuts on the atlas and axis, the butcher is evidently
working fast, forcefully, or rather crudely (i.e. his aim isn't that good,
his knife is big, or else he doesn't care about dulling it by banging it
on bones).

Now to the angle I need help with -- horse hyoids. What we see in our
historical collection of pathological horse skulls is a fairly high
frequency of fractured hyoids, hyoids in which the joint between the
stylohyoid and ceratohyoid has become fused, and hyoids in which the
articulation between the upper end of the stylohyoid and the petrosal
region of the skull is fused or shows exostosis.

There are several ideas as to why these injuries occur in domestic horses:
forceful yanking on the tongue (restraining the horse by holding its
tongue with a dry glove), which I have seen with my own eyes cause an
eversion of the stylohyoid-ceratohyoid joint -- like a clipping injury to
a football quarterback's knee -- and hence a permanent prolapse of the
tongue.

Staph infection to the petrosal has been identified as a cause for
enlargement/exostosis of the ventrolateral portion of the petrosal, but I
don't believe that this is the cause in every case or even commonly.
Another cause in horses may relate to "earing a horse down", a restraint
technique in which the handler grabs one ear and twists and pulls it
forcefully; apart from tearing the delicate superficial muscles which move
the ear, examination of carcasses shows that it is possible also thereby
to move the petrosal bone, which in a normal horse, and especially in
young horses, is completely free of the surrounding bones of the skull,
suspended as it is by short elastic ligaments in the "ball cage" formed by
the surrounding squamous portion of the temporal bone. Again, I have seen
with my own eyes a mare who could not walk straight; turned loose, she
could only circle to one side. You had to help her go in and out of a
stall, and if she was out on grass you had to go move her every few hours,
as all she could do was graze donut-rings in the grass (no, Dorothy, those
rings in that farmer's field are not due to aliens). I obtained this
mare's skull when she was euthanatized because the owners wanted me to
autopsy her as they were sure she must have had a brain tumor. She had an
entirely normal brain, but what she did have was a huge exostosis/fusion
of the left stylohyoid to its receptacle on the bottom of the petrosal.
There is actually a veterinary surgery that cures this condition: they go
in, saw a chunk out of the midportion of the stylohyoid, and replace that
interval with a flexible Teflon strap. Imagine what a relief it would be
to the horse not only not to feel dizzy all the time, but also once again
to be able to swallow with both sides of the pharynx and larynx capable of
mobility instead of just one!

Finally, fractures of the hyoids seem to us commonly to be due to the
horse "pulling back" forcefully when tied. The arrangement of straps in
the halter by which he is tied are such that, if he pulls back, they ride
against the angles of the mandible (and I have seen fractures/plastic
deformation/displacement of those). If he pulls back hard enough the
straps press directly against the sylohyoids and this appears to be what
breaks them.

Now, for all we know about Roman tack and the tack and husbandry
techniques of other ancient peoples, I would still love to hear from other
workers if you EVER come across a horse skull with exostosis upon the
ventrolateral area of the petrosal bone; fusion of the
stylohyoid-ceratohyoid joint; or healed fracture to any hyoid bone. I
would also like to hear of it if you find anything of the sort in a cow,
sheep, goat, camel, elephant, or any other animal that has a complete
hyoid apparatus. And alternative ideas as to how irritation and damage to
the various hyoid joints and/or fractures to the elements occur would also
be welcome.

Thanks very much --

Deb Bennett, Ph.D., Director
Equine Studies Institute
and Zooarchaeologist for Vindolanda

> Dear Jacqui et al.,
>
> When I routinely bleed and butcher a variety of animals, including deer I
> try not to leave any cut marks on the bones. However, in my early days of
> skeletal preparations, I found that when bleeding deer that were freshly
> shot, I would cut through the jugular and invariably hit the cervical
> vertebrae, leaving tell tale cut marks on the bones there. Not to sound
> very
> grim or anything - you bleed out the animal while the last of the beats of
> the heart is going when animal is in the last stages of life, this will
> then
> rid the carcase of a lot of the blood, so it does not saturate into the
> muscle tissue. If you do not bleed out and intend to consume meat, the
> meat
> tends (I find with deer) to go off faster and the meat is tougher to eat,
> than when you do bleed it out.
>
> When I removed the tongue (of any animal), I cut along the lingual side of
> each side of the mandibles and peel out the tongue ventrally (after
> skinning
> of course), then it gets caught near the back of the throat at the hyoid
> areas. To leave hyoid apparatus in situ, and remove only the tongue, in
> those earlier days I would leave telltale cut marks on the same areas of
> the
> hyoids all of the time. These days I have learnt my lesson and leave
> virtually no trace.
>
> Jacqui - whatpattern of cut marks are you finding on the hyoids, same bone
> and same area or different ?
>
> I wouldn't be interested in the tongue for cooking purposes, just to
> remove
> it so I have clean mandible area, before I cut muscle tissue near coronoid
> process and remove mandible from the skull - all ready for the pot then !
> I agree with Danny, if its throat cutting to bleed out animal, you won't
> get
> cut marks on hyoid. If it's to decapitate head from skull (pre / post
> bleeding out), then if its tight and close to the back of the mandibles
> then
> you will get some cut marks on some bones of the hyoid apparatus. If
> tongue
> removal, mainly other bones of the apparatus.... hence my question above.
>
> Best wishes - Ruth
>
>
>
> On 24 February 2010 19:43, Ed Maher <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>>
>>
>>
>>   <http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2406/1794865704_1ec8021c35.jpg?v=0>The
>> sample I studied for my dissertation was from the 7th century BCE
>> Philistine
>> occupation at Tel Miqne-Ekron, Israel. I found sheep/goat
>> cervical verts with cut marks on the ventral side. Cut marked axis bones
>> were exclusively associated with the faunal assemblage from the temple.
>>  <http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2406/1794865704_1ec8021c35.jpg?v=0>
>>
>> ***************************************
>> Edward F. Maher, Ph.D.
>>
>> *Research Associate*
>> Department of Anthropology
>> The Field Museum
>> Chicago, IL
>>
>> *National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow*
>> W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research
>> Jerusalem, Israel
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> > Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 09:44:57 -0800
>> > From: [log in to unmask]
>> > Subject: Re: [ZOOARCH] hyoids and throat cutting
>>
>> > To: [log in to unmask]
>> >
>> > We see a lot of cut marks and butchering breakage on hyoids from Bison
>> and other animal kill sites here in Wyoming. These are normally
>> associated
>> with tongue removal and not throat cutting. My experience in fleshing
>> modern
>> animals for skeleton processing would be that throat cutting does not
>> come
>> close to hitting the hyoids and therefore there should be no damage to
>> them
>> from cutting the throat. They are just to "deep" in the neck and to high
>> up
>> the throat. Tongue use of somekind would be more logical.
>> >
>> > Danny
>> >
>> >
>> > --- [log in to unmask] wrote:
>> >
>> > From: Jacqui Mulville <[log in to unmask]>
>> > To: [log in to unmask]
>> > Subject: [ZOOARCH] hyoids and throat cutting
>> > Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 16:36:05 +0000
>> >
>> > Does anyone have any references or comments on
>> >
>> > a. why animals throats are cut?  I seem to remember Derek Rixson
>> mentioning
>> > this facilitated the removal of the blood and therefore preservation
>> of
>> the
>> > carcass.
>> >
>> > b. archaeological evidence for throat cutting from hyoids?
>> >
>> > Is this covered in Binford? I do not have 'Bones' to hand.....
>> >
>> > I often see cut marks on hyoids and I am trying to remember if the
>> link
>> to
>> > throat cutting can be evidenced in the literature.
>> >
>> > Thanks for any input
>> >
>> >
>> > Jacqui Mulville (PhD),
>> >
>> > Osteography
>> > http://osteography.wordpress.com/
>> >
>> > Future Friends/Future Animals
>> > http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/hisar/archaeology/futureanimals/
>> > http://futureanimals.wordpress.com/
>> >
>> > School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University,
>> > Humanities Building, Colum Drive, CARDIFF, CF10 3EU
>> > http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/hisar/people/archaeology/jm1/
>> >
>> > Tel: + 44 (0) 29 2087 4247
>> > Fax: + 44 (0) 29 2087 4929
>> >
>> >
>>
>

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