The Kamenka assemblage has several interesting characteristics. Foremost of the peri-mortem taphonomic damage is the large amount of intentional bone breakage that is readily inferred as having been intentional human processing. In addition, the absence of direct or indirect evidence of hyenas suggests that these animals were not a problem for the Kamenka people as we believe they were elsewhere, especially in the Altai. Despite the breakage, the Kamenka bone assemblage is remarkably well preserved, especially for an open site. Frozen ground, rapid deep burial, and minimal humic acid are three of the several possible conditions that we suggest favored high-quality preservation. Perimortem bone damage was caused by natural and human agencies, including minor amounts of root etching, surface weathering, and some soil leaching. The amount of chalky or denatured bone is low (see section on site 27, Varvarina Gora, for contrast). Minor amounts of carnivore chewing are evident. As far as we can tell, rodents and insects played no role in the perimortem damage signature.
There is considerable human cutting, chopping, and skeletal element smashing. Because there is so much element breakage, fragmentation, and polishing, whereas there is so little burned bone, it is reasonable to hypothesize that there had been cooking, and that it was done mainly by bag - or wooden bowl-boiling of crushed bone and adhering tissue. The type of evidence needed for hypothesizing roasting of meat is entirely lacking. Evidence for roasting would include burned ends of bones with unbumed mid-sections where greater amounts of muscle would have protected the bone from scorching, higher frequencies of burned pieces, especially skulls and other parts with minimal overlying protective soft tissue, and much greater archaeological evidence for roasting, including cooking pits, charred sticks, and other such features known from ethnographic descriptions of roasting (Turner and Turner 1999:24-39).
Having the opportunity to compare our observations with those made by an independent team has been extremely valuable and informative. The work by Germonpre and Lbova (1996) for the most part strongly agrees with our study. Where there are significant differences they are clearly due to differing standards, procedures, or experience, not error.
The Kamenka assemblage broadly resembles our other open site assemblages. Where there are notable differences, the presence of hyenas elsewhere is the major cause. The Razboinich’ya Cave hyena damage signature is absent at Kamenka.