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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Identification of Avian and Mammalian Species Used in the Manufacture of Bone Whistles Recovered from a San Francisco Bay Area Archaeological Site


The identification of bone artifacts as to species of bird or mammal is often neglected by archaeologists. In this paper we identify bird and mammal species and their skeletal elements as employed in the manufacture of bone whistles associated with early California aboriginal burials. Evidence is presented that the species and bone elements used greatly influenced the whistle-maker in establishing the position of the whistle stop or sound orifice, and that the position of the sound orifice (on center or off center with reference to whistle length) need not have chronological significance in cultural development as formerly believed.

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