The scientific excavation of shipwrecks is a relatively new science, therefore, little taphonomic research has been conducted on vertebrate assemblages from submerged sites (Baker 1995:1). The sample from Emanuel Point does allow for several taphonomic observations. In general, the sample is well preserved with little degradation apart from a few specimens which exhibit abrasion (Baker 1995). Slight exfoliation was expected and is typical of artifacts requiring extensive dehydration and soaking to remove water and salts.
Several specimens were stained brown, presumably from marine sediments, and in a few cases required cleaning with a three percent solution of hydrogen peroxide. Other specimens exhibited a light bluish-gray discoloration sometimes associated with burning (Baker 1995:1-2; Shipman et al. 1984). Only one specimen (00,084.2) was clearly identified as burned because of its charred black color. Reitz and Scarry (1985:85) suggest that if cut bones are found unburned they were probably prepared by boiling.
Six specimens exhibited cut marks. Of these, five were from mammals. One specimen, a domestic Pig (Sus scrofa) humerus, was completely sawed through. The other specimens appear to have been cut with a metal knife. Seven specimens exhibited rodent gnawing.
Sixty-eight of the bones present show some type of breakage. The majority of broken elements exhibit angular fractures. Angular fractures occur after the bone has dried. Sixteen of the specimens have spiral fractures. This type of fracture suggests that they were broken while they retained a relatively high degree of collagen, in other words, they were still fresh.