Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 7-68

First online:

Bone surface modifications in zooarchaeology

  • John W. FisherJr.Affiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Montana State University

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Cutmarks made by stone tools, conchoidal flake scars from hammerstone percussion, carnivore tooth marks, striations from sedimentary abrasion, and other surface modifications on bones from archaeological sites constitute a crucial body of evidence for investigating the role of human behaviors and of nonhuman taphonomic processes in site formation. This paper describes the various kinds of bone surface modifications produced by humans and by nonhuman processes and assesses the current status of bone surface modification studies with regard to such issues as the need for greater analytical standardization, the selection of instruments for examining bone specimens, tactics for identifying the origins of marks on bones, and strategies for inferring human behaviors.

Key words

zooarchaeology bone modification taphonomy archaeological site formation