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Whose Bone is this? An Investigation into Modern Histological Methods of Species Identification with Application to Archaeological Faunal Assemblages in the Pacific

Author(s): Sophie Miller

Year: 2015

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Summary

Bone fragmentation is a potential issue for anyone who works with skeletal remains. If a bone is burned, or fragmented in a way that prevents morphological identification, it can be near impossible to identify which bone it is, or what taxa it belongs to. However, there are techniques for identifying bones based on their microstructure, as the microstructure of human and non-human bone has distinct differences. These differences allow for microscopic comparisons of bone cross-sections and the evaluation of taxa in fragmented remains. There has been, however, little study into the limiting or biasing factors that can influence these histological analyses, particularly for archaeological material. In this research, these factors were evaluated in relation to the Pacific, where there has been minimal previous histological research. The archaeological assemblage of interest derives from Aitutaki in the Southern Cook Islands, as well as modern reference specimens of pig, dog, and human bone. Preliminary findings suggest that breed and age are both influential factors for qualitative identification, and taphonomic diagenesis of characteristic features can hinder and prevent quantitative measurements in degraded archaeological specimens. These results support the hypothesis that modern histological techniques are problematic for the identification of unknown archaeological fragments.

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Whose Bone is this? An Investigation into Modern Histological Methods of Species Identification with Application to Archaeological Faunal Assemblages in the Pacific. Sophie Miller. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397687)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Oceania


Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America