A Smashing Good Time: the identification of prehistoric blunt force weapons using experimental bioarchaeology.

Author(s): Meaghan Dyer

Year: 2017


Experimental bioarchaeology can aid identification of prehistoric weapons and inform current understanding of the context of violence and social interactions in small-scale societies. Determining the direct mechanism of cranial blunt force trauma in prehistoric cultures is currently a complex issue. A vast array of tools and weapons exist that can produce blunt force injury, complicating identification of individual weapons associated with archaeological cranial injuries. This paper presents a new application of an experimental skin-skull-brain model, which facilitates the testing of prehistoric wood, antler and stone clubs for comparison against the osteological record. Testing with early prehistoric materials from Western Europe has already yielded remarkable results.

Due to the nature of prehistoric weapon technology, many of the Neolithic European weapons have clear parallels with known tools in North America. Most notably there are comparable ball headed clubs found in North America, along with other weapon-tools of similar nature to those tested in this research. This methodology is low cost, meets ethical standards and has improved accuracy over current animal analogues. The test results form a catalogue of fracture patterns that can aid identification of the mechanism of prehistoric trauma and facilitate the analysis of social implications of violence in small-scale societies.

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A Smashing Good Time: the identification of prehistoric blunt force weapons using experimental bioarchaeology.. Meaghan Dyer. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428834)

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Abstract Id(s): 14496