Just a Scratch: An Experimental Application of Reverse-Microwear Analysis

Author(s): Kevin Malloy; Heather Rockwell

Year: 2017


In the summer of 2013 a thin piece of slate with peculiar, jagged grooves was recovered from the excavation of the Buzzart Dykes medieval park landscape in the council area of Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Unclear whether the grooves were natural or anthropogenic we employed a new method of examination, known as "reverse microwear analysis," to understand what material made the scratches. A series of experiments were conducted where slate pieces were incised using a variety of different stone and metal artifacts. Using high resolution microwear images taken with a Nikon SMZ 800 stereoscopic microscope with a range of 20x-120x magnification, we compared our control group to the incisions present on the artifacts to try and determine the most likely method used to create these marks. The result was a new methodology for understanding the slate artifact as contemporary with the medieval park or an artifact of the pre-medieval landscape disturbed during the park’s construction phase. Furthermore, this methodology has applications for understanding artifact creation when there is discrepancy surrounding age, tool utilization, and artifact processing.

Cite this Record

Just a Scratch: An Experimental Application of Reverse-Microwear Analysis. Kevin Malloy, Heather Rockwell. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430700)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16157