Hide Processing in Prehistory: An Experimental Approach to Prehistoric Tanning Technologies

Author(s): Theresa Emmerich Kamper

Year: 2018


The importance of skin processing technologies, in the history and dispersal of humankind around the planet cannot be overstated. This presentation outlines a systematic analysis methodology targeted at this specific material type, with the goal of determining the tanning technologies in use during prehistory, from extant archaeologically recovered processed skin objects. The methodology is a product of macroscopic and microscopic observations of a sample reference collection containing over 200 samples. Which were used to produce a database of defining characteristics and tendencies for each of six tannage types; wet and dry scrape brain tan, bark tan, alum taw, urine tan and rawhide.The sample collection is made up of twenty-two economically important species from both Europe and North America, as well as a collection of well used clothing and utilitarian items, made from traditionally processed skins.This research has demonstrated that archaeologically preserved objects made from processed skin can provide information about the tannage technologies in use prehistorically, as well as more detailed information such as manufacturing sequences and the conditions of use to which the object was subjected.

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Hide Processing in Prehistory: An Experimental Approach to Prehistoric Tanning Technologies. Theresa Emmerich Kamper. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443010)

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Abstract Id(s): 22606