Cut Mark Size Does Not Change during Butchery: Implications for Reconstructing Tool Use and Carcass Processing
Author(s): Stephen Merritt
This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
Animal carcass butchery occurs when technological factors (tool attributes) and butchery behavior (distinct actions like defleshing, disarticulation) intersect with animal anatomy (morphology of musculoskeletal tissues or regions), and potentially encodes information about these contexts via bone surface modifications. This study examines cut mark cross-sectional width and depth change during a sequence of experimental butchery trials. It addresses whether cut mark size reflects dulling tool edges and whether mark size supports inferences about the sequence of carcass parts defleshed with the same tool. An experienced butcher used one replicated chert flake or bifacial core to deflesh the forelimb, hindlimb and pelvis from one side of a cow carcass. The order of carcass segment defleshing was systematically varied across eight trials. Cut mark samples from limb midshafts and pelvic rami produced by each tool were compared with a repeated measures ANOVA model. Analysis suggests similar patterns for each tool type: cut mark width is greater in the third segment than the second, and cut mark depth is similar throughout the defleshing sequence. Without robust differences in cut mark cross-sectional size across the butchery sequence, it is premature to interpret tool use life and the carcass part consumption sequence from archaeological cut marks.
Cite this Record
Cut Mark Size Does Not Change during Butchery: Implications for Reconstructing Tool Use and Carcass Processing. Stephen Merritt. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449573)
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Abstract Id(s): 25179