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3 Using the Templates

The following section describes how the templates may be used and the accompanying data recorded into a database. The database fields mentioned below are defined more thoroughly in Appendix 2. The templates are designed to be printed out, written and drawn upon as required. They can also be downloaded, copied and manipulated digitally in a program like Adobe Photoshop with similar results. A completed template showing two cut marks on a humerus is provided as an illustrative example.

The example template depicts a humerus from six views, showing all areas where bone modifications might occur. In this instance, two cut marks, oriented in a medial-lateral direction, are shown on the posterior face of the lateral condyle. Because the two cut marks occur on the same Location of the bone, and were created by the same Tool Type (a smooth metal blade), they have been assigned the same Modification Number (34 in this instance). The Quantity value recorded for this Modification Number is 'two'. The fact that the modifications on the bone are cut marks rather than saw marks or chop marks is recorded next to the drawing of the mark itself. This is necessary as more than one Mark Type may be present on a particular fragment, and as such, more than one Modification Number (though never more than one Catalogue Number) can be recorded on a single template. When entering the information into a database, however, each modification (and its associated data) must be recorded individually to facilitate data manipulation. Also shown on the template is the fracture location, which is not strictly necessary as this information can be recorded in the primary database, but it is helpful for the visualisation of the fragment.

The completed database fields for the example humerus are as follows:

Catalogue Number848
Provenience IDSite specific
Modification Number34
LocationLateral condyle
Mark TypeCut mark
Tool TypeSmooth metal blade

Recording Catalogue Number, Modification Number, and Quantity creates three levels of quantification which may be manipulated in several ways. Importantly, it is possible to compare these data with any previous bone modification data reported, provided it is known how the original data was gathered. At the most general level, the percentage of the total assemblage with modifications can be determined by comparing how many Catalogue Numbers, out of the total number in the assemblage, were associated with a modification. Further, by assigning each different modification a number (Modification Number), one can determine the frequencies of the different modification types (Mark Types) relative to each other. At the same time, frequencies of modification 'groups' can be determined. For example, the numbers of bones showing only cut marks or only carnivore gnawing can be compared with bones showing a combination of both. This comparison is accomplished by examining which Mark Types (linked to their Modification Numbers) have been assigned to all of the fragments (represented by Catalogue Numbers). Finally, by recording Quantity it is possible to investigate the intensity of individual modification events (the higher the Quantity the greater the intensity) as well as determine the average intensity of repeated modification events across an assemblage. It may be that dismembering certain joints consistently requires greater effort, or intensity, than dismembering other joints. This will lead to, on average, a greater number of cut marks occurring in the vicinity of the more difficult joints.

Assisting with data comparability is the flexibility of the Location data gathered with these templates. Smaller, more specific Locations, such as the ones suggested in Appendix 1, may be combined in a variety of ways to produce units equivalent to the larger units recorded by previous studies while maintaining the underlying specificity which will hopefully be used regularly in future studies.

Because of the inevitable size variation of skeletal elements, bone modifications should be reproduced on the templates as they appear on the bone regardless of their absolute dimensions. That is to say, absolute measurements of a modification should not be reproduced on the template, rather the modification should be scaled up or down as necessary to match the relative scale of the template. If desired, the absolute measurement of a modification can be noted on the template beside the modification itself. If the morphology of the archaeological specimen is drastically different, due to disease or injury or any other reason, the template may either be annotated to reflect this morphology or an individual drawing may be produced.

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Last updated: Wed Mar 16 2005