[Back] [Forward] [Contents] [Home]

Appendix 2

Database Fields

The following set of database fields may be used with these templates to assist data comparability between researchers. These fields only cover the recording of butchery and bone modification data and will benefit by being incorporated into a more complete zooarchaeological database such as the 'York System' (Harland et al., 2002). The information below has been inspired by other zooarchaeologists who have created butchery classification systems in the past (e.g. Lyman, 1987, 322-326; Binford, 1981, 136-142; Lauwerier, 1988, 40-42, 181-212).

Catalogue Number: This field is the unique number assigned to a bone and used to link it back to the primary database holding all of the other recorded information.

Provenience ID: This field records the contextual unit from which the bones were recovered. On the templates produced here, this information is recorded as 'Locus Number'.

Modification Number: This field records each 'unique' butchery or modification 'event' witnessed on a bone. There may be more than one Modification Number attributed to a single bone (represented by a single Catalogue Number). The recognition of a 'unique' butchery event is based on the type of marks produced (e.g. cut mark versus sawing), the type of tool which made the marks (e.g. hammerstone versus metal blade), and the location of the marks relative to each other (marks on the proximal and distal ends of a femur are treated as unique events even if they occurred seconds apart in antiquity). All marks of the same type, produced by the same type of tool and found within a single Location on a bone are recorded under the same Modification Number while any other mark within the same location, or similar marks in other Locations are assigned different Modification Numbers. Having said that, common sense must prevail when single modifications occur over two or more Locations, such as a scrape mark extending down the length of a long bone shaft. In such cases, the modification is assigned a single Modification Number and all three Locations are recorded.

Quantity: This field is the count of the number of cut marks or other bone modifications associated with each 'unique event' (Modification Number) rather than with each element (Catalogue Number). Often a modification is a single mark, however, there are cases when a modification appears as a cluster of marks, an example being when several cut marks are concentrated on a small area of bone. In such a case, each visible cut mark is counted once to produce the total Quantity. In cases where cut marks overlap each other creating a palimpsestic pattern the maximum number of cut marks visible is recorded. Discontinuous cut marks, or single cut marks which appear on two areas of bone separated by a gap, are only counted once. Similarly, scrape marks which comprise multiple areas of 'chatter' or are discontinuous along the length of a bone are only counted once as they were produced by a single motion.

Element: When the specific element is unidentifiable, a general bone type should be recorded when possible (for example 'long bone shaft', 'vertebrae' or 'cranial').

Side: This field records the side of the element in relation to the animal in life rather than the location of any butchery marks or modification on the element.

Location: This field records the location of the modification on the element. The choices for this field are determined by the morphology of the element in question and are primarily based upon easily recognised anatomical landmarks, similar to the zoning system proposed by Rackham (1986). A full list of suggested Location choices based on the caprine skeleton is found in Appendix 1. More than one Location can be recorded for each Modification Number to facilitate the recording of lengthy modifications. Ideally, one should be as specific as possible in the assignation of Locations as this information is important for a detailed understanding of butchery techniques and patterns (Monohan, 1999, 790). General categories should be used when a more specific identification is impossible.

Aspect: This field records the face on the element where the modification occurs.

Orientation: This field records how the modification is oriented on the face of the bone.

Mark Type: This field records the physical appearance of the modification. Choices for this category include, but are not limited to: cut mark, scrape, percussion, flaking, drilling and sawing. Other Mark Types may be employed when recording other bone modifications such as carnivore or rodent gnawing. The Mark Types suggested here (and others) have been explicitly defined by various authors, and a convenient compilation of these data is found in Lyman (1987, Table 5.4).

Function: This field records the purported original purpose of the cut mark or other bone modification. Choices for this category include, but are not limited to: disarticulation, filleting, skinning, bone breakage, and other. This field requires a level of interpretation above straight recording and it may not be possible or desirable to complete it in every instance. For discussions about the attribution of purpose to cut marks and other bone modifications see Lyman (1987; 1994) and Greenfield (2004, 255-256).

Tool Type: This field records the type of tool (if known) which was used to create the modification. Choices include: smooth metal blade, serrated metal blade or saw, blunt instrument or hammerstone, lithic blade and other/unknown. Summaries of criteria useful for distinguishing between effectors (Gifford-Gonzales, 1991) may be found in Blumenschine et al. (1996, 496) and Greenfield (1999, 803-804; 2004, 246-247) amongst others (Lyman, 1987, 270-275). This field can also be used to record the agent that created the modification if it was not created by a human (for example, carnivore tooth or rodent tooth). Like Function, this field requires a level of interpretation which may not always be possible.

[Back] [Forward] [Contents] [Home]

© Internet Archaeology URL: http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue17/2/app2.html
Last updated: Wed Mar 16 2005