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Title: Between intuitiveness and standardization: an experiment on marrow extraction process
Authors: Vettese, Delphine
Marín, Juan
Borel, Antony
Arzarello, Marta
Blasco, Ruth
Cáceres, Isabel
Moncel, Marie-Hélène
Thun Hohenstein, Ursula
Daujeard, Camille
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Institut Català de Paleocologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES)
Citation: V International Congress of Experimental Archaeology, 2017
Abstract: Long bone breakage by Neanderthals to extract marrow is noticed in many archaeological sites. Indeed, marrow was an important nutritional resource to many human groups, particularly during glacial and periglacial periods. Archaeological experiments concerning long bone breakage could be useful for example to characterize percussion marks or to identify Neanderthal breakage process thanks to the location of percussion marks. Here,we present a new archaeological experiment to test the intuitiveness of the gestures during the marrow extraction process. For this experiment, 400 cow long bones (100 humeri, 100 radio-ulnas, 100 femurs and 100 tibias) were broken. The experimental series involved 41 individuals (mean= 33 years with s.d.=10.7) with no experience related to bone breakage (non-trained butchers or experimental archaeologists). Each experimenter fractured 10 long bones (same element) with an unretouched quartzite hammerstone and a limestone anvil. Before the beginning of the experiment, each experimenter received only one instruction: break the bones to extract the greatest quantity of marrow. They could use a wooden stick to extract the marrow after the breakage process. During each bone breaking activity, the posture and the gesture of the experimenters were noted, as well as the position of the bones. The difficulty experienced by the subjects during the breakage process, the number of hits and the quality and the weight of the marrow after the extraction were documented. Our analysis focused on: 1) the description and quantification of the location of the hits on the first bones of each experimental series (intuitive because of animal bone morphology), 2) the description and quantification of the location of the hits on the following bones of each experimental series (existence of self-learning), and 3) the identification of the difficulties met during the marrow extraction process. Our first results show differences according the type of elements in terms of breakage process difficulty, quantity of marrow and percussion location. We also observe inter-individual differences in the location of the percussion hits. The comparison of the percussion marks location between the results of this experiment and some Middle Palaeolithic faunal series will permit to go further on the butchery know-how of Neanderthal groups.
Type: Presentation
Appears in Collections:Congresos, encuentros científicos y estancias de investigación

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