Making silent bones speak: The analysis of orphaned osseous tools illustrated with Mesolithic stray finds

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Orphaned osseous tools very often perceived as having high aesthetical value but carrying minimal information. The article illustrates the research potential of these artefacts with a case study of Mesolithic stray finds from Lithuania. Four bone points from the Šventoji river, Vaikantonys, Obšrūtai and Kamšai were subjected to the AMS dating, tandem mass spectrometry for animal species identification as well as technological and use-wear analysis. The results revealed that all four bone points could be dated to the Boreal period and imply early-to-middle Mesolithic dates. Harpoons from the Šventoji river and Kamšai most likely were made of auroch bones. All of the bone points were produced from long sections of tubular long bones and three of the points show signs of being reused. Overall, the analysis revealed similarity to contemporaneous material in northern Europe. Within the frame of the present research, the paper shortly describes other scientific methods which could be applied to orphaned bone and antler tools including biomolecular and stable isotope analysis. Digital recording methods can be useful for bone artefact recording. This is relevant today, as the demand for good quality digital representations is increasing, in order to apply software for further analysis, for example, geometric morphometrics. As a result, more widespread and systematic applications of new methods to orphaned osseous finds would lead to a significant activation of these finds in a scientific and outreach context.
TidsskriftArchaeologia Baltica
Sider (fra-til)53-70
Antal sider18
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2018

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