Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Characterisation of anthropic traces on skeletal remains using photogrammetric techniques.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Presentación1.pptx

Cut marks on bones are the main evidence of human access to meat resources. These marks are produced when a cutting tool is slid over the surface of a bone to extract the meat. Such traces are of great importance in explaining the behaviour of prehistoric populations.

The study of cut marks can be approached from different perspectives, the most relevant of which is based on the analysis of the morphology of the cut marks, in order to determine what type of tools were used to process the carcasses that appear in a deposit and what raw materials were used to construct these tools.

Several scientists have carried out this research using a variety of microscopic techniques that are expensive, difficult to access and highly specialised.

In order to alleviate these limitations and with the aim of creating an appropriate methodology and a suitable reference framework for these analyses, the TIDOP research group at the University of Salamanca, together with researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid, have developed a methodology based on the 3D documentation of the cut marks by means of micro-photogrammetric techniques using the Open Source photogrammetric reconstruction software GRAPHOS to obtain the three-dimensional models, generating a working methodology that is low-cost, easy to use and accessible to the entire scientific community.


The development of this technique together with statistical and morphometric analyses have made these analyses possible.


Thus, at the BK site (Bell’s Korongo – Upper Bed II) (Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania), the cutting processes are associated with the type of raw material used for these processes. The result of this analysis shows that 81% of the cut marks from the BK site were made with quartzite tools. This confirms previous lithic studies carried out at the site, which stated that quartzite was the predominant raw material used to process carcasses (Leakey, 1971, Kyara, 1999, Díez et al., 1999a, b).

On the other hand, photogrammetric and morphometric analyses of the cut marks made at the FLK West (Frida Leakey Korongo) site (Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania) have shown that the cut marks found on fossils from the site were made with quartzite flakes rather than with bifaces. The result therefore suggests that the bifaces were not used in the processing of the carcasses, thus having another utility (e.g. the exploitation of plant resources).

These analyses have been exported for the analysis of other types of taphonomic alterations, generating great results.