Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2013


Great Plains Research 23.1 (Spring 2013), pp. 59-79.


Copyright © 2013 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A database of 128 measured incised butchery marks (i.e., the classic cut mark) was the basis for exploratory statistical tests of length and width measurements from late Pleistocene mammoth localities and an early Holocene bison locality. The tests reveal several trends. The initial approach uses univariate descriptive statistics, regression, and ANOVA to examine differences in size and shape of marks. Significant differences are noted in length and width of marks based on location, element, and type. Length and width variables demonstrate low variability within incised marks. Results demonstrate a consistency in incised marks across the two taxa. Other consistencies are noted that indicate a regular or standardized way of producing marks in particular places on bones and on particular elements. Location or placement of marks appears to influence mark length, and in general, mark width is constrained. Mark orientation can at times influence mark length. Shape of mark ends may be related to the type of tool and size of tool bit. Using a morphometric approach (size and shape) removes some of the subjectivity in evaluating marks on a visual basis. While exploratory in nature, this morphometric approach crosscuts time and space boundaries and should be applicable to any bone assemblage.