National Park Service


Date of this Version



Historical Archaeology, 2006, 40(3):131-143


This document is a U.S. government work and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Firearms identification procedures continue to playa role in the archaeological study of battles and warfare. Percussion caps, if well preserved, have the potential to yield unique individual tool marks that can be microscopically examined to determine a minimum number of weapons present at a specific site. This study analyzed 110 percussion caps from an 1854 U.S. Army and Apache battle site and determined that at least 34 firearms were used in the battle. A valida- tion study using modern percussion caps from 11 known weapons was also undertaken to demonstrate the potential for percussion cap analysis in future studies.