Surface modification on bone: Trampling versus butchery

Sandra L. Olsen, Pat Shipman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

397 Scopus citations


Previous researchers have reported difficulties in distinguishing between surface marks on bone formed by sedimentary abrasion and those inflicted while butchering. Trampling by large ungulates and humans has been credited with producing pseudocut marks: natural alterations to the bone that mimic cultural ones. The purposes of this research are: (1) to re-examine trampling as a taphonomic process, and (2) to suggest criteria useful for distinguishing sedimentary abrasion, including trampling, from butchery. Macroscopic and microscopic comparison of experimentally trampled bones and those which have had soft tissue removed with a flint tool demonstrate significant differences between the surface modifications produced by the two processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-553
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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