The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Distinguishing between stone tool burnishing and pot polish

DERINNA V. KOPP1,2 and JACKIE RABB2.

1Antiquities Section, State Of Utah, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Utah

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The presence of pot polish in an assemblage of fragmented human remains is considered key to establishing the identification of cannibalism, yet in a recent study on the manifestation of pot polish Kopp and Graham noted the presence of burnishing, similar in appearance to pot polish, on time zero controls that had neither been boiled nor in a pot. It was hypothesized that the burnishing was caused by the use of stones to process and break open the whole bones. This poster will present the results of an analysis to distinguish between burnishing and actual pot polish on fragments from the previous study. Fragments from the time zero group and from the longest (40 minute) boil time group were examined under 40X magnification for the presence of bevel, sheen and striations on the fracture margins and points. Digital photographs were taken of all margins and points exhibiting the three criteria with a scale included to allow for measurement. Data on the distance between striations and the thickness of the bevel were collected and correlated with time groups. Preliminary analyses indicate that the distance between striations in the time zero are much more variable both among and between fragments, margins, and points compared to the known pot polish (p<0.05). This suggests that the variation in spacing of striations along the bevel may be helpful in identifying true pot polish and in distinguishing it from the effects of processing induced burnishing.

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