Mechanical surface analysis of bone: A case study of cut marks and enamel hypoplasia on a neolithic cranium from Sweden

Authors

  • Ebba M. During,

    1. Osteological Research Laboratory, University of Stockholm, Royal Castle Ulriksdal, S-171 71 Solna (E.M.D.)
    2. Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Machine Elements, S-100 44 Stockholm (L.N.), Sweden
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  • Lennart Nilsson

    1. Osteological Research Laboratory, University of Stockholm, Royal Castle Ulriksdal, S-171 71 Solna (E.M.D.)
    2. Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Machine Elements, S-100 44 Stockholm (L.N.), Sweden
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Abstract

A method for measuring, recording, and studying fine surface irregularities in three dimensions is presented. The method, which involves recording the movements of a diamond-tipped stylus as it scans the surface being studied, is demonstrated on a Neolithic cranium from Sweden. The cranium emanates from a pile dwelling dated to about 3000 B.C. Its frontal bone exhibits distinct cut marks indicative of scalping, and the teeth show signs of enamel hypoplasia. The surface topography of the putative cut marks and hypoplastic enamel were investigated using the stylus method. Measurements of enamel hypoplasia were also carried out for comparison on a front tooth from the lower jaw, and the cut mark study was compared with scanning electron micrographs. The results of this case study demonstrate that the stylus method can obtain high-resolution measurements of fine surface details directly on the original bone without preparation of or damage to the specimen.

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