ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
After over ten years as a zooarchaeologists, most bones have a certain ordinariness about them. It's butchery waste, sometimes industrial waste, and the occasional buried animal. Even if it's artefacts or pathologies you would at least have spotted similar bones in books or articles. But now and again you find a bone that makes you go WTF?

The latest one came from an Iron Age pit from a large settlement in Oxfordshire. It's a cheek part of a horse mandible with a smooth hole in it. Unfortunately we only have one half of the mandible, but I assume it was originally part of a set (as opposed to cattle mandibles, the two sides of horse mandibles are fused). The hole is smooth on all edges, so it couldn't have been suspended stationary for all its use - if so, only one part would have been smooth. The cord may have been large enough to fill the hole entirely, but it must have moved occasionally in order to smoothen the edges.

I have no idea how to interpret this. I have never seen anything similar in any book or article. Are we dealing with the partial remains of a horse head that was displayed and later discarded? I know that the classic definition of "ritual" being an "All-purpose explanation used where nothing else comes to mind" (recommended book, btw), but I can't think of any other way to explain this.

 photo P1060264_zpsajdn6by4.jpg

 photo P1060266_zpsk9z32dlj.jpg
Close-up of hole


Oct. 5th, 2012 07:13 pm
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
It started out as just a normal cat mandible:

But then I turned it over and saw the new tooth that would have erupted if only the kitten hadn't died young:

If you need a pick-me-up after such horrible sights, I recommend the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee! ;-)
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
After the usual cattle, sheep, horse, pig and dog bones it's fun to find some (relatively) unusual species. If the bones are a bit wonky, so much the better. This one turned out to be bone of the (last) week!

It's a cat tibia, which has fractured across its upper part. The fibula has also fractured, become partially fused to the tibia and twisted 180┬░. A new joint facet has formed on the now inner side. The medial side of the tibia has an abscess, which indicates that when the fracture healed, an infection set in. The bone is smooth (although it has become very eroded in the soil), so the cat lived for a long while after the fracture.

Unfortunately the lower part of the fibula was never recovered from the pit.

Fractured (but healed) cat tibia
The whole tibia. The upper part is towards the right.

Fractured (but healed) cat tibia
The lateral (outer) side. The original fibula joint is clearly visible.

The medial side with the abscess.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Yesterday I found the bone of the week. A sheep (or possibly goat, but considering the lack of goats in the assemblage and the presence of several sheep bones, most likely sheep) pelvis that had been fractured across the ischium and pubis*. Unfortunately the rest of the ischium and the pubis couldn't be found in the assemblage. The bone had not healed, but pathological changes show that the animal had survived and lived for several months (?) before it died. I was quite surprised, since this major trauma would have caused a significant limp, which must have been obvious to the sheep herder/owner.

*: For the uninitiated, the pelvis consists of three bones, the ilium (the shaft which attaches to the sacrum), the ischium (to the rear) and the pubis (to the front) which all meet at the hip socket (acetabulum). Well, technically, the pelvis is the sacrum and the two innominate halves, but I'm being lazy here...

Pictures below cut )


ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)

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