Interpreting the Effects of Burning on Pre-incineration Saw Marks in Bone*

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Abstract

This study examined the effects of fire on the features associated with saw marks in bone. Both class and individual characteristics were examined using stereomicroscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Twenty-four semifleshed Sus scrofa L. tibiae were sawed into three sections with the middle section having deep and shallow false starts. Twelve saw blades of varying age and type were each used to cut two tibiae. In each case, the first tibia was burned in an outdoor open fire to the point of partial calcination. The second tibia, our control, was macerated using a heated enzyme solution. Controls and burned specimens were examined for the following characteristics: breakaway spur, tooth hop, false start, exit chipping, tooth imprint, breakaway notch, pull out striae, kerf flare, and blade drift. In general, there was parity in the observed characteristics in the burned samples using the SEM and the stereomicroscope. SEM observation, however, provided enhanced images, with the addition of observing individual tooth imprints, previously not visible. Therefore, this study recommends using an SEM for the examination of saw cuts in burnt bone.

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